The Footy Almanac 2007 Round 14 – Richmond v North Melbourne: What to do with Richo?

The first printed edition of The Footy Almanac came out in 2007, before we had a website. In the absence of a real 2020 season, we will be publishing the 2007 pieces for the first time ever on Follow the season!



Richmond versus Kangaroos

5.10pm, Sunday, July 8

Telstra Dome, Melbourne



I LOOKED FORWARD TO THIS GAME mainly because it gave me the chance to see a whole batch of Kangaroos players no one seems to rate, like Shaun McMahon and Corey Jones. People don’t even know them. Yet they’d helped their team into the top eight. The Tigers were on the bottom, where they had been all season, but many believed they could snatch a win. This turned out to be disrespectful to the Roos, something else that has been the case all season.


The unfashionable Roos effectively killed off the contest by kicking the first three goals while the young Tigers were still admiring their contribution to the 1970s Heritage Round – their own yellow shorts. The Tigers clawed away to reduce the margin. When Kayne Pettifer kicked a goal five minutes into the last quarter, they drew within 14 points. But McMahon and Drew Petrie then replied with two quick goals to set the Roos on the path towards an unprepossessing victory.


I enjoyed the match despite its lack of fireworks. It was worth just going to see Jones and McMahon, who both played as small forwards. Jones is as clever as they come. In the second quarter, he kicked the perfect small forward’s goal when he read the ball off an enormous pack before snapping truly on his left foot. McMahon bobbed up constantly but the Richmond defence seemed to spend the game as perplexed about his identity as the spectators who kept asking about the curly-haired No. 42 who looked like Peter in the Brady Bunch.


Young midfielder Andrew Swallow has an appetite for the footy as large as anyone in the competition. He was typically willing, but untidy, while fellow midfielder Daniel Harris was typically compact and industrious. But veteran midfielders Brent Harvey, Shannon Grant and Adam Simpson were the true catalysts of victory. Like the good form of North’s young players, Simpson’s fecund season at the age of 31 is going unrecognised.


One of the Roos’ strengths is their tall players, especially Hamish McIntosh in the ruck. Drew Petrie and Leigh Brown are handy at either end of the ground. David Hale is the weak link among the tall players, but Roos’ coach Dean Laidley is persevering with him in the same manner that he’s stuck with the other talls through fallow seasons.


McIntosh was less dominant in this match than he has been, especially considering the threadbare nature of Richmond’s rucks. But Petrie was just as effective as he was against the Bulldogs the previous week, when he kicked six goals in the opening quarter. In this match Petrie spread his six goals over its duration. He was aided by dead-eye accuracy, the sign of a player with confidence.


As for the Tigers, wingman Cameron Howat was a shining light. On occasions, he sallied into attack before pulling himself up because there was no target to pinpoint. Rather than hesitate and, ultimately, turn the ball over, he would have been better off bombing to the hot spot, as North did occasionally to great effect in this match.


The Tiger most worthy of mention was inevitably Matthew Richardson who took marks on the wing and in the goal square. Richo kicked four goals and missed others. His effort in the final seconds summed up his game.


After tapping the ball to Kayne Pettifer near the boundary in the forward pocket, he hared back to the goal square to mark Pettifer’s kick. His opponent, Michael Firrito, was gasping. Then Richo went back and, from 15 metres, banged the ball into the goalpost. Richo was the dominant player on the ground. He deserved better, but it never seems to work out that way. With no particular fizz in the match, my mind wandered back to the Richmond-North games of the 1970s. I missed the 1974 Grand Final, unfortunately, because I was crook. Of the matches I saw, the memories seemed to be of North Melbourne, such as the game at Arden Street in Round 2, 1978. Ross Glendinning was in his first season after crossing from East Perth. Coach Ron Barassi thought Glendinning was so good that he played him at full-forward with the wind and full-back against it – just like an under-12 match!


The other consideration was 1970s players who had represented both clubs. I could come up with only wingman Paul Feltham and rover Daryl Cumming. After the match, in the Spencer Hotel in West Melbourne, a friend earned a round of applause when he added the name of Darryl Sutton, a spectacular forward with North who became a plodding full-back at Richmond, playing with a silly grin, as if he were acknowledging the absurdity of life at Punt Road.


The rest of the pub conversation revolved, as it so often does, around Richo. One bloke revealed his schizoid Tiger heart by claiming that Richo should be captain before, in the next breath, saying he should go. His compromise was to give him a season as skipper before moving him on.


Richo is the Tigers’ best player, the heart and soul of the club, but every attack is channelled through him. I think he’s retarding the development of a young team. He should be played up the ground, at half-forward, even on a wing. Put Jay Schulz at full-forward and find out whether he can play.



Richmond 1.1 5.5 8.9 11.13 (79)

Kangaroos 4.4 6.6 11.12 14.20 (104)



Kangaroos: Petrie 6, Jones 3, McMahon 2, Wells, Sinclair, Brown.

Richmond: Richardson 4, Pettifer 3, Pattison, Tambling, Tivendale, Howat.



Kangaroos: Harvey, Petrie, Grant, McIntosh, Smith, Jones, McMahon.

Richmond: Richardson, Howat, Pettifer. Stevic, Sully, Ellis.



Richardson (R) 3, Harvey (K) 2, Petrie (K) 1.



Harvey (K) 3, Grant (K) 2, Petrie (K) 1.






For more Round by Round reports of the 2007 season click HERE


Printed copies of The Footy Almanac 2007 can be purchased here.


2007 Footy Almanac

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