Preliminary Final – Richmond v Geelong: A view from Vienna


by Joe De Petro


Greetings from Vienna


I am striding along Sielerstrasse towards SchwartzenbergstraBe, phone in hand, following google directions to Flanagan’s Irish Pub.  Vienna’s old city is more functional than many of its counterparts.  If you look through some of the windows you will see office workers at their desks, conducting business.  The cobblestoned streets of its past are long gone, now sealed in modern concrete blocks.  They are not so pretty but they do allow me to bustle along.


Yesterday, in a desperate attempt to find a bar that was going to broadcast the Preliminary Final, I found myself in this establishment, feeling dejected, resigned to watching the AFL app in our Air B & B, alone and friendless.  Not as obsessed with footy, my wife and her sister have opted for the Schönbrunn Palace instead.


It was here that I struck a deal with the Manager, a friendly Irishman named Darragh. The Rugby World Cup begins tomorrow and a large crowd is expected.  I am welcome to hook onto their WiFi and catch the game there.  At least I can soak in some atmosphere.



After a late breakfast in St Stephens Platz, I am sitting in the centre of a throng of Rugby fans, watching both my screen and the opening game of the World Cup between Japan and Russia.  In my hand is a pint of Austria’s finest ale, the first of several for the afternoon.  My new companions express their bemusement.


I have noise-cancelling headphones, but I opt not to use them.  The roar of the MCG crowd drowns out the World Cup anyway.  I have to say, the MCG travels well.


The Little Master, Gary Ablett, turns back the clock and squeezes out the first goal of the night.  It’s on! 


The Tigers have superstars too and our tattooed one immediately equalises. In a flash, finals debutant Tom Lynch has two.  Is it going to be a case of how far the Tigers?


Umm, no.


Geelong dominate their opponents early, denying intercept marking, keeping both Grimes and Vlastuin on very short leashes. At the first break, they have their noses in front, courtesy of two wonderful goals from tyro Gryan Myers.  They will not go down without a fight and we would not want it any other way.


In the second stanza, Richmond struggle as key players succumb to niggling injuries,  the Cats take a 21 point lead to the main break.  Graham has dislocated his shoulder, Dusty is hobbling, Riewoldt has barely been in the action.  Thank God for Tom Lynch and Dion Prestia. They keep us afloat.


In other news Japan lead Russia 20 to 7.  The many Rugby fans in the room are excited and still bemused by this strange guy cheering at all the wrong times.


The half-time break finds me feeling the pressure of being halfway across the world. I order another pint.


The Tigers quickly switch on after the resumption of play.  At least I think they do, my connection keeps dropping out.  Is it the dodgy Wifi or the dodgy app?  Every time I resume contact, we seem to have another goal.  I am not sure what has actually happened but the Tigers take a slim lead to the last break, one which they instantly extend in the early minutes of the last quarter.  In Australia, the third quarter is the Premiership  quarter, in Vienna it is the “Unknown Error”quarter!


Will they hang on?  Will my internet connection hold? Yes, both do.  I can feel the MCG rock as Tiger fans celebrate a hard-fought won and passage to another Grand Final.


Next week I will be in Rome at my cousin’s wedding.  The purpose of the trip to Europe to welcome a new member into our family.  And to watch a Grand Final on the same day!  It could get tricky.


Oh, Japan had an easy win over Russia.




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About Joe De Petro

My favourite period in history began with the Summer of Love and came to a sad end with the birth of Disco. It was from 1967 to 1975. What was not to like in those days? The Grateful Dead, Creedence, The Beach Boys, The Doors, Janis Joplin, Cat Stevens, Neil Diamond and the mighty Tigers won Premierships every other year. It was a magical time, much like the current period in history.


  1. Peter Fuller says

    Good luck with balancing your football and family obligations on Saturday. I love hearing of these stories of people following the game for afar. A line from Geoffrey Green resonates “moments of deep emotion in a land far from home.”
    Mind you it’s easier now. I was in Stockholm in 1975 and even without a dog in the Grand Final fight, I was keen to hear the outcome. The BBC Sports Report included a single line in which the announcer hesitantly described three figures for each team (G,B,P) to convey news of North Melbourne’s victory.

  2. Joe, must say I’m very surprised you’re not in Melbourne in September! Holidays are wonderful but never in that important month, especially when your team is competing and especially in a GF. Enjoy it wherever you will be!

  3. Joe logging in as guest says

    Thanks Peter. The balancing act is about to go into overdrive. Most of my family are forces of nature so it is about to get real interesting real soon.

    Jan, sometimes you just have t do things. I was in Rome 18 months ago and the groom thought highly enough of me to ask for my advice, which I gave. In hindsight, I should have added that September is a terrible month to get married but I don’t have that much foresight.

    It is what it is. How often do you get to a Grand Final? How often do you get invited to a wedding in Rome? How selfish did I want to be?

    I will do the Say yes to the dress report of the GF next week.

  4. Ah, the joys of September weddings and living in a global village!
    My son missed 2017 as he was o/s preparing for his own wedding in France. His pretty reasonable excuse was that Richmond seemed highly unlikely to make the GF at the time the wedding plans were made. This year he’s scheduled to arrive home on Saturday morning from a family visit in France. We have a ticket for him but his plane better be on time!
    I missed the 1973 GF because of a family wedding. Given that the groom was a keen football follower who admits to have watched Jack Dyer play at Punt Road, I would have expected better of him!
    I assume that it’ll be an early morning kick-off in Rome and that the result will be known by the time the happy couple tie the knot? Keep yourself nice – just remember it’s their day :)

  5. Joe logging in as guest says

    Good luck with your son, Stainless. Hope he gets there. My daughter was living in London for the last one so she is very excited to go this time.

    Kick off is 6:30 for game and 10:30 for wedding ceremony. Family ( including us) are staying in Ciampino (in the burbs), church is near Colosseum. The phone will be making an appearance in the car on the way over. Hopefully, bride will be fashionably late.

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