Round 13 – West Coast v Richmond: The West Coast Sound


West Coast v Richmond

7:20pm, Sunday June 13

Perth Stadium



Music historians refer to the ‘West Coast Sound’; it originated with The Beach Boys. Brian Wilson popularised a wide-eyed, sunny optimism characterising teenage life in California in the 1960s and it all started with the release of Surfin’ in 1961. The sound was later attributed to acts such as Jefferson Airplane, The Mamas and The Papas and The Byrds, with jangling guitars, soaring harmonies and tales of love, flowers and acid-induced euphoria.


There was nothing musical about the sound emanating from the west coast of Australia when a new franchise was added to the VFL in 1987. The West Coast Eagles were competitive right from the start, beginning with their first official match when they overcame a 33-point three-quarter-time deficit to overrun their hapless visitors, which just happened to be the Richmond Football Club.


These Eagles like their music as well. They appropriated Daddy Cool’s 1971 smash hit Eagle Rock for airplay at their home games. It was played at the MCG after they won the Grand Final in 2018. It’s an insanely catchy tune and should be adopted by every Eagles sporting organisation around the world. I’m talking to you Philadelphia and Crystal Palace. But Daddy Cool was a Melbourne outfit. Part of the film clip from that time featured the boys in the band cavorting outside the Aussie Burger Bar, which was just across the road from Luna Park. It doesn’t belong to the west, although it’s nice that Ross Wilson earns some royalties.


What is the West Coast Sound in Australia? The wheels of the railway trucks as the iron ore is transported by rail across the Pilbara to the docks at Port Hedland? Waves breaking onto the sands of Cable Beach? The desert winds drifting across the salt lakes? Perhaps it’s Wide Open Road by The Triffids.


But in the footy it’s the amplitude of parochialism in what’s said to be the most isolated major city on earth. Support for the home team at a hysterical level. The roar when they charge forward. The howls of indignation when free kicks are awarded to the visitors. The righteous fury when they demand a penalty for deliberate out of bounds. I know I’ll hear all of this as I watch on television. In a way I don’t blame them. They love their club as much as I love my own.
But just like my fellow citizens on the Indian Ocean side of the continent, I want to win. The West Coast Sound I want to hear tonight is the deathly silence of the home team going down. The silence aligned with outbursts of cheering from the WA-based Richmond fans as the ball sails through the goals. And the sound of the commentators affirming, ‘You’ve gotta hand it to the Tigers. They’re gearing up for a tilt at the flag again.’


Richmond launches its latest smash and grab raid from Sydney. Covid-19 restrictions have kept them away from home for the past three weeks.


Both teams have the game on their own terms at various times. Richmond with its brand of storm and surge counter-attack in which they punish opposition errors, the Eagles’ precise chipping and passing before zeroing in on their potent forward line quartet of Kennedy, Darling, Allen and Ryan.


Mabior Chol battles bravely in his duel with the formidable Naitanui in the ruck in the absence of Toby Nankervis.


There’s not much between these contenders. The Eagles lead by four points at the first break, Richmond by the same margin at half-time. Lambert is a welcome acquisition after an absence of seven weeks due to injury. West Coast keep nailing their set shots at goal, even during the phases of the game when Richmond controls the play.


The third quarter is a tactical battle between Hardwick and Simpson where both generals attempt to nullify each other’s strengths. But the Tigers take their lead out to as much as 18 points before Ryan gets one back just before the siren.


Kennedy scores to reduce the lead to a single kick before goals to Martin, Lambert and Bolton thrust the Tigers to a substantial 22-point lead halfway through the final term. I relax a little, believing we have enough on the scoreboard.



Then the Eagles strike back. First Waterman, then Cripps. There’s only ten points in it.


The ‘Eagles! Eagles!’ chant reverberates throughout the night air. This is the West Coast Sound that I don’t want to hear. It’s the tumult of 50,000 home fans sensing a come-from-behind victory and urging their team on. The normally unflappable Vlaustin misses his target from a kick-out and the ball ends up with Oscar Allen, who converts and cuts Richmond’s lead to two points with four minutes to go. Castagna fires around the corner on his left, but the ball falls harmlessly into the possession of Shannon Hurn. With less than a minute to go Liam Ryan, who has clearly been labouring with a leg injury, gains a metre in a race for the ball with Vlaustin. He drills a low pass to Kennedy, who dives and is paid the mark. My son and I are on our feet and yelling at the television. Did the ball travel 15 metres? Did Kennedy get his fingers under it? It’s all to no avail. Kennedy launches his curling kick at the sticks and I squirm on the lounge room couch, trying to make the ball deviate to the left-hand side of the post. But it’s a goal, with mere centimetres to spare. This makes it four in ten minutes. Kennedy raises his fists to the air before a backdrop of shouting, leaping and dancing home ground supporters.


There are 36 seconds to go. The Eagles win the centre clearance before the Tigers launch one more desperate attack.



Riewoldt handballs to Richmond’s number four. The east coast sound is a shriek emanating from thousands of households.


‘Come on Dusty!’


He lets fly from 60 metres out but can’t get enough power on the kick. The ball is in the safe hands of Shannon Hurn once again. The time on the clock expires and Richmond goes down by four points. The match is a classic, but this is of no consolation to a man and his boy bolting upright from their seats. The young man strides into his bedroom and slams the door. I start walking laps of the family room in an attempt to compose myself. It’s the cruellest of losses when you think you have the game in the bag only to have it taken from you in the last minute.


Then the final indignity. The sound of Eagle Rock on the Optus Stadium PA. They’ve taken our points and they’ve taken our song.


But how can I complain? The Tigers have taken us on an exhilarating ride in recent years. If you truly love them, sympathise with them when they don’t prevail. Life goes on. Learn resilience. Go and empty that dishwasher. I offer my son a cheery ‘goodnight’ when it’s time to turn in and he responds in kind.



WEST COAST      3.0   7.1   8.3   13.7 (85)
RICHMOND         2.2   7.5   9.9   12.9 (81)


West Coast: Kennedy 4, Waterman, Cripps 2, Allen, Naitanui, Jones, Ryan
Richmond: Riewoldt, Coleman-Jones, Lambert, Martin 2, Graham, Aarts, Castagna, Bolton


West Coast: Kennedy, Naitanui, Redden, Yeo, Sheed, Hurn, Foley, L.Edwards
Richmond: Lambert, Vlastuin, Martin, Houli, Broad, Bolton, Short


Crowd: 50,834




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  1. Very fair and balanced match report JG. What’s the matter with you?
    Vlastuin’s errant kick-in in the final minutes was his only mistake all night. He owned Darling and really got inside his head. Thought he and Houli were your best.
    Not sure about Liam Ryan being injured. I think he struggles with balancing the speccies with the team crumbling role. He is much better as a ground player as he showed in the final minutes.
    It was a joy to be at the game – win or lose – but win was better.
    I’m a 70’s West Coast Sound man – Jackson Browne, Linda Ronstadt, Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young and of course The Eagles.

  2. John Green says

    Thanks Peter. Glad you enjoyed the report. I remember that by the 70’s journos were referring to the ‘LA Sound’. This included the names you mentioned as well as performers like Jimmy Buffett and Boz Scaggs. I was into the heavy metal myself – Black Sabbath, Judas Priest & Scorpions etc. I still am, really. Never outgrew it.

  3. This was just about the game of the season thus far, in my opinion.

    And yes, the Triffids represent the west coast sound (in Australia) for me.

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