Round 5 – Richmond v Melbourne: ‘Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown.’

Richmond v Melbourne,

AFL 2020: Round 5

MCG – Sunday 5 July, 2020, 3:35pm


‘Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown.’

(Henry IV, Shakespeare)


I couldn’t get to sleep. There was too much important Richmond stuff on my mind. I reviewed the season’s win/loss record: Beat Carlton, drew with Pies, lost to Hawks and Saints…beat Dees. A View-Master of terrible images from the game came and went: Prestia in tears on the bench; Nank in his Tigers parka; Broad’s dislocated finger; Lynch’s broken gloved hand and Cotchin in his tracksuit top. Thoughts of Channel 7’s relentless discussion of which Tigers weren’t going into the hub also coursed through my mind: Houli and Edwards weren’t going, but would more players opt to say no to the Gold Coast hub and if so, what would this mean for the Tigers and their tilt at going back-to-back?


The media had been really negative about the Tigers in the week leading up to our game against Melbourne – Our reign was over, we’d lost the hunger, our pressure was gone, our best players had lost their edge. Ross Lyon’s pleasing optimism that our loss to Hawthorn was nothing to worry about seemed way too kind; I’d seen with my own eyes the turnovers, broken tackles, inexplicable misses only metres out and our costly lack of discipline. Dan Butler had murdered us in his new Saints jumper and that hurt – it hurt a lot, like when Ottens went to Geelong and won a premiership- and there was talk that Brando was more likely to become a three-time premiership player at the Suns. Trent and Jack had been really flat with the media too. Maybe they just weren’t feeling it anymore?


I felt down.


Things really deteriorated when I started re-resenting Rancey’s late retirement. Everyone seemed to have recruited the next AFL Rising Star except us and our young guys had just been dropped after it was obvious that they needed more time. The fact that the VFL was gone for the season added to the growing sense of despair. How were we going to develop our players if we couldn’t train properly and could only play scratch matches? It was a wicked problem.


Listening to a couple of great Tiger podcasts after the loss to the Saints had helped bring me back to being my best self, as well as the optimism of some insightful tweeting Tiger fans.  The proclamation that we were in ‘Chartered territory’ really resonated with me. That’s right; we’d been here before. After the horror of the 2018 Preliminary Final loss to Collingwood, the start of 2019 was just one disaster after another, and still we’d found a way to get off the ropes and WIN. Resilience and persistence were in our BLOOD! Jake Aarts’ impending debut and Kane Lambert’s 100th game also proved a welcome distraction. Both players were terrific inspirations, rookie-listed players who demonstrated the power of hard work and self-efficacy. I told myself to get with the growth mindset program.


Kane Lambert and Jake Aarts did not let the fans down. Kane had been widely criticised in the lead up to the game for his lack of pressure, but he was instrumental in the game. My favourite moment was when he laid an inspirational smother and then he kicked three fantastic goals just to let his critics know that his Rocky story was far from over. We leapt off the couch after each goal and texted a string of Tiger emojis to fellow Tigers via the What’s App group chat but resisted sending anything to our Dees’ connections. We’d known too much pain this year. Now was not the time to court hubris. Aarts was fantastic. He almost kicked an amazing goal with the back of his heel and was instrumental in many chains of play. His energy and enthusiasm were a source of joy. You could see the impact he was having, unlike the efforts of some of our players, who in previous weeks, were definitely MIA or making really bad errors. We’d found another player.


Our beloved Tom Lynch (the apparent future husband of one of my girls), didn’t let us down too – except of course for another shocking miss in front of goal. We’d seen him practising his goal kicking when we’d driven down Punt Rd earlier in the week, an unexpected sighting that added an extra something to a nice little outing to St Kilda. Lynch’s first goal came from a nifty pass from Aarts and he kicked three, despite being injured. The general consensus from the couch commentators was that our drive by had given him the extra confidence he needed.


Jack Higgins and Trent Cotchin’s relentless efforts were also genuine highs from the game. Higgins is another fantastic example of the power of self-efficacy, as well as Richmond’s belief in him. Despite a slightly scratchy start to the season, the Tigers have persisted with him and his confidence and impact has increased every week. His second and third efforts and tackles are great examples of the one-percenters that make such a huge difference to the team. He helped set the tone. Chol’s fantastic fluoro red hair stripe/footy boot combination matched his general silkiness too and underlined what a lot of Tiger fans had been crying out for all week – a second ruck.


And then everything seemed to go wrong all at once – injuries to Lynch, Nankervis and Prestia. And then seemingly out of the blue, Channel 7 revealed that Cotchin was out of the game with a hamstring strain. It appeared that they’d been so distracted by our other injuries and their predictions about who wasn’t going to the hub, as well as Melbourne’s late and troubling surge, that Cotchin’s hammy seemed to have escaped their attention. It was an unnecessary blow.


I was so sad; I didn’t even watch the highlights via the AFL app and instead agreed to watch three straight episodes of Cold Case on Netflix with Tom Lynch’s future wife. Cold Case is about the goodness and persistence of the law and families and justice finally being delivered. We probably could have knocked off a fourth episode, such was our need to know that right was being restored, but we chose to turn it off and despite my best effort at a mindfulness exercise involving a leaf on a stream, my thought turned to the Tigers’ woes….


Fortunately, I was able to devote a significant portion of the next day adapting to the new normal and restoring hope: our injured players would be operated on and would recover and the news that Houli and Edwards would be staying in Victoria to look after their families was confirmed. Richmond tweeted some great footage of Balmey welcoming the players onto the airport bus which really heartening. Suddenly heading off to the Queensland hub seemed exactly what we needed – the perfect opportunity for cohesion, sunny weather, and some fun. Balmey’s warm, wise presence was going to be essential on the trip given the fallout from our win against Melbourne. And Brendon Gale was going too.


Everything felt like it might be okay.


MELBOURNE    3.1     3.2     5.2    8.4 (52)
RICHMOND      3.2     7.3     9.7    12.7 (79) 


Melbourne: Hannan 3, Melksham 2, Fritsch 2, McDonald
Richmond: Lynch 3, Lambert 3, Higgins, Rioli, Nankervis, Riewoldt, Castagna, Martin 


Gawn, Oliver, Petracca, Langdon, May, Hibberd
Richmond: Lambert, Prestia, Cotchin, Caddy, Martin, Castagna 


Melbourne: Nil
Richmond: Nankervis (ankle), Prestia (ankle), Cotchin (hamstring), Lynch (finger)


Our writers are independent contributors. The opinions expressed in their articles are their own. They are not the views, nor do they reflect the views, of Malarkey Publications.


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  1. Stainless says

    Time marches on. The reality for Richmond is that over the next couple of years we are likely to lose Edwards, Houli, Cotchin, Riewoldt to retirement, and Astbury, Grimes, Martin, Prestia, Lynch, Caddy will all be entering the veteran status. At some point we need to play the emerging players and determine their long-term potential. This increasingly farcical season seems as good an opportunity as any to do this.

  2. Jill Fitzsimons says

    Hi Stainless,
    Agree totally. Progress of Baker, Soldo, Short, Graham and Broad are testament to great development. Won’t be easy to say goodbye to our greats. Retirement of Richo, Brendon Gale, Paul Broderick and Shaun Grigg were painful moments for me. Am feeling really hopeful about the possibilities this opportunity offers. Last year’s challenges led to some of our most exciting moments. Our win over Freo in the West was a great moment.
    Time for growth mindset and development!

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