AFL Round 12 – Richmond v Adelaide: Fun on our patch

By John Green 

“Jacko! Jacko!”

Choco Williams is yelling at Daniel Jackson from the boundary to warn him that Adelaide’s Scott Thompson has snuck onto the ground from the interchange area. Thompson is jogging towards the square, hoping to catch the Tigers unaware as the Crows move the ball into the attacking fifty.

“Jacko! Jacko!”

Richmond supporters take up the cry and Jackson glances round. He sights Thompson and moves to cover him, thwarting the muscular Crow’s attempt at secrecy.

“Get a megaphone next time Choco!”

It’s only possible for fans to provide assistance of this nature when your team is playing interstate raiders. Otherwise, your communication is drowned out by the noise from opposition fans as they attack. As it stands, the Crows move into their scoring zone in virtual silence.

It’s like a clan gathering. Everybody on the train is dressed in yellow and black. Every punter at the turnstiles is a Tiger devotee. This is something that is experienced at every home game by the clubs from the states outside Victoria, but not the usual experience for the football-loving citizens of the Garden State.

There’s strength in numbers. I remember a game where Richmond hosted West Coast at Princes Park in 1995. The Eagles goaled after a blatantly obvious free to the Tigers was ignored. A small band of West Coast supporters in the stand stood and cheered. Hundreds of fuming Richmond barrackers turned in their direction and stared at them in stony-faced silence. The acclaim rapidly evaporated.

A minute later Stuart Maxfield streaked along the flank with one of his trademark runs and let fly with a long bomb. Goal! The Tiger mob was on its feet and vigorously demanded to know how much the visiting Coasters liked that one. Those poor isolated Eagles, so far from home, shrunk back in  their seats in shame. They, and their team, were never in the match again and had their wings well and truly clipped by the rampaging Tigers.

It’s a wet, wintry day in Melbourne and the yellow and black rain jacket which makes me look like an oversized wasp is performing to specifications. My 16-year-old son wishes  he had sacrificed his dignity and worn one as well.

Despite the apocalyptic warnings of Gerard Whately in the Saturday Herald-Sun, the Tigers don’t fall in a heap today when they are expected to win. They tackle fiercely and mercilessly harass their opponents. Deledio revels in the freedom unexpectedly afforded him by the absence of a designated tagger and clinically sets up play from half back. Dustin Martin turns on the power, fends off his rivals with his deadly right hand and repeatedly launches himself on aggressive run-and-carry missions. Brandon Ellis continues to grow in stature. Steven Morris is at his ferocious best. Add Houli, Maric, Shane Edwards and Chaplin to the stellar roll call.

Only Patrick Dangerfield provides any resistance. He keeps the Crows within shouting distance by sheer force of will. Dangerfield cuts a powerful figure in the contests and could have scored five goals with a little more luck. The Tigers hold a handy 30-point lead at three quarter time. There are some momentary heart flutters when Thompson and Van Berlo score early in the final term to reduce the margin to 19 points. Then big Ivan closes his mitts on the ball at a stoppage and lets fly with his right boot. It sails home and is the first of a sequence of five Richmond goals that take the game beyond the reach of the visitors. The Tigers take control and lead by as much as 50 points before the Crows scramble a couple of majors in junk time.

We have a healthy attendance of 43,000, but it’s still possible to hear what the players are saying on the field. Everybody laughs when Jake King calls out to the bench with a string of expletives.

“That’s just the way he talks,” one man intimates to his son.

“That’s a gold coin in the swear jar!”

Ah, what fun. Sitting in the rain with like-minded tragics, having our voices heard and watching Richmond maul the Crows on their climb back into the eight.



  1. The Wrap says

    We’ve seen it all before Johno, but this time I reckon we’re on our way. God, it’s been a long wait hasn’t it? But now we’re BIT it doesn’t seem that long, eh?

    Eat ’em Alive Tigers!!

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