Preliminary Final – Richmond v Collingwood (Floreat Pica Society): History is real

 

 

by Frank Taylor

 

Greetings Ladies and Gents.

 

Now, when I got the nod from Steve for the match report for this game, I was apprehensive. Having been with the FPS since 2014-15 seasons – I was in uncharted territory. This was the first time we had played finals, so it was all new. Also, doing the Prelim against the reigning premiers, was this going to be the last for the season? I sincerely hoped not, however, on face value, Richmond had to be firm favourites didn’t they? So, the last thing I wanted was having to write the Match Report after a losing match. So I was doubly excited/apprehensive about this game.

 

So here goes:

 

Preliminary Final, 2018, Richmond v Collingwood

 

Richmond v Collingwood, well who would’ve thought……

 

Richmond.

 

I have a soft spot for Richmond.

 

By all accounts and measures, I probably should have barracked for Richmond as nearly all of my extended family do.

 

See, my mum was born in Burnley in 1912.

 

When Burnley was a slum.

 

Povertyville, just like Collingwood, down next to the Yarra.

 

She was the only girl out of seven, had six brothers, and after the family broke up when her mother left a violent marriage, they all ended up homeless. Street kids for a few weeks until they were all eventually rounded up by the authorities and sent to various (Catholic) orphanages. Mum was probably 5, the year, 1917 or early 1918 and was sent to Geelong.

 

At the age of 14 or 15, she and a couple of brothers, Jack and Albert, went back to live with her mother, back to Power St, just north of Burnley.

 

Now Mum, she wound up barracking (passionately) for Essendon. She left Victoria (after a failed marriage) before the war and when she returned to Victoria in 1946 she went out for a while with a bloke who was a passionate Essendon supporter and used to take her to their matches.

 

Her brothers however, were ironed-on Tiger supporters. So, naturally, most of my cousins and second cousins and their offspring are solidly Richmond. Solid.

 

Family solid.

 

My uncles, Jack and Albert, would sometimes talk of their street kid experiences all that way back roaming the streets of Richmond and getting up to no good. I’m sure that they put a fine gloss on what was a pretty desperate situation.

 

Uncle Jack, and how he pinched Jack Dyer’s bike outside of a pub opposite the Punt Road Oval one Saturday night after a game and how upset Captain Blood got……. what a wag. He was a truly lovely, lovely man Uncle Jack, a thorough gentleman and loved by all.

 

1980.

 

About halfway into the season and, like 2018, Richmond was the standout side of the competition.

 

That year, they boasted Michael Roach, Francis Bourke, Mark Lee, David Cloke, Geoff Raines, David Cloke, Dale Weightman, Hungry Bartlett, Michael Malthouse, Emmett Dunne, etc etc….. they were a GOOD side.

 

We were coached by Richmond legend, Tom Hafey and captained by Ray Shaw and were, it is safe to say, battling.

 

I was at a birthday party, mid July, with my Uncle Jack – he was born 1904 and I, 49 years and 364 days later in 1954, so he was 76 – and we had our usual, in-depth footy discussion, Richmond and Collingwood being our focus, as was the norm. Now I asked him directly who will play in the Granny? Without the slightest hesitation he said “Oh, Richmond and Collingwood will play in the Grand Final and Richmond will win.”

 

Just like that.

 

Now it is worth remembering that the League, the VFL at that stage had recently introduced the Final Five and no-one – no-one – had ever played in a Grand Final from fifth. So this was a big call by Uncle Jack, but he was on the money.

 

I remember Ray Shaw through the latter half of the season and how in a half a dozen games, busting his gut, he managed to kick that goal in the last quarter or did something inspirational which turned the game for us. He was a GREAT captain that season.

 

The very, very, very best.

 

HE just about singlehandedly got us to fifth.

 

And during the finals, we went in every week as underdogs – rank outsiders – and somehow kept on winning. Beat the Cats in the Prelim at Waverley by 5 or 6 points from memory.

 

Unfortunately, every week in the Finals, we kept on losing players – forwards – so that by the time we fronted up to The Granny, our forward line was the same line-up as our reserves. I can still remember looking at the team list and thinking how thin it was……

 

We really didn’t have a chance.

 

The rest is history and Uncle Jack watched his last premiership.

 

I went to the game and watched my third losing Granny in four years….

