Round 14 – Richmond v GWS: The simplicity after the complexity

I was back in Warrnambool for a bit of a gathering of the clan when the Tigers took on the Giants last Saturday. About forty of us drifted in and out of various breakfasts, beach walks, drinking sessions, boat rides and quaddies. Saturday afternoon was at Mum and Dad’s. Hot pies and sausage rolls and the footy on the big screen. It was cold and grey at home, matched by the gloom from the G where daytime footy was played under lights. By half time there were only seven of us left. Those that didn’t care for footy or the Tigers, and those that cared too much, had seen enough and headed off to cafes and vintage stores. Remaining were Dad, three of his brothers, one of his sisters, my oldest cousin and me. There was enough Tiger angst in the room to power a small hipster business.

‘At least we got to see premierships’ is a phrase I’ve heard a bit in my life. During the first half I heard it again. Followed by the usual digression, ‘Good music too.’ I reckon when I was a kid I must have thought the Richmond half forward line was John Lennon, Royce Hart and Muhammad Ali. When Dad pointed out Francis Bourke at the Lakeside Oval in 1978 I couldn’t believe he was real. St. Francis, right there in front of me. And at the top of the tree, Tom Hafey. There’s nothing more tigerish that a tiger, a bloody wounded tiger. By three quarter time Damien Hardwick had seen enough as well. Rather than opting for flat whites and walnut side tables, he opted to channel Tommy and deliver a good old fashioned spray. It worked.

The players never took their eyes off Hardwick as he urged the Tigers to dig deep. Dusty was like a cat watching a goldfish. We often hear about coaches losing their players. I reckon Hardwick has the Tigers. His players responded. The team’s stars kicked long goals and took one handed marks. The team’s foot soldiers were desperate. The team’s old aged pensioner Chris Newman’s brilliant second effort tackle on Heath Shaw was one for the true believers. The sound of the final siren brought more relief the euphoria.

On Wednesday night I headed to The Wheeler Centre to hear Martin Flanagan talk with Bulldogs captain Bob Murphy. Murphy wouldn’t be out place playing in any era. He seemed a regular bloke who’d stayed a regular bloke through his years playing at the game’s top level. Amongst many topics, he spoke about the current role of psychology in footy and it’s goal of having players play in the moment. To play like they did when they were kids. Murphy nominated Cyril, Swanny and Nat Fyfe as champions playing in that moment. He noted the relaxed brilliance of this trio was nothing learned. These guys were born in the moment and have been there ever since. Flanagan spoke of the timeless Michael Long.

This weekend I’m having my own footy double header. Tigers against the Blues at The G, before going down to Tassie for the Hawks and the Dockers. My mate Gaz is making the long trip from Fremantle to see the Dockers go around. Gaz does a brilliant impersonation of Billy Bathurst Snr coach of the East Fremantle ressies back in the early 1970s. Holding the ball up in front of himself. “Right get in here boys. THIS is the ball. Go out there and get the ball.”

Dimma, Royce, Lennon, Ali, St. Francis, Bob, Cyril, Swanny, Nat, Longie and Billy all know it.

The simplicity after the complexity.

About Chris Daley

Tiger fan Chris Daley works in Community Nursing, which has taken him to Perth, Broome and now Dandenong. Being tall, he used to get a game in the ruck playing bush footy outside of Warrnambool.

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