AFL Round 9 – GWS (aka Harlem Globetrotters) v Richmond: Irrationality, Rationality



Ecstasy. Last week’s anguish is gone. Forgotten. This is glorious. We’ve beaten the bloody Harlem Globetrotters at their home ground, in front of a rampant crowd of our own travelling supporters. Even we can’t lose from here.

The world is just and right and just right.

Amidst the pandemonium in the Victoria Hotel in Brunswick, a collection of football supporters have forgotten to look at the screen. When I finally do, I realise something is very, very wrong.

There’s a slow-mo replay. A finger has bent back, just enough, according the the video umpire. The goal is overturned.

We now have some serious problems.

The Globetrotters are taking their kick-out. We’re hopelessly out of position. It goes very long, straight up the guts. It gets over the back.

Nank fumbles and bumbles. Cameron cleans him up, then picks up the footy.

His kick is never bouncing off line. You just know.

Maybe, just maybe, there’s still time. But when Rioli inexplicably fumbles a regulation mark on the wing, you just know.

This is Richmond. This is our fate.


The world has conspired against us. Everyone has conspired against us.

The AFL, pumping up the Globetrotters with superstars.

I’m starting to understand why the folk down at the Whitten Oval hate them so much.

At least I’ve found something Eddie McGuire and I can agree on.

We had Richo and sod all else for 15 years. They’ve been here 5 years and they have Cameron, Patton, Coniglio, Scully, etc, etc, etc, etc.’


The umpires are hopeless, as usual.

The score review system is a complete and utter farce.

Rationality won’t return for a few hours, at least.

That said, some of these are legitimate complaints. The non-50 metre decision which saw Dusty’s shot smothered. The non-50 metre decision for Mumford’s crude hit on Riewoldt.

And then there’s the procedural shambles which saw us run back to the middle and set-up for a centre bounce (I’d imagine in a way that rectified our failings of the previous week), only to have the goal overturned late.

If there was enough doubt for it to be overturned, why wasn’t it just reviewed as soon as it sailed through?

How has this, an incident which threatened to plague the Grand Final, happened again?

How can we have such a ridiculous system? It’s amateur-hour stuff.


The hours pass. Dinner is consumed. Red wine flows. The pain lessens. I’ve recovered from this too many times before.

Rationality returns (a side effect of wine, perhaps?)

Three losses by a cumulative total of 10 points is hardly reason to panic.

If the Hawks winning six games under a goal made their fall from grace predictable, is the opposite true? Does a string of close losses suggest an imminent rise?

Apparently not, if you like to subscribe to tales of Tiger Tragedy.

37 years, no flag. Successive close losses. I mean, we do lend ourselves to a tragic tale.

But are we the only club who loses close games? Are we the only club who ‘doesn’t know how to win’?

As Rohan Connolly has argued in The Age, of the 28 games decided by under 10 points with Hardwick as coach, 11 have been won, two have been drawn and 15 lost. This isn’t quite what you would believe if you only read the headlines.

We were one goal away from icing the game. We kicked five final quarter behinds. The story could so easily have been different.

It actually was different, for a blissful 30 seconds.

We outplayed the outright flag favourites, these Harlem Globetrotters, for the majority of the game, with eight players under 22 in our line-up.

I’d argue it’s our most complete performance of the year, bar our goal kicking. We didn’t win, but the football we played was a joy to watch.

We’re 5-4, a ledger no one expected us to reach nine weeks ago.

The loss may be a tough pill to swallow. It might even be another case of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

But this side isn’t going to get worse.

I see only upside.

Rioli. Castagna. Butler. Menadue. Short.

Edwards, recently back from injury.

Prestia, having missed 18 months of footy.

Caddy didn’t even play.

None of them are going to get worse.

There are so many years ahead for these guys to flourish. But they’re already making a fair fist of things.

And Shai Bolton. How different the Monday headlines would be, but for that fingernail?

‘Tiger debutant strikes down late Harlem Globetrotters charge to snap Tiger losing streak.’

A first gamer. An exciting first gamer, with pace to burn. He has a bright future.


In time, the Tiger story of tragedy will change.

It changed for Geelong. It changed for the Bulldogs. Our time will come. Despite a disappointing few weeks, I don’t think it’s another 37 years away.

Neil Craig once went Shakespearian on us when he said that nothing in football is ever as good or as bad as it seems.

He’s right.

“There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.”

Time will tell.


