Round 17 – Richmond v Essendon: A (Poké) Battle For The Ages

‘Come with me, the time is right
There’s no better team
Arm in arm we’ll win the fight
It’s always been our dream’


Those prophetic words would almost be at home in any AFL club song. We’ll let it play out though…


‘Pokémon, gotta catch ‘em all’.


Thankfully, players are banned from using their mobiles on the ground, lest Darcy Parish attempt to catch yet another Zubat when resting on the interchange bench.

Pokémon Go has taken over the tech-centric, 1990’s nostalgia-driven-for-all-twenty-somethings world. And amidst the madness awesomeness engulfing Australia lie some key lessons.


For the purpose of this exercise, I would like to introduce Ash Ketchum – played superbly by the Essendon Football Club.

A young tyro in a rough world, and on a quest to be the very best, like no-one ever was. For the uninitiated, and those with far more important things to do with their lives, every episode (read: AFL round), Ash faces off against an opponent, or ‘wild’ Pokémon.

Round 17 saw the Bombers take on Arcanine – the legendary ‘fire’ Pokémon that presents with tiger stripes, a shaggy mane, a billowing beige tail, and going by the name of ‘Richmond’. According to folklore, it’s a fiercely brave and loyal creature. Sound familiar Richmond fans?

When approaching an opponent of higher repute in the harsh AFL-Pokémon world, as the underdog you need to be nigh on perfect to achieve success. The ‘end-game’ is to capture your foe, demonstrating your complete dominance over them.

For this, you need a Pokéball. But, like anything worth capturing, it’s not easily attainable.

First of all, you need to ensure that you hit the ‘target’. Faced with allies – and opponents – of varying sizes and shapes, this can be difficult. (Ash) Essendon’s been working on this all year. Our foot skills have seen us for most of the year play a high-possession keepings-off game, one designed to control the tempo of the game and allow us to minimize defeats. Pleasingly, it’s led into a greater ability to transfer the play into the middle of the ground, and a more attacking attitude.

Of course even if you achieve this, any budding PokéMaster knows that the odds are stacked against you. For Arcanine is no easy beast to coax, nor will it roam willy-nilly into a small spherical object. Your ‘throw’ may be on target, your endeavour excellent, and the Pokéball will close. It will shake, and it will shudder. You will be on the verge of victory. But it will not hold the beast inside. It will burst out – almost laughing

Late in the last quarter, Joe Daniher slotted a major through the big sticks that brought Essendon within a single point, and Arcanine to within a single second of being held.

The Pokéball shuddered. Essendon fans held their breaths. After being teased by the prospect of winning in recent games against GWS and St Kilda, surely the faithful would hear that successful ‘click’, when, well, everything would ‘click’.

Richmond had other ideas though. And so it was that the Tigers kicked away late with goals to Rioli, Grigg, and finally a sealer from the boundary line courtesy of Dustin Martin – who decided he’d put Danger on alert with another stellar (43 touches, 2 goals) game.

Much like those wide-eyed youngsters chasing the next ‘legendary Pokémon’ out in the streets, Ash and the Bombers were forced to concede defeat. But, there’s always next week. Awaiting is ‘Pyroar’, the ‘Lion’.

Perhaps we’ll catch that one.

Richmond: 3.3, 7.3, 11.5, 16.6 (102)
Essendon: 3.3, 5.7, 8.11, 11.17 (83)


Richmond: Lloyd 3, Griffiths 3, Grigg 2, Martin 2, Rioli, Miles, Menadue, Markov, Hunt, Hampson
Essendon: Fantasia 3, Laverde 2, Daniher 2, McKernan, Hams, Kelly, Merrett


Richmond: Martin, Cotchin, Griffiths, Castagna, Lloyd
Essendon: Merrett, Ambrose, Fantasia, Parish



D.Martin (3), Z.Merrett (2), B.Griffiths (1)


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About Sam Laffy

Thirty-something year-old Essendon supporter. Winning the flag in 2000 when I was 12 was supposed to kick off a dynasty I could boast about for years. Still waiting for that 17th flag.....

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