Round 21 – Collingwood v Richmond: Albatross

“Vickery.”
Biting into the ‘v’, spitting out the ‘ck’, Mikey manages to make the Richmond forward’s name sound both contemptible and like a curse.
“Give him credit where it’s due,” I defend. “His career was dead at the end of last year and he’s fought back, gotten in the team, become a key part –”
“That just makes us hate him more,” says Jack. “He was on the way out and everyone was happy, and now he’s gotten good. He’s gotten good out of spite.”
Well, that’s poetic if nothing else.

The Tigers recovered well from their loss to Adelaide last week, belting Gold Coast by fourteen goals (we owe them a few thrashings). By contrast, Collingwood’s second half of the season has been a total failure: needing just three wins from their last eleven games to make finals, they’ve lost nine of their last ten with embarrassing defeats at the hands of Port Power and Melbourne costing them more than just points. Another loss today and it’s sayonara finals.

By the end of the first quarter, the Tigers lead by four goals and Tyrone Vickery has kicked two. Contested marking, rucking, tackling, he’s doing it all.
The sheer hilarity is only enhanced by Mikey and Jack’s irritation. Their irritation is only enhanced by what was seemingly the most secure leg of their multi being in danger: Trent Cotchin, averaging 23 touches a game in 2015, to pick up 25 possessions. Against a team with one eye on their end of season trip to Bali.

Sadly, Cotchin is putting in the type of half-assed performance that Karmichael Hunt’s early career was riddled with – doing nothing more than a jog, going nowhere near the ball, tagging himself out of the contest.

Not that he was needed. Richmond were flexing their muscle big time. For years our defence has been ‘brave’, our midfield ‘promising’, our forward line ‘Jack Riewoldt’. After just nine representatives in 15 years, 2015 looks to be the season in which we’ll have boys a-knockin’ on the All-Australian selectors’ door. Alex Rance, Brett Deledio, Shane Edwards, Ivan Maric and Dustin Martin are all demanding a jersey.

Tigers by 38 points at half time and the game is as good as done.

There are 100,000 seats at the MCG. That fact was looping on my brain for the entire second half when two of the worst spectators to ever grace the great stadium sat in the seats next to us.
They were around the age of 30. One is a horrible hybrid between the Brunswick hipster and the Richmond bikie – tattoo sleeves on both arms, a viciously pointy goatee and a septum piercing. The other seems chemically subdued, slouching behind sunglasses with a beard that makes him look like The Big Lebowski. After staggering drunkenly into their seats, The Bikie Hipster and The Baked Lebowski begin by loudly rating every girl around us.
“Albatross,” Jack mutters.
“What?”
“Well under par blokes.”

As the Tigers lead the Pies a merry dance, The Bikie Hipster turns his barbed wit toward the match.
“Only six more goals, Pies!”
Baked Lebowski ignores him.
Vickery kicks his fifth, equalling his career high haul, and I stand and cheer.
The Bikie Hipster rounds on me.
“You’re not serious.”
“What?”
“Vickery. He’s terrible.”
“How long have you been here for?”
“All day.” “That’s his fifth – ”
“Cal, he’s terrible.”
In case you think The Bikie Hipster knows my name, that’s actually Mikey hanging me out to dry. The Bikie Hipster is now an ugly dog with a bone.
“He is bloody hopeless! I’ve been watching Richmond for 28 years and I know dud forwards when I see one – ”
“Well, he’s kicked five – ”

Helpfully, Vickery wins a free kick just outside fifty. With an attempted balance of triumph and good grace, I point wordlessly.
“If he kicks this,” slurs The Bikie Hipster. “I’ll buy you a beer.”
“Mate, he looks fourteen,” burbles The Baked Lebowski.
“Wouldn’t care if he was,” crows The Bikie Hipster. “A man can’t go to the footy without a beer!”
Chest-beating masculinity. This day is going south fast. Thankfully, Vickery passes off to Riewoldt. He’s looking after me today.

“What are ya gonna do tonight?” The Baked Lebowski says to The Bikie Hipster.
“Mate, get stoned and watch Wrestlemania!” crows The Bikie Hipster with something akin to a swagger. Most unfortunately, he turns to me.
“Whattabouchoo?” he demands.
“Gotta work,” I mutter meekly. “Who works on a Saturday night?!” he sneers incredulously. I’ve never enjoyed a Richmond victory less.

On the back of a nine goal to one fourth quarter, the final margin is 91 points. A couple of stats really jump out: not only is this our biggest win over the Pies since the mid-1970s but it’s the first time we’ve beaten Collingwood in consecutive matches in nearly 100 years. And Trent Cotchin finishes with 13 touches. 12 more and Jack would’ve won $80, Mikey closer to $160.

There’s something uncertain and unsatisfying as we leave the MCG. Maybe my hatred of Collingwood stems from respect: I don’t get a kick out of whipping a bad side as much as a close, hard fought win over a rival.

Or maybe I just know that I missed my chance to obey the greater good by poisoning The Bikie Hipster’s and The Baked Lebowski’s beer. So somewhere out there they’re still being menacing albatrosses.

Richmond            7.3          10.6        14.9        23.9.147
Collingwood       3.3          3.10        6.13        7.14.56
Best – (Rich) Vickery, Deledio, Macintosh, Hunt, Houli, Riewoldt.
– (Coll) Elliot, Grundy, Pendlebury, Blair, Sinclair, Swan.
Goals – (Rich) Vickery 6, Lloyd 3, Deledio 3, Riewoldt 2, Houli 2, Grigg, Martin, Maric, Lennon, Lambert, Newman,
Ellis.
– (Coll) Swan 2, Greenwood, Blair, Pendlebury, Elliot, Cloke.

3- T. Vickery (R) 2- B. Deledio (R) 1- K. MacIntosh (R)

About Callum O'Connor

Here's to feelin' good all the time.

Comments

  1. Chris Daley says:

    The mid-50s Collingwood supporter in front of me spent the day calling every Richmond player a “flog”. Commercial FM radio overdose in a vain attempt to recapture his youth. Go Tiges!

  2. E.regnans says:

    Albatrosses?
    That’s new.

    Like your tuned-in radar, C O’Connor.
    Well played Tigers (hmph).

  3. I’ve had mates rate the ladies in terms of draft picks : early second round, first round, Sell the farm/priority pick, rookie list etc., but never heard Albatross, eagle, birdie and so on.

    There seemed to be a lot of niggle in the crowd in this one too. There always is between Richmond and Collingwood, but there just seemed to be a bit of extra spice to this one.

    Was a great game. I enjoyed watching it a lot.

  4. Paddy Grindlay says:

    Rolled gold. Extremely good piece Cal.
    Almost loved the albatross description as much as the win.
    Go Tiggers.

  5. Phillip Dimitriadis says:

    Funny stuff Callum,
    I would have thought getting stoned and watching the wrestling was an appropriate panacea to witnessing that debacle as a Pies fan. I did something similar after the Mother’s Day massacre in 1991 when Jeff Hogg kicked 10. Loved the monikers too, very apt.

  6. Sarah Black says:

    Great piece Connor.
    I’ve always had a soft spot for Ty; he’s just so Richmond. For years we’ve (Tiger fans at least) all seen glimpses of talent, but he’s managed to throw in a fair bit of stupidity and wasted chances in there too. I’m glad he’s turned the corner, we’re a better team with him playing the way he is now!

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