AFL Round 21 – Richmond v Carlton: If it doesn’t matter it doesn’t matter. Or does it?


1.45pm, Saturday 17 August




If it doesn’t matter it doesn’t matter. Or does it?


Wow. How often does Richmond go into a game raging favourites against mortal enemy Carlton, safe in the knowledge we’ve made the finals three weeks out? What was this? 1973?
Not only that, Hawthorn had just beaten Collingwood to give us a chance of finishing top four and Essendon was almost certainly set to lose all its points following the biggest drug disaster since Lance Armstrong chided disbelievers after winning his seventh Tour de France – on the juice.
AFL CEO Andrew Demetriou, who was so confident about the state of the league that he took off on an overseas fact finding mission during the season, was also in more trouble than the early settlers.
Pinch me please!
It may be 40 years since we last beat Carlton in a Grand Final and 12 years since the Tigers made the finals of any sort, but Richmond’s worm had certainly turned. As the train rattled towards Richmond for our second 2013 clash with Carlton, we couldn’t believe our changing fortunes.
At this time of the year we were usually clinging to a slight mathematical possibility of making the eight. If we beat Carlton by more than 10 goals and Geelong beat Hawthorn by 175 then lost to the Bulldogs by 74, and then Port Adelaide rolled Freo in Perth by at least 40 points and St Kilda and Melbourne had a draw on 67 points each then we might just scrape in.
Or we’d already be resigned to another bottom four finish, plotting draft picks and using the AFL Record to list the players we thought should be traded (which had started in round four when it became mathematically impossible to make the eight).
This year was different. With three games left after we beat the Lions and the Bulldogs – God Bless ’em – beat Carlton it had become, barring our own drug scandal, mathematically impossible to miss the finals for the first time since 2001 when my kids, now 14, 12 and 10, were 2, six months and not even born.
So how did if feel walking into a game that we were expected to win but that didn’t really matter even if we did lose because we’d already made the finals? Like nothing we’d felt for 30 years.
The dream continued in the first quarter, with Jack Riewoldt kicking a goal, taking two marks inside 50 and giving off two goal assists in the first five minutes. Richmond controlled most of the play to be five goals up at quarter time.
Was it all too good to be true?
Of course it was. It couldn’t be Richmond without some form of disappointment.
The second quarter saw the Blues hit back, largely through Brock McLean, who kicked three, and Bryce Gibbs, who slotted two. The Blues dobbed six to Richmond’s two and were just five points down at the main break.


Our fortunes fell further when I went to Richmond station to meet Jess, who had played netball. Thinking the outside food vans were cheaper we ordered a Nando’s burger, fries and drink – only to be slugged $18.50. I’m never complaining about the cost of pies again!!
We got back inside just on half time with the game back in the balance. Perhaps predictably, it was all downhill from there. Carlton fans, still clinging to faint finals hopes, were happy as their team took control and wouldn’t let Richmond back into it.
The second half was an almighty arm wrestle and the Blues maintained their slender lead to hang on and win by 10 points. Brock McLean, Mitch Robinson, Zach Tuohy and Lachie Henderson all played important roles, while Ed Curnow did a great job tagging Trent Cotchin.
As for the loss, some tried rationalising it by saying it doesn’t matter if it doesn’t matter. But it does. Any loss to Carlton hurts and this would dent the players’ confidence in the lead-up to those elusive finals.
The other cloud on our otherwise positive horizon was created by Richmond’s new found success – and AFL rules allowing clubs to give game-day memberships with as few as one game priority access to finals tickets.
Clubs were also heavily promoting those ‘Claytons’ memberships, which they could sell until the end of August. During the match, Richmond advertised a deal where fans who may not have seen a game all year could buy a 2014 membership and secure member priority access to 2013 finals tickets.
This meant those of us who had literally not missed a match in Melbourne all year had to compete for finals tickets with an even bigger pool of people, some of whom signed up in August.


