AFL Round 13 – Western Bulldogs v Richmond: The lid’s off, baby!

I love music. Who doesn’t? I particularly love it when listening to it means I can mute the commentary and not hear Brian Taylor’s “Wow-wee, he’s sprayed it…it’s gone right through the middle!”
Tonight is one of the rare occasions that I’m genuinely looking forward to an expected Tiger victory, given the strength of our recent wins and the general weakness of the Dogs. The Dogs’ fragility is evident early on when Will Minson politely permits Maric to leisurely make up his mind, and decide to pass off to Riewoldt for the Tigers’ first. Mind you, the last time I saw an opposition team play fearfully against the Tigers was our first match against the Suns…and that trepidation lasted about twenty minutes before they proceeded to inflict one of the most humiliating defeats I’ve experienced.

Meanwhile, my listening to music while watching the footy offers some quirky little spins on the match. The appropriate juxtaposition of watching the sophisticated, gentlemanly Will Minson, resident genius of the Bulldogs, whilst listening to the mopey, thought provoking lyrics of Smiths’ front man Steven Morrissey is one of the more delicious ones. He delivers a long ball for Liam Jones to outmark Rance and snap the goal from a tight angle, giving the Bulldogs their first. The between-goal ad is that AAMI one where the woman sees a younger, rebellious version of herself driving. The weird thing is, and remember this if you ever see the ad again, that her daughter and the boyfriend in the car next to her look creepily similar……

Nonetheless, the Tigers are looking the much better team, helped, perhaps, by the Dogs’ lack of intensity. In fact, the Bulldog defenders are so soft that Tyrone Vickery completes the first ever blind turn of his career. Managing to control his surprise, he hands off to the hard-headed Foley and the Tigers have another. We are well on top, particularly in winning contested ball. In another satisfying moment of poetic union, Led Zeppelin’s ‘Immigrant Song’ is blaring as Nick Vlastuin, the Viking of Tigerland, brings down Morris in a crushing tackle.

The Tigers have built a two goal lead that should be more when Hendrix’s delicate, perfect ‘Castles Made of Sand’ comes on. I don’t even bother looking for a comparison there. Neither the inefficient Dogs nor the blue collar Tigers can come close to Jimi’s effortless genius. The player whom I’ve seen come closest was Andrew McLeod.

Thanks to the TV being on mute, I miss the broadcasting of Daniel Giansiracusa’s mike, a segment called ‘Sounds of the Game.’ Oh well. Brian Taylor was probably talking over the top of it anyway. Late in the term, the Video Review System gets its seemingly obligatory run through when Talia’s left snap fades for a point. I was under the impression that it was intended for adjudicating whether or not the ball was touched when it went through, but apparently it’s also for judging how far the ball was from the post. The Tigers lead by two goals at quarter time.

Mum comes in from the night, having spent some time cleaning up the explosion of feathers that our chicken shed has become following a fox attack.
“Are you going to bury them?” I ask sympathetically, knowing how much Mum loves her chickens that have been ripped to shreds.
“No”, she growls, striding with furious purpose, “I just stuffed them with Ratsak and left them there in case the bastard comes back.”
I turn back to the TV to see Tom Waterhouse’s annoying ad, in which he doesn’t say, but should, “…and I don’t know how Daddy’s horse got so much faster overnight, either.”

The Tigers take the ascendancy in the second, applying pressure that the Dogs really don’t take too well. The Richmond Hobbit Brigade – King, Ellis, Conca, Morris and Foley – starts to rip the ball out of packs and slingshot it forwards. Which is probably a good thing, given that Cotchin is being well held by Boyd (literally-he gets most of his touches from holding the man free kicks) and Deledio is merely doing his job. Martin finally starts to come good in the second, which is a relief; the infamous ‘Brat Pack’ of Collingwood pales in accumulated comparison to the sheer grumpiness of Martin on a bad day. Shaun Grigg provides arguably the highlight of the quarter with his four bounce, running goal from fifty that gently alights into a roaring, appreciative cheer squad. Aaron Edwards plays his best quarter yet for the Tigers. The man whom my Roos-supporting uncle predicted would be “fit for four games and drunk for eighteen” takes an impossible mark between two Dogs to set up Richmond’s seventh.

