Finals Week 3 – Richmond v GWS: The Miller-Banister Trophy awaits 


Growing up in Adelaide, a devout Tiger, I was always in enemy territory. Their territory. We lost to Port and the Crows more times than I care to remember. I learnt to loath them both. Football Park was a cold place, devoid of both good public transport and happy memories.


Unsurprisingly, my best mate at primary school, Ben Miller, was a Crows supporter. He was also about as larrikin as you can be when you’re eight years old. At the illustrious institution that is the Paringa Park Primary School, we were labelled as troublemakers.


Trouble, in this case, meant refusing to do Maths work so we could hone the rules of dice cricket, and relentlessly quoting The 12th Man while we were at it. Eight rolls of the five on the dice were required to dismiss Bradman. You just couldn’t get the bastard out.


When the Crows and the Tigers met – and the Millers and the Banisters met – we needed something more than bragging rights for the two teams to play for.


There was only one thing for it – we went and had a trophy made.


We chose our design – two footballers, arms outstretched, competing for a big mark. And at the bottom, we engraved a little (100% real) gold plate with its name – “The Miller-Banister Trophy”.


Having watched the Crows demolish the Cats, I wake up on Saturday knowing the biggest Miller-Banister Trophy in history will only happen if we can get over the line at the ‘G.


The morning is unremarkable. I read a bit. I drink some coffee. A stroll down Sydney Road in my scarf is met by the first ‘Go Tiges’ of the day from a Lebanese passer-by.


“Youse will smash them,” he assures me.


I’m not so sure. My main concern is how sweaty my scarf is making my neck. At least it might double as a towel later, or perhaps protect the back of my very white neck from the sun.


At the station in Brunswick, I get another ‘Go Tiges’ as I go past a cyclist. I’m going to lose count very early at this rate.


My study stint in the State Library is unproductive. I give up at two o’clock to find the Old Man, and Paul and Aaron Lucas, a pair of visiting Tasmanian Tigers.


Paul is solely responsible for my love of hockey, having gifted me my first stick. He is also responsible for convincing me, aged five, that he was the Tiger rising above all others to mark the footy in the famous shot that is actually of Michael Roach.


Recipes swapped, we enjoy a sweaty walk to the ‘G, before we all seperate and head for different entrances. At the first final, the Old Man and I were sat separately, and today is the same – thank you, Ticketek.


I head for the bleachers. Dad heads for the fence. I find myself in a queue beneath a pylon covered in Dusty. It’s almost biblical.


Inside, the faithful need only the slightest excuse to roar – the entrance and song; the anthem; the toss; the bounce. The tone is set. This crowd will ride every tackle, bump, goal and decision in perfect unison. There will be no meandering and minimal small talk. It is going to be quite unlike anything I’ve ever witnessed at the ‘G before.


The bloke next to me, already a couple deep, performs the mandatory GWS headcount.

“That bay. And that bay. And the twenty-two players. There’s more f%$#ing security staff in orange.”

I nod in agreement, feeling every bit of that Bulldog hatred for the acronyms.


When Cotch wins the toss, he even remembers to kick with the wind. Anything is possible. And our start is electric. We have the opener almost straight away after a free-kick out the middle sends us forward. Dusty roves the pack and dishes off to Lambert, who bangs it into the third tier. The air cops a beating.


From the next bounce, Dusty bowls Shaw over, and the result is a lace out pass from Dion Prestia to Caddy on the lead. As I said, anything is possible.


The snap is good. We’re off to a flier. The air is going to struggle to make it past the first round at the rate we’re going.


But the rampage can’t continue. Shiel starts to get the footy and run, and Patton starts marking everything. They kick three unanswered goals, two through the towering figure of Himmelberg. I’m starting to feel like every time they get the ball in space, a goal is imminent.


We have to find something. Whether we do or not is semantics, because the umpire does it for us. He pays a push in the back to Rioli. Our Rioli. The goal is kicked. We breathe.


