Round 17 – Richmond v Essendon: Kids kicking the footy down at the park

Richmond playing Essendon has a special significance in my family. Loyalty is divided between the two clubs across multiple generations, and a win brings a special sense of satisfaction and the right to affect an air of smugness. But today there was nothing on the line for the two clubs, and as I waited for my Bomber-supporting sister, my mind turned to what will happen if a rare Pokémon appears on the field. Surely the powers that be at the MCG would waive the ground invasion fine for a Charizard. A quick check on my phone showed that the MCG was clear of Pokémon and the game could go ahead without interruption.


But really, I came to see the kids play. With finals a mathematical impossibility, Richmond last week – finally – decided to give the kids a go. Oleg Markov and Jason Castagna were great against the Bulldogs, and this week the Tiger kids are up against the Bomber kids and ring-ins who, through necessity, have had a full season to find their feet as AFL footballers.


The match began in perfect conditions: blue sky, brilliant sunshine and no wind. But as so often happens, the Tigers were caught napping at the start. The Bombers got off to a flying start and were 19 points up before the Tigers got onto the scoreboard. By quarter time, scores were level and the Tigers were seemingly inspired by Sam Lloyd’s brilliant dribble kick goal from an impossible angle.


The day belonged to Dustin Martin, who was unstoppable with his career-best 43 touches, 14 clearances and two goals. Ben Griffiths was everywhere, marking the ball 12 times and kicking three goals. Trent Cotchin was busy, racking up 35 disposals. Of the kids, Jayden Short and Jason Castagna saw plenty of the football, and Oleg Markov and Daniel Rioli bobbed in and out of the game to good effect. Worryingly, Brett Delido sat out almost all of the second half with a calf injury.


A highlight of Richmond’s defensive effort was when Matthew Leuenberger marked in front of goal and chose to play on and run into an open goal, only to be pinged for holding the ball after being chased and tackled by a determined Dylan Grimes.


Half-way through the final quarter, Joe Daniher kicked a goal from just inside 50 metres and suddenly the Bombers were within one point of the Tigers. Not wanting to be outdone by that other Rioli who plays for Hawthorn, Daniel Rioli marked and kicked a long goal to put the Tigers seven points ahead. The Tigers went on to win by 19 points with Dustin Martin fittingly kicking the final goal of the afternoon. As with the loss to St Kilda last week, Essendon must be ruing their inaccuracy in front of goal.


This is the fifth time I’ve seen Essendon play live this season (which may very well be more than some Essendon supporters who wrote off the season before Round 1). I like Essendon’s daring style of play, and with the Tiger kids keen to show that they belong in the side, there is beginning to be an element of daring in the Tigers’ game too. For both teams, the afternoon was a combination of flashes of brilliance and silly mistakes, but the Tiger kids need to be given every opportunity to develop and show what they are capable of at AFL level so that season 2016 is not a complete write-off for Richmond.


While a win is always welcome, the Tigers have 11 teams ahead of them on the ladder and next year the Tigers gotta catch ‘em all to satisfy the grumbling Tiger army. In a nice touch, the Pokémon at the city end of Jolimont station looked a little bit like a tiger with a beard and strange hairstyle, which is not unusual for AFL footballers these days.


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, Hampson, Hunt, Markov, Menadue, Miles, Rioli

Essendon: Fantasia 3, Daniher 2, Laverde 2, Hams, Kelly, McKernan, Merrett



Richmond: Martin, Cotchin, Griffiths, Grigg, Short, Castagna

Essendon: Merrett, Kelly, Parish, Fantasia, Goddard


Crowd: 44,908


Our Votes: Martin (Richmond) 3, Cotchin (Richmond) 2, Merrett (Essendon) 1

About Gill

As a youngster, Gill thought that frequent Richmond premierships were assured, but in the many years since 1980 she realised her folly and distracted herself by crunching numbers at a university. The magnificence of the Tigers’ 2017 season has restored her faith in Richmond and all of humanity.


  1. Go Tiges! The Age half glassed emptied us, martin and Griffiths were our best but jeez Essendon are better placed because their kids are the stars. Dusty is only 25 and Ben is only 24, and both about to go into their peak, and takke Grimes and Vlastuin and Astbury and Lennon and menadue and Castanga and Rioli and and and and with them.

  2. Poor kicking again letting the Bombers down – 17.11 will get you wins, 11.17 – not so much.

    Dusty again proving he’s having a break-out year – Danger will be mighty nervous!

  3. If Dusty can improve some parts if his game — as Hardwick reminds us each week — he’s going to be fun to watch for the next few years. I hope the rest of the team can improve with him.

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