AFL Round 16: Bucks even more confused now

Richmond versus North Melbourne

2.10pm, Sunday, July 19

Melbourne Cricket Ground

by Andrew Starkie

I couldn’t help think of Bucks as nephew Lukey and I, and a group of friends took our seats in the Ponsford Stand, city end.  Apparently, both clubs playing today are chasing the media commentator and junior coach for next season.

I imagined him sitting behind the glass in some corporate box, waiting for the game to begin, mumbling to himself, ‘Mmm, which of these wretched clubs will I choose to rescue?  Impress me boys.’

He may have decided to delete James Brayshaw’s phone number after the first half.

The withdrawals of Cousins and Cotchin looked to make our cause a bit easier.  Actually, I was looking forward to watching him play.  He won me 2006 GF Day – he was heroic.

We started well enough.  Jones led the team out for his 150th and Boomer won the toss and pointed to our end.  A nasty gale was blowing in our faces.  Hansen, again starting up forward, kicked the first.  Boomer was everywhere and we had the better of the action for the first ten minutes.

Things turned nasty pretty quickly.  The Tigers started winning clearances and running in numbers.  They used the corridor well and their skills were good – compared to ours.  Nahas was dangerous up forward, kicking two.  His success has been one of the highpoints of the season.  One of the great aspects of our game is that it still accommodates all shapes and sizes.  Long may he prosper.

The Tigers kicked four goals in five minutes and the Army were in full roar.

North were top heavy in the forward line.  Hale and McIntosh dropped marks and fell over.  Edwards ran off Thomas too easily.  We looked listless and dispirited.  The loss to the Hawks last week hurt me deeply, God knows the effect it had on the players.

We were 20 points down at quarter-time when my pen ran out.  Maybe that was symbolic of something.  The remainder of this report is a collection of memories from the game.

The Tigers carried on in the second quarter and led by seven goals at half-time.  Nahas and Riewoldt presented themselves.  Tuck was strong in the middle and youngster Post was impressive.  To be honest, Richmond should have been further ahead.  A better team would have.

Meanwhile, we were defining the term ‘Rock Bottom’.  We were dysfunctional, disinterested and other negative words starting with D.  Simmo punched the ground in disgust.  There’s another.  Thompson managed to repel some attacks and Boomer continued to gather possessions.

During the break, my mate, Steve, tried to tell me we were still in the game.  He reckoned they hadn’t put us away.  I like Steve’s views on footy – dispassionate, learned and insightful – but on this occasion I told him he was bloody stupid.  We were gone.

I don’t know what Caretaker Crocks said at half-time, but it worked.

Harding took a hanger at the beginning of the third term and kicked the opener. Jones tackled strongly and converted the free kick.  Greenwood went into the middle and we started winning clearances.  He arrived from Adelaide with a big reputation and I can see why – he’s tough and his skills are neat.

We were inside three goals at the last change and Lukey was confident.  I still wasn’t convinced.

The final quarter started quietly and the momentum North had gained in the third looked to be dissipating.  Neither side was making a decisive statement and the game threatened to end meekly.

Boomer re-ignited the contest.  He kicked two goals in a couple of minutes and brought his teammates into the contest with hard running and accurate short passes.

Two points the difference with less than ten minutes left.

The Tigers awoke and started pressing again.  Riewoldt dribbled a kick into the post and Nahas toed a behind.

The Tigers had the momentum again and could have finished us off.  McMahon passed to a leading Riewoldt who amazingly dropped a chest mark.

Gibbo mopped up and booted North clear.  He regathered possession in the middle and hit Hale on the chest directly in front.  He kicked his first and we had hit the front for the first time since the opening term.

With a few minutes remaining, we were set for a good old-fashioned frenzied finish.  The Tiger Army had a ‘Here we go again’ look about them and we Northerners just thought we may get out of jail.  After six consecutives losses, we were owed one.

The Tigers kept coming, yet their skills failed again when needed most. McMahon couldn’t hit a leading Nahas from 20 metres away and Tambling hit the inside of the post from a set shot.  Scores level.

From the kick-out, North carried the ball up the MCC wing and it landed with Harding in the goal square.  He kicked his third and saluted the Tiger cheer squad who reacted in the way you’d expect.  With a minute left, that should’ve been it, yet I feared it wasn’t.

The Tigers bombed it long from the re-start and the ball spilled over the back of the pack to Morton who roved and kicked Richmond’s second goal for the half.  Scores level again.

But there’s more, this was one long minute.

With one final attack, North flung it towards Hale who was one out on Silvester inside the fifty.  Hale marked, however, gave away a free for infringing on his opponent.  I think the ump got it right.

Silvester cleared to the wing and the siren went with the ball in Boomer’s hands.

Usually with a draw, one set of supporters feels aggrieved while the other considers itself a bit lucky.  With this game, all present felt their team had blown it.  The Tigers gave up a big half-time lead and North couldn’t close out the game after hitting the front deep in time-on.

The cynics among us may suggest neither team was good enough to win.

So, we filed out with that numb feeling you have when closure hasn’t been experienced.  Like when your favourite TV show ends with ‘To be continued’.

I wonder what Bucks thought of it all.


  1. Andrew Fithall says

    Andrew. It is that sort of sentiment that gives North Melbourne supporters such a bad name. When one of your players takes a mark to kick the winning goal but is penalised with a free-kick against him, and you say “I think the ump got it right”. Well, that’s just wrong! You would never get that from a Collingwood supporter.

  2. Danielle says

    Watching that game was like watching the Titanic go down!
    i can’t believe that you agree with the umpires decision.
    You can have Bucks, we will dump Mick so that i can take over at Collingwood. My first action as coach- Sack Toovey, steal Swallow!
    I tried my hand at writing for this game, I think I did okay considering…
    Danni :)

  3. Andrew,

    It’s amazing what happens when you don’t have a pen. You watch more. And you find that your mind remembers the important things, the tone of the game and its fluctuations, and you don’t get bogged down trying to keep up with details like who kicked when to whom.

    I’ve tried to leave my pen at home but I can’t quite bring myself to do it.

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