AFL Round 1 – Carlton vs Richmond: Footy, a religion. A play in 4 acts

After the longest, hottest summer in Melbourne’s history, the Footy Gods spoke.
“Enough!” they commanded. “Thou shalt cast aside the false idolatry of t-shirts, thongs and summer dresses, and thou shalt worship the true God, Football!”
And so it came to pass that after one last 35 degree day and another bushfire, Melbourne woke to cold weather and actual rain on that holiest of Thursdays, the first game of Round 1 at the Mecca, the ‘G.

The cast:
80,000 true believers, arriving by tram, train and private conveyances. This witness forsook the tram for the comfort of the latter, yet filled with fanatics.

Principal characters:
22 gladiators, who have tasted little success for more than 30 years. Led by Coach Hardwicke, cast includes notable characters Vickery, Cotchin, Deledio, McGuane and Jakey King.
22 gladiators, who have also been starved of success for nearly two decades, and who have under-achieved for several years. This has been addressed by the sensational inclusion in the cast of coach Malthouse, who is expected to perform a miracle. Notable characters include Kreuzer, Murphy, Judd, Gibbs and mad Robbo.

Act 1
As the faithful follow the beacons of faith known as light towers, the play begins. Rock music and anthem are dispensed with, the countdown on the screen ends to a mighty roar. Yes, we believe!!!!!
The Blues score the first three goals thanks to Hampson, Betts and Murphy. Judd is born again.
Yet the Tigers are not subdued. One senses a revival. Although Riewoldt is their usual goal-kicker, he cannot score, and the work is done by Martin, Deledio and a tall man with strange hair, Vickery. The Tigers are unlucky with shots just touched, or just after the first siren. Scores are tied.

Act 2
The second quarter sees Vickery dominate and Tigers run the legs off their opponents. Mad Robbo lies motionless after a mid-air collision, and has the (not to be unexpected) honour of the first player to benefit from the new 20 minute concussion substiute rule.
From then on, it is all downhill for the Blues, with more goals from McGuane, King and Martin. It’s a 7 goal to one shellacking. Half-time at the G and coach Malthouse thinks he should have stayed retired. Tigers by 38 points.

Act 3
The 2 teams trade goals, there is renewed effort and increased tempo from the Blues. Malthouse has no doubt reminded his players of the religious significance of the event, this being the end of Lent. He may also be concerned about the prospect of a crucifixion. Gibbs, Judd, Hampson, Kreuzer and Betts lead the charge, and Yarran is reported for a little jab. Judd, in particular, has seen the light and leads the Blues’ charge, even kicking goals! Deledio, Cotchin, Tuck, King and McGuane stay with them, but can the Tigers keep up this pace? Tigers still lead by 36 points.

Act 4
Bang! Bang! Bang! Goals to Gibbs, Murphy and Kreuzer. The game is not dead. Tigers rally but miss, then 2 misses by the Blues.
Cut to scene: author (a Blue Believer) loses her faith and slinks out of the arena, lured by a comfy lift home with fellow saddened believers. Listens to transistor radio.
Back to arena: little Jeffy Garlett casually slots through 2 more goals. Oh my God!! Could the unthinkable happen?? The Tigers are exhausted and cramping. The Tiger faithful implore their god to save them, as the Blues are killing them. The Blues drink from a posioned chalice, scoring only behinds from gettable shots by Kreuzer and Yarran (2).
The author sits in the comfy car in the carpark of the ‘G. It even has a telly. The faithless 4 watch as the siren sounds, just metres away, and the Tigers win by 5 points, breaking another drought.

Oh ye of little faith. What an exciting match! The author is guilty of faithlessness, and this is my confession.

CARLTON:                  3.3         4.6          9.12        14.17
RICHMOND                 2.9        9.14        14.18        14.22

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

Umpires:  Roseberry, Meredith, Mollison
Crowd: 80, 971 at the MCG
Carlton: Kreuzer, Judd, Murphy, Gibbs, Hampson, Betts, Armfield
Richmond: Cotchin, Deledio, McGuane, Vickery, Jackson, Tuck.
My Votes: Deledio, Judd, Kreuzer

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