Grand Final – Richmond v Geelong: When we use the D-Word



There’s a D-Word in current circulation. Dynasty. It’s the name of an Eighties TV series about two feuding families and a KISS record from 1979. But in the context of tonight’s Grand Final between Richmond and Geelong it’s the status promised to the Tigers if they prevail at the Gabba. I yearned for just one more flag during the dark decades and here we are talking about a reign to compare with the great empires of world history.



I have an acute need to occupy myself, given that the match won’t be played until the evening. Otherwise it becomes overwhelming. It’s a strange day in Melbourne without the footy. But I don’t need to listen to interminable discussions on how Geelong can counter Dusty when he makes his transitions from the midfield to his striker’s role in attack. Or allusions to Get Smart and the Control versus Kaos scenario.



After a fitful night’s sleep I take a little longer over the normal Saturday morning household chores. My son has his own method. He stays in his room and plays computer games with friends. I decide to take a leisurely walk around my neighbourhood.



It doesn’t do me any good. Everything reminds me of the game.



The neighbours in Plunkett Street have decorated their front window with Richmond posters. Plunkett sounds like Pickett. Then there’s the red-brick house with the corrugated iron fence on the Waterdale Road corner. It’s the former home of Mick Erwin. Mick played at full back for Richmond in the 1967 season until he was injured at Glenferrie Oval against Hawthorn in Round 16. Skipper Fred Swift assumed full back duties. Erwin was unable to regain his place in the team and Swift led Richmond to victory in the Grand Final against Geelong. I turn into Sullivan Street. Former Demon Chris Sullivan only made eight appearances for Richmond. But he booted a couple of goals against Geelong on a wet afternoon at the MCG back in 1996 when Gary Ablett Senior had a bad day and the Tigers revelled in an unexpected win.



I watch a few episodes of Line of Duty on Netflix, a show recommended to me by a close friend, to help me while away the hours until the first bounce.



Melbourne experiences its wettest October day in ten years.



And through the night it pelted still

A-singing at its work

Till every heart took up the song

From here way out to Back-a-Bourke



We all know the song and the writer is clearly referring to Francis Bourke. And may there be a bit of rain north-east of Bourke tonight at the Gabba, because it will hamper Geelong’s precise, measured  ball use and aid Richmond’s style of frenetic forward half pressure. That’s the theory anyway.



The time arrives. I am resplendent in my Richmond top and scarf. My son wears his jumper and cap. We pose for photos for our daughter, who is watching the game at home in Bondi.



There’s a double knock-out at the six-minute mark of the first quarter. Dangerfield taps the ball forward to Ablett and accidentally collects Vlastuin with his forearm. The red-headed Tiger is KO’d.  Ablett is tackled by Cotchin in the resulting play and falls awkwardly on his left shoulder. There is a delay of seven minutes while Ablett is assisted from the field and Vlastuin is stretchered to the sidelines. Ablett returns ten minutes later, but is clearly hampered by his injury. Vlastuin doesn’t and will be absent for the remainder of the night.



This is a serious setback for Richmond. The Tigers are down one man on rotations. Will it mean that Astbury is required in defence and is unable to assist Nankervis in the ruck? The Tigers respond with the first two goals of the match to Prestia and McIntosh. The Cats reply through Guthries and Duncan.



Geelong dominate the second term and I am starting to fear the worst. Richmond’s flag aspirations  hang by a thread and they’re clearly in trouble. Richmond’s intercept game is at risk without the presence of Vlastuin. Under the pressure of yet another Geelong attack they retreat in anticipation of a long kick to the square. Selwood exploits them with a short pass to Miers, who delivers to Menegola. He converts before Selwood locates the leading Tom Hawkins for another goal. The Tigers trail by 22 points and are backed against the ropes by an opponent intent on landing some haymakers and finishing the contest. I mentally rehearse my reaction to our impending defeat so as not to make matters worse for my boy, who is starting to feel the strain. Offerings like how well we performed in this most unusual of seasons even to make the Grand Final and how it was inevitable that a club like Geelong would break through at some stage. Bolton misses and Lynch drops two chest marks.



Yet Geelong is unable to truly capitalise on its territorial dominance. Miers and Toohey squander opportunities. Then the late rebound. Balta is swung onto the ball and adds some run and zest. Martin crumbs off a Riewoldt knockdown, fends off Kolodjashnij and rams it home. It’s the steadier we needed. Then his attempted banana kick veers off in the wrong direction. It’s a margin of 15 points at the long break, not too severe, and there’s a hint of revival in the air.



