AFL Round 9 – Richmond v Melbourne: Pessimism and Retrospect

The players were still running. The ball was still moving. The crowd was still watching. But Pessimism and Retrospect were leaving. They had seen enough. Melbourne led by 16 points into time-on in the last. Richmond had failed on a day in which they simply had to succeed.
Pessimism and Retrospect walked past hundreds of glum Tigers on their way to the stairs. Among them was an old man with his two granddaughters. The little girls were crying. They looked young; this whole defeat and disappointment thing was new to them. The old man’s expression, however, was sadder than theirs. He looked old with this cycle of false hope, but it clearly had not gotten any easier for him over the years.
Retrospect looked at the two girls and muttered, “We were like that once. Guess it’s been going on forever.”  They had reached the top of the stairs. They were empty, but they both knew they wouldn’t be for long. Pessimism seized the chance.
“Is 2014 worse than 2009? Just a more drawn out, painful year because we know this team can make finals and we hope they’ll turn it around.”
“All those guys who were good last year and haven’t developed … Vickery, Grigg, Houli, Chaplin, Morris … you’re right, it feels like a recurring nightmare. Rock bottom, rebuild, hope … then the good gets bad so fast you can’t even remember what it was like.”
They reached the bottom of the stairs and trudged past the austere portrait of Bill Ponsford. Retrospect sighed.
“Yep. Sub out Hampson for Graham, Houli for Tambling, Vickery for Holland…” There were more and more Tigers outside the MCG. Angry uni students who had wasted $10 getting in and out. Tired parents with squabbling kids. An old couple smoking silently.
“I really thought Hardwick was the man this time”, groaned Pessimism. “But it looks like he’s another thereabouts. Another Wallace.”
The word was like a curse.
“But we’ve gone backwards so suddenly that Melbourne’s outstripped us. Roos.”  The word was laced with grudging admiration.
“He’s doing something right. Or, at least, better than us. We made Jack bloody Watts look good today., And all these muppets who’ve been tag-alongs for years, like Gawn. Or discards like Vince and Cross. They. Looked. Good.”
Their feet slithered through all of the soft yellow leaves that pointed the way to Jolimont Station. Behind them, Pessimism and Retrospect finally heard the siren and the cheers of thousands of happy Melbourne fans.
“Nathan Jones has always been tough”, said Retrospect, “but he had good support today. Whereas we had Martin racking up touches with nobody to kick to.”
They clopped down the ramp and onto the platform. There were Richmond supporters everywhere here, clutching beanies, duffel coats, old scarves and faded guernseys. No one spoke.
“If you can’t beat Melbourne for Tom Hafey … who can you beat?” Retrospect sighed.
Walking up briskly behind them was an old Demon in a tweed coat and a hunting cap. Normally, a lone, victorious opposition supporter would have been in trouble around Pessimism and Retrospect, but they weren’t in the mood. Besides, they weren’t angry at Melbourne.
The old Demon smiled and politely asked, “Isn’t Optimism normally with you?” Their shoulders slumped. Hearing it from an outside observer made it so real.
“No. Hasn’t been for a couple of months.”
The train trundled up to meet the Richmond supporter, who stepped on. The doors closed and the train slowly left.


Melbourne           1.3          4.5           9.6          14.7.91
Richmond            2.3          4.8          6.16        9.20.74

Best – (M) N Jones, Gawn, Watts, Garland, Cross, Vince, Viney.
– (R) Martin, Jackson, Foley.
Goals – (M) Watts 3, Pedersen 2, Tyson 2, Kennedy-Harris, Riley, Dawes,
M Jones, Vince, Viney, N Jones.
– (R) Edwards 2, Lennon 2, Riewoldt, Cotchin, Lloyd, Martin, Jackson.
VOTES 3. N. Jones (M) 2. M. Gawn (M) 1. J. Watts (M)

About Callum O'Connor

Here's to feelin' good all the time.


  1. Very clever and perceptive Callum. I’m not looking forward to Round 18. Desperate meets Dateless.

  2. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Superb Callum I must admit I had a giggle today when , Wayne Carey made the point that re Troy Chaplin that you can’t perform open heart surgery during the season pure utter gold and so true ! Overall I think the tigers got ahead of themselves and over rated the ability on there list

  3. Great article in the words of a Richmond supporter i spoke to we are used to it.

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