AFL Round 1 – Carlton v Richmond: The Tiges may no longer be good for football.


The Tigers, once so good for football, must take a good, hard look at themselves. What they did last night in front of 80,000 fans at the MCG was, frankly, irresponsible. Had they actually lost the match, after leading by 40-odd points, they would have continued to be the force in footy they have been over the last three decades.

Their reputation is in tatters. They may no longer be good for footy.

Club officials would not buy this criticism last night.

“To blame us for the victory is a little unfair,” one club spokesman, who did not want to be named, said. “We gave them three or four free shots at goal when we needed to in the dying minutes but those Carlton forwards weren’t good enough. You know, The Wick can only issue the instructions. It’s up to the players to carry them out. Clearly he asked that no-one go near Chris Yarran and Jeffy Garlett in the dying minutes, nor Bryce Gibbs for the duration of the last quarter, and our boys carried those instructions out perfectly. Let me ask you this: do you know who was playing on those blokes? Mate, don’t blame us. If you’re worried about what’s good for footy, you better knock on the doors of the Carlton rooms.”

He has a point. There is no doubt the Tiges were good for footy last night. This is a game they could have won by 12 goals, should have won by 8, and could have lost by 2.

Remarkably, Carlton is the actor here. Carlton lost this game! Yes, Richmond kicked about 7 behinds in a row at the death. But, also yes, Hampson only had to reach up against the exhausted Tiger defence to snaffle the high ball (what would Swan McKay have done in those circumstances), but couldn’t. Yes, the running Blues forwards just needed to nail those open goals. Yes, Yarran just needed to see who was 30 metres in the clear.

What last night showed is that if both sides continue to play as they did, they will be hammered by any highly-skilled opponent who can maintain their structure.

When Richmond came under pressure in that last term they were gone. Mentally and physically.

They clearly have a problem with endorphins. When they’re on top, the endorphins flow: legs are light, they run like Hermes, they leap like Jezza. They smile. They share in each other’s bio-chemical joy. The team is a team. Once the system breaks down legs are instantly heavy. Players become individuals. They play like under 12s again.

“You can see it in the Richmond side,” said an Under 12 expert, when contacted by The Footy Almanac. “The tell-tale sign is there for all to see: the desire to kick the footy as soon as you take possession of it. Across your body. Back over your shoulder. Just throw it on the boot. In their panoc they lose all sense of time. All poise disappears. All cohesion dissipates. It’s like they’re playing with their eyes closed.”

Their fans are pretty much the same.

Richmond would not confirm or deny that they were thinking of employing and Under 12 expert in preparation for next week’s game against St Kilda.

When asked about the endorphins issue the club was a little coy. “This is a tough time for the medical staff generally and physiologists in particular,” a club medical spokesman said. “When it comes to endorphins we’re a little unsure. An endorphin is by definition, a peptide – an endogenous opioid peptide. We’re going to ask the AFL, ASADA and Rita Panahi whether it’s a banned substance. And, really, if it is, I’m not sure where that leaves us.”

Whatever, coaching staff face a very tough time to make Tigers teams consistently competitive. They will win well when endorphin reserves are high – they might even trouble the best sides.

But, crikey, will they turn it up against some duds as well.

“It’s a conundrum,” the Richmond official explained. “We are pushing the AIS to give us good data on natural endorphin levels. We want to recruit players with high means but very low standard deviations when it comes to the normal distribution of endorphins. It’s working for Ross Lyon.”

Despite the scare, the mood on the Jolimont platform was electric. “We were dominant tonight,” smiled a 54 year old life coach from East Ivanhoe.

As for Carlton: they lost one, bizarrely, they shouldn’t have. So, do I detect a passing of the baton?

No way. Carlton can never be good for football.


CARLTON              3.3     4.6      9.12    14.17 (101)
RICHMOND           2.9     9.14    14.18  14.22 (106)

 Gibbs 2, Judd 2, Betts 2, Murphy 2, Kreuzer 2, Garlett 2, Yarran, Hampson
Richmond: Deledio 3, Vickery 3, McGuane 2, King 2, Jackson, Martin, Conca, Houli

Judd, Kreuzer, Gibbs, Armfield
Richmond: Cotchin, Vickery, Maric, Tuck, Rance

Reports: Chris Yarran (Carlton) for striking

Umpires: Rosebury, Meredith, Mollison

Official crowd: 80,971 at the MCG


Malarkey Votes:  3. Cotchin (R),  2. Vickery (R),  1. Gibbs (Carl)


Check out The Footy Almanac 2012 here.

