AFL Round 20 – Richmond v Essendon: Hey Now, Hey Now (DO Dream, It’s Not Over!)

Tigers are back in town, apparently, after going AWOL for the first 13 rounds of the year before remembering that they’re an AFL team, not under 12 seniors. Somehow Richmond are in contention for a finals place after being 3 wins and 10 losses earlier. Now we need a multitude of 4 points and good results to have an unlikely finals berth.

Hello, and welcome to mathematics Mr Hardwick. What would you like to study today?

Essendon look pretty good finals wise, but their main obstacle is men in suits calling about a syringe or 40. I’m actually surprised that they’re not higher on the ladder, they have a good team and a forward in Jake Carlisle who’s romping around the goal square taking marks like he’s got wicketkeeper gloves on.

So, which intriguing name do we have to call this crucial game? Battle of the Sash.

Oh Gawd.

Damien Hardwick realises that we have an issue with players belting one another and makes the connection that we are punching people numerically. Ty Vickery was number 29 and Reece Conca 30, so it’s only natural that Nick Vlastuin (31) has the green vest draped over his possibly harmful shoulders.

The only thing I want Essendon to win today is the name contest. Orazio Fantasia, number 46 for the Bombers, sounds more like like a romantic lead in a 1920’s crime flick. Can’t wait for Bruce to say his name!

It’s a freezing Friday night on the wrong side of Mt Macedon, a tough gig for playing tennis, and Dad’s giving me the hurry-up over the fence, earplugs in – mid tennis game – as Lids takes a great grab against the permanent shadow of Heath Hocking and nails a shot from 50 out to start things off. I’m informed that the Bombers have come ready for a late night – they’ve got their pyjama uniforms on, the horrible grey strip that stands up like lights in Vegas. As soon as the Kyneton teams’ backhand skips into the net to end the match, Dad and I are halfway to the chip shop.

Medium chips….2 scallops…..4 dim sims…

Over the radio, it sounds a really congested battle, both sides can’t get their running games going, forcing contests and continuous stoppages. The extra polish that the Bombers midfield have proves the difference, as they lead by 12 points at the first change. The Tigers’ defence is holding up to constant bombardment and holding Carlisle to one six pointer. Essendon have been wasteful, they look a little ominous leading into the second. Anthony Miles has 14 disposals, Ablett-like in his performance so far.

My brother Oliver goes straight for the chips as Brandon Ellis trying to falcon a…err…falcon while running into the goal square in the first minute. The game cracks open into what we want it to be, a fast-paced running game where Richmond have consistency, thank God. It’s goal for goal as Melksham replies before Griffiths’ monster from 50 follows. After a Goddard goal, the games’ momentum swings around as Jack nabs one from a set shot and Deledio kicks one running into the open goal. Houli picks up an easy goal after the mother of all brain fades by Jake Carlisle (massaging one’s throat is not taken well). Heppell and Miles are dominating the game through the midfield. To cap off the quarter, Cotchin gets a holding free and converts. Tigers by six at the long break. M&M’s are now used as anti-depressants – Oliver has the bowl and him giving it away is just about as rare as hair on Matt Thomas’ head.

Miles and Ellis have both been wonderful for Richmond, while Zaharakis and Heppell are dominating the Essendon midfield.

“What do you reckon?” Dad says.

“We look alright, but we don’t have great third quarters”.

Essendon come out like a house on fire, cutting Richmond open through the midfield like a knife through warm butter. Desperate defence and plain stupidity in the Essendon forward line only allows two goals in a 15 minute burst. Nathan Gordon gets smashed by a flying Courtney Dempsey and converts to get things rolling again. Matt Thomas is subbed off for Nick Vlastuin, who immediately has an impact. Martin against two in the pocket, spins on his little toe and snaps….goal! Our little living room in Woodend erupts, and so does Oliver’s mouth. With M&M’s.

The Bombers are wasteful forward, with Zach Merret and Zaharakis spraying shots all over the place. A frenetic quarter is ended a second before a Nathan Gordon snap is goaled (of course). Tigers up by 7 at oranges break.

