Round 5 – Melbourne v Richmond: A Wonderful Tradition Builds

By Berni Murphy


On this the fourth ANZAC eve fixture between the Tigers and the Dees, a crowd of over 77,000 streamed into the stadium. All 44 players mingled together to run through a combined ANZAC-themed banner, in keeping with the spirit of this important round. At 6.50pm the lights were extinguished, replaced by our mobile phone lights twinkling like stars. The men and women of the armed services marched proudly onto the arena, followed by the light horsemen in their splendid slouch hats with emu plumes. The bugler played the hauntingly beautiful Last Post as we stood as one, respectfully, in silence. The lighting of the cauldron, the singing of the national anthem… it was time to get down to the business of football.


Could the Dees thrill their supporters by upsetting the reigning premiers? The first quarter was an tight tussle punctuated by rugby scrums, rolling mauls, ball ups, intense pressure and far too many turnovers. The Dees’ Melksham scored a clever goal, his first of four for the evening. The Dees faithful erupted in hope. Jack Riewoldt missed a sitter from a set shot and his annoyance was evident for all to see on the big screens. But soon after, the irrepressible Jack Higgins burst through at full tilt to gather a crumb off the pack and slot a goal worthy of his joyous celebrations. For a two gamer this lad is already developing cult status… a modern day combo of noted pests Hayden Ballantyne, Toby Greene and Stevie Milne if you will.


The second term was an equally dour affair. Higgins snapped his second and third for the evening. He danced with unbridled joy again… David Parkin would no doubt frown on such overt rejoicing! Melksham’s goal kept the Redlegs in touch … just. Only seven goals scored in total as they trekked off at halftime. Gawn was magnificent, winning everything in the ruck, but too often the Tiger mids swooped in to shark the tap.


The tension built through the third quarter, as players searched for an edge, throwing themselves without fear into every contest. Jesse Hogan kicked a wonderful goal and when Garlett followed suit soon after, scores were tight. Oliver and Hogan could have put the underdogs in front but let that pivotal moment slip away. The crowd roared to life as the teams went head to head with rapid fire shots on goal. It seemed closer than the 17 point margin to the Tigers at three quarter time in this low scoring encounter.


At the start of the final term, the big guns for the Tigers fired up. Dusty put on a virtuoso ‘don’t argue’ performance, daring opponents to come at him, all the while creating scoring opportunities for his team mates. Captain Cotchin led by example with frenetic pressure and tackling. This Tiger team didn’t worry about accumulating possessions. They worked like a colony of ants… each with a role to play and committed steadfastly to carrying their share of the load. But wait! They morphed from dour, methodical ants into swarming bees as the quarter continued, just as they have done time after time since the end of the home and away season last year. Their sting was fatal as they romped away in a scoring frenzy. Siren. Top of the ladder claimed for now. “Oh we’re from ti…ger…land…”


The game was played in great spirit by both teams, befitting the occasion. Petracca helped Cotchin to his feet at one stoppage…a gesture of sportsmanship not often seen. We Tigers chatted amicably with Dees followers sitting around us. No aggro… no bad language. Just supporters enjoying the chance to be present at this MCG hosted ANZAC eve game which is building into a wonderful tradition.




Melbourne 8.8 56 lost to Richmond 15.12 102
Melbourne: Melksham 4, Hogan 2
Richmond: Higgins 3, Castagna 2, McIntosh 2, Riewoldt 2, Lambert 2, Lloyd 2
Melbourne: Oliver, Gawn, Melksham, Hibberd
Richmond: Dusty (# he only now goes by his first name like Madonna and Adele), Lambert, Edwards, Houli, Higgins.


Berni Murphy is a Melbourne academic who can be found sitting on the MCC balcony under the coaches’ box with her brother John whenever the Tigers play at the G.


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