Richmond v Carlton

by Chris Riordan

How low can you go?Stocks were used in Medieval times for public humiliation and acknowledgement of social crime. In 2009, we still seem to have this urge to see suffering before redemption (although Ricky Nixon appears to have escaped from his “tram collision” – maybe he’s a good manager after all). Ben Cousins, the star attraction of Round One’s “traditional” Thursday blockbuster at the MCG, swallowed a large slice of humble pie. Bedecked in Richmond’s appropriate yellow stripe he was paraded before the massive crowd wearing the comic number 32 of Greg Tivendale. Tiv to me represented the ordinariness of recent Tiger sides, running wide, peeking to the wings, never really good and never taking that next step. Ironically younger than his replacement on the list he, predictably, played a blinding second half in his retiring dead-rubber swansong against hapless Melbourne last year.

But this was meant to be a “new beginning”. An early touch to the toey Cuz, then a pass to the leading Richardson swelled the yellow and black hearts. Richo’s “poster” hinted that it would be business as usual for him and his long-suffering loyalists. There was palpable excitement and drama early. It had been a long wait for everyone. It always is before winter’s first bounce. My favourite opening game memory was the Templeton/Moore battle in front of over 70,000 in 1983 in a Saturday afternoon “match-of-the-round” featuring the New Magpies and Barassi’s Demon vision. 2009’s version was a stand alone television extravaganza but also featured local clubs with a fantastic history of spiteful games, the genesis of which were probably in the early 70’s. With black shorts versus white and Vinnie’s boy prominent from the onset, there was enough to park fans of any era on to the couch.

I was glad that this was a Network 10 match and thus avoided the Bruce/Commetti fluff. Even they would have struggled as it all went so flat so quickly. By the 10 minute mark of the match and already smug at my 55 point Blues prediction, I preached to young Tom (aged 12) that, despite his obvious tipping misjudgement, he could take some long-term lessons for the season.

Primarily, don’t rate Richmond. Cotchin (when available) and Foley will be rippers, Morton probably also, and Riewoldt maybe. Benny has sold memberships and can be considered as a wildcard for this year. Richo and Simmonds can’t go much longer. Browny and McMahon are duds. I saw Nathan Brown get three votes years ago after a bag of goals for the Dogs. The problem, I complained at the time, was that most were scored from areas where he shouldn’t have been…sneaky ones off the back of the pack or low-percentiles from the pocket. Talent? Enormous. Contributor? No. Destination Richmond? Perfect.

The other lesson for my Tommy was to wait for a good underdog match to punt the Tiges. Wallace (if he survives) is good at setting up a strategy to overcome a known enemy. Time and again at Footscray and then famously for Richmond against Craig’s Crows, he has conjured miracles against all odds! But expectation? Sorry.

And that was the millstone around their neck. Carlton played them off the park. The Blues, as we saw last year, can score quickly and push forward devastatingly. That can leave them vulnerable to counter-attack, but certainly not from a team that limps sideways and ineptly.

Juddy strutted his stuff, Jarrod Waite did his late father proud and Fev muscled in on the forward line. Marc Murphy might just live up to his own healthy ego and young Robinson looked physically ready for the battle. I cringed when he tagged and tossed poor Benny to the ground disdainfully and no one remonstrated. Richmond were closer to Janet McCalman’s historic term for the suburb…Struggletown.

When Cousins pinged his hammy early in the last quarter the ignominy was complete. Sheedy, Mr “Look at ME”, should seem the total goose for his narcissism and typically abrasive “win the flag” media grab earlier in the week. Instead, amazingly, he is touted as a likely (white ant) replacement when the supposedly inevitable blood-letting dislodges the Plough.

All this, and it is Friday morning with 7 games left in Round One! “The Oracle”, Malcolm Blight, after one celebrated opening game humiliation, noted that it was a marathon and the competitors hadn’t yet left the Stadium. The early pace, it appears, is frantic.


  1. Chris – Maybe next week’s lesson for young Tommy could be ‘how to win with good grace’.

  2. Cliffy
    Only got to par4. Any sledging of “The boy from Summer Bay” is worthy in my book [as you know].

  3. Good work Chris! Your frank analysis and “take no prisoners” approach is appreciated.

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