Numbers don’t add up for the Tiges

The pub was about 1km outside the ACT border as the crow flies. Which they hadn’t done earlier in the day, as their more aquatically-inclined cousins reigned supreme at AAMI Stadium. Back in my home state, the man-made birds at Essendon had also fallen. Two other “flying” mascots of the AFL were both represented in the name of the watering hole Dad and I had found ourselves in, the Eaglehawk Hotel.

The sports bar had eighteen active TV screens, which was coincidental, since that day was my eighteenth day of being eighteen years old. But the bizarre thing about these screens was that only one of them was showing the real footy. And it was the smallest screen in the pub. Three other screens had Clijsters and Serena battling (it wasn’t even a Grand Slam!) while several others had horse races and lists of bookmakers odds on Teletext. Nearby men were placing bets in between pints. The biggest and most heavily watched screen was, of course, the League match between Canberra and Wests. The Tigers were down 2 tries to none in the opening minutes. Not a good sign.

Sure enough, and not at all surprisingly, the Dogs got the first 2 goals.

As the first quarter continued, Dad and I bought drinks. Today was my first time experiencing a combination of pleasures many regularly indulge in: alcohol and footy. I discovered it wasn’t a bad combination at all, for although Richmond trailed by 26 points at quarter time, I wasn’t rattled. But then again, I had approached this match with all the confidence of a WWII soldier being sent “over the top” because after the Dogs’ loss to the Pies last week, I knew the boys in red, white and blue would come out firing.

Two more goals allowed the ‘Scray boys to extend their lead to 40. Then Trent Cotchin showed why he is rated so highly at Richmond with hard running and efficient disposal. The period immediately before halftime was the Tiges’ best overall, but still it was far from great. Encouragingly, our two goals in that quarter went to young talls Post and Vickery, although they had little impact otherwise. As the Dogs went into half time 31 point leaders, I noticed that the Rugby Tigers had come back and were now leading the Raiders. A possible sign?

I took the short walk back to the cabin with my Dad in a cheerful mood having finished my drink. Then I made an amusing mistake more befitting of one who had drunk three or four.

“No-one’s home!” I yelled at Dad after knocking on the door.

“You’re kidding!”

“No I’m not, where could Mum and David possibly have gone?”

Dad suddenly realises something.

“Adam, wrong house!”

I was just relieved the people next door weren’t home!

The pub was quieter when I walked back to the pub alone to watch the second half. The barman complied when I asked him if he could put the AFL on one of the better TVs, but increasing the size of the screen didn’t help Richmond’s performance. Like the Blues before them, the Dogs were decimating Richmond with that underrated weapon, the even spread of goalkickers. Barry Hall was held to one goal by Thursfield, but the Dogs’ midfield, led by Cooney, Cross and Boyd, were simply too good. They outran and outclassed the Tigers, capitalising on their frequent mistakes and bouncing the ball trampoline-like into their forward 50. The main highlight for Tiger fans in that half was a sublime play from second-gamer Dustin Martin. He gathered, dodged a rushing Bulldog and calmly slotted it through the sticks, prompting loud cheers from the yellow and black army despite the scoreboard.

In the fourth quarter the Tigers struggled to get it past the halfway mark and had the Dogs been more accurate in front of goal, the margin would have been greater. They almost finished with a scoreless quarter, but Mitch Morton saved them with his third goal with just seconds remaining. Only a 72 point loss…did I just say only?

I then joined my family in the bistro area of the pub for dinner, now in a more thoughtful mood. It could have been worse, I thought. Could I find positives? It was one of the top teams, our performance was better than last week, Cotchin, Martin and McGuane showed promise, King will almost certainly get dropped, Cooney’s in my Supercoach team…Such is life being a Richmond supporter, but I know there will be a day when the men in yellow and black will return to glory. That day seems a long way away now, but there is always hope.

Richmond       2.0       4.5       6.6       7.6       (48)

W Bulldogs     6.2       9.6       14.11   17.18   (120)

Votes: 3 Cooney 2 Cross 1 Gilbee

Leave a Comment