AFL Round 18 – West Coast v Richmond: A Shot Rings Out in the West

One punch can certainly spoil a good night out. Or even an evening in front of the telly for Richmond supporters following the action from afar.

It starts out well for the Tigers as they take on West Coast at Patersons Stadium. For some inexplicable reason the home team allows Richmond to appear in its home strip. The Tigers look more formidable in black knicks. The Eagles wear their predominately white uniforms with white shorts, surely the preserve of teams playing away fixtures. I reckon the arrangement makes the Tigers feel more at home in what should be a hostile environment.

It certainly becomes less welcoming for the visitors just before half time.

It’s a dour struggle in the first half. The monsoon winds from the Indian Ocean lash the arena with rain. At times play resembles a rugby match of the type you might see between Halifax and Warrington in a north of England winter. In a battle between the eleventh and twelfth placed teams on the ladder on a night like this the side with the highest level of intensity is going to come up trumps. The Tigers keep their noses in front and make fewer errors than their opponents. They play the percentages of wet weather football by scrambling, punching and kicking the footy by any means possible in the direction of the goals. Foley, Thomas, Ellis and Miles find the heavy conditions to their liking. Martin and Deledio make incisive contributions. Rance and Chaplin keep Kennedy and Darling in check. Despite being outgunned by Naitanui in the ruck contests Maric is more than holding his own in their encounters around the ground.

Ty Vickery has started the game well, scoring a couple of majors in the first term in a low-scoring clash where goals are worth 12 points rather than six. Late in the second quarter he prepares to compete against Dean Cox at a throw-in. Cox, a West Coast legend, had earlier in the week announced that he was retiring at the end of the season. As such, he has been feted by the media and showered with praise by an adoring public.

As ruckmen often do, Cox delivers a sly elbow to the midriff of his opponent as the boundary umpire prepares to hoist the ball back into play. Vickery doubles up in pain for a moment before joining his antagonist. Then bang, Cox goes down like a sack of spuds dropped from a shed roof. In an action which is almost too quick for the naked eye, Vickery pings Cox in the jaw with a round house right before the ball is anywhere in their vicinity.

The Perth crowd is already in a surly mood, believing that the umpires are favouring the interlopers from the other side of the country. Now they are baying for Vickery’s blood. What they have witnessed is the football equivalent of killing Bambi. A groggy Cox is assisted from the field by trainers. Scuffles break out. Shuey cannons into Vickery and pushes him into LeCras. There is a clash of heads and Vickery hits the deck. LeCras gets his jumper ripped off. The barrackers are still going berserk when Martin marks strongly a few minutes later. He coolly slots it after the siren and the Tigers go in at half time with a handy 11-point lead.

All the talk at the interval is about how Vickery has brought a dull game to life but in doing so has probably earned himself a lengthy holiday.

Cotchin soccers a miraculous goal from a sharp angle early in the third term to take Richmond’s lead out to 17 points. The Eagles are unable to get any closer than 10 points for the remainder of the match. Cox is subbed out of the game. Vickery is vigorously abused by the crowd whenever he goes near the ball. When he jogs to the dugout for a rest a bearded spectator, emboldened by the fact that Vickery can’t get to him over the fence, gives him another vitriolic spray.

The Tigers don’t mind the frequent ball-ups and throw-ins as the clock runs down. Darling provides some faint hope when he marks and goals but Riewoldt puts the matter beyond doubt when he converts from point blank range after receiving a free for an in-the-back infringement.

This makes it four wins in a row for Richmond, a consolation prize in a disappointing season that ran off the rails very early in the piece. But this game will be remembered for an entirely different reason.

I am very concerned that the Tigers make it home. I have visions of massive mining trucks being parked across the runway at Perth Airport to prevent their plane from taking off. That is, until they surrender Richmond’s number 29 for a taste of frontier justice.



  1. I remember little except for shiraz, rain and fisticuffs. The rest has been airbrushed from memory. Your recollections of the game may be accurate.
    But the perfidy of my Eagles having to wear our away strip and let the Tigers wear their traditional gear, was forced on us by the AFL and Channel VII. The good citizens of Perth (those north of the river) have been up in arms all week, so it was not a concession freely given, just another example of our being forced to subsidise eastern states leaners.

  2. David Zampatti says

    Vickery must be the spiritual leader of the Tigers. Can play, but thick. He’ll get weeks, maybe quite a few of them, and Cox might miss a game with concussion, but who cares.
    At least the better team won. As is so often the case when the Eagles play these days.

  3. Ken Doll Wilson says

    If only the umpire/s had the temerity to have paid a free kick against Cox for the elbow to Vickery and he would be playing this week and next.

  4. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Thanks John and as John , remarked as ruckmen often do , Cox delivered a sly elbow yes umpire could have paid a free kick , as a split second call , did he see it , is Vickery faking it etc . What is certain is if , Vickery had displayed some discipline he would be playing this week . Personally absolutely filthy at the appalling light penalty of , 4 games not the right message to be sending to society . The Afl has missed the opportunity to be a role model for other leagues , sport and society in general .

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