Round 3, 2012. Richmond v Melbourne

Logging onto the official AFL tipping website with just minutes to register my tips before the round 3 deadline, I came to game 2 and had to do a double take… Richmond was considered a 94% chance of winning! Ninety-four per cent! Now I understand that Melbourne is a ‘club in crisis’ and other such cliches, but both teams went into this round 3 clash winless. Had not the scribes declared Melbourne’s list more coachable and their kids the better of the two clubs, all less than twelve months ago, in fits of reactive journalism? And now, Richmond is the unbackable favourite? This does not sit well with a Richmond supporter, it spells danger!

On many occasions, and I won’t air them here, Melbourne has been a thorn in Richmond’s side when a) Richmond was a favourite or b) there was a lot on the line. My head said that the Tiges should win, but my guts had a funny feeling. I finally selected Richmond, not without some doubt.

As fate had it, my sister had organised my gorgeous nephew Felix’s sixth birthday party for Saturday afternoon. Once there was a time I would have forsaken family commitments and the like just to get to the footy, perhaps family life has brought along a certain level of maturity and balance? Well perhaps. I was still keen to follow the game as closely as possible, finding twitter the most effective form of keeping touch without seeming too rude!

Now following a game of football on twitter is a strange beast. Not only are you provided with up to the second information and scores, it is also flavoured by both sets of fans thoughts and emotions. And may I say that during the second quarter, which appeared to be a lack-lustre, error ridden affair, you’d have assumed by the fans reaction on twitter that both teams were indeed losing poorly!

The Tiges jumped the Dees and all seemed to be going ok from the score updates, but Melbourne hung in there. Mitch Clarke’s name kept bobbing up and this was a concern. Coming of five goals against top four aspirants West Coast, he certainly has the potential to cause a headache or two. Equally he can frustrate however, as evidenced by what appeared to be a massive brain fade. It wasn’t until later when I viewed the replay that I learned what had happened, Clarke marked in the goal square, played on and was tackled. On twitter it was just a steady stream of abuse devoid of explanation from Melbourne and Tiger fans alike.

Back to the party and pass the parcel was rocking, there was a classic game of statues, and ‘duck-duck-goose’, (or as I refer to it, Carey, Daffy, McGuire…think about it) was a hit. By my calculations, I would make it home to watch the second half on the box. With the party winding down, the scores at the MCG were getting closer. Melbourne hit the front! Oh dear, I had been worried about this. I put a brave face on, gathered my young ones and hit the road, anxious to see what the second half would bring.

The half-time analysis on the wireless seemed to mirror that which I had sensed from following the game on twitter, that it had been an scrappy affair, free of inspiration and skill. Richmond held a slender lead, though stars Cotchin, Martin and Riewoldt were being well held. Once home, the telly went on in record time, and before you could say “David Honeybun’ Trent Cotchin put through his first major and we began to dominate general play. As ever, Tuck was working incredibly hard at the stoppages, Foley was showing a return to his best form while Shaun Grigg just kept racking up the possessions.

Rhys Conca showed aggression and poise while Jake Bachelor continued on his way. He goes under the radar but has slotted into senior football seamlessly. Richmond’s intensity around the contest had lifted enormously. Cotchin and Martin, quiet early, came into the game, and the young backline began do develop some cohesiveness, albeit against a questionable opposition.

Either way, Brandon Ellis and Steven Morris, both in their third senior games, looked comfortable at the level, Morris relishing his opportunity as a mature aged rookie. But it was the midfield where the game was won. Melbourne couldn’t get their hands on the ball and when they did were beset by a tackling gang of Tigers. They were going for the kill.

It’s a strange feeling when at three quarter time of a Richmond game you can relax because you know you’re going to win…and I relished it. It has a positive impact on the family when I can watch the footy in a relaxed fashion!

While both teams broke even with five goals apiece, Richmond was able to comfortably close out a 59 point win. Of course, for those with an element OCD to their football watching, myself included, a ten goal win would have been much neater….however I’ll still refer to it as such. One of the most impressive things to come from the last term was the crowd figure of 49,826…another one for the OCD sufferers, again I’ll round it up to 50,000. It was a vote for both Saturday arvo footy at the MCG and for Richmond.

What made the win more impressive was the room for improvement. Dustin Martin is yet to reach the level of performance that everyone was predicting preseason though he certainly contributed. Jack could have kicked 4 or 5 goals but kicked poorly. However, kicking 20 goals with Jack kicking just the one is a far healthier than a couple of years ago. And yes, Jack to give off a few too. Tyrone Vickery is also struggling to find his feet after an encouraging year in 2011.

It’s worth mentioning Brad Miller here too. While probably not in the long term plans for Richmond, he was on the football scrapheap until rookied by the Tigers. Well, he’s currently leading the Richmond goal kicking having kicked 7 in the past fortnight, and what a lovely way to celebrate his 150th match, against his old club no less. He must feel some level of satisfaction.

I’ve mentioned the backline but I’ll mention them again. Grimes and Rance appear to be developing into a strong combination down back. Rance’s body work, marking and spoiling are greatly improved, and though he makes the odd blue, it’s forgiven for his effort. Grimes has played just eleven senior matches yet appears to be a beauty. A rising star nomination this week was due recognition not just for his performance, but for all the unnoticed backmen doing their weekly jobs.

For Richmond it was simply a must win match, and the struggle I anticipated didn’t eventuate. It’s hard to measure a win like that however. Was it us or them? You can only play the team put in front of you, but I won’t be talking finals after beating the Dee’s. There are much tougher tests ahead, none tough than Geelong at the Cattery, coming off a loss. But I’ll just enjoy this win for now, heaven knows we’ve lost the ‘un-losable’ before!

Richmond 20.13.133

Melbourne 11.8.74

Crowd: 49,826 at the MCG

About John Carr

First and foremost, I'm a Richmondite- 5th generation and dyed in the wool. I love the club, but also have a love for the game itself, and love to explore the cultural and social aspects of Australian Rules football. I am married with 4 kids, and also have a love of music, and run a small recording studio


  1. I need to apologise for my negligent use of an armstrophe in the word Dees. Gah!

  2. John,
    I fancy the Tigers will go all right this year. The vagaries of their early season draw have already offered a misleading indicator. The Melbourne match was a must win, and the fashion in which they did the job after half-time suggests that provided they survive the early rounds without shattering their confidence, the middle of the season will see them competitive against all but the top teams. If they manage to win the unloseable matches (no repeat of last year’s losses in Cairns and Darwin) and take a share of the games against the other middle-rankers, they have a reasonable show of getting some finals action – at long last, I hear you say.

  3. That’s a perfect summary. Losses to Port and Gold Coast last year were just so frustrating. I agree about the draw also, I can see a fair few teams I believe we can beat. Can we break the 9th barrier? We’ll see

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