AFLM Round 13 – Geelong v Richmond: Like September in June

 

The MCG scoreboard clock has just ticked past three o’clock in the afternoon and the biting wind is bitter and unpleasant.

 

This is a typical Melbourne day, the weather has been at its unstable worst all day, rain falling at inopportune moments. It rained as I as I took the bins out, while I waited for the replacement bus and as I got off the bus outside Jolimont Station to walk to the ground.

 

We are sitting on level 4 of the Members’ Stand, under the cover of the protective roof, feeling safe for the afternoon, having carefully chosen our seats to be as close to the action as is possible on such a changeable day. So far we have navigated successfully the conflict between the yearning of the soul to be near to the action and the yearning of the body to be warm and dry. Good job!

 

You know what they say about the best-laid plans of mice and men!

 

We look on as the Richmond cheer squad proudly raise their banner, complete with a clever acrostic, preparing to welcome the boys onto the arena. The wind swells again and the heavens open. The run-though is eviscerated and soon lies forlornly on the turf, clever words left in tatters. Not that we care, we are too busy retreating into the nosebleed seats, desperate for shelter from the elements as the latest passing shower blows directly into our faces.

 

As we settle on a new vantage point, the Tigers run over the top of their run-through. Comically, some even examine it for signs of life before giving up and trampling over it. Disappointed cheer squad members gather up their weeks’ work and exit the arena. A few minutes later, the MCG is bathed in bright sunshine as the game begins. That’s Melbourne!

 

Richmond first-gamer Ryan Garthwaite is immediately isolated on Geelong behemoth Tom Hawkins. Welcome to the big-time kid, try not to go the same way as the banner. Richmond attack strongly and lock the ball into their forward line. Unfortunately for them, they fail to read the fluky wind and conditions correctly and soon have five points on the board from five missed shots, all gettable. The Cats respond with a major, courtesy of Hawkins, cast in the Goliath role against Garthwaite’s David. Jack Riewoldt posts an immediate response.

 

The last five minutes of the first quarter belongs to the Cats, who open up a handy lead of fifteen points. Hawkins scores a second and Gazza makes light of the tricky conditions with a magnificent running goal from outside fifty that never looks like missing. We Richmond fans recoil into the foetal position every time an Ablett kicks a goal at the MCG.

 

What a game this could be! The conditions are not conducive to good football but it matters not a whit. Between them, the forty-four players on the field boast five Brownlow Medals, two Coleman Medals, a Norm Smith Medal and over twenty Premiership Medallions. There are eight All-Australians, most of them selected on multiple occasions and three of them have been All-Australian captain. In the respective brainstrusts, both coaches are multiple Premiership players and Premiership coaches. This is a contest worthy of September, not of this icy and unpredictable June.

 

The Tigers restore the evenness of the contest early in the second quarter by kicking multiple goals of their own. The middle part of the game becomes a struggle. Quality contests are everywhere as the two coaches pit the stars against each other. Look in the midfield and you will see Ablett and Dustin Martin compete like two prize-fighters. In Geelong’s forward line, Alex Rance plays on Patrick Dangerfield. The two captains, Joel Selwood and Trent Cotchin butt heads, both leading their teams admirably by example, both are square-jawed and hewn from hard rock.

 

Premiership heroes Daniel Rioli and Kane Lambert are electric, constantly winning difficult ball. Shane Edwards plays another awesome game, every one of his touches is both clinical and productive. Even the two ruckmen, Rhys Stanley and Toby Nankervis, halve their contest, exchanging early goals.

 

At the main break the difference between the two teams is a measly two points. By the last break this margin has halved. The stage is set for a wonderful finish to a beautiful game of footy. Will we get our just reward for braving the elements?

 

We are not disappointed. Five goals are scored in the final stanza and each one is a classic, showcasing all things that are good about our sport. The quarter begins with an improbable Riewoldt goal. He and Josh Caddy split a pack open with strength, bringing the ball to ground. Dan Butler runs onto a loose crumb and fashions a three metre kick on the outside of his foot into Riewoldt’s arms. He displays absurd creativity in this brief action. Jack kicks truly to complete the magic. Moments later, Dusty adds a belligerent follow-up, pouncing on another crumb and belting it across his shoulder. The game moves effortlessly from a display of sublime skill to one of raw power.