 

 

 

Now, I am nervous, really nervous. Scenario if not quite the same, is similar to 1980. Although for the third time in four weeks injuries are not a factor and we name an unchanged side. Weird, but reassuring. We must bring our very best game to beat this year’s benchmark, Richmond.

 

Gotta get a good start, jump them and, unlike last week against the GWS, apply scoreboard pressure otherwise we’ll be run over by a very, very good side…….

 

We get to the ground – my daughter, Mae, and I – and meet Mark Mullins (Mugga), our other compatriot fresh from Cairns, strangely enough outside Gate 5 at exactly the same time, no phone/tex required. A big crush through the gates – a traffic jam, big-time – with the crowd pretty much 50:50 Tigers and Pies. Lots of merriment, banter and goodwill by both camps, team songs and cheering – there are more than quite a few who are well primed for the night.

 

Get slowly to our seats – the old Bay 12, Southern Stand, just up from the 50m line. People milling everywhere.

 

Slowly because we are soaking up the atmosphere, it is just electric.

 

As I wander through I keep on getting flashbacks to the old Southern Stand, the crowd and the raw humanity of it all. Test matches, one dayers, home and away games, winning Finals, losing Grand Finals……

 

So powerful…..

 

This is why we go.

 

The banners are up, the teams run out and mate….. the crowd is PUMPED.

 

Huge atmosphere, huge game, massive intro and everyone are on the edge – right on the edge – great vibe – really cookin’.

 

The Tiges win the toss and we are kicking to the Punt Road end……

 

First Quarter.

 

Collingwood get the first clearance, we miss the mark and it rebounds back and inside a minute Jack Riewoldt has a shot but misses….

 

We are in Row G, Bay M 12 and very much at ground level so there is a lot of looking at the big screens to get some idea of what’s going on.

 

Six minutes in and it’s a fair dinkum finals match they’re two points and it’s game on.

 

Great goal. De Goalie pushes forward, takes a good mark on the boundary and kicks it. Just under 9 minutes in and we are in front, 1.0 to 0.3.

 

At the thirteen minute mark, Travis Varcoe kicks our second after a good bit of solid, hard work. We are genuinely right in this and Richmond are going: “Bloody Hell…….”

 

Reeling.

 

18 minute mark and Riewoldt is having a shot after a good tackle on Landon and scores.  Tiges 1.3, Pies 2.1.

 

After some more hard, HARD work Crisp comes in and slots a beauty! 21 minute mark and it’s Tiges 1.3 to Pies 3.1 and crowd is going beserk!

 

26 min mark and Brodie Mihocek kicks another – you little beauty!

 

A minute later and De Goalie kicks another and the excitement is uncontainable. Fantastic!

 

Siren goes at pretty well the 30 minute mark and it’s Tiges 1.2 to Pies 5.2.

 

Well, a fantastic opening quarter – they are here to play Collingwood – couldn’t have asked for a better start.

 

Copybook stuff. (Funny how 5.2 looks so much better than 3.6.)

 

You gotta say, Richmond look slick, but rusty……

 

 

Second Quarter.

 

Two and a half minutes in and Mason takes a ripper and slots it home and it’s 6.2 to 1.3.

 

Five minutes and 30 seconds in and Mason, big Mason, slots another one and it’s 7.3 to 1.3. Fantastic – six goals up!

 

Eleven minutes in and Coxy grabs another, kicks it, and the crowd is OFF ITS NUT.

 

8.3 to 1.3. “Toys gone berserk” as they say. Figuratively and literally Mason Cox has STOOD UP. Beyond words.

 

20 minute and 10 second mark, and Crisp kicks a beauty from 50m’s which is shepherded through. You ripper! 9.3 to 1.5.

 

De Goey kicks a point then at the 22 minute 20 second mark he’s having a shot and it’s 10.4 to 1.5. Massive!

 

For the last five minutes of the first half, Richmond lock it in their forward line and, much to the chagrin of all, score a goal within the last 20 seconds or so.

 

Half time – 29 mins and 49 secs and it’s 10.4 to 2.8. Fourteen shots to twelve and the margin is 44 points.

 

Wow.

 

(However I can’t help thinking that this is the same margin as it was at half time in the 1970 Granny, so I’m not allowing myself to get totally carried away – It’s a deep scar……..)

 

Third Quarter.

 

40 seconds in and Riewoldt kicks his second, 3.8 to 10.4.

