Round 5 – Richmond v Sydney: A Night Out



Richmond v Sydney

7:25pm, Saturday April 20




The Easter Weekend is upon us and we have invited Uncle Ron and Auntie Iris to come down from Ballarat and stay with us for a few days to celebrate Easter.  Ron is now 83 years old and hasn’t been to a football match in years, having let his Collingwood membership lapse when the Maggies left Victoria Park.  He is excited about his first ever night match!  The ladies, not interested in attending footy games, have decided to take in a movie at the Rivoli instead.


It’s a shame that we are unable to attend the MCG and sit in the Members’ but, annoyingly, neither Collingwood nor the Tigers are scheduled to grace the home of Football this weekend.  Sadly, the Magpies played in Brisbane on Thursday night so Ron is unable to attend their game.  We decide to attend the Tigers game at Docklands instead.


It is an unseasonably warm April evening as we board the train after a short walk to the station.  Tiger colours adorn many seats, as does a smattering of red and white, prompting us to reminisce about how passionate the South Melbourne fans were back in the day.  I may be wrong here but I think the traditional wharf-side families still provide the precious lifeblood of their club, the tyranny of distance notwithstanding.  I am yet to be convinced that Sydney-siders appreciate how privileged they are to have their own teams in this wonderful competition.


Our tickets are only for general admission and I leave Ron behind for a few minutes while I negotiate an upgrade of seats at the ticket office, wanting to spare him the long and arduous walk up to the nosebleed seats up in the rafters.  My endeavours are successful and we soon find ourselves seated behind the goals, just behind the Richmond cheer squad.


Ron and I each enjoy a pie and sauce before the game begins.  Ron is taken back all to those wintry afternoons spent similarly at Victoria Park with his son.  He also recalls an even earlier time, standing on a small box beside his older brother, declaring his allegiance to the Magpies.


“See them players in Black-and-white?  You barrack for them!”




“Because I’ll thump you if you don’t.”


When Richmond cheer squad members graduate, they often gather nearby in a colourful, noisy unofficial throng to chant ditties and drink copious amounts of alcohol whilst continuing to enjoy supporting their beloved Tigers.  They are scattered all around us in messy but good-natured gatherings.  It is always fun to sit near them and tonight is no exception as they declare their love for Richmond’s tattooed superstar, returning from suspension in flashy orange boots.   After each of his three goals, dubious lyrics are sung with gusto to the tune of Frankie Valli’s “I love you, Baby.”  Surprisingly, they hold the tune as well as they hold their liquor.


The opening quarter is fierce and brutal.  Both teams need another win and their customary arm-wrestle is engaged immediately.  Richmond apply forward pressure and Sydney cough up two quick goals, Rioli and Lambert capitalising on sloppy disposal in the back line.  When the ubiquitous Buddy Franklin holds his feet as Grimes falls over, Sydney strike back.  At quarter time, Ron is satisfied with proceedings thus far, having seen five good goals in the opening stanza.  The game is hard and close, just like in the old days.


Injury is a curious thing in football.  When champion players cannot take the field for long periods, it doesn’t necessarily follow that their team will suffer as a result.  Sometimes, their absence creates opportunities which young players grab with both hands.  In the second quarter, we see this theory played out in all its glory.  Sydney Stack, Jack Ross, Shai Bolton, Noah Balta and Liam Baker are in their AFL infancy, hardly household names.  Nonetheless, they are all prominent as the Tigers pile on six goals and take a comfortable lead to the half-time break.  I shuffle off to take out another personal loan so I can return with two beers.


During the third quarter, it becomes clear that the Tigers will probably win the game.  Ron observes that they are clean with their disposal but their opponents are not.  I am not so sure.  Franklin looms as an ever-present danger.  Despite being well-beaten on the night, he still manages to kick regular goals and keep his team in the game.


Even though they seem to be struggling this year, Sydney’s players are a proud group.  They refuse to give up and provide spirited resistance.  Heeney shows his class, Zak Jones is belligerent, Kennedy fights hard to lift his team.  Despite their best efforts, Richmond’s youngsters hold their ground.


As the last quarter unfolds, I am beginning to lose my composure.  Richmond’s scoring has dried up and Sydney control the ball.  The lead is dwindling slowly.  A goal is all that is needed to finish them but is does not come until very late. Like many Richmond fans, I am relieved when the game ends.


Ron and I complete the evening as we debrief over a glass of red in the comfort of the lounge room as we wait for the girls to come home from their night out.  He is even heard to mutter a subdued “Go Tigers.”



RICHMOND   3.3   9.5  11.9  13.11 (89)
SYDNEY        2.1   4.2   6.3     10.7 (67)

Richmond: Martin 3, Caddy 2, Lambert 2, Balta 2, Rioli, Ellis, Baker, Castagna
Sydney: Franklin 4, Heeney 2, Papley, Kennedy, Parker, Reid

Richmond: Martin, Prestia, Edwards, Stack, Astbury
Sydney: Parker, Kennedy, Lloyd, Jones, Franklin

Crowd: 40,053




About Joe De Petro

My favourite period in history began with the Summer of Love and came to a sad end with the birth of Disco. It was from 1967 to 1975. What was not to like in those days? The Grateful Dead, Creedence, The Beach Boys, The Doors, Janis Joplin, Cat Stevens, Neil Diamond and the mighty Tigers won Premierships every other year. It was a magical time, much like the current period in history.


  1. A very good account of the game, Joe. I like “Zak Jones is belligerent”. He sure is, and as a result, quite often coughs up the ball or is caught holding it. Better than not having a go, I suppose.

    By the way, you don’t have to walk up all those steps or ramps to Level 3, there are two lifts on ground level, which we always take.

  2. Joe De Petro says

    Yeah, thanks Jan. I know about the lifts but I was a bit concerned that we might end up right up near the top. The staff were incredibly accommodating, which was refreshing.

    On belligerence, when they are on, the whole Richmond team is belligerent. I like belligerence.

  3. John Green says

    Nice work, Joe.The boys got the job done and are reasonably placed with three wins. Let’s hope we can demolish Melbourne tonight while they’re completely out of touch.

  4. Joe De Petro says

    Thanks John.

    The Dees are better than their form suggests. They will be playing angry tonight, one would think.

  5. Iris Verso says

    It was obviously a good night out for you two. You make it all sound very interesting, which is saying something, as I am no the least bit interested in football. Thanks Joe.

  6. Joe De Petro says

    Thanks Iris. I hope you enjoyed your night at the Rivoli just as much as we enjoyed the footy.

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