Finals Week 1 – Richmond v North Melbourne: The raw of the Tigers

Elimination Final
Richmond vs North Melbourne
3.20pm, Sunday 13 September
Tim Pegler


It’s Sunday afternoon at a railway station not far from North Melbourne and something is desperately wrong. This is Kangaroos heartland but yellow and black teems along the platform and crams the carriages. I wonder if we’re on the wrong train.

By the time we make it to the ‘G, we’re a tribal minority. Even the pre-game music outnumbers us three to one. Northerners get a low-volume spin of Tim Rogers’ version of the club song; Punt Road true believers are blasted with We’re from Tigerland, Katy Perry’s Roar and Survivor’s Eye of the Tiger.

When the Kangaroos banner is unfurled it is roundly booed by Tiger fans. The message on the reverse side, ‘NMFC welcomes refugees’, receives a respectfully mute response. Apart from the bloke behind me who yells, “Come off it, it’s supposed to be about football!”

Part of me wants right of rebuttal. I want to take issue, to say some things are even bigger than footy in September. That this sporting year, more than any other, has been a lesson about mortality. I shake my head and let it go. Discretion, valour and all that. It’s hot, amber fluid is flowing and the pent-up emotion from the Tiger faithful is palpable.

The home team gets an ear-splitting welcome. Supporters’ hearts aren’t on sleeves so much as visible through rib-cages, swollen with September hope and pride.

With the national anthem done, the roar is raw emotion. Dustin Martin starts the game like a kid with ADHD and no Ritalin prescription. He’s everywhere. I can’t see who’s on him because he’s always two metres clear.

Kangaroo home games are sometimes so quiet I can hear players’ bodies crashing into each other. No chance of that today but Dylan Grimes and Shaun Higgins collide so hard I almost get whiplash out on the wing.

Todd Goldstein is jumping higher than Ivan Maric but the Tiger midfield is swarming. Richmond inches ahead.

Jack Riewoldt looks too agile for our key defenders. He’s marking everything when he isn’t being taken out by friendly fire. He has chutzpah and more than a touch of Richo about him.

Despite his flair, the game stays white-knuckle tight. Alex Rance has Drew Petrie’s measure. Bachar Houli dashes out of the back pocket at whim.

Jarrad Waite keeps the Kangas in the game, playing like someone who had to switch teams to get a slice of September action. A fan in front turns and says, “When Waitey’s on, he’s really on.”

A joey called Taylor Garner takes a pack mark in a forest of tall timber. Boomer Harvey nabs a goal and suddenly he’s buzzing about like a blowfly at a barbecue.

Big-Ben-Brown cements his fan favourite status. If he doesn’t pluck marks he roves his spills and snaps goals.

The sun sinks below the Southern Stand. The first half is Richmond’s but we’re still in it. Maybe our finals exploits in 2014 will stand us in good stead.

Half time break is over before the blood pressure has a chance to dip.

Andrew Swallow, Jack Ziebell and Ben Cunnington tackle like there’s no tomorrow. Nick Dal Santo turns quarterback, feeding the ball to Higgins, Harvey and Sam Gibson.

Petrie benefits and breaks free for a couple of goals. Waitey isn’t done yet, either. And Goldy is leaping Maric and tall buildings now.

We’re not dominating the scoreboard but the momentum has shifted. Lindsay Thomas subs on; I recall his five goals against the Tigers in Tassy and hope for something similar. In a trice he’s on report and in Brad Scott’s bad books. There’s a degree of redemption when he snatches a special delivery from Boomer and slots the sealer.

My Tiger mate beside me has his head in his hands.

We tram home, sitting beside an elderly fan. She tells anyone listening that the Kangaroos cheated by resting several players a week earlier. “They threw that game to avoid going to Adelaide,” she moans. Again, I want to engage, to point out how improbable the Adelaide scenario was, and how smart teams manage players for key games.

I keep my mouth shut. She’s bleeding for her beloved Tigers, like so many of my mates. Fifteen years is a long time to wait to win a final.



RICHMOND:   2.3  9.3  12.3  14.4 (88)
NORTH MELBOURNE:   1.6  6.8  11.13  15.15 (105)


Richmond: Riewoldt 4, Newman 2, Vickery 2, Conca, Deledio, Lambert, Miles, Edwards, McIntosh

North Melbourne: Waite 4, Harvey 2, Petrie 2, Brown 2, Higgins, Garner, Nahas, Thomas, Macmillan


Richmond: Riewoldt, Rance, Martin, Miles, Houli

North Melbourne: Waite, Harvey, Jacobs, Goldstein, Swallow, Higgins, Ziebell


Crowd: 90,186 at the MCG


Votes: 3: Jarrad Waite (NM), 2: Brent Harvey (NM), 1: Ben Jacobs (NM).



Tim Pegler may once have sported a blonde, Dermie-like mullet, but the evidence is elusive.


  1. People near us cheered the refugee barrier. especially my mate, who works for Amnesty…

  2. and, really, no more of this 15 years to win a final stuff. we have made finals 3 times in a row for the first time since I was in Primary School.. winning a final is a media construct,. These are good times to be a Tiger, and we will all set our own expectations – for me, taking my 7yo to her first game and walking out of the SCG across Tibby Cotter triumphant was better than a cursory win over Nth in week 1 of the finals. (You have to live in Sydney to appreciate that I suspect.)

    now, beating Nth Melbourne, that’s something to really aim for.

  3. Tim,
    Sometimes it’s better to stay silent. Nice work.
    I’ve said it repeatedly since the weekend, I like Richmond except when they play North.
    I have sentimental reasons.
    Losing to them would’ve made me angry, but my cousins were upset.
    I think the margin should’ve been bigger.
    But fear the wounded Tiger…
    Just as long as they’re not playing North.

  4. Thanks Peter – glad the NMFC banner got a cheer where you were. And I hear you on father-daughter moments at the footy. My daughter danced in the aisle at Etihad after we downed the Dockers. Beautiful stuff.

  5. ironmike20 – Old grudges or sentimental reasons are certainly hard to shake. I still have issues with the Crows after the 1998 Grand Final – they represent a day that started well and went downhill, rapidly.

    My Bulldog mates all still resent the beatified Nick Riewoldt for one dodgy free kick.

    And I quite like the Swans and their coach. Not tonight though. Go Kangas.

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