AFL Round 2 – Richmond v Carlton: Delusions of Adequacy

Richmond v Carlton, MCG, Thursday 27 March, 7.45pm

I’ve been reflecting about delusion these past 48 hours.

Oh, apart from that lapse of about five seconds when Dusty Martin turned Zac Tuohy inside out and snared the sealer and the sweet sound of the MCG siren put an end to another morbidly compelling chapter in the Richmond-Carlton saga, when I engaged in frenzied screaming that included the words “suffer…scum….justice…earn a final”.

The topic of delusion has been widely raised in the past couple of weeks in connection to the Tigers.

Since Richmond’s disappointing but not entirely unexpected loss to Gold Coast in Round 1, shrill and earnest sermonising has come from many quarters about the perennial hopelessness of the Tigers and the delusion of our tribe in expecting anything different – ever.

Now I can accept the bleeding obvious taunts about our record of failure and self-consuming culture that makes Somalia look like a thriving first-world democracy.

I expect this from rival fans just as I expect sanctimonious, jargon-laden moralising from the AFL about new ticket pricing structures and scheduling to suit our broadcast partners.

I accept it with all the good grace of someone being prescribed an enema , but accept it I do.

But what would these football puritans have me do?  Renounce my Richmond-ness? Since when did “delusion” become a sin?  And since when did “delusion” become the peculiar characteristic of those wearing yellow and black?

The whole tribal business of following a team isn’t based on some Warren Buffet-style analysis of “good stocks to buy and sell”, where you dispassionately walk away if you don’t like what you see.  It depends on the delusion of loyalty.  Most of us are landed with a team by birth, inheritance or dumb luck.  Even if you’re one of the rare folk who make a deliberate choice based on rigorous, objective appraisal, but it turns out that your choice stinks, tough.  You stick with it through thick and thin.  It’s the accepted delusion of the passionate, loyal supporter and without it, clubs would wither and die.  The whole mythical edifice would crumble.

Even the AFL’s toxic sludge of economic rationalism and barracker sedation doesn’t extend as far as outlawing delusion.  Indeed, delusion is the entire basis of the game’s appeal.

Without the complicit delusion of fans, players, administrators that this is a captivating, meaningful activity worthy of being a billion dollar business, football would be merely an unedifying and utterly pointless spectacle of grown men chasing a piece of leather.

In truth, the Keystone Cops antics of the Richmond-Carlton game would have suited this description  – perfectly.  But for the small matter of 62,000 enthralled spectators at the ground and millions around the country hanging on every shanked kick and dropped mark.

Why do we accept that the aforementioned Martin is worthy of a reported salary of over $400,000  and that when he slotted that goal and finally broke three hours of tension, we are happy to vow and declare that he is worth this and more?

The answer of course is the delusion that what he does is important, that it actually matters.

For a brief few hours, the events of last night did matter.  For many, it mattered sufficiently that they tossed and turned all night, replaying what they witnessed.

It will continue to matter to the extent that many will recall the events in a year, 10 years, 50 years as an important part of a broader narrative.

“Yeah, that was that shocker of a game in 2014 when Richmond squandered  a 6-goal lead for the 4th time in a row, but finally, they managed to hang on.

“The one where young Ellis eclipsed Gibbs and kicked two ripper goals.

“Y’know, the one where Jeff Garlett hit the post from point-blank range (justice for that goal-mouth showboating in the 2013 final) and Waite fluffed a chance to put Carlton in front.

“The one where there was that ridiculous goal-mouth flurry and Warnock scrubbed a kick to Vickery who put it back over his head for the match-winner”.

Who knows, the continuing narrative from here may be that this game was the one where Ty Vickery came of age with crucial goals in each quarter and where in the final seven minutes, a young team stared down its tormentors and finally began to believe.

It might equally be held as significant in the immediate history of the Blues in which the futures of certain players and the coach were put squarely in the spotlight.  Several aggrieved Carlton correspondents on this site have already begun this narrative with, in my opinion, excessively vicious flagellations of their own under the guise of wit.  And I’m told Richmond’s is an “eat your own” culture!

Whatever the case, we’ll all absorb the result, good or bad, and front up again next week with the hope that things might be better.   For this is our shared delusion that keeps this whole crazy fantasy going.

The po-faced carpers on the sidelines might wonder what they’d write about without it.

RICHMOND     6.3   10.6   12.12   14.14    (98)
CARLTON        2.4    5.5      9.7     12.14   (86)
Richmond: Vickery 4, Ellis 2, Martin 2, S. Edwards, Cotchin, Deledio, Griffiths, Riewoldt, King
Carlton: Yarran 3, Everitt 2, Menzel 2, Bell, Simpson, Waite, Garlett, Gibbs
Richmond: Cotchin, Ellis, Martin, Vickery, Chaplin, Thomas, Astbury
Carlton: Yarran, Simpson, Murphy, Buckley, Curnow, Waite, Thomas
Umpires: Stevic, Stewart, Leppard
Official crowd: 62,037 at the MCG
My votes:  Ellis (3), Vickery (2), Cotchin (1)

About Sam Steele

50 years a Richmond supporter. Enjoying a bounteous time after 37 years of drought. Should've been a farmer!


  1. Tony Robb. says

    Brilliant Stainless. Richmond aslo have something that no other team comes close to. The Royal Hotel. Is there any pub in the world than sums up a football team. Topless barmaids and strippers. Big deal. Play the Tigers song and the place goes off. Love it

  2. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Stainless nothing wrong with being 1 eyed personally I prefer the analytical honest approach in what was a terrible game which shows 1 the enormous gap between the elite teams and the rest which considering we are in the draft era should not be happening .2 The 18 team comp has diluted the comp re the talent at it’s disposal and there are some v average footballers playing afl . 3 From purely a Richmond perspective Thomas and Ellis were the 2 who came out of the game with there reputations enhanced . Stainless from reading some of your other reports I think you are more footy smart than coming from a 1 eyed , blind perspective

  3. Brilliant Stainless. Not just witty as several pieces about this game have understandably been (laugh so you don’t cry).
    But also perceptive and clever at the wider level.
    Should the Almanac ever knew a new slogan, I reckon “Sharing the Delusion” does it perfectly.
    I love the shared delusion more than I love the game.

  4. Pretty well sums up my feelings about the game.

    Again the roller-coaster ride of elation (1st quarter), followed by euphoria (2nd Q), apprehension (3rd Q as THEY began coming at us), disbelief, despair and – finally – elation but too shattered to celebrate fully.
    Yep, got ’em all again on Thursday night.
    Good thing there was no jeering, mocking phonecalls from Carlton relatives. Funny that one. Is this something peculiar only to the Carlton tribe, that they have to ring around, look you up just to rub it in?
    I’ve not noticed this practice with any other shade of supporter.

    @Tony Robb. Hi Tony, there’s another thing Richmond has that no other club comes close to and that’s the Centenary premiership (1934).

  5. Stainless

    Like the match the following night when the Hawks got up, the best side over the cousre of the game won. Sure, the Blues missed sitters, but we earned that substantial lead and I was impressed that in the panic or the Blues comeback and what the players must have had in the back of their mind, we stood up.

    Like James above, I thought our first half was excellent, better even than the first half of the final last year.

    Thomas adds a lot to the side, Ellis a real coming of age game.

    (Have a look at the Ellis goal early on, from the 50 on the Members side, Warnock’s attempted smother is pathetic.)

    Martin I suppose showed that even when out of the game for a while, he is still capable of brilliance.

    Wish we only won by a goal though, would have been sweeter


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