An Inconvenient Truth?

OK, someone has to throw the dead dog on the table. Lest we cop the “delusional” tag again, it’s probably best coming from within the Richmond camp.

As Richmond supporters (and indeed a sizeable chunk of the football universe) bathe in the glory of the Tigers’ Lazarusian revival and contemplate an unexpected finals campaign, has anyone briefly stepped out of the orgy of self-congratulation (probably sponsored by Jeep – Don’t Hold Back) to reflect critically on the knife-edge that the Tigers’ campaign has been sitting on for the past nine weeks and ask the question: what if we’d lost?

No, actually, let’s ratchet that scenario up a bit.

Let’s go to the last frantic minutes of the Sydney game and ask ourselves: what if just one of the myriad opportunities that Sydney butchered had resulted in a match-winning goal?

Now let’s overlay that grisly plate of offal with the putrid sauce of 34 years of failure. Are you starting to get an idea of what would have been the main course on the media menu this week?

Two things stand out like the proverbial dog’s cojones here.

One is that if we discard the rose-coloured glasses briefly and analyse the Sydney game through the fuzzy, hungover lens of yet another gut-wrenching near miss, we’d find a mother-lode of missed opportunities and faults from which to conclude that the Struggletowners were fully deserving of a 10th place finish.

A second-string opposition line-up playing at their second-string venue. No real incentive for the Ducks except to keep healthy for next week. To which end, the not so unexpected but hugely significant late riding change – L. Franklin replaced by…er…who was it again? And to top it off, a bonus door prize of 15 minutes free time in the candy store to grab all the goodies you can (viz a 33 point lead) before the opposition sleepily turned the alarm clock off and decided to start participating.

Despite this host of advantages, the yellow and blacks had still managed to blow their huge early lead before 3/4 time. Their meagre 2nd and 3rd quarter goal tally was donated entirely by the benevolent men in green. And despite the random flashes of genius from Messrs Edwards and Martin that conjured two last quarter goals, the number of sprayed shots, dropped marks and defensive clearances straight into the 16th row were steadily assuming a magnitude worthy of the collective noun – clusterf**k.

Second is that the gazillion people who have subsequently emerged from the woodwork across Planet Earth, claiming to have witnessed this game, have somehow obliterated all recall of these negatives. I understand that history is written by the winners, but I’m alarmed that such a whitewash narrative of this game has been so quickly and universally accepted. More importantly, I fear that even as our captain and coach dutifully utter the “hard work begins this week” cliche, that this torrent of uber mensch propaganda might have already transported the mindset of the team into Mad Monday territory and that this might be ruthlessly exposed on Sunday.

When you consider that the same zealots who are now claiming to have seen the promised land were the ones recently arguing that only by winning a final could Richmond conclusively claim improvement this year, the term “premature jubilation” springs to mind.

I hope I’m wrong.

About Sam Steele

50 years a Richmond supporter. Enjoying a bounteous time after 37 years of drought. Should've been a farmer!


  1. Yvette Wroby says

    Dear Stainless,

    loved your analysis, and the clusterf**k! I hope the delusion continues because you will need it if by some miracle you win the next round. I, being a Sainter, want this to be the year of the “not Geelong, Sydney, Hawthorn”. I want someone to come and blow up the eight and steal the glory, be it Richmond or any of the others who haven’t won within the last 5 years!

    Go Tiges


  2. Fitzroy in 1984 were stone motherless last by the QB round, won the next four, lost the three after that to be 10th in a field of 12, then won the next six (including the second and third placed teams) to nab the last spot in the final five. In the elimination final they went under by eight goals.

    Three years later Melbourne were sputtering to yet another double-figure finish in Robbie Flower’s last year, then won their last seven and stormed into the finals, at which point they beat North by nearly 20 goals, Sydney by 12 and went damn close to winning the prelim as well.

    In Richmond’s favor are form, momentum and the fact that until about three weeks ago none of the others would have rated than a prospect and so not as much homework would have been done on them. Against them is the higher class of opposition and the possibility that having been ‘up’ so long, their form (or luck) will run out.

    Which way will it go? I hsven’ t the slightest idea. But if they do run out of steam next week, the nine on end should still stand them in good stead for 2015 and the moral of the story should be, this time don’t miss the start!!

  3. Sam

    Sadly, there’s a lot to what you say, although right now, like many others, I am ignoring the elephant in the room.

    Yes, for the sake of one kick, we’d be lamenting that our traditional late run had fallen short and the season would be a failure, more so because of what we showed when we did have a crack.

    We were fortunate not to have run into too many powerhouse clubs along our last lap heroics and then played a conservative Sydney. I think Buddy may have been good for at least 1 goal or at least 6 shots off target had he played and what then.

    Just as we can look at how the game and season would have looked had we faltered Sat night, so we can consider how the inexplicable losses to the Dogs and Dees earlier in the year could have meant we didn’t have to go on this run.

    Yes, we are avoiding it, I completely agree and the what ifs could have been awful to watch had we lost.

    We may have delayed the inevitable by a week. It shouldn’t be enough just to make the 8. It is better than the Pies or Blues right now though


  4. There is no elephant in the room. Everyone knows Franklin didn’t play. Everyone knows Kennedy didn’t play. Everyone knows we are (probably) not good enough to beat a full strength Swans. But nobody thought we were good enough to beat a 80% strength Swans. But we did. This isn’t about winning the flag in 2014. It’s about making the finals on a consistent basis. It’s about getting team performances consistent enough to do that. What about the other elephant in the room. A Richmond side missing its core of stars for the first 2-3 months of the season. If the shoe fits. There is a reason for jubilation, and that is long term supporters know the history of the last 30 years. No Richmond side in that time has done what has been done over the last nine weeks.
    This is a MASSIVE portent for the future. Exciting times ahead. (FYI the club is VERY confident going into Adelaide this week.)

  5. Malcolm Ashwood says

    A good realistic article , Stainless where I must credit , Richmond is the players have played there roles well , we all suspect that the tigers last few players fall away pretty quickly which is where the gap between the real top sides and the rest comes in . The tigers are not rated by other clubs and this has helped the tigers which you can’t blame , them for . The tigers have had a very good run injury wise the last 2 years ( Rance , Maric , Astbury and Deledio is nothing compared to a lot of clubs ) again well done to there medical department but this generally evens out over time . Richmond is gradually gaining some respect but a long way to go

  6. Dear Stainless,
    As an Eagles supporter ‘glorying’ in the unfamiliar territory of 9th, I find your article to constitute cruel and unusual punishment.
    I agonised over the Swans Richmond game more than any TIger desperate, only now to be informed by one that you were lucky to have been gifted the game.
    Can’t you Tigers ever win gracefully?
    As for the last para reference to “premature jubilation”, I wish I had never mentioned Felicity Burns and Wallaroo Sand Dunes on this site.
    Paranoid of Perth

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