Round 12 – Richmond v West Coast: Footy in Paris

In the last week, my view on AFL changed.  Throwing a dusty footy on to my boot, sending it out and across the dusty floor of a Roman Amphitheatre in Paris, I felt something, a nice, contented feeling. While wheeling on long leads and laughing as confused Parisian watched the strange sport, I discovered a whole new aspect of footy, an aspect that I hadn’t even contemplated before.

Too many people get stuck in the scandals and tactics. Too much forward press, defensive pressure and more than enough ASADA. Some over complicate the sport and lose the beauty. There are too many of those who cry out in horror when an incident of any size arises. They blubber over it and replay the incident many times in their words and actions. They cannot pick up a newspaper, read a story and then let it be. If Adam Goodes performs an Aboriginal war dance after kicking a goal, so be it. Why exactly are you so upset?
There is nothing quite as simple and wonderful as booting a ball around a park. That’s all you need to do. To just shut up the media, shut up the stream of recycled chatter and punt the pill to a mate. Nothing is quite as simple and yet fulfilling as hearing the whoomph as a ball slams onto your boot. And I did that. And it was very good.

I had a day where I got to stroll down the length of the Champs Élysées, devour the best coffee in the world, eat heaps of pastry and marvel at the Arc de Triomphe. Then I got to take a train to an Australian bar with my Richmond supporting Dad and brother and watch the footy. How good is that!? I came out of the bar two-and-a-half hours later, into the gentle Parisian sun, feeling the happiest after a Richmond loss. Then I got to kick a footy around a Roman Amphitheatre before checking out the Eiffel Tower at 9:40, where the light was still going strong.

It is hard to stay upset about something as little as a footy game in Paris. It’s not as if footy is small, but in a bustling city with so much to see and nothing to get angry about, the sport fades a little. To stay emotionally invested in a foreign game doesn’t quite work out when there is simply too much else to experience. (Though I am still planning to not miss a game.)

This game was about the big players, the big acts. Nic Naitanui, Dustin Martin, Jeremy McGovern, Alex Rance, JJ Kennedy and Will Schofield all gave the match its moments, giving their teams hope, and in some cases, the game.

NicNat didn’t actually have a moment. He had a night, and a night out it was. Leaping around like a kid on red cordial, the monstrous Fijian dominated the airspace. There was an extra blip on the air traffic control panel, one that simply read “Nic Nat” on the night. His ruckwork was trés bien, providing the West Coast midfielders an armchair ride. But what most mattered in his performance was the Battle of the Hairstyle: Dreadlocks vs Mullet. After tonight, we all know which ‘do would win the battle.

Dusty Martin had a few moments too. He spent the night in a pinball machine, bouncing violently off others and raising his teams score. His moments were in the second quarter, where first he gathered a spillage, dodged an opponent and audaciously banana-ed it from 50 directly in front! Whaaaa?? Then a minute or so later, my favourite moment in the match came. It was a very quick passage of play, one gone unnoticed by all (channel 7 anyway, I didn’t see a replay). Weaving side to side, sprinting away from a chasing Dom Sheed, Dusty suddenly whipped to the right, and Sheed, staggering and losing his balance, fell over. Dusty broke his ankles, made him fall on his butt! I think I got a bit excited: “Uh-uh Dommy boy, you ain’t go’in near mah man! Sit yo ass down!” I take this moment to apologise to the people in Cafe Oz at about 12:30 Paris time, on rue Rocherau-Denfert.

But while Dusty brought the laughter and uh-uhing, McGovern, Kennedy, Alex Rance and Will Schofield brought the pain. McGovern, on paper, didn’t have a great night. He turned it over seven times and gave away four free kicks. But he, along with Schofield, held the three-pronged Tiger forward line to four goals. McGovern was an impenetrable force all night, intercepting errant Tiger kicks and keeping Vickery and Griffiths especially very quiet.

Kennedy was well held by Alex Rance, at the half only kicking one goal when he roved off the pack. If Kennedy could be kept to two goals and do not much else, the general consensus was that Richmond would win. But alas, the big forward nabbed two goals very quickly in the third term amid a burst of Eagle goals that would ice the match. His direct opponent Rance, who later that night signed a four year deal with the Tiges (yes!!) was the victim of a very controversial free kick. After claiming a juggled mark that the umpire didn’t pay, Rance was promptly brought to the ground. Obviously vexed, Rance underarmed the ball to the ump with a little bit extra on it. The ball was taken cleanly by the umpire, and normally would’ve thought nothing of it.