After another goal and a two-man gang tackle in the middle of the ground, I’ve settled back down.


But as we wait for the quarter to end, Patton marks inside 50 to loud groans. Now? Jesus. Thankfully, sense deserts him and he plays on, just as the siren goes. Laughter breaks out around the ‘G.


The second quarter is still worrying. They seem to have three men out the back of every stoppage and if it goes there, we’re in trouble. We battle to keep the ball inside, but we’re struggling. Kelly goals, and moments later, hits the post, before Ward puts them in front.


They let us off twice more as the news that Shiel is done for the day filters through.


Rioli is still dashing about, tackling and chasing with intent. You can just sense when he’s near the pill. The crowd holds its breath every time, waiting. Right below me, he gives, runs on, gets it back, hits the fifty and kicks for goal. It’s never missing. This is a time and a place synonymous with the surname. This is where the Rioli’s do their best work.


A pair of points sends us into half-time in front, against the run of play. But we’re with them and this thing can change quickly. In the third quarter, it starts to.


Our pressure lifts, or maybe their skills falter. Either way, they have less of football’s most two most valuable commodities – time and space. It suits us but we still need to capitalise.


With the ball pinging and ponging around in our forward line, clean disposal looks impossible, until a handball finds our Rioli, again. He’s hemmed in near the boundary and has but a moment. It’s all he needs. The right foot snap is perfect.


Two huge bruising tackles from Nankervis and Cotchin in front of the MCC are the final confirmation. For the first time, I feel like we’re on top of them.


Rioli’s three goals have already been special, but his fourth is the best of the bunch. Running full tilt, he gets a small lay off from Castagna. It’s on his boot and going across his body towards the sticks before you even realise he’s got the ball. It’s pure artistry.


We continue to force stoppages everywhere. Johnson sends two crucial and potentially match-turning chances for the Giants begging. Lambert hits up Jack, who hasn’t seen much of the ball. He returns it to Lambert and the set shot is good. All of sudden, we’re 20 points up and we’re all over them.


It gets better. Nank goes back with the flight and the crumbs lead to another goal. 26 points up.


And then, right on the siren, Dusty wins a free kick in the square. No one cares about the merits of the decision. Rational thought has no place here.


We go in 31 points up and on the brink.


Neutrals would give us a chance of losing from here, but we look the part. Either way, the final half hour can’t go quick enough.


Dusty adds one early. Surely that’s it. Surely we’re there. But two quick ones from the Giants cut the lead to 23. This needs to stop.


I finally believe it when Jack snaps a set shot from 30 out. Butler adds another for good measure to make it 35 points deep in the last.


The final five minutes are the quietest minutes of the day as 90,000 Richmond fans grapple with what’s happening, with the enormity of it all. It almost feels too simple.


And so we wait, lost in thought. What’s a couple of minutes of junk time when you’ve been waiting the length of every 90s kid’s life, plus a few extra years?


But seriously, can’t they just blow the siren?


They do. And just like that, with a second passing and the clock hitting zero, our 35 year rebuild is complete.


As they play the song, I can feel the stand and the floor shaking with noise. No one moves. People who’ve never met before embrace, high five, borrow each others flags, take photos. We bellow yellow and black in perfect harmony, over and over.


I head for the exits, past tattooed men in tears. I find Dad somewhere outside Gate 4. We embrace. This is all his fault. All of it.


We walk past Punt Road Oval, borne by the crowd, stopping traffic, wondering what sort of person tries to drive down Punt Road on a Saturday night half an hour after a drought-breaking Tiger victory, and why the busker is playing a song that isn’t ours.


We find a seat, somehow, in a pub on Swan Street across from the Corner. The queue at the bar is four deep. The taps have already run out of beer. We order claret. Someone else orders sparkling wine with no glasses.


It’s virtually a street party. Every triviality is cheered. A firetruck receives rapturous applause after a squaddie leans out the window and yells the only thing there is to yell – “Go you fucking Tigers.”