The Dogs, however, are not as out of it as they should be, thanks to Liam bloody Jones loping over everybody to pluck mark after mark, and when Bob Murphy sets up a goal to young pup Lachie Hunter, the three goal gap is enough to make me frustrated about our wasteful 7.11 score line. That said, I have no qualms about watching Murphy at his best. The man is graceful, talented and intellectual…like Jim Morrison. Just without any violent, psychopathic tendencies.  The Tigers kick away again, aided by Lachie Hunter missing two crucial goals, the first because he decides to dribble the ball along the ground from twenty out whilst facing an open goal. Seriously, taking skidding shots for goal is fine if you are nine, and at training. But not when you’re a professional and your team is six goals down.

My music-football parallel offers one more notable moment in the half as Jake Stringer’s perfectly timed dive earns him a fifty metre penalty and a subsequent goal that cuts the half time margin to thirty, to the tune of Kurt Cobain sneering “The finest day that I ever had/Was when I learned to cry on command.”

The Tigers put the Dogs to the sword in the third…eventually. The first ten minutes are oddly polite-players allowing their opponents to scrounge awkward kicks forward instead of dropping them in tackles, for instance. Indeed, if it wasn’t for Brett Goodes and Jake King, who are playing a game called ‘How Hard Can We Punch Each Other Without The Umpires Noticing’, the game would resemble Amateurs. Finally Tyrone Vickery, who, with his string bean body and scrubby beard is looking more like Hamish and Andy’s lovechild every week, plucks an improbable finger-tip mark running back with the flight to kick the goal and the Tigers are off again. Richmond slams on 5.3 to two behinds to blow the three quarter time margin out to over fifty points. Whilst flicking around in the break, Dad finds ‘Jackass 3’.
“Alright, I want to watch this.”
“Cal, you’re fifty points up.”
“And you want me to miss that?”

I grumble and sulk my way next door to see the game out on the old box tv while Dad watches a glorified re-enactment of the backyard stunt video of every sixteen year old boy. It’s merely party time in the last quarter. Jackson, arguably B.O.G for the night, curls through a ridiculous goal to the Punt Road End. Daniel Giansiracusa, subbed on fathoms too late, nails a goal and Brian Taylor declares, “Oh, he’s a professional!” Yes, Brian. As opposed to all the volunteer AFL players. Where’s that remote? Mute.

Riewoldt plucks a strong mark to kick his third, having led Morris a merry dance all night. He is becoming the complete key forward. Conca slams through his second and the margin is eleven goals. The match virtually finishes when Captain Cotchin lobs a curvy shot into the Richmond cheer squad. The Tigers win by an even ten goals, and every Richmond supporter at the ground is barely smothering the same ecstatic grin that implies the feeling that we all share….
“The Richmond Football Club would like to let the AFL community know that, despite our recent good form, we are indeed keeping a lid on….THE FACT THAT WE ARE GONNA PLAY FINALS, BABY!!!”

RICHMOND                        4.8 8.13 13.16 17.19 (121)

WESTERN BULLDOGS     3.3   5.9    5.11     8.13 (61)
Best-(Rich) Jackson, Conca, Houli, Grigg, Riewoldt, Foley.
– (WB) Griffen, Jones, Stringer, Hunter, Minson.
Goals-(Rich) Riewoldt 3, Conca 2, Vickery 2, A Edwards, Foley, Houli, Grigg, Martin, White, Jackson, Vlastuin, Cotchin.
– (WB) Stringer 2, Cooney, Jones, Hunter, Giansiracusa, Murphy, Boyd
VOTES 3. D. Jackson (R) 2. R. Conca (R) 1. B. Houli (R)

About Callum O'Connor

Here's to feelin' good all the time.


  1. Callum

    Nice read, some great lines. Loved the Hobbits, love child and Waterhouse gags.

    Also, love your mum’s unemotional and practical response with the chooks.

    As you had the TV on mute at times (wise move when BT is on) you may have missed this, but I am sure when Sam Lane was interviewing the Hunter family at half time about their son’s debut, she got to aske one question, the audio then cut out, only for us to hear BT saying “how long will this take” back to Lane, for just one more question then over!

    What is going on with her at 7, wasting her talent and having to deal with BT and Darcy.


  2. Loved the piece, Callum. TV sport with the stereo on is a great delight of mine. Most commentators are for the blind and dumb. If you have eyes and a brain most of them just tell you what you already know (in a bland and insulting manner).
    Cricket is particularly good with Springsteen or Billy Bragg or Emmylou Harris to liven things up (anything except Jim Maxwell’s tiresome predictable drone).
    Your mum should have left the Ratsak out for Tom Waterhouse – “in case the bastard comes back.”

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