Round 9 – West Coast v Richmond: The thing about Richmond

There is an uncertainty that falls across the pub. People are looking down into empty glasses, or heading out the door. We’ve lost, that’s clear. And losing we understand. Anger, frustration, despair; that trio is as Richmond as Swan Street. And we can feel them here, in small doses, but there is something else.

 

When Darling kicks another (fifth, of six and should have been seven) the sole Eagle in the pub starts clapping, and breaks me out of my thoughts. I look across at my mate and he’s as lost as me. West Coast have been sensational. Every inch we gain feels like a slog, but when we turn it over they just cut right through the ground. People keep talking about how the Eagle’s can’t win the flag because they’ll have to play on the MCG, like the MCG has some kind of ability to take away their size, their speed, McGovern’s hands. I don’t buy it. They said no one could win one from seventh, they said you couldn’t win one with only one tall forward.

 

They are great to watch. Gaff is everywhere. Jetta moves faster than the camera can pan. Naitanui is so absorbing, literally, Martin tries to slip past at one point and all that don’t argue energy dissipates in a Nic Nat tackle. The biggest travesty of his controversial suspension last week is that it robbed the general public of another Naitanui game, we’ve missed too many through injury.

 

That other feeling, that uncertainty, I was feeling it earlier in the week. Sitting in a cafe minding my own and a bloke walks in with a pack following his every move and his every word. “The thing about Richmond” he says, stressing the word like he’s never actually heard it said aloud, “they’ve not beaten anyone who finished above them last season.” I almost spit out my free-range almond latte. We finished third, if we only lost to sides that finished above us last season we’d be 18-4.

 

What feels off is not that someone is having a go at the Tiges, that’s fine we like that. It’s that he’s talking about us as if people think we’re good. That’s how you degrade the Hawks, not us.

 

Being a Richmond fan is so linked with disappointments. We get up early and climb a hill to watch a false dawn, it’s comforting. There was a sense, on Swan Street on the last Saturday of September that there might not be another year of football. That maybe the whole competition only existed to serve the needs of the Tigers and we had a flag and no more need.

 

It’s an identity crisis. You go into games as favorites. You win them. You lose some, but you don’t immediately sack the coach. You’ve got players in the two’s that would play every week at other clubs. It doesn’t make sense.

 

You can see that bewilderment on the ground against the Eagles. The ball is supposed to bounce the right way for us. Teams are meant to give up when we push. How quickly we can become complacent. My mate and I, sitting at the pub, just want to see some fight in the last quarter. It’s funny it’s there in some players. Jack never stops and Edwards keeps on pushing, and they’re old heads so they know what the bad days were like. Alongside them Jayden Short refuses to admit defeat, he runs tirelessly and tackles without regard for his own safety; Short didn’t get that success last year he’s got nothing to be complacent about.

 

2018 is an odd year to be a Tigers supporter. We’ve got to negotiate success. It’s a good problem to have, but not one we’d ever really believed we’d have.

 

WEST COAST         6.1       7.2       14.6    20.10 (130)

RICHMOND            2.3      6.8        9.8      12.11 (83)

 

GOALS
West Coast: 
Darling 6, Kennedy 3, LeCras 3, Cripps 2, Redden 2, Rioli, Gaff, McGovern, Yeo

Richmond: Riewoldt 5, Short 2, Caddy, Grigg, Castagna, Conca, Houli

 

BEST
West Coast:
 Darling, Yeo, Gaff, McGovern, Sheppard, Naitanui, Redden

Richmond: Riewoldt, Martin, Edwards, Caddy, Short 

Umpires: Haussen, Dalgleish, Rosebury

Attendance: 57,616

Votes:

3 – Darling
2 – Gaff
1 – McGovern

 

Comments

  1. Peter_B says:

    Spot on Bede. The Tigers are a bloody good side, but not a great one as per the Hawks and Brisbane sides in the last 20 years. Tigers play hard blue collar working class footy. Need to find a new string to your bow to add to last year’s success. To my eye the Eagles, Tigers, Swans and Crows all have what it takes if they have a good run with injuries and find September form. North could take their form all season like the last 2 premiers if Brown and Waite hold form. Rest all have big weaknesses like GWS flakey and lack talls. Collingwood lack talls. Port flakey and lack talls particularly down back. Hawks and Cats too dependent on ageing stars. Dangerous on their day. Melbourne have the talent but not the grounding yet.
    Good season to be a bookie, or an Eagles fan.

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