 

3 mins 40 in and it spills over the back De Goalie does the right thing after another lovely Mason Cox mark and thumps it through.

 

Mason kicks a point – lousy, flat looking kick, just didn’t get onto it….

 

After a turnover Tigers are having a shot on goal and yes, Riewoldt makes us pay – 4.8 to 11.6, seven minutes in.

 

At the 15 minute mark and Mihocek kicks a beauty and it’s good, hard, tough, Finals Football. Just managed to force it forward to a clear break and Brody makes them pay.

 

23 min mark and Richmond get one back, 12.6 to 5.9

 

Still super, super pressure by The Pies, still with the pedal down. Been some great players standing up today, Cox and particularly Greenwood (he’s known as The Pig apparently) tonight, doing some great unseen stuff.

 

Riewoldt is having another shot – he has been their best player tonight, no probs so far – and he kicks his fourth.

 

After a fast break they get another point and it’s ¾ time.

 

We kicked two and Richmond 4 for the quarter. Although they outscored us, you could say that we held them in a very tight arm wrestle.

 

Last Quarter.

 

Well…. at the 4 minute mark they kick a goal – Riewoldt again – and Richmond have got a sniff. It’s tough, tough footy. Man they are a good side, Richmond are coming back. It’s game on here and they are 27 points down and they are goin’ hard.

 

Been in their forward zone for the last 6 minutes and our backs are under extreme pressure. Langdon gets someone too high and they kick another – 21 points the difference………

 

11 minutes and we goal – Treloar – back to 27 and somehow, just somehow, you get the feeling that that was the stopper.

 

The one that broke their run.

 

Three minutes later and Grundy kicks the sealer and you can feel it – WE HAVE WON!

 

Jayden Stephenson kicks one more for the icing and it’s party time.

 

Scenes of ecstasy and serious, serious uncontained pure joy.

 

What more can you say?

 

How do you say it?

 

Just…..

 

GO PIES!!!!!!!

 

Collingwood, 15.7, 97 defeated Richmond, 8.10, 58

Crowd 95,000

 

 

 

Frank

Comments

  1. Very enjoyable Frank. Loved the family history and struggle.
    Two teams riding the crest of a season long wave. Will be a great week and a great tussle.
    Having grown up in SA I miss the two team banter of going to the SANFL back in the day or the AFL in Melbourne between 2 big local teams. Footy with a home team and an interstate is too much Christians and Lions for my taste. Home ground fans get no perspective and respect for the skills and desires of the other mob (and the umpires).
    The chance to soak that up for a week at the big dance is the reason we decided to raid the superannuation funds to come over. Never know which Granny will be your last.
    Break a leg.

  2. G’day F Taylor.
    This is a super effort for the Floreat Pica Society.
    Good on you.

    So many personal stories carry this game; carry the meaning of this game.
    “It’s bigger than us; you don’t have to worry about it…”

    ==
    Interesting point on home town fans outside Victoria, Peter_B.

  3. John Butler says:

    Great piece, Frank.

    44. Amazing how potent that 1970 GF remains after all these years.

    Enjoy Saturday, win or lose. It’s been a great effort of restoration just to get there.

    Cheers

  4. No Collingwood supporter born before 1960 will ever forget what happened in the 1970 Grand Final, JB. Sitting in the Southern Stand at half time last Friday night as soon as I realised that our lead was 44 points I thought immediately of 1970. The fact that I know rationally that it is unlikely to ever happen again does not erase my anxiety. Having said that I expect the Grand Final against the Eagles will be much closer at half time.

  5. Lovely stuff, Frank.

    But I am still wondering how you came to be a Pies supporter?

  6. Frank Taylor says:

    Thanks for all of your comments fellas, much appreciated.
    Peter – couldn’t agree more. Totally on the same page.
    Tall Man – thanks for your encouragement.
    John – sure is. I will, ta.
    Dave – same sentiments as you.
    Smokie – good question. A long story which is remarkable in it self.
    The quick version is that the 1st day at school I was asked : who did I barrack for? I had no idea so I asked my Dad when he got home. I didn’t ask Mum much to her chagrin later. He said Collingwood. That was it.
    It was February 1959. And my Dad (NO interest in footy) was a punter who got great odds for The Pies the previous season and had cleaned up. Dad’s afterglow……….
    I only found out probably 20 years ago. True story.

Leave a Comment

*