AFL Round 20 – Richmond v Essendon: Tell me I’m not dreamin’

by John Green


No man is happy without a delusion of some kind. Delusions are as necessary to our happiness as realities. – Christian Nestell Bovee (1862)

I indulge in a spot of reverie as we make our way across Yarra Park to the Peoples’ Ground. Richmond is playing Essendon in a Friday night blockbuster. After the trauma of slipping down to the bottom four we are back in town. The Tigers have won five in a row. With only four rounds to play we sit in twelfth place on the ladder only two games adrift from eighth-placed Collingwood with a fairly healthy percentage. Jobe Watson is still a week away from resuming for the Bombers. The whole competition is frightened of us after witnessing the retribution of renowned hardnuts in Ty Vickery and Reece Conca.

We have a mathematical chance of making the eight. That sounds scientific. But it’s time for a reality check. I have a mathematical chance of accumulating enough super to take an overseas trip every year when I retire. I know how likely that is.

It’s almost a family affair at the footy tonight. My daughter uses my membership ticket to sit with a friend in my reserved seat. My son meets his mates from school and heads up to the top deck. Whenever Richmond clashes with Essendon I meet up with Sam, a Bomber supporter. We’ve been friends since we met at the age of 12 in our first year of secondary school. We are joined by his brother Albert, who has flown down from the Gold Coast to visit their parents. We take our places by the fence in the standing room at the rear of the Richmond members’ section in the Great Southern Stand.

After a run of dull clashes between the two sides we witness an intense, tight struggle where first one team, and then the other, seizes control. The Bombers are up by a couple of goals at the first break. Then the Tigers hit back with six goals to three in the second term. Cotchin is awarded a free kick for an infringement which may or may not have occurred before the half time siren. He converts and the Tigers are up by a goal at the long interval. The Bombers threaten to take control in the third quarter but squander their opportunities. Martin scores against the tide with a powerful curling shot. There’s only five points in it at the final break. Richmond boots two majors within four minutes of the resumption of play and I am daring to dream, becoming caught up in the excitement of the Tiger fans around me.

But the Bombers have recast their attack, which hadn’t been functioning effectively. Daniher was unable to provide assistance to Jake Carlisle, who often found himself battling against both Rance and Chaplin. Hurley and Ryder go forward and it appears to work. When Melksham snaps truly at the 20-minute mark Essendon has closed to within five points. Then Shane Edwards marks in the square before playing on and popping it through. Out of respect for Sam and Albert’s sensibilities I have been somewhat restrained in my barracking. Now I permit myself a leap in the air and a fist pump.

The Richmond supporters are ecstatic. The Tigers hang on and the tireless Ivan Maric hauls in a mark  within easy range of goals. The siren sounds and big Ivan guides it through.

It’s handshakes all round, congratulations and commiserations. Sam and Albert depart to beat the traffic and I join the evening chorus in the stands.

That’s six wins in succession. We have to go back all the way to the heady days of ’95 to beat this run. That mathematical chance could be turning into a beautiful set of numbers. I’m delusional again and I feel fine.


  1. A man cannot take too much reality.
    I am taking my deluded self off to Subiaco this afternoon. Not so much thinking of the mathematical chance of finals, more the joyous rapture of plucking Magpie feathers (I hope).
    We are taking it one delusion at a time over here in the West.
    I have enjoyed cheering the Tigers and Cats home the last 2 nights. Much easier when you have no skin in the game.
    Thanks for keeping the delusion alive, John.

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