But that’s footy these days. All that matters is bums on seats. Too bad if those bums belong to band-wagoners at the expense of those who were there when their team was down. As we pulled into our station, already dreaming of bouncing back next week against GWS, we could only hope that all the true believers would have their faith repaid and score a ticket.
RICHMOND   8.2     10.3    12.7    14.12 (96)

CARLTON      3.2     9.4      13.4    16.10 (106)



Richmond: Vickery 3, Riewoldt 2, Ellis 2, Petterd, Vlastuin, Grigg, Jackson, McGuane, Maric, Rance

Carlton: McLean 3, Henderson 3, Casboult 3, Gibbs 2, Menzel 2, Robinson, Simpson, Tuohy



Richmond: Deledio, Jackson, Astbury, Conca, Foley

Carlton: McLean, Simpson, Jamison, Murphy, Robinson, Gibbs, Casboult, Armfield


Umpires: McBurney, Wenn, McInerney    CROWD: 63,825 at the MCG









  1. Neil Anderson says

    After the Bulldogs played their part in Carlton’s downfall, I thought the Tigers would do the rest.
    I don’t know whether it’s psychological or footy-god intervention or what, but some teams keep coming back to haunt you at the wrong time. When the Bulldogs were travelling well in recent years, it was always St Kilda that seemed to stop us getting to the big dance.
    I’m about to dredge up the most painful example of that curse when I write up the Bulldogs/Adelaide match today.
    Go Tigers on behalf of the Bulldogs!

  2. Cheryl Critchley says

    Thanks Neil. Maybe it was the wakeup call we needed to have. It’s just frustrating when we get into such a great position where we could challenge for top four we have to put in a stinker. But I’m rapt with the year so far and it’s UNREAL that we are finally playing finals!!! You make a good point about the footy gods. Some things just happen don’t they? Carlton is a bit of a hoodoo team for us at the moment; we only just scraped in thanks to bad kicking in round one. Good luck today. The Bulldogs are genuinely my second team, which was cemented after last week!

  3. Neil Belford says

    There’s on consolation at least for Richmond in their attack of performance anxiety. They have given up their right to 9th and handed it to the mortal enemy.

  4. Rod Miller says

    At the game against Brisbane, Richmond’s warm up went for 25 minutes. That’s a qtr of football! Led at half time didn’t kick a goal in the 3rd qtr but scrambled over the line. 5 goals up at qtr time v Blues then barely fired a shot. Noticed a few players in second half who looked absolutely stuffed. Didn’t see the warm up yesterday but they really need to ease off.

  5. Sean Gorman says

    CC – Nandos = No Go

  6. Cheryl

    Firstly, to paraphrase Mark Williams – I was wrong!

    To be in the finals, guaranteed, with three weeks still to play is way beyond the expectations that I expressed a few months back.

    Yes, yesterday was disappointing. A good side would have destroyed Carlton after a start like that but it still seems that the Scum causes us difficulties, psychologically and in match-ups.

    However, the are some silver linings.

    We played very poorly, stumbling and fumbling, not running, Martin and Cotchin obliterated, no small forwards, three posters and a host of squandered chances. And we still only lost by ten points.

    Perhaps the best contribution that Richmond’s lacklustre effort might have made to the competition is to maintain the delusions of adequacy at Princes Park and that some of the plodders who are playing for their careers might have won a reprieve for 2014!

    I could learn to like the sight of Carlton in ninth spot!

  7. Luke Reynolds says

    Great point made Cheryl about the bandwagon jumpers buying one game memberships and having the same rights for finals tickets as full members who have been to games all season. It’s wrong. I hope all the Richmond faithful who regularly attend get a ticket.

    Neil is right, some teams keep coming back to haunt you. As a pies fan for us it’s Hawthorn. For Hawthorn it’s Geelong. Proves that a large percentage of the game is played above the shoulders. Always enjoy your reports.

  8. The Tigers are on schedule for where they really are at this stage Cheryl. We’re a key forward, a mobile ruck men, and some mongrel short of challenging for a top four possy. A Patrick Dangerfield type say. Maybe a couple of them.

    I wouldn’t mind taking on Jack Watts actually – as a mobile tall. I think he’s been poorly coached at the Basket Weaving Workshop we share the tenancy with..

    And some midfield grunt. Cotch was smothered all day, and as far as I’m concerned, if we can get value from letting Martin go, I’d wish him well. He was hopeless on Saturday, and not for the first time. Furthermore, when he gets the ball it’s all about Dustin Martin. If we can fit a couple of Tuckies into the salary cap of one over inflated Dusty Martin that would do me.