Richmond maintains its momentum in the third quarter. The Tigers assault their opponents with their trademark swarming, suffocating pressure and the Cats begin to waver. Bolton lifts and Edwards cleverly brings his counterparts into the play. Short gains metres like he’s on a racing bike.  Nankervis is starting to wear down Stanley in the ruck. Riewoldt is held by Henderson in a marking contest and goals from the resulting free. Graham misses. The constant harassment causes Geelong to tumble into errors. Lambert passes to Castagna and he converts with a strange, floating punt that barely clears the line. Only three points down! My wife seeks to ameliorate the growing tension and rising noise level by retreating to the TV in the other room. Miers responds against the run of play. Then there’s a turnover from Bews when Bolton marks his wayward clearance and passes inboard to Lambert. Three points down again. Martin seizes the ball after Riewoldt taps into open space and he dribbles it home from 40 metres. It’s the lead changer! The Tigers are up by two points at the orange break.



The Cats are unable to lift themselves for another charge. The Tigers surge. Prestia scrambles another goal from a sharp angle. Lynch marks in the square after an aggressive Shai Bolton run and boots his first for the night. The Tigers are 15 points up with only 10 minutes to go. My wife returns to her place on the couch, but I’m spending most of my time on my feet. Martin receives a handball from Lambert, fends off O’Connor and puts the Tigers up by 22 points with seven minutes remaining.  Simpson is collected by teammate Menegola in a marking contest and knocked out. There is another seven-minute delay. Menegola slots it after the resumption of play, but there’s no stopping the rampaging Tigers. Riewoldt scores from the boundary. Dusty grabs the ball after it’s fumbled by Stanley, disposes of Dangerfield and scores his fourth from deep in the pocket. Dimma applauds in the coaches box.



The siren sounds. We can scarcely believe it’s happened. In this most challenging of campaigns the Tigers are premiers once again.



It’s not Swan Street, but fireworks are ignited in Bellfield. My wife opens the front door, stands on the front porch and yells “Go Tiges!” Her call is returned from down the street from several houses, with all of the voices being female.



It’s farewell time for the great Gary Ablett. The Richmond players graciously defer their premiership celebrations until after they help form a guard of honour for the departing champion. He had played on despite his considerable pain and still managed to show glimpses of his consummate skill.



There are uncanny parallels to the 2019 preliminary final in the manner that Richmond trailed at half time and yet managed to overwhelm Geelong in the second half.



Perhaps we have a dynasty. We have a triple premiership coach and captain as well as a host of flag-winning players.



But the real D-Word is Dusty. A third Norm Smith Medal for best-on-ground in a Grand Final. Arguably the greatest finals player in history. A formidable tattooed dynamo almost impossible to counter. A humble footy player who loves his clubmates and delights in team victories.



During the wilderness years I always said I would love just one more premiership cup just so the younger supporters, like my son, could experience it. What’s happening now has exceeded all my expectations.




RICHMOND        2.1       3.2       7.4            12.9     (81)
GEELONG           2.2       5.5       6.8            7.8       (50)


Richmond: Dusty 4, Prestia, Riewoldt 2, Castagna, Lambert, Lynch, McIntosh
Geelong: Menegola 2, Dangerfield, Duncan, Guthrie, Hawkins, Miers


Richmond: Dusty, Short, Edwards, Prestia, Cotchin, Bolton
Geelong: Duncan, Stewart, Selwood, Menegola, Dahlhaus




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  1. Well written John
    Exceeding all expectations is correct beyond belief
    I still cant believe it all has happened Good to see you were cheering down in Sydney , Could hear you from Brisbane
    the roar at the ‘ Gabba when every goal was scored will be seared in my memory bank for as long as I’m on this mortal coil just inspiring and yet surreal at the same time that I was actually there !!!
    Your are right the D word is DUSTY!!!!! not some American term DINE NEST TEE!!

    Go Tiges

  2. Love it John.

    Love your wife’s pitch to the neighbours. Similar scenes here with song renditions belted our onto the back veranda.

  3. John Green says

    Thanks Junee. What a thrill for you to be there. Good on you for backing the boys. I thought the support at the Gabba was inspirational. I’m actually from Bellfield in Melbourne. I believe Belfield in Sydney has only one ‘l’ in Bell!
    Thank you too, Kate. Even though we couldn’t be there this latest flag has has been absolutely euphoric. What a time to be a Tiger.

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