The Footy Almanac 2007 Round 22 – Richmond v St Kilda: Farewells and flags far in the future

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 St Kilda

2.10pm, Saturday, September 1

Melbourne Cricket Ground



SO THE TIGERS MADE IT TO SEPTEMBER. The first of September. That, of course, is about the limit of their current ambition. It’s been 25 years since Richmond made it to the other end of September, and only twice in that time have they got even part of the way. The Soviet empire, which the ruthless Graeme Richmond Tigers of the ’70s resembled, collapsed later than Richmond FC, but Russia already looks like recovering earlier. Which brings me to Karl Marx. In this matter, he wasn’t quite right about history repeating itself first as tragedy, then as farce. So hated and feared were the Tigers of old that opposition fans had to go through an extended period of schadenfreude after 1982 before feeling pity or scorn. And while there’s always still plenty of farce about, after a quarter-century of inadequacy, the Tigers are, basically, back to tragedy.


Mind you, their Round 22 opponents have endured a tragic century and more, punctuated in recent decades by brief pretensions to something grander. St Kilda are now nearing the end of their latest delusory era which, fuelled by a pig-out on top draft picks, took off in early 2004 like Scotch and Dry in the Melbourne Cup, lacked Might and Power’s capacity to go the distance then, and have trodden water since.


The lead-up to the match on ABC radio was suitably desultory; an interview with Saints president Rod Butterss was long enough for him to demonstrate how convincingly unconvincing he can be. After the bounce, Richmond’s paucity of ruckmen and key defenders was soon exposed. (Joel Bowden and Raines covering Riewoldt, Gehrig and Koschitzke?)


The Tiger midfielders needed to be ultra-vigilant to prevent a rout. They weren’t even attentive. Montagna repeatedly pumped the ball forward to Kosi, who won the game for the Saints with four goals in the first 20 minutes. Or he would have if an umpire hadn’t robbed him of the fourth, and every other Saints forward and midfielder hadn’t been so criminally wasteful. Five minutes into the second quarter, the Saints had gone inside fifty on 22 occasions to Richmond’s mere nine – for a return of 4.11. Aaron Fiora ended the day with 0.5.


In the last 10 minutes of the first half Richmond fired up. Tambling and Pettifer ignited a five-goal uprising that reduced St Kilda’s 25-point lead to just one at the break. Richmond might have led if their momentum hadn’t been halted by Daniel Jackson’s report for what seemed like a fair centre-clearance tackle on Montagna. Umpire Goldspink was heard to comment “very ordinary”. The Loquacious One may have had a point, not about the tackle – the charge was laughed out by the Tribunal – but about his own report.


When play resumed, Dal Santo kicked long to Kosi, and within 10 minutes, multiple Richmond blunders had restored St Kilda’s four-goal lead. Overcome by gratitude, and in the spirit of fair play, the Saints again abdicated from the contest. The busy Chris Newman and the reassembled Nathan Brown goaled to make a game of it, whereupon Jake King twice fed Richo, and Richmond turned for home three points to the good.


Channel Ten flashed up a stat showing that St Kilda had lost the last quarter in each of their previous eight matches. Soon after final resumption, Pettifer goaled to start what should have become a procession, as the Saints watched proceedings listlessly for the next 15 minutes.


Richmond’s machine took to the road opened so wide by St Kilda, then spluttered, then stuttered, then finally burnt the clutch; and in the last 15 minutes of his AFL career, Fraser Gehrig won the match for St Kilda. First a twist on the boundary line and a hand pass over the top for Riewoldt to dribble a dubious goal, then two leads to mark near the fifty for his own fourth and fifth goals.


The final two turning points came around the 20-minute mark. King took possession in space on the half-back line, spotted an unattended black jumper on the outer wing, and delivered precisely – to a St Kilda player, whose return volley found Gehrig for the first of the killer goals. Three minutes later, with a win still feasible, Graham Polak dropped a sitter 30 in front of Richmond’s goal.


After the siren, Gehrig’s final goal sailed into the Richmond cheer squad. Gehrig turned and strode from the Punt Road end into the sunset at the Ponsford Stand end. He demonstrated his human side by donating his No. 9 guernsey to a seven-year-old fan from Mt Evelyn called Ryley and posing for a photo with the girl.


Perhaps the thrill of Fraser’s naked pectorals as he and fellow retiree Andrew Thompson were chaired off unhinged Ten’s excitable Stephen Quartermain. As the final rendition of “When the Saints… ” died in the rooms, Quarters said that St Kilda’s elimination had robbed the finals of a team “that could have caused real damage”. To themselves only, on the evidence of this match.


Brisbane, Essendon, even Fremantle and Footscray would have all been more credible finalists than the Saints. And soon enough, some of them will be. For the Tigers, the impossible will take a bit longer. 2011, Terry?



Richmond  2.2 8.5 12.12 13.14 (92)

St Kilda  4.8 7.12 11.15 14.18 (102)



St Kilda: Gehrig 5, Koschitzke 4, Riewoldt 3, Milne, Montagna.

Richmond: Pettifer 4, Deledio, Richardson 2, Brown, Edwards, Newman, Tambling, Tuck.



St Kilda: Montagna, Gehrig, Koschitzke, Riewoldt, Birss, Dal Santo.

Richmond: Pettifer, Newman, J. Bowden, King,?Deledio, Thursfield.



Kennedy, Allen, Goldspink.



Montagna (St K) 3, Pettifer (R) 2, Gehrig (St K) 1.



Newman (R) 3, Pettifer (R) 2, Montagna (St 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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