Finals Week 1 – Brisbane v Richmond: Welcome back Prince Harris Andrews, the Jason Donovan of our premiership hopes

 

 

 

As the Lions ran out onto the ground, before the game, Harris Andrews veered away from the herd and leapt into the air. It confirmed a few things. One, he was definitely playing. Seeing his hamstring fully stretched and extended as he soared into the air as part of his warmup made my heart beat a little bit faster. I know this because my Apple Watch kicked into gear and sent me a notification reminding me to breathe a bit more slowly. As a happily married man, I rarely comment on another man’s legs, but here we are. On this point, I worry about the way that the Apple products our family own all speak to each other. My iPad knows that last week I googled “Harris Andrew’s upper thighs” and now my watch has probably told the very MacBook that I’m typing this report on now that the sight of these very thighs increased my blood pressure.

 

There is something talismanic about Harris. It’s only tonight that I register that he wears the same number thirty-one as Ronald Dale Barassi. The same Barassi who once signed his name with reference to the number of premierships he was involved with as a coach and player. We are all in that glorious period where Harris’s career and story is yet to really unfold for us, but there seems a sense of destiny and certainty that he, like Barassi, Whitten, Kernahan and Daicos, will have a name that will reverberate throughout the ages.

 

The teams line up for the anthem. There is a square jawed and focussed grit about them that contrasts with the chuckling Tigers. Their coach, Dimma, jogs over to their line-up, late for some reason. One of these teams will be retrospectively judged after the match for their contrasting approaches to this moment. The story could be that the relaxed Tigers, who didn’t overthink the game, eased into another preliminary final. The Lions, like the Power Ranger Crows of 2017, overcooked it. This is the mighty Richmond in the midst of an empire. It’s only the Lions. So many finals. One can’t be expected to arrive on time for all of them. So many big games, so many anthems to sing along to. They’ll beat us again tonight and in years to come, Dimma and Cotch and Dusty will get a bit muddled – which one was that game again? You know, that one when you were late, Dimma? Was that 2019 when we flogged them or 2020? They’ll be staring at their array of premiership cups and medals as they reminisce, and they’ll chuckle again. Cotch will muse and reflect as he picks lint from his belly button with the edge of his 2020 Norm Smith Medal. How long was that streak against the Lions again lads? I know it was an all time AFL record but was it one hundred and thirty-seven or one hundred and thirty-eight? If it wasn’t for that free kick that Dayne Zorko the third got in front of goal in that first home and away game on Mars last week, that streak would still be going.

 

The Lions get the first clearance and McCluggage marks. He finds Rich, the only Lion to have ever played in a winning side against Richmond, five prime ministers ago. Rich goals from outside fifty. The first quarter becomes a game of ping pong. Riewoldt goals for them as a quick response. Dusty is doing what Dusty does when the Tigers play against Brisbane – mauling us. It is games against Brisbane that seem to get people wondering where Dusty sits in the pantheon of all-time greats.

 

Garry Lyon raised eyebrows a few weeks ago when he said that Dan McStay could be as good as Wayne Carey. There was a pack mark and then goal by our number twenty-five that may just give flight to such fancy in Lions fans, and hopefully, Dan himself. It’s a great quarter, the sort that neutrals would love with fast and open play from both teams. My wife is not really a footy fan, but she understands the significance of the game tonight so has joined the family on the couch. She asks ‘Which one is Lachie Neale? You said he was number nine, but I haven’t really noticed him.’ It is really only then that I realise that the Brownlow Medallist-elect hasn’t actually touched the football yet. ‘That Dustin Martin is very good, isn’t he,’ she adds, unhelpfully.

 

We get the first goal of the second quarter. Charlie Cameron was marooned at full forward, well held by Dylan Grimes in the corresponding Qualifying Final last year. Richmond didn’t merely beat us then, to borrow a line from William Shakespeare, they really ‘bit their thumbs’ at the Lions. There have been some lessons learnt though. Hipwood and Charlie are roaming up the ground more this year and Charlie’s early goal in this quarter comes not from his typical play of out dancing a solitary opponent but as a result of him streaming into the forward line and getting at the end of a chain of handballs. The game is largely being played in Richmond’s forward line though. Lachie is starting to find the footy, his first two kicks bring what feels like his first two mistakes for the year as they end up landing on the chests of Richmond players but there are signs that he is like an opening batsman getting his eye in. Keidean Coleman is tackling like a casual contract worker looking to impress the boss and gain a permanent position. Rayner goals from outside fifty, Charlie finds a follow up and does his motorbike dance, a move which always gets my seven-year-old dancing in our lounge room too. The Tigers are giving away free kicks and the umpires seem to be wise to their ways of quickly kicking the ball away whenever a whistle is blown and are paying the fifty metres. Zorko has become more and more statesman like as the year has progressed, but one should never forget that before he became a nobleman, his was a game built on antagonising opponents. He turns one of these fifty metre penalties into two with what could perhaps be called a ‘captain’s sledge’ to Marlion Pickett. It ends up with a goal to Neale and the Lions take a thirteen-point lead into half time.