Footy Almanac 2012

About John Harms

JTH is a writer, publisher, speaker, historian. He is publisher and contributing editor of The Footy Almanac and He has written columns and features for numerous publications. His books include Confessions of a Thirteenth Man, Memoirs of a Mug Punter, Loose Men Everywhere, Play On, The Pearl: Steve Renouf's Story and Life As I Know It (with Michelle Payne). He appears (appeared?) on ABCTV's Offsiders. He can be contacted [email protected] He is married to The Handicapper and has three school-age kids - Theo, Anna, Evie. He might not be the worst putter in the world but he's in the worst three. His ambition was to lunch for Australia but it clashed with his other ambition - to shoot his age.


  1. Can’t agree more John. Both teams seemed to be in a panic to score goals. The scores reflected this – the number of behinds kicked by both sides are those that would normally appear in a school grade team, where as you say, they just kick in the direction of the goals and hope for the best. Players at AFL standard should be able to kick straight, especially from set-shots. I would hope that both coaches take a long look at this and spend a little more time shooting for the tall timber!

  2. Cheryl Critchley says

    A win’s a win’s a win!! We’ll take it :-) Go Tigers!!!!!

  3. Strange days indeed.
    Having picked the Tigers I barracked fervently for 3 and a half quarters. The game was fun to watch in some sort of surreal extravagant ‘no tackle’ way.
    Then half way through the last quarter I started to shift. Watching the Tigers unbelievably lose and the Blues undeservedly win – it would all be so much fun. Hardwick would explode. Malthouse would have to find a new Nietszche quote to explain his strategy. Or maybe just the Ali “Rope A Dope” that it looked like. The Tiger cheer squad would throw themselves from the second level of the Stand. Mr Wrap would stop writing out of shame. Litza would stop writing because he couldn’t stop giggling.
    This was all such an enticing ‘el bizzaro’ prospect that I secretly began to barrack for the Blues for the first time in my life. I am sure that Swan Districts hero Jeffrey Garlett sensed my sudden support and shanked his kicks in acknowledgement.
    When the going gets weird, the weird get going.
    2 semi serious thoughts. As JTH indicated the Dustin Martin get the ball; do an elongated turn onto your right foot and kick it back over your left shoulder to noone??? The first time he did it, I thought “that was a wasted chance he won’t do that again”. So he did it 3 more times in 5 minutes. They say madness is the triumph of expectation over experience. Spot the brain cell!!##@@.
    And Jack Riewoldt high fiving the Tigers crazies after the game??##%%. If I was a Tiger supporter I would have clocked him. All game he ran to nowhere, arriving late to the contest so he could knock over team mates in the marking contest.
    Is he like Tippet – only useful as a decoy – with Vickery reprising the Tex Walker role?
    I loved the game. It gave me confidence that GWS and the Suns would not go winless this season.
    Hardwick should prepare 3 envelopes. Mick should put his superannuation policy into cash.
    I am glad to see that the AFL is now copying cricket’s marketing success. This was 20/20 ‘hit and giggle’ footy.

  4. Great takes John and Pete (coz Pete’s comment is an article itself!)

    For a tiger sympathizer such as myself, the game was torturous. I really thought here we go again. But they found a way this time. Even if they did play like Under 12’s in those last few minutes, they got over the line. I reckon that’s something to build on.

  5. John
    Thanx for the sobering thoughts. As a Richmond supporter who has seen 5 premierships (my bro the Phantom has only seen 3 premierships) one thing that experience told me about last night is that we got 4 points, and it is better to have the 4 points per game than not, if I plan on seeing Richmond win a 6th, 7th, 8th……….etc. Next up is St Kilda

  6. I just hope every other winner this weekend wins by a bigger percentage margin than the Tiges. That will leave them in 9th. Sure, only Round 1 but to quote Macca, dont you just love it.

  7. Pete, you got your wish. Divine.

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