Grand Final – Richmond v GWS: The yellow of poise, the black of power

On reflection, I should’ve realised the warning signs.


The hot air balloons rise with me as I arrive, bleary-eyed, at the picturesque scene that is the MCG on Grand Final morning. The breathtaking throng of passionate MCC members stand under the crisp Saturday morning. Before I can fully wake up, I’m in the yellow and black AFL Records uniform.


The following hours fly by, stuck on fast-forward. Only brief moments stick out amongst the bursting crowds and flying Records. Famous people, such as Nathan Lyon and Pat Cummins, stroll on past. A surprisingly heavy contingent of orange-clad travellers chant their way towards the ‘G. Then, an army of dressed-up Tiger supporters flood the roads leading to the grounds for many hours. There’s nothing quite like the hours before the big game – the nerves, the carnival of excitement, the superstitions. For everyone there, the weather has turned into a splendid day for Grand Final football.


There’s a distinct Richmond feel to the MCG’s interior. The Punt Road cheer squad seems to sparkle in the sunshine, the yellow of the light complimenting the famous stripes of the Tigers. This resounding force of yellow and black, the grace and the brutality of their game style, circles the great stands of AFL’s colosseum. It all points towards a day of Richmond salute, the local suburb fulfilling their destiny.


Then, the Giants snag the first goal. As Cameron’s booming punt flies through ominously, small pockets of orange seem to burst around from the yellow and black canopy. A roar unable to be tracked to its origin erupts, and everyone looks stunned. If the favourites didn’t already realise it, it was game on.


The contest was hot. Richmond flew in with their trademark intensity, bodies flying to apply pressure at every opportunity. But the orange from NSW weren’t afraid to crack in. Greene’s dazzling footwork was on display, Taranto was brutally effective in centre clearances.


But after GWS’ brilliant start, the sleeping giant slowly began to stir. Tumbling the ball forward with manic intensity and will, the shiny Sherrin falls into Dusty’s tattooed-covered arms. He refuses to stop – his arc back around the mark without a second thought is poetic, the red leather curling straight through the posts into the despondent orange section of the crowd. Give it a second, cue a roar of triumph, of nerves that have been simmering for eight days and is granted its release.


From then on, the yellow sunshine bathed on that collective away from the CBD, who steadily realised it would be their day. Amongst the numerous goals they would kick throughout their match-long rampage, one behind and a goal stick clear.


After 20 minutes of cloud cover, the Great Southern Stand returns to its glow as debutant Pickett receives the ruck tap. Instinctively sensing Whitfield’s presence from the wing, he twirls his body, flinging around the Giants’ flailing arms before holding his balance to gracefully stroke the ball down the throat of a leaping Castagna. The dazzling play didn’t get the six points it deserved, but a beast of a goal would soon partner this beauty.


Fast forward and again it is Pickett. Flicked a handball near the interchange benches, he throws the Sherrin on his left, tumbling a chaos ball inside forward 50. Young Taylor does what all young players are taught to do, attacking the falling ball and trying to smother the bounce. Little does he know, Dusty has waited behind him, stalking on his pray. Bolting after the errant red speck, Martin picks up the ball with delicate ease and dribbles through the goal. It was early, but once that skimmed through, the universe was giving its nod for Cotchin and Hardwick to lift up that cup.


Other moments litter a second half that was purely celebratory. Riewoldt’s towering marks, his athleticism and precision kicking that could challenge a surgeon for consistent accuracy. His one-armed salutes to the sky. The bubble of the crowd when the ball goes near Dusty. The inevitable roar of him winning the contest. The sizzling ball to Pickett, and the chatter that turns into a guttural noise of pride and triumph.


Finally, the bounding legs of Cotchin as he glides towards his beloved cheer squad. The short punch of his right leg as it thuds through the ball. The follow through, fists clenching as the crowd rises with the goal. He jumps for joy, as delighted as a kid on Christmas morning. Despite the one-sided nature of the game, the idyllic setting of this game proves one thing – the Grand Final is better than Christmas. It’s picture perfect, and that final siren – oh, that final siren. Unlike every other sound that meets the ears that day, that final roar of emotion, relief and joy, is by far the loudest and best roar one can ever listen to.


RICHMOND                                2.3     7.5     12.9     17.12     (114)
GREATER WESTERN SYDNEY     1.2     1.6     2.7     3.7     (25)


Riewoldt 5, Martin 4, Lynch 2, Rioli, Soldo, Pickett, Lambert, Bolton, Cotchin
Greater Western Sydney: 
Cameron, Hopper, Himmelberg 


Martin, Riewoldt, Pickett, Houli, Prestia, Edwards, Vlastuin
Greater Western Sydney: 
Haynes, Taranto, Shaw, Hopper, Kelly


Greater Western Sydney: 


Reports: Nil


Umpires: Stevic, Ryan, Chamberlain


Official crowd: 100,014 at the MCG


Our writers are independent contributors. The opinions expressed in their articles are their own. They are not the views, nor do they reflect the views, of Malarkey Publications.


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