Oh no. Mr Umpy deduced that Rance’s delivery of said ball was too hard and forceful, and promptly paid a free kick against the increasingly enraged backman for his meanie poo-poo attitude. I wonder what that hand signal would look like. Quite comedic I expect.
Then it was Will Schofield’s turn. His team held a healthy lead midway through the final stanza when yet another dodgy Richmond kick was taken by the blue and gold. Schofield received a kick from a teammate as the defence, with time on their side, looked to engage in a bit of time-wasting kick to kick. But Schofield had other ideas, running down the middle of the ground, exchanging a handball with a teammate and pumping it long inside 50. His chutzpah paid off, as his Darling slotted the sealer.
When the siren sounded, us three Tiger fans strolled out of the bar, annoyed with the loss. But then we saw sun-washed Paris, the beautiful old buildings and winding cobblestone roads.
It’s difficult to stay upset in a beautiful city.

Richmond: 10.10 (70)
West Coast: 13.12 (90)

Richmond: Martin, B.Ellis, Miles, Houli, Morris, Rance.
West Coast: Naitanui, Gaff, McGovern, Yeo, Ellis, Priddis, Schofield.

Richmond: Martin 3, Vickery 2, Griffiths, Miles, Cotchin, Deledio, Riewoldt.
West Coast: Kennedy 3, Naitanui 2, Cripps 2, LeCras 2, Darling 2, Sheed, Yeo.

Gaff (WCE) 1, Martin (Rich) 2, Naitanui (WCE) 3.



  1. 1. the best coffee in the world is in Marrickville. and Northcote. the best coffee in europe is in Madrid. don’t tell anyone!

    2. we made so many dumb errors early in each quarter. the Natanui goal from the bum’s rush etc. considering how poorly we played for much of the night the resultant hype around the Eagles is hard for me to reconcile. 7th v 8th?

    3. If T Hunt appears on the sheet for the Sydney game I will spend my 7 yr old’s first game booing one of our own. It will be the coach…

  2. jan courtin says

    Can’t quite agree with your preference for French coffee Paddy, and I sort of agree with your sentiments “It’s difficult to stay upset in a beautiful city” (Melbourne and Sydney can be classified as such), so I’m wondering whether our footy emotions revolve around the sameness of everyday life when at home and smothered with the hype surrounding every game. Away from home, especially in a different country with a different culture, our experiences are many and varied and, accordingly, our perspective changes – and just as well!

    Enjoyed your article and hope that “It’s difficult to stay upset in a beautiful city” is, again, your sentiment of choice next week when you play us in Sydney.

  3. What an awesome article! Very proud to be a norwood supporter. Keep up the good work.

  4. Peter Fuller says

    You are a gifted writer; thanks for your match report, and congratulations on your sense of perspective.

  5. E.regnans says

    Bonjour Paddy,
    Grand perspective, as noted above.
    It’s all a circus, really.
    Which can be (and usually is) wonderful.
    What a life.

  6. Neil Anderson says

    Love the clash of cultures. If Leunig did a cartoon based on a family of Tiger supporters in Paris he would show the Aussies with the Sherrin on the table in the bar as they watched the Tigers in action on the big screen. Through the window you could see the great monuments of Paris where tourists from every other country would be oohing and aahing and taking photos. A good example of Aussies keeping it real.

  7. Good one Paddy. The Avenging Eagle and I will be in France and Croatia in September (some fool said lets go this year while the weather is still warm over there, and we have no chance of playing finals after EMac’s knee injury#!!*).
    Will keep your equilibrium in mind should we inconceivably lose a final and I am tempted to throw the IPad into the Champs Elysee.
    Bon Chance.

  8. Great work Paddy love to read your thoughts and comments keep it up.

  9. Tony johnson says

    Brilliant perspective from the other side of the world, and great flow to the article. Your a gifted young gentleman.
    With an eye for detail similar to a certain Mr Holmes.
    Enjoy your holiday and life experience

    A sad but faithful St Kilda fan ????

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