Round 11 – North Melbourne v Richmond: Tasmania’s Most Popular Team, Fail Again

On a crisp Hobart evening, with the apparent temperature at 3.4°C, North Melbourne hosted the most popular AFL team in Tasmania’s brief 74-game history, Richmond.


It’s a big claim, being the ‘Most Popular’. It’s the sort of importance we place upon things like being elected as President of the United States, or being voted as the Gold Logie winner. So, the stakes are adequately high when we measure such things. The Apple Isle has had four clubs host matches in the state: Fitzroy, at North Hobart, Hawthorn and St Kilda, both in Launceston, and now North Melbourne, in Hobart. The only clubs to have never played in Tasmania are Collingwood, Carlton, the Brisbane Bears, and University.


Yet it’s Richmond who have proved overwhelmingly the most popular team in the state. With AFL attendance records at both Aurora Stadium and Blundstone Arena, the Tigers are a genuine drawcard. Furthermore, with an average attendance in Tasmania or 18,876, Richmond’s closest competitor in the state is Geelong, with the next-best average of 17,120.


It cannot be disputed that the Tigers are popular in Tasmania. But does this translate to success on the field?


In short: No.


Richmond now have a 0-3 record on The Map, which was cemented as a genuinely awful record on Friday night against the rampaging Roos. It started badly before the match with Dylan Grimes injuring his hamstring prior to the match, forcing emergency Troy Chaplin into the side with only a few minutes notice. The Grimenator has struggled with hamstrings throughout his career, and this latest setback will surely weigh heavily on his mind. Add to this a serious ACL injury to Steve Morris, a concussion to Nick Vlastuin, and an ankle injury to Ben Griffiths, and it was a horror night on the injury front for the visitors.


But it wasn’t injuries that would impact the outcome of this match so significantly. No, it was the North Melbourne team that was humbled by Sydney the previous week, and didn’t want to allow their season to falter after such a stellar start. The Kangaroos were irresistible, increasing their lead at every break, and never letting a Richmond side, that entered the match with much hope if not hype, into the contest.


Cruelly for Richmond, the best player on the arena was Roo Daniel Wells. Wells was (in)famously picked up at Pick 2 in the 2002 National Draft, which they had received indirectly from Richmond. The pick, however, was traded as Pick 4 before Carlton were stripped of Picks 1 & 2 due to various irregularities with their player payments. Some Tiger fans still remain bitter about this, and the fact that Wells still manages to be a star when competing against the Yellow and Black.


The other notable performer was Brent Harvey, who became the third Shinboner to kick 500 goals. At 38 years old, he remains a more-than handy contributor, and it is hard to see why he won’t continue to play on beyond 2016.


For North Melbourne, they’re back on track for 2016. If they don’t remain in the Top 4 for the remainder of the season, and have a real crack at the Premiership, then there is something wrong in the water at Arden Street. And Richmond, well… it is hard to see them winning enough games to be a genuine prospect for the Final 8, and also beginning to be difficult to see what direction the club should take moving forward.


NORTH MELBOURNE 5.4 7.9 13.13 18.16 (124)
RICHMOND 1.5 3.8 4.10 7.12 (54)


North Melbourne: Harvey 4, Wells 3, Wood 2, Thomas 2, Atley, Brown, Daw, Petrie, Dal Santo, Cunnington, Macmillan
Richmond: Vickery 2, Riewoldt 2, Lloyd, Deledio, Miles


North Melbourne: Wells, Ziebell, Swallow, Dal Santo, Cunnington, Harvey
Richmond: Miles, Cotchin, Grigg, Rance


Umpires: Hosking, Chamberlain, Findlay


Our Votes: 3 Wells (NM); 2 Ziebell (NM); 1 Harvey (NM).


  1. Paul Spinks says

    Nice read, Kent. Everyone wants to be popular, so some Tiges silver lining!
    You hit the nail on the proverbial – as a neutral supporter I thought it was more North being good than the Tigers bad.
    I think, though, this is Richmond’s take-a-step-backwards year.

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