Round 3 – Richmond v Hawthorn: Underdone

Thursday night and it’s into the Forester for me, roomy jeans and well-worn Foo Fighters t-shirt, torn and broken low-top shoes with stubby laces that don’t quite reach each other stretching over ripped and ragged fabric. Crunching into second gear down the driveway, dodging daring kangaroos that sidewind the street, teasing my brakes, it comes to mind once again that the Tiges Are On and I Can’t Go.


Kevin Murray is on SEN. He’s watching tonight from his neighbours’ place, the Crimmins’. Naturally, they are Hawthorn supporters. The radio reception is fizzing and crackling and finally unintelligible and indecipherable as I slide out from beneath the gums that wilt over the road out into the very bottom of Ashbourne Road. From the hissing radio, I interpret that the Crimmins’ dog is also a Hawthorn supporter and is partial to a good bark when the Hawks score a goal.


In normal times when I Can’t Go, I search for a designated driver (Woodend, I believe, has one Uber available) and, exercising my still-newfound adulthood, make my way to the Holgate Brewhouse. (Drink of choice? Mount Macedon Pale Ale.) The Woodend crowd, my old school mates and the like, usually skirt between establishments on the Woodend pub crawl of roughly 300 metres; I would find them at the conclusion of the game in the Full Moon Saloon that rests between Holgates and the Victoria Hotel where an old milk bar used to be.


I’m driving by the Saloon now, switching my radio settings to my aux cord and opting for The Whitlams in preference for static.


Tonight I’m working in Kyneton, back-of-house at burger bar Major Tom’s. Normally, Tom’s would be jumping with live music, footy on the telly. We have the latter back, but the former emerges from playlists and worms gently through the bar like an echo, and a promise of sorts: “We’ll be back.” I’ll miss most of the game, “on the grill,” sliding bacon-topped beef burgers, fried haloumi, mushrooms and veggie patties and eggs across the grill while trying to push my worries on the Striped Marvels’ ruck division away and stewing on whether Dan Rioli has reclaimed his 2017 spark. It’s customary to wear a hat in back-of-house; on my head is a too-small Cotchy’s Cubs trucker cap from my first year of membership in 2009.


When I’ve done my early-shift food preparation, burger cheese, minor and major patties and the like exactly where I need them, I text my Tiger mate Tess. We’re both flat on little Liam Baker out tonight for personal reasons and flying back to WA. Dusty out termites at my confidence, but for Hawthorn, who were bullied by Geelong last week, there are surely more Tigers to worry about despite the monolithic #4’s absence.


“Tiges on the telly, making burgers, how good. Go us.”


The music in the kitchen is different from out in the bar. ‘Somebody Told Me’ by The Killers is into its driving guitar riff. Order in, two Hungry Hombre’s (major patty, bacon, cheese, egg). Onto the grill they go as my phone buzzes. Razor’s on umpiring duties and Tess is not happy – he’s given them two frees inside 50, Hawthorn have two goals, we have one point.


The timer I have on the stainless-steel bench bleeps indignantly at me as all my burger-ing structure and timing dance away like the ageless, stubborn Mayblooms in the first quarter. Where’s Trent? Lynchy? Has Stacky responded after last week’s stinker? How’s Soldo going?


I need to yell at something, point to the flanks. I slide off the two Hombre’s onto lettuce, pickles, tomatoes, scrape off the burnt cheese, burn my fingers, plonk down a few more patties and a mushroom onto my grill, scrape off some bacon residue, burn my fingers again.


The flow of orders is steady and so are the goals at the ‘G.


“We are playing like Coburg,” laments Tess. Five goals down at quarter time. Stack’s given up three goals. Down goes another Hombre and two Bob’s (major patty, bacon, cheese, bacon, cheese). Hang on, five goals?


“Shite,” I reply.


Usually as the clock hits eight the demand lessens, but there is no such luxury tonight. Haloumi, hot dogs, more mushrooms. We’re getting smashed. My phone buzzes, it must be close to half time, but table six hasn’t ordered yet and there’s dishes to do in the interim.


“Cannot describe the carnage…us 14 them 45…the short quarters are killing us…it’s soo bad.”


I turn off my phone. Dishes it is.


I’m wondering what went wrong. No Dusty in the forward line? Midfield gone missing? Defence having the rare nightmare? Razor marching the Hawks inside 50 on every occasion?


Table six is kind. Chicken burgers, a couple of patties, down they go. I sneak a look at the TV in the bar and think better of it once the damage makes itself apparent.


“Just had a look. Ouch.”


It’s later, at the end of my shift, sat down at the bar with a Coke, hoodie on and yellow-and-black beanie snug around my ears, when I get a view of the game. We’re still getting flogged but have more of the footy deep in junk time. Lynch misses from 15 metres out. Castagna drops a chest mark, trips over the footy, redeems himself shortly afterward with a pack mark and goal. Higgins and Riewoldt miss. Caddy hits the post.


We’ve kicked 2.6 from set shots and there is no sting in our tackling, no urgency in our movement, no depth to our kicking. I am perplexed.


I watch until the siren before saying farewell for the evening, the drive home pleasant at about 11 degrees with Mark McClure on 774. Dad’s still up back in Woodend, though the telly is off and has been for a while.


Cotchin, Bachar Houli and Vlastuin were the only visible Tigers, says Tess. Higgins tried.


I smell like cooked meat, but the Tigers look a little underdone.


RICHMOND                  0.1       2.1       3.3         5.9 (39)
HAWTHORN               5.3       7.3       10.5        11.5 (71)


 Castagna 2, Bolton, Edwards, Lynch
Hawthorn: Wingard 3, Gunston 2, Breust, Ceglar, O’Brien, O’Meara, Patton, Smith


 Vlastuin, Cotchin, Grimes, Houli, Short.
Hawthorn: Smith, O’Meara, Sicily, Wingard, McEvoy, Mitchell.


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  1. Colin Ritchie says

    Thoroughly enjoyed your piece Paddy! The Tigers need a spark to fire them up, a few passengers at the moment, and a few playing on their laurels. Some heat needs to be applied!

  2. Daryl Schramm says

    Watched tiny bits and listened to ABC intemitently. Switched over to SBS to watch great train stations of the world. NYNY Central and Penn stations in 2019. A different world now. I wonder if Richmond station will get a guernsey? Really enjoyed y our article Paddy. Don’t know much a b out the places you mentioned but felt I was there.

  3. Stainless says

    There’s a few blokes in yellow and black who could do with a stint flipping burgers right now, Paddy!

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