AFLW Round 1 – Richmond v Brisbane: Normal Service Resumed


We gathered under the new normal on the Punt Road wing.  Also on hand and looking completely normal were Craig McCrae and Justin Leppitsch and their impossibly beautiful families.  I’m not garrulous or even affable enough to neatly praise them on their good service to the club, so after a few discomfiting stares in their direction they retreated the shade of a straggly gum slightly down the hill.  I thought it was the measure of McCrae that he was able to remain uphill of Lepper from that point on.  That’s the sort of player he was.  He never got smashed, did he, despite his size?


Can’t tell you how much we’ve all wished to be back at live games.  The $10 tariff is no obstacle whatsoever, but just a heads-up for those who may not have scored a ticket yet:  the souvlaki van was selling chips at $8 a poke.  The beer was reasonable though not the good stuff you get at the Whitten Oval.  I think they just went round the back of the G and emptied the fridges of old Great Northern.


We were surrounded by players’ families, which is still one of the charming features of AFLW.  Kate Dempsey’s aunt said to me, ‘Do you have a girl here or are you just Richmond fans?’  I told her that was all we were, but I made sure I praised her niece’s game.  I asked where she’d come from listwise, because she wasn’t on my radar last season, and we both got hopelessly confused about what year it was.  I think her AFLW career has been hobbled by injury but she’s into her third season of VFLW at the club.  In any case, I look forward to her continued poise on the wing.  She constantly found precious space wide and was always assured with the ball in hand.  This may salve the wound of losing Grace Campbell to North.


Completely blinkered as always, I totally forgot to notice the opposition (with one exception:  Courtney Hodder, unbelievable balance and speed to go with her goals).  And Brisbane was good, obviously better than us.  The result was never in doubt, but we were competitive.  Sarah Hosking was a revelation early, making up for the total absence of Conti in the first half.  I readily found my voice, not just the beer it was the endorphins or whatever it is you get from barracking, and before I could blame Katie Brennan for losing the second centre-square clearance I realised she was now bossing our forward line.  She was where she belonged, took three great marks in the first quarter and I’m not going to hold the missed shots against her.  She’s back.


Our Brisbane correspondent, well known to these pages, was watching through the prism of Yeronga connections and Lauren Arnell’s Phys Ed classes up there.  He texted me, ‘We look better but everyone’s improved’, a feeling I can only endorse.  Agreed, Cordner is a ready-made full back; of the other recruits I now realise I did notice Ellie McKenzie, whom I might have been confusing with Sarah D’Arcy, both left-footers with a two in their number.  I can’t help the disappointment that neither of those left feet could reasonably be described as raking.  Yet.  Anyway, on reflection McKenzie is probably one to watch.


The more I tried to identify the players by number, the more I found myself staring at my phone, at unhelpful pages of the Richmond website to which my ageing hands had inexplicably led me.  What am I doing here?  We’ve come so far as a species:  we watch football in the evenings, in the twilight, in the summer; we marvel at the women’s league, we’re mindful of the tenor of our insults from the crowd; we call up information virtually for free, literally basting ourselves with data in the afternoon sun.  Yet I fear we’re devolving, or I am at least:  I find I can only do one thing at once.  Whither Barry Dickins’ mythical supporter with pie, fag, transistor radio and tinny in his hand?  That’s four things at once (more if you include his unacceptable racist and sexist epithets).


We fight hard in the first five minutes of the third quarter, but their goals come in a rush, wind assisted.  There are some goal square comedy capers that yield us a couple of disappoints, we fall too far behind.  A ball was launched onto Punt Road narrowly avoiding a three-lane pile-up, but no one was harmed.  Mind you, the ball was in our forward line when the siren went and the timekeeper had only added 16 seconds of time-on for the entire quarter.


A stream of well-wishers made their way to Fly and Lepper before they slipped away in the last quarter, discreetly avoiding any reaction that might have been seen to favour either of the clubs.  A bloke got the hill chuckling with a Specsavers quip; that felt like old times.  Along with the sanitiser, the tiny crowd, the QR codes, the no kick on the ground after the match was one of the a few COVID reminders.  As we stepped out onto Brunton Avenue the security guard said to us, ‘Enjoy the rest of your day.’  How could you not?


RICHMOND    0.2     1.4     1.6     1.6     (12)
BRISBANE     2.3     2.4     4.8     5.11     (41)


Brisbane: Bodey 2, Hodder, Hickie, Davidson


 Cordner, Dempsey, McKenzie, Seymour, Conti
Brisbane: Dawes, Svarc, Bates, Grider, Conway


Brisbane: Nil


Reports: Nil


Crowd: 988 at the Swinburne Centre



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A Tigers fan still trying to make sense of everything.. Two kids in the EDFL, another Year of Living Vicariously. I've spent a long time weighing up social media platforms and have finally settled on the Almanac. I like loads of stuff.

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