Glitz and Glamour

by John Green

Is it possible to be the glamour team of the competition and yet be sitting in last place on the ladder? Suddenly, after three wins in four games, Richmond is the flavour of the month. Ranked number one in clearances, scoring from clearances, individual clearance winner (Shane Tuck) and individual goalkicker (Jack Reiwoldt).

The bout with Sydney at the MCG is like an episode of Extreme Makeover, where a previously ugly unfortunate is presented to the world after a touch of cosmetic surgery, deportment training and a wardrobe of new clothes.

Will the Sydneysiders enter into the spirit of the occasion, or will they attempt to spoil the party? Richmond hasn’t beaten Sydney since falling in by a point back in 2005. The Swans have made a habit of cruelly dispatching the Tigers on each of the eight occasions they have met since that time. Roos’ men are never far from the mark. They refuse to bottom out and spend a few years rebuilding like everybody else is prepared to do.

The contest is an arm wrestle for most of the first half. Kirk runs with Trent Cotchin, seeking to repeat the blanketing operation he carried out so effectively on the young Tiger in the first meeting between the clubs in Round 3.  Reiwoldt is double-teamed by Roberts-Thomson and Grundy. Somehow he escapes their clutches for long enough to boot three first-half goals. Who is capable of kicking a winning score for the Swans? Bradshaw is unable to take his place in the line-up and Goodes has been publicly cited by them as being seriously out of form. Jarrod McVeigh steps into the breach with three majors in the second quarter. The Swans squander chances in front of goal and the Tigers manage to hang on by scoring five without a miss.

The Swans put the pedal to the metal after half time. Bolton, Hannebury , O’Keefe and McVeigh direct activity through the midfield. Rhys Shaw sets off on probing runs from defence and keeps hitting his targets. Junior Tigers are corralled into increasingly narrow dead ends. They hesitate, relinquish possession in tackles and watch helplessly as the Swans mop up and counter attack.

Old heads in the members section nod sagely to one another. We’ve seen this before. The Swans have their fingers around our throats and we are beginning to black out from a lack of oxygen.

“Deledio’s broken his arm!” calls one fan. It certainly looks like it on the replay. His arm is caught at an awkward angle under his body when tackled by McGlynn. We contemplate the awful possibility of  Deledio’s season ending early and our points table being frozen on three wins.

When the big Canadian, Mike Pyke, marks at the 20-minute mark and roosts his first goal in the big time, the Swans lead by 33 points. It looks as though they’ve well and truly crashed the party. Perhaps the improvements wrought in the Tigers are purely cosmetic.

But things start to happen. Deledio re-emerges with a bandaged elbow like Lazarus strutting  from the tomb. He immediately cops another heavy knock but then proceeds to exact his revenge with some decisive run and carry. Richard Tambling ignores the Bronx cheers and begins to win a few contests.  Reiwoldt, Martin and Griffiths boot the last three goals of the quarter. The Tigers are within 14 points of the Swans at the orange break.

The last term is a titanic struggle. The Tigers snarl and nip at the heels of the Swans, who appear to be doing just enough to keep their noses in front. They still lead by 14 points at the halfway mark. The old campaigners in the bleachers resign themselves to a gutsy loss. But the Tigers are going the full fifteen rounds. Cousins gets his hands on the ball in tight situations and incisively delivers it to teammates in the clear.  Newman lands one for outside 50. He delivers lace-up to Reiwoldt, who boots his fifth. Andrew Collins collides head on with Roberts-Thompson and is knocked senseless. In doing so he has cleared a path for Newman, who snaps his second. Collins struggles to stand and staggers from the field. Minutes later Reiwoldt outmarks two opponents, wheels onto his right foot and kicks to the hot spot.  Collins outmarks Malceski! No-one has seen him sneak back on. It’s a goal! The Tigers are within a kick. Breathless Tiger fans are now riding every contest, tackle and umpiring decision. Cotchin has broken the shackles of a tiring Brett Kirk and surges along the boundary line as we’re about to tick into time on. He delivers to the teeth of goal. It’s a yellow and black mark! It’s Collins again! Supporters are still leaping and punching the air as the boy from Bridgewater plays on, opens up the angle and slams it through. We’re up by four points!

Every spectator wearing a radio ear piece is harangued by those around them. “How long? How long left?”

“Two minutes!” they reply. “Two minutes to go.!”

The Tigers hurl themselves into the fray. Sydney launches a desperate final attack. The ball lands on the chest of Kelvin Moore, the conqueror of Adam Goodes. Richmond controls the ball for the last minute or so and then the siren blares.

Is there any sound in the world more beautiful than the MCG siren when you’ve come from nowhere to win a close one?

Following the glamour team has its privileges. The Tigers have climbed off the bottom of the ladder. We’ve lit up sixteenth place and we’re about to do the same in fifteenth.


  1. Martin Reeves says

    Brilliant stuff John. I love the notion of the bottom side being the glamour club of the competition.

    It’s what I love about following the Tiges – as low as we have fallen, there’s always been an element of rock ‘n roll at Punt Road.

    The final line of your review is a pearler – taking the lid off while keeping perspective at the same time!

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