    And didn’t we miss Jake King’s aggression across the forward line. Carlton got the ball out of defence far too easily.

    The bottom line is that it was a pathetic effort after a flying star, and it’s not the first time this season we’ve lapsed like that. Look at the number of times we’ve blitzed the opposition in bursts. Then look at our percentage. Although, arguably this lapse has been the most costly. In pride & place.

    Eat ’em alive Tigers!!!

  9. Cheryl Critchley says

    Thanks Luke. I’m genuinely worried about tickets. I haven’t missed one game in Melbourne this year and I went to Sydney, but someone who literally hasn’t been to a game this year told me today they were thinking of taking up that offer of buying a 2014 membership with 2013 finals access. That person would then have the same chance of getting a ticket in the first final as me. I really hope all members are catered for but if we end up at Etihad it’ll be a bunfight. Overall yesterday was very disappointing given where we could have been if we won. I’m undecided about Martin. He’s a great asset when he’s on song but yesterday he didn’t earn a rookie’s wage. We also need a Plan B for when Cotchin is covered as he’s a big target for the Opposition now. I’m still really excited about playing finals but it’ll be a bit of a fizzer if we only play one and go out in straight “set” so to speak when at times we’ve promised so much more. As for Nando’s – NEVER AGAIN.

  10. Very very disappointing to fly over for my single game of the year, skite to my Carlton mates about percentage boosters on the way in, and have them serve it back to me cold later. Looked to me for all money like a case of players slipping into cruise mode after quarter time. Sorely wished we could have dropped King and Newman into the fray in the last quarter.

    My one consolation is those same Carlton mates are furious that their boys have left it so late to perform like that.

    I hope you get tickets to a fabulous finals win, Cheryl. Go Tiges.

  11. Cheryl Critchley says

    Thanks 4boat; what bad timing you have! Our friends came to their first game of the year against North and we got thumped by 10 goals! My Carlton supporting sister (who as always has been gracious in victory) is reassuring me there’ll be no problems getting tickets on Day 1 of the finals but I’m not so sure with the inflated membership numbers and the possibility of playing at Etihad. I’ve got my fingers, toes and everything else crossed! Hope you get to come over and enjoy it too…

  12. Harsh call about Martin, Wrap.

    He’s been our best player for the last two months and I still thnk has enormous potential for improvement. the club needs to stand firm on what they’re prepared to offer him but I’d be very disappointed if he left.

  13. Geez Stainless that spin is worthy of a gig on the Rudd or Abbott campaign (or Hird/Little). We don’t have a deficit only a temporary revenue management response.

  14. Ok Peter here’s the plain English version.

    Martin is a star, but an inconsistent one. Richmond has invested lots of time and effort into him and, yesterday’s stinker aside, I reckon he’s repaid us handsomely over the season.

    I was not convinced about his worth pre-season but I am now. Players of his calibre don’t come along often. Provided the price is right, Richmond would be mad to move him on.

    Of course if Martin and his management dig their heels in and Richmond pay over the odds to keep him, that would be a poor decision by a club that’s trying hard to move away from that sort of nonsense.

    It helps that at long last, the future at Richmond actually looks promising, so the incentive to stay should be more than just dollars.

    That’s my opinion- hopefully spin-free.

  15. Peter
    I just realised that it was my earlier comment that you describe as spin, so here goes again.

    Carlton are ordinary. We went to some lengths to be more ordinary than them yesterday. I don’t know how much improvement Carlton have in them but we’ve got plenty.

    I hate losing to Carlton in any circumstances but I’m not going to let the disappointment of one match ruin my enjoyment of a good season by the Tigers, which has been enhanced by a nice dollop of schadenfreude at the Blues’ expense.

    Clear enough?

  16. Cheryl Critchley says

    I agree Stainless. I can take a loss – us Richmond fans are sure used to them – but it’s annoying when we are considered the better team by a fair way and could have put ourselves in a position to finish top four, only to completely crumble. That’s what was disappointing on Saturday. We have to learn to at least do what we can do each week, give or take a few down days, if we are to be real contenders.

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