Dad goes for a walk. When the game is tight and Dad is in the house, things go, as Dimma would call it, “Na na bagoose.” No, I don’t know where he got that one from.

Sheds and Gordon lay down the challenge to the Bombers with two goals from set shots to start the quarter. Edwards and Ellis are turning it up in the last quarter for Richmond, but the ever wonderful Dyson Heppell looks like breaking the game open any moment now. Tired bodies throw themselves, exhausted, at the ball for one last gasp. Retiree Winderlich gets a look from the pocket and nails a shot to make it twelve points, both sides look dead on their feet.

Dad is talking to horses down the road. It’s a Collingwood fan, apparently.

Jack Riewoldt lifts the roof off with a brilliant snap from a pack to get the lead out to 18 points, lifting the game to new heights. Heppell decides to try again, getting three touches and kicking a telling goal, before an exhausted Steven Morris can’t stop Melksham kicking his second. 6 points, 15 minutes to go, who will stand up? This game does not deserve a loser.

The new Richmond, the good one, links through the middle and Shane Edwards, who has team mates slapping his shirt ‘cos he’s on fire, kicks a goal into the third tier. Desperation follows, and then, rising like a wraith of the night, a mullet and two huge hands snatch the ball like an apple from the heavens. Ivan takes seven steps back and the siren, the most beautiful sound in the universe, rings loud and clear. Game over, and big Ivvy puts the icing on the cake, as Dad bursts in through the door with a crazy grin and a burst of song.

Votes wise, three, two, and one votes to Mum, who had to put up with the rollicking tempers of three slightly insane Richmond fans. The only Tiger fan who probably wants us to miss the finals. Actively looking for weekend home stays during September, preferably with spa.

Me? Well, let’s win the next three first…

Go us.
RICHMOND 1.2 7.4 9.8 14.11 (95)
ESSENDON 3.2 6.4 8.7 11.11 (77)

Richmond: Deledio 2, Gordon 2, Riewoldt 2, Edwards 2, Ellis, Griffiths, Houli, Cotchin, Martin, Maric
Essendon: Chapman 2, Carlisle 2, Melksham 2, Dell’olio, Goddard, Z.Merrett, Windlerlich, Heppell

Richmond: Ellis, Miles, Edwards, Rance, Martin, Chaplin, Maric, Cotchin
Essendon: Heppell, Zaharakis, Hooker, Melksham, Goddard, Chapman

Richmond: Nil
Essendon: Nil

Richmond: Nick Vlastuin replaced Matt Thomas in the third term
Essendon: Elliott Kavanagh replaced Orazio Fantasia at three-quarter time.

Reports: Nil

Umpires: Nicholls, McInerney, Mitchell

Official crowd: 58,024 at the MCG

MALARKEY VOTES: Miles (Rich) 1, Heppell (Ess) 2, Ellis (Rich) 3.



  1. Great piece Paddy. Full of imagination and intensity. I loved the line about the Tigers whacking blokes in numerical order. Very creative.
    Like the Kangas, your Tigers look good when they take the game on. Horrible when they go into their shells and chip it around.
    I am really warming to this season again, after a winter hibernation. Really enjoyed last night’s game as a neutral. Heppell is a beauty – very precise disposal for an awkward kicking style. I said to the Avenging Eagle that he reminds me of Priddis with leg speed and good disposal.

  2. Stainless says

    This was an honest win by Richmond. Essendon is a decent side and although they’d be disappointed at their wastefulness, they kept coming at us all night. The victory required persistence and nerve to the very end and the coast to coast goal that started with Deledio in the last line of defence and finished with Edwards exemplified both. Plenty of lesser lights stood up too, which was also pleasing. I like the way your piece captured the tension and fluctuating fortunes of the night. The 3 goal margin doesn’t reflect how tight a game it was. For the record, I’d give Heppell 3 votes. He threatened to pinch it for Essendon right to the end – great player.

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