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Round 8 – Richmond v Sydney: Lights will guide you home


Round 8, Richmond v Sydney, the 40th anniversary of my first VFL/AFL game, a barmy Autumnal evening, Richmond struggling to win a game, Swans flying with one loss and yet this was a game I dreaded, Richmond have a habit of beating us, consistently. I feared this would be one of those nights.


Eldest cygnet asked why are we going if we are going to lose, I could have replied that it’s no different going to her netball games but I responded with, “It’s sport, you never know what will happen, that’s the beauty of it”.


The treasurer and cygnets were resplendent in their red and white finery, seated next to the player’s race, waiting to catch a glimpse of the new heroes, Heeney, Mills, Papley, Georgie Boy and for first gamer Jack Hiscox.


Before the game there was an emotional tribute for the Alannah and Madeline Foundation, a heartfelt experience for a worthy organisation who cares for children who have experienced or witnessed serious violence. The MCG is bathed in purple, lights flickering from mobile phones while a choir sang Coldplay’s Fix You. 


When you try your best, but you don’t succeed

When you get what you want, but not what you need

I’m not feeling optimistic.

The Swans get off to a quick start, Buddy has banked a couple, Heeney kicked the first and Richmond show grit. Dustin Martin is everywhere pops up and kicks a goal while Brett Deledio, averaging 20 possessions this season has 12 in the first quarter. Richmond is looking ominous.

Ben Griffiths joins the party for Richmond and while Hannebery continues to win the hard ball, the loss of Kennedy is starting to hurt, Richmond convert their dominance  of possessions with goals.

The Tigers were keeping the Swans in the game with their errors and lack of skill. The third quarter after another dominant Richmond start, witnessed the Swans starting to capitalise on Richmond’s errors and scored with goals to Hewitt, Tippett, Franklin, Lloyd and at the final break I felt the Swans were on top and would go on with it.

But if you never try you’ll never know

Just what you’re worth

Richmond start the last quarter with 5 quick goals and suddenly the game is in the balance. Tiger supporters have found their voice and Swans fight back. A lacklustre game has come alive and the battle for every contested possession becomes dramatic. The leaders stand up, goals to Hannebery, Papley, Tippett edge the Swans ahead. Griffiths bags another for Richmond bringing the deficit to 5 points and for the next eight minutes there are no scores.

Frantic defence, determined surges forward with bodies being thrown on the ball. Earlier I thought neither side wanted to win this game and suddenly it becomes neither side wants to lose it. The Swans had possession in the last minute and were unable to run the clock down, Mills had an unfortunate bounce and suddenly the ball was in Reiwoldt’s hands, making its way to Sam Lloyd who marked truly inside the 50. With the siren sounding, Lloyd’s kick would resurrect the Tiger faithful while Swans players were stunned, transfixed on the spot, this was a game they shouldn’t have lost.

Richmond needed the win.

Tears stream down your face

When you lose something you cannot replace

The MCG is a cauldron of people’s emotions, it’s a game and yet the emotional well-being of so many rest upon the results of this game.


Waiting in the log jam that is the MCG car park I reflected on the pre-game entertainment and the touching tribute for keeping children safe from violence. My two cygnets were in the back seat quarreling and moaning about the loss and it being the worst day of their lives.


Suddenly the gates have opened and traffic is allowed to leave, we follow the stream of headlights weaving out of Yarra Park and I realise things aren’t so bad.  The kids are safe and we are so lucky. Perhaps it was a good result after all.


Lights will guide you home
And ignite your bones
And I will try to fix you

Allanah and Madeline Foundation

Richmond 14-17 101 def Sydney 15.10 100


Richmond: Griffiths 5, Lloyd 3, Riewoldt, Martin, Miles, Ellis, Rioli

Sydney Swans: Franklin 5, Hannebery 2, Heeney, Towers, Hewett, Tippett, Lloyd, Jack, Papley



Richmond: Griffiths, Deledio, Martin, Miles, Rance, Riewoldt, Edwards

Sydney Swans: Franklin, Hannebery, Jack, Tippett, Heeney

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Read more Round 8 game reports by clicking here

About David Parker

A keen observer of all things sport and a Swans tragic, David likes to dabble in sporting documentaries including the Max Bailey doco for Fox Footy. David is currently filming a documentary on the Australian Cycling Men's Team Pursuit squad as they prepare for the 2016 Rio Olympics.


  1. Peter Fuller says

    This is a fine account of the match. Your reference to our great emotional investment in the outcome resonates powerfully, but your final reflection “the kids are safe and we are lucky” strikes precisely the right note. This is so much more true thinking about the horrible memory conjured by the Alannah and Madeleine Foundation, then the inspirational and redemptive example of that extraordinarily brave man, Walter Mikac.

  2. Thank you for this wonderful article David. It was an exciting game, with incredible support from Richmond Football Club, other partners and fans from both sides. This match was an important way for us to spread our message in the community and raise funds for children impacted by violence – we are glad the choir and lights made such an impact on you and enabled you to reflect on just how lucky many of us are.

    If anyone is interested in find out more about our Foundation’s work they can visit

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