GREATER WESTERN SYDNEY   1.2   4.5     6.9     11.12   (78)
RICHMOND                                   6.3   7.8   10.10   10.15   (75)



3. A Rance (Richmond)

2. D Martin (Richmond)

1. T Scully (Globetrotters)



Greater Western Sydney: Cameron 3, Reid 2, Scully, Lobb, Williams, Greene, Taranto, de Boer
Richmond: Riewoldt 2, Menadue 2, Cotchin 2, Castagna 2, Grigg, Lloyd


Greater Western Sydney: Kelly, Shiel, Wilson, Whitfield, Scully, Davis
Richmond: Rance, Martin, Grigg, Nankervis, Cotchin, Houli



Greater Western Sydney: Rory Lobb (groin)
Richmond: Jack Riewoldt (mummified)

Official Reports: Nil

Banister Family Reports:

Shane Mumford (thuggery) – no trial to be held, one-way ticket to Bali booked

Heath Shaw (smuggery) – sent to a plastic surgeon to have his grin removed


Umpires: Better, Left, Unmentioned

Official crowd: Not Many at Spotless Stadium

About Jack Banister

Journalism student @ Melbourne Uni, Brunswick Hockey Club Men's Coach, tortured Tigers fan.


  1. Three extremely close losses in a row really can suck, Jack. I am getting flashbacks to North Melbourne’s 2013 season. Hopefully for your sake Richmond can avoid the frustration that Kangas fans had to deal with week in, week out that year.

  2. JBanister says

    It happens – the only way is up!

    Or to lose to Essendon…

    I’ll be there, at any rate.

  3. Earl O'Neill says

    Funny how narrow losses focus on the last minutes when it could have been any of a hundred moments that decided the match. A goalfree last term and the procedural shambles at the last kickin are hard to ignore.
    Tigers are like Fuschias, teams that have gotten a lot better but lack cool, calm heads that come from experience in the big moments. Shaw has been great for the Monaros in that role.
    Very impressed by yr talent for gaining rationality via red wine.

  4. Rulebook says

    JB well done for being positive and yes at least the Tigers list is improving but appalling re lack of leadership and structures again.

  5. JBanister says

    Precisely Earl – so many things that have fallen the wrong way in the last couple.
    Much to learn, the Tigers still have!

    Took a lot of effort Rulebook! Every bone in my body wanted to explode at around 7.30pm on Saturday!

  6. Peter Warrington says

    I was gonna leave this alone, I am seriously off the case for this season, am about to go on blood pressure meds and the toothless tigers are a big contributor, unlike the actual Tiges, who have few.

    anyway… i was whitehot with anger after Freo. But this one just destroyed the soul. and it hit me.. this was the Edgbaston moment. I have always thought Headingley was fluke of Botham’s arse and a a bit of poor captaincy and bowling, and then a scary small chase on a minefield.

    Edgbaston – there was no reason we could have or should have lost that. To me, it’s the worst test defeat ever, a capitulation – yes triggered by Headingley and the mental demons, but the Poms didn’t even play that well. We just gave up.

    And that’s how Saturday felt to me. We just rolled over and gave up a 5 goal lead, without the Giants getting out of 2nd gear.

    It was a sad and pathetic loss.

    Even sadder was Hardwick talking it up, as if we were lucky to be competitive. Yes, we are playing kids, but so does nearly everyone else.

    And… they aren’t the problem. I don’t even think it’s the topline leaders – Jack was pretty good except for his sitter; Dusty had 3 brutal clangers but also did lots of good; Nankervis was real good I thought; and Rance/Astbury/Grimes should cry tears of blood that they could play that well against the equal best forward line in the comp and yet still be on the losing team.

    I’m a scratchy old record by the Jam, but to me it’s the middle tier every time, the Griggs missing their sitters and the Ellises with their turnovers and the McInstoshs with their Dum and Dumber and the Houlis with their densive weakness and next week it will be Taylor Hunt. These guys never turn up when it matters, and get picked every week.

    How are kids meant to learn when they see that sort of stuff rewarded, no wonder Castangna tries to win the game every time and Rioli can’t see the ball for his hair.

    Surely Balme can see that Hardwick cannot get the best out of the genuine talent at his disposal. I said it last year, we are good enough to be Top 4 if we get belief and hardness,and these games prove it, we are good enough, but we know we’re not.

    Have a good season, and hello Jimmy Webb, if you are reading!

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