As we sit there, drinking red, I message Ben.


By Sunday morning, the Miller-Banister Trophy has been found.


Read more of our Richmond v GWS coverage HERE.

About Jack Banister

Journalism student @ Melbourne Uni, Brunswick Hockey Club Men's Coach, tortured Tigers fan.


  1. Oh we’re from Tigerland
    A fighting fury we’re from Tigerland
    In any weather you will see us with a grin
    Risking head and skin
    If we’re behind
    we’ll never mind
    we’ll fight and fight and win
    oh where from tigerland
    we never weaken til the final siren goes
    like the tigers of old
    we’re strong and we’re bold
    oh we’re from tiger
    oh we’re from tigerland

  2. ah a better read I have seldom had.

    a koel just chased our friendly antenna-sitting crow away. looking for omens everywhere.

    was it hot like the 15 game, or did it start to cool due to the late start? (I can seldom remember being so uncomfortable at a game, the rush of the crowd to shade at halftime as much to get relief from the heat that day as it was to process that very tight game).

  3. Paddy Grindlay says

    What a day.

    Still have no voice.

    Pinch me.

  4. steve todorovic says

    Wonderful article, Jack. I was there and you’ve captured the atmosphere perfectly. Let’s hope like crazy you get the opportunity to write something similar next week.

  5. Love it Jack.
    From Sydney Road to Swan Street.
    Your Tigers are possessed by something magical right now.

    We were walking down Smith Street on Saturday night.
    Plenty of Tigerland swaying, Tigerland colours, Tigerland singing in the backstreets of old Fitzroy, too.
    Old men carrying sparkles in their eyes.
    Young ones whooping it up.
    Enjoy your week.

  6. Thanks all – no ticket for the big one, but the pub will do just fine.

  7. I’ve tried and failed to gather my thoughts enough to write about the game. I don’t usually yell at the footy but on Saturday I jumped out of my seat at the MCG and yelled with delight for every goal, mark and act of Dusty or Rioli magic.

    It doesn’t feel real yet but I am hoping to re-live the feeling from way back in 1980 when I went to school on the Monday after the grand final wearing my footy jumper with the number 8 on the back.

  8. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Paringa Park Primary – the Kernahan alma mater I believe?

  9. You are correct Swish – I’d totally forgotten about that, but it was celebrated I think at the school’s anniversary in ’05. Was also the alma mater of Bryce Gibbs.

    Gill – looking back, and having watched the replay, Dusty and Rioli were in everything, inside 50 especially. Look closely and you’ll notice Martin was also in a position to receive and snap both times Rioli did!

    Glad you can remember 1980 – I’m still trying to remember what I had for dinner last night, and if in fact I ate at all!

  10. Played Jack. Played Tiges.

    Enjoy the week.

    Whoop Whoop!

  11. Well written, Jack. Love how you captured the game day experience of a fan. Especially our neck of the woods on Sydney Road.

    The Tigers are looking red hot but so are the Crows. I hope it is a beaut of a tight contest.

    I look forward to being entertained by your tweets on Saturday arvo and a riveting piece regardless of the result.

  12. Thanks John & Matt.

    Feel like this season deserves a tight grand final, especially given some heavy results in the first three weeks.

    But – we shall see.

  13. Joe De Petro says

    Great read, Jack. well done.

  14. A page-turner (mouse-scroller?) of a match report and I love the Morgan-Banister trophy history and resurrection angle.
    I’m a (sad) Cat but me and one of my best mates (a Tiger) went to the 1980 Grand Final together and celebrated every Hungry goal in that romp over Collingwood.
    The Crows look ominous and with no obvious weaknesses so will be hard to beat, but the combination of expectation/momentum/destiny and the YELLOW and BLACK army may well win the day and take the Tigers to glory. I hope so

  15. oops! Miller-Banister trophy, sorry!

  16. Thanks Marcus – certainly one of my better memories of the Crows!

    Fingers crossed for Saturday!

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