 

The music teacher in me would use words like tempo and tone to describe the way that the seasoned teams like Richmond and Geelong have played against us this year. Our best and most convincing win for the year was probably the Port Adelaide game. We tend to win by bursting a team apart for a quarter and then riding that lead home. The Cats and Tigers were able to recognise and control those moments tonally and then change the rhythm and cadence of the game to find a way back. The start of the third quarter feels like that. The openness that led to our late second quarter surge is being worked on and slowed down by Richmond. Nothing much happens on the scoreboard. Charlie finds his third goal for the game but then Rioli gets one almost immediately for the Tigers. It’s like they have this ability, when being beaten by an opponent, to change the game being played instead. Moses couldn’t beat the Egyptians, so he instead changed the direction of the ocean. You can’t help but admire the grandiose scope of what Richmond are doing. It is like the cage is being built around the Lions with a slow surety. It comes down to individual moments for the Lions to win the quarter. Bailey roves a goal like Akermanis. Harris is swanning around his defensive fifty with the same cavalier assurance with which Jason Donovan once roamed around Ramsay Street. We probably just win the third stanza on a points decision. It’s Jarrod Berry’s quarter but he and McCluggage both miss gettable goals near the siren, either of which would have probably iced the game.

 

Apparently, the biggest lead that Richmond have ever chased down in the Hardwick era is twenty points. We lead by twenty-one. The commentators also say that the biggest three-quarter time lead that Richmond have ever pegged back was only fourteen points. And that was in 1933. There are lies, damned lies and statistics, Mark Twain once said. I don’t know if these comments are being shared to reassure Lions fans like me or are portentous statements about how historic the Richmond comeback will be, when it almost certainly comes. I remember watching Wimbledon one year and it was mentioned that Pete Sampras had only ever come back and won twice when trailing two sets to love. They forgot to give any context to this statistic and let us know how incredibly rare an occasion it was that the great Sampras ever actually dropped the first two sets against anyone.

 

McCarthy misses the goal we need and Rioli gets one up the other end, of course he bloody does. It’s a fifteen-point game now. Bolton kicks a miracle goal from the boundary line, but the replay shows that it shaved the post. Riewoldt goals but then McCluggage finally finds the goal we need. It is momentous. The first finals win for the Lions since 2009. This may have been the game of the year for its class and ferocity. While it is true that it was a coming of age for the Lions, Richmond will not yet feel that 2020 is completely done and dusted for them.

 

 

Dedicated to my dad Jim Reid 7.3.49 – 27.9.2020.

 

 

BRISBANE      3.1       7.2       9.6     10.9 (69)

RICHMOND    4.1       5.1       6.3      8.6 (54)

 

GOALS

Brisbane: Cameron 3, Bailey, McCluggage, McInerney, McStay, Neale, Rayner, Rich

Richmond: Riewoldt 2, Rioli 2, Baker, Castagna, Cotchin, McIntosh

 

BEST

Brisbane: McCluggage, Rich, Cameron, Lyons, Neale, Zorko

Richmond: Prestia, Short, Lambert, Cotchin, Martin

 

 

To read more from Shane, click HERE.

 

 

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About Shane Reid

I’m a dad to two great girls, both of whom love the Lions like their dad. I’m also a secondary school teacher. It has been a lot of fun having a go at writing, I also really enjoy reading the great pieces on The Footy Almanac.

Comments

  1. One down two to go, Shane! Great victory!

    A nice dedication to our Dad. Take care

  2. Oops! Didn’t know we were related – your dad, not our!

  3. Fred lelievre says

    Wow ! What s brilliant piece of Aussie Rules writing. Not your ordinary yobbo stuff, but showing educated and intelligent thought. Well done Shane – your piece reminded me of Ash Barty talking with Chris Fagan – Facts, not cliche.

  4. Superb as always,Shane love the Harris Andrews-Jason Donovan line I admit v happy for Scotty Borlace
    Brisbane assistant coach and runner ( Borlaaca is a ex redleg ) and Zac Bailey recruited from Norwood
    Love the dedication to your dad mate and yes hope you have two winning reports to come

  5. Shane Reid says

    Jan, Fred, Rulebook, thank you all, sorry I’m so late responding. Appreciate the kind words everyone.

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