Grand Final – Adelaide v Richmond: Like the Tigers of Old

A late Father’s Day present sees me sitting in the Ponsford stand watching the Tigers play GWS. “Straight sets” was mentioned in our house, by the Geelong supporting gift-giver, so I think the plan was that I would have been at the G last week, watching a black and yellow outfit with their collective tail between their legs being poleaxed by a rampant Sydney. Not so, the Tigers are favourites having comprehensively outplayed Geelong.

The last time I watched Richmond live was 2016, when they did barely enough to beat an ordinary Brisbane team. Prior to that I think it was the first of the triumvirate of the Eliminituses. I could go back to about 2009 when I witnessed possibly the worst match ever when Brisbane was slightly less worse than Richmond.

Today they look great. They move the ball quickly and with a purpose. They shut down the GWS forwards and by early in the last quarter only the 10 per cent glass empty supporters can see the Tigers losing. Did anyone get a decibel count on the most one-sided crowd in history? Yellow and black reverberates around the MCG like a musical Mexican wave.

Thirty five years in the making after more false dawns than a year on Pluto, Richmond leave behind the second most unwanted title of ‘longest Grand Final drought’. Once you’re there you can win it. It’s a two horse race. Hawthorn snagged 2008 when no one thought they could.

I reckon they can do it. Momentum is a huge snowball.

Fast forward a week… after Dusty’s Brownlow, the hoo-haa about the clash jumper and the parade and the big day has arrived. All logic predicts an Adelaide win, best team all year, belted Richmond earlier in the year, more stars, potent forward line…. The first two goals in short time, some fumbling and poor marking by Richmond and a quarter time lead indicate all as per the plan.

And yet shortly after quarter time Richmond appear to take control. The scoreboard shows a couple of goals in it at half time but for mine the momentum shift was more significant. Houli was brilliant, Rance superb and Martin freakish as he was last week against GWS. Adelaide looked very ordinary just before the break.

The second half is virtually all Richmond and by just before 3/4 time the contest is effectively over. Scoreboard says the Crows are within range but they have too many passengers to score at least six goals while keeping the Tigers scoreless. RIchmondy like Adelaide is dead and buried, a minor resurgence is quickly snuffed out. This is like the Tigers of old like the 1967-80 vintage.

Texts back and forth to friends, colleagues and family show the delight of a win highly unexpected at the start of the season. I can picture my friend singing yellow and black in the pub filled with morose Adelaide supporters, in the Flinders ranges

Even a few days later as I write this I am still thinking ‘What just happened?’ From last year’s prop and stop, sideways, backwards, maintain possession at all costs (until the inevitable skill error turns it over) ugly game plan this year it was throw caution to the wind, move it quickly, whack it up in the forward line and if Jack doesn’t mark it trust the small forwards to crumb and/or apply enough pressure to cause a turnover. Much like the Tigers of old.

Well done Richmond FC a victory for the 37 ages, out of nowhere.

Noel’s votes. 3 Houli. 2 Rance 1 Martin


More 2017 Grand Final coverage here

About Noel McPhee

Noel's background is in statistics including 13 years at the ABS. More recent employment has been at Deakin University and Services Australia. He has worked on every State and Commonwealth election this millennium plus a few Local Government Elections. His weekly article, 'The Stats Bench' appears in the EFL's football record - The Eastern Footballer. Noel's legacy as a sportsman is that he tried hard; two cricket fielding trophies, a tennis premiership and boundary umpiring about 80 EFL senior games.


  1. Sean Curtain says


    I’m drinking what you’re pouring. very similar experience to you. Have never known at atmosphere like the GWS game.

    Agree with your votes and also spent the last ten minutes texting mates in disbelief and am still sitting here days later shaking my head that it all actually happened.

    Maybe we’ll wake up like that Dallas episode when we found out the whole year was a dream?


  2. Cheers Sean

    Unlike most of the last 35 years and even several this year, for both the last two matches (probably the game against Geelong as well but I could not watch it!) for me there was never really a doubt that they would win from about half way through the third quarter. Despite losing from unloseable positions so many times, both opponents were defeated well before the final siren.

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