Round 7 – Richmond v Collingwood: Football in Australia. 100 years on.

Twenty past three Sunday afternoon used to be different. It used to be the day after the footy. Twice a year it would be the day after my Dad had taken me to see the Tigers play the Pies. Saturday, 2pm, MCG. We’d drive up from Warrnambool with Dad’s Magpie mate Wally. Dad would drive. Wally wouldn’t. I didn’t really know why but I knew we hated Collingwood. Even more when they stole Cloke and Raines.

A couple of years ago they did play at 2pm Saturday arvo. An old Tiger mate took his then seven year old son Fynn to the game. Half-way through the third quarter Fynn rose to his feet a screamed “C’mon Richmond you’re animals not pets”.

On Saturday at 2pm I was on a bus in Sydney on my way from the airport to the 100th Birthday party of a nun, my Great Auntie Anne, Sr. Mary Constance. I could tell from the shop fronts I was in Rabbitoh’s territory. Some passengers on the bus were clad in the colours of Barcelona and Liverpool. Others in the colours of the NZ Warriors. A pub we passed had a big soccer ball on the roof and promises of every EPL game live. That night in Melbourne the Rabbitohs would play a game of league in front of a bigger crowd than would watch the famous Navy Blues play a game of footy (ironically against a team from Sydney).

Auntie Anne was born into a Magpie family. She trained as a nurse at St. Vincent’s in Fitzroy before joining the convent. Her work took all around the country. A decade working in the Channel Island leprosarium off the coast of Darwin, decades more in the outback hospitals of NSW where she suffered tuberculosis. She painted fine china in her spare time. When asked at the party how she was going she replied she was flourishing.

One hundred years ago the VFL season was contested by nine teams. It started on April 24. Australian troops would have been waiting nervously in ships off the coast of Turkey when the ball was first bounced. There was a vote to suspend the season as the mass slaughter of war became apparent. Richmond and Collingwood voted for the season to continue. The Magpies beat the Tigers both home and away that year.

Back in Melbourne on Sunday morning I turned the telly on to Offsiders. The first story wasn’t of the meeting of the two giant inner city footy tribes, but of the A-league grand final between Melbourne and Sydney. Earlier in the year Fynn told me going to the Asian Cup match between South Korea and Uzbekistan was THE BEST THING EVER.

Twenty past three Sunday afternoon games are scheduled for television audiences. This Sunday I am part of that audience. The Tigers immediately picked up from where they left off last week. They gifted the Pies three goals from turnovers. The Tiger players are like nervous social golfers who always take one club short. All Australian defender Alex Rance is playing as a loose man while second gamer Todd Elton manned Travis Cloke. A late goal to Vickery the only highlight of the quarter.

Ivan Maric won his own ball from the ruck to start the second quarter allowing Shaun Grigg to pounce and goal. Jack then kicked a couple and big Marra slotted one of his own to make it five in a row to the Tigers. When Captain Cotchin made it six I knew it was best I was watching the game alone. But my enthusiasm was soon tempered by a couple of Tiger turn overs. And when Penblebury pinpointed Swan with a laser like pass down the southern wing I was reminded of the class in Collingwood’s ranks. Swanny was on the way to a century of his own. The one hundredth game in which he has had more the thirty possessions.

To distract myself at halftime I flicked the channels and to catch a bit of the A-League. Inexplicably in the age of social media SBS were showing a delayed telecast [This is one of the conditions of the broadcast rights owned by Fox Sports. – Ed]. I clicked a link on my phone and saw the alliterated Albanian score a goal and the crowd go Berisha berserk.

After a couple of Tiger goals to open the third quarter Collingwood got on a real run. They brought pressure to the contest that just a week earlier would have flattened the Tiges. But it didn’t. I don’t think there’s been a more important goal in Trent Cotchin’s career than his beautiful left foot snap to halt the Magpie charge.

The four last quarter Tiger goals were the stuff of Tiger dreams. Deledio with two from his new abbreviated run up. Jack and Tyrone doing what big forwards are paid to do; kick goals and win games.

I wonder what game Fynn and his mates will be talking about in the school yard tomorrow. I wonder what shaped ball they will grab at lunch time.

Happy Birthday Aunty Anne.


About Chris Daley

Tiger fan Chris Daley works in Community Nursing, which has taken him to Perth, Broome and now Dandenong. Being tall, he used to get a game in the ruck playing bush footy outside of Warrnambool.


  1. Neil Anderson says

    It’s hard to believe it was another ten years for Footscray, North Melbourne and Hawthorn to enter the VFL.
    If they had known details of the slaughter at Gallipoli and what was happening in France, all Clubs would have voted to call off the competition.
    I would be interested to know where you played footy just outside Warrnambool.

  2. Hi Neil, l played footy for Allansford and then Panmure

  3. Neil Anderson says

    Allansford is my family home- town and my cousins are Byrons who would have played for Allansford F.C.
    I lived in Llang eight ks from Panmure from 1988-2000 and adopted the footy team when they became the Bulldogs and won the flag in 1997.
    I now live in Mortlake and the local team is Terang Mortlake known as the Bloods.

  4. We’d know lots of the same people!

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