 

Selwood responds with a typical Selwood goal, taking a head-high tackle before inspiring his team to respond. He exhibits the courage required to be a superstar of this game.

 

The next goal is an Edwards’ special. A smother, a brief glimpse into a deserted forward-line and a long kick to empty space releases a running Jason Castagna, one of the Tigers’ fleetest of foot, creating a spectacular soccer goal. Edwards is a hidden gem, his deft touches are rarely seen by fans of other teams who are simply left wondering about what just happened. Watch him closely, his vision will take your breath away.

 

The last score of the game is the best. Richmond is a blue-collar, hard-working outfit and the football that they play on the back of effort is exhilarating. Lambert and Rioli, together make something special out of what should be a routine stoppage on the Members’ wing. They run the ball together until a Geelong defender is trapped by Richmond’s three pressure forwards. Three players, one tackle, holding the ball, goal. Rioli strikes as all Riolis do.

Courage, pace, skill, vision, strength, effort and endurance have all been displayed in an enthralling contest.

 

See more pieces by Joe de Petro HERE.

 

 

 

 

 

GEELONG                    4.2       5.5       8.7      9.11 (65)
RICHMOND                 1.5       5.7       8.8       12.11 (83)

Goals

Geelong: Hawkins 3, J.Selwood 2, Stanley, Parfitt, Ablett, Parsons
Richmond: Butler 2, Riewoldt 2, Castagna 2, Grigg, Caddy, Lambert, Nankervis, Martin, Rioli

Best

Geelong: Selwood, Stewart, Stanley, Ablett, Menegola
Richmond: Edwards, Vlastuin, Grimes, Conca, Lambert, Rance, Rioli

Crowd: 46,423

 

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About Joe De Petro

My favourite period in history began with the Summer of Love and came to a sad end with the birth of Disco. It was from 1967 to 1975. What was not to like in those days? The Grateful Dead, Creedence, The Beach Boys, The Doors, Janis Joplin, Cat Stevens, Neil Diamond and the mighty Tigers won Premierships every other year. It was a magical time!

Comments

  1. This was a really engaging game Joe. One of the better ones I’ve watched for a while. The Tigers were better in the crisis moments and their small forwards are brilliant in close. A few of Geelong’s young blokes let themselves down in front of goal.

    I couldn’t work out the booing of Selwood and Ablett? Selwood maybe because he gets free kicks when opposition players tackle him high (go figure?), but Ablett? Not sure what he’s done.

    Its an absurdity that we play Richmond again in about 5 weeks!

  2. Joe De Petro says:

    Yeah, the booing was a bit of a topic of conversation where I was sitting too. Nobody knew why.

    Selwood’s reputation for ducking makes him very unpopular amongst everyone bar Geelong fans. Having said that, the free kick in the last quarter involved no perceptible ducking or dropping of his knees so it was very much genuine. I watched it on replay a few times and he was trying to raise his forearm to push it high but the tackle was already high and his movement was very late anyway. From my vantage point, it was just a display of courage and a deserved free. Even Scissorshands acknowledged he had stuffed up.

    The booing of Gazza was really odd. I doubt that the booers even knew why they were doing it. The line in my piece about Richmond fans recoiling into the foetal position when an Ablett kicks a goal was my way of trying to explain this unexplainable oddity that occurred. Abletts have scarred many of us. That can’t be denied. Beyond that, I gots nuthin.

  3. Good point Joe. Might be confusing Ablett junior with Ablett senior!

  4. Stainless says:

    Dips – I didn’t hear booing of Ablett and I reckon his goal produced the loudest cheer of the day. FWIW I think Dangerfield’s dive that produced the free kick against Martin and his subsequent umpire contact produced the loudest remonstrations from the Tiger fans. Given the stick Rance has copped recently, I’d say they had some justification.

    Joe – I don’t think we need to assume the foetal position any more when it comes to GAJ. The highlight of the game for me was Richmond’s ability to stare down the “statements” made by Geelong’s Holy Trinity (plus Hawkins) at various points of the game and respond with interest. A bit of a contrast to the last 35 years!

  5. Joe De Petro says:

    There was some booing of Gazza late in the game for some obscure reason. Maybe it had something to do with the past or maybe it was because Geelong is coached by a supercilious knob who still acts as if the Tigers aren’t really reigning Premiers and Gazza embodies Geelong.

    Who cares, I just like writing the words “reigning Premiers” in a sentence about the Tigers.

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