Round 6 – North Melbourne v Richmond: this game revealed more about the loser than the winner

North Melbourne versus Richmond
1.45pm, Saturday 9 May
Blundstone Arena, Hobart


I listened to the second half of this match from a shopping centre car park in Airport West as Eloise caught some shut-eye in the back seat. You know the type: windswept, bleak, crowded yet desolate, back-dropped by featureless warehouses, freight trains rolling past, motorway either side, low flying police choppers overhead. Pretty bloody ugly and depressing.


Which is a nice link to this game…


North held a one goal lead at half-time thanks to a set shot from Boomer on the siren, but it was Richmond who had played marginally better to that point. They had had more of the ball and shown dare and run through the middle. However, things went wrong across half-forward with hesitant, wide and inaccurate delivery. The head injury to tall forward Griffiths, which ended his day early, didn’t help, placing more pressure on hometown boy, Riewoldt.


After being beaten up by the Hawks last round, North started shyly and did what they often do against ordinary teams, allowed Richmond to set the tempo and make the play. Boomer kicked the first goal of the match and Browny looked dangerous, but North soon sat back and waited for the Tigers to make mistakes. Which they did.


I spent the half pacing nervously and frustrated between the kitchen, bedroom and study. It was ordinary footy with neither team impressing, despite the game being played in perfect Hobart conditions. The most interesting bit of commentary was a report of a small fire coming from behind the new grandstand.


The third quarter was death by turnover and ill-discipline for Richmond. North went inside fifty only ten times, however scored 7.2, mostly thanks to opposition errors in the corridor and fifty metre penalties. Goldy intercepted like an NBA basketballer, Drew and Jazza stood tall on the end of good delivery and Lindsay sucked in defenders the way he has his whole career. In the time it took a handful of rogue shopping trolleys to clatter into unsuspecting parked cars like dodgems at the Warrnambool Show, this game was dusted.


Chaplin took a hanger and the Tigers scored twice early in the last quarter, forcing the radio commentators to get a bit excited, but they were never really a threat. More errors again handed North the advantage. With the game petering out, Eloise stirred and we headed inside the big bear’s stomach where we met her mum at the play centre. I wandered off to find a mother’s day card.


Final margin 35 points.


At the start of the season, if you had offered 3 and 3 after six games, I would have taken it. With a tough fixture, a large number of players going under the knife over summer and injuries to others including Wells and Del Santo, a middling start to the season has been no surprise. If North are tracking at roughly fifty percent by the midway point of the season, things should improve in the run home with winnable games scheduled and fingers crossed, a squad close to full strength.


But this game revealed more about the loser than the winner. The Tigers led every statistic yet never looked like winning. Its skill level and discipline were deplorable and there was no leadership. Besides a few exceptions, its current list has not developed under Hardwick.


Richmond has insulted its army of loyal supporters for the good part of four decades with a culture diseased by hubris. This is a club imprisoned by its glorious past and perhaps its problem lies in the fact it never has to fight for relevance or survival and therefore lacks the desperation and commitment needed to succeed.


Our votes

Petrie (NM) 3, Thomas (NM) 2, Harvey (NM) 1.



  1. Cheryl Critchley says

    Nice piece Andrew. Part of the problem is us Tiger fans are so loyal and continue to buy memberships and turn up despite what is dished up to us. But I sense that changing if things don’t improve. My husband is a loyal Tiger but is being sorely tested at the moment and is tossing up whether to even turn up to the game against Collingwood on Sunday – and he has a comfy, undercover reserved seat.

  2. Andrew Starkie says

    A revolt maybe what is needed.

  3. John Butler says

    “This is a club imprisoned by its glorious past and perhaps its problem lies in the fact it never has to fight for relevance or survival and therefore lacks the desperation and commitment needed to succeed.”

    Geez Starkers, for a minute there I thought you were talking about the Blues.

  4. Andrew Starkie says

    JB, the first draft read: ‘Richmond, like Carlton, is a club…….’ Honest.

  5. Mathilde de Hauteclocque says

    First paragraph just about my favourite paragraph I’ve read all week! Appropriate bleakness through this whole piece. I continually wonder at my many Sydney friends who insist on remaining ‘loyal’ Tigers supporters. Joy in failure. Perpetual under doggedness. Glad your Roos got a win.

  6. Andrew Starkie says

    Thanks Mathilde, you can find inspiration in the most bizarre places. Melbourne’s outer burbs intrigue and concern me.

  7. E.regnans says

    A Starkie – those places intrigue & concern me too.
    .As do the inner ‘burbs.
    And the middle ones.
    Regional towns, too.
    Lots of fiddling going on.

  8. Malcolm Ashwood says

    I think you are spot on re this game revealing exactly where both teams are at
    North just a fraction below the top sides and if every thing went right for them they would be a outsize chance at the holy grail.Richmond have over rated there list redicuously and are playing several who are clearly not up to afl level and are in some pain for a while. My roos gripe play,Dumont ! Thanks Andrew

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