AFL Round 14 – Richmond v St.Kilda: Season’s turn

Ahh the ‘G. It’s good to see thee!
That statement is difficult to make without becoming a victim to its connotations. Immediately there’s a suspicion that I’m about to leap into an old-timers lament about suburban footy venues and two o’clock Saturday starts. Certainly I miss that but whenever I do, I put my $10 down and stand on a terrace at the VFL.

No, I miss seeing my Saints run onto the sacred turf. Docklands is a ‘perfect’ venue. That is perhaps its greatest flaw. The generic, one-size-fits-all, utilitarian nature of the ground leaves it hard to love. It’s not soulless, yet it can’t act as a home ground when it wasn’t designed with that intention. The ‘G isn’t an individual home ground either but it does have a soul. Playing there feels special, a homecoming for the footballing family.

Lord knows the Saints are wandering the desert this season, bereft of a homeland. A glimpse of the promised land is all we’re afforded now- Moses left for the West and has forsaken us. Upon the horizon is a glimpse of Arcadia, the difference between these combatants is that the Tiges are moving towards it, at pace.

This game was a classic of the mid-season genre. The plot hopelessly predictable, even derivative- Side pushing towards the finals comfortably accounting for team with nothing left to play for this year but the mythical virtues of pride in the jumper.

In simple terms- Nothing happened.

There was little of note to recommend the contest. Nary a spectacular goal, ripping hanger or mazy run through traffic . It was all by the book. It will be forgotten as immediately as next week’s fixtures get under way…. And yet, this game reminded you of a Terrance Malick film. It’s all about the subtext.

Richmond were clinical. Their defence worked as a fluid unit, low on fuss, high on efficiency. Up front, Jack kicked a ‘quiet’ three goals, revealing a wholly new development. He had the yips all night but it mattered little to the Tigers. They have found other ways to goal. If Jack’s a cul-de-sac, Aaron Edwards, or someone like him, can bail them out. Maturity is the new buzzword to be used in conversations about the Tiges. What it really means is that their youthful exuberance is morphing into experience. Knowing why you make mistakes comes from constantly making them until you learn not to.

Certainly the Tigers still had an over-abundance of turnovers in this match but they now belong to the overly ambitious category. Targets were missed not because of poor skills but rather over-confidence. You sense that loose, free-wheeling style will tighten up against better opponents.

Not that the Saints were atrocious, they were simply poor. Scotty Watters is all to eager to inform us that the list he inherited is limited. There is every right to blame Moses for its shortcomings, yet he must understand that this list was built to win now. A list-of -contention is a different beast to the rebuilding model. You can’t compare an Aston Martin to the Torana on blocks in the drive. This list is now a godsend for tinkerers- A tall defender traded in here, a running half-back traded out for draft picks there. Just let the kids have a run in the big time and see what you’ve got shall we?

There will be many more twilight fixtures that play out like this for the Sainters before they reach Richmond’s level again. That is nothing to be morose about, the era is simply over. As F. Scott Fitzgerald almost said- There are no second acts in football.

Meanwhile, with the third run-through of ‘Tigerland’ post-contest giving fair warning of the gathering storm down Punt Road way, it was hard not to hope for a lasting yellow and black presence in this year’s finals. Their passion is visceral and, you sense, the time is now. For each a season in the sun. The Tigers can feel a warmth upon their backs and that should be of concern for opponents come the spring.

Richmond 4.4 10.9 15.13 17.17 (119)
St.Kilda 3.2 4.4 7.5 8.7 (55)

Richmond: Jackson 3, Riewoldt 3, Deledio 2, Foley 2, Grigg 2, Edwards, Ellis, King, Conca, Vickery
St.Kilda: Dennis-Lane 2, Murdoch, Jones, Steven, Montagna, Dal Santo, Riewoldt.

Richmond: Cotchin, Vickery, A Edwards, Jackson, Deledio, S Edwards, Foley, Conca, Houli, Rance
St.Kilda: Steven, Armitage, Riewoldt, McEvoy, Dal Santo, Dennis Lane, Montagna, Murdoch.

Umpires: Wenn, Dalgleish, Foot.

Official crowd: 52,184

Our Votes: 3- Cotchin, 2-Delidio, 1-Jackson.

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