The Footy Almanac 2007 Round 9 – Richmond v Essendon: Another Richo tragedy

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 Essendon

7.40pm, Saturday, May 26

Melbourne Cricket Ground




THE INDIGENOUS ROUND, in its Essendon-Richmond incarnation, must go down as one of the more successful AFL initiatives. This thought took shape for me when the Coodabeens interviewed Maurice Rioli and Michael Long before this game. The Coodabeens are not your most exacting interviewers, but their playful respect struck the right tone. When they played Long’s country- ish single, my partner Jo had tears. It had a similarly unexpected influence on me. Longy’s got a good voice. It’s honest. If only he’d been a 1970s star and been on Countdown, he might have been a chance to sing at the Grand Final.


On meeting a Tasmanian photographer mate outside gate three, I was struck by the number of Aboriginal kids. Most of them must have been new to Melbourne. They were wearing board shorts – in late May.


There was no lesser surprise when Richmond lined up for the match, billed as Dreamtime at the ’G, with Richo at full forward. The previous week, Richo had had his nose broken and eye socket fractured when he was accidentally kicked by teammate Andy Krakouer. The pictures of him in the paper during the week were enough to scare the kids.


Still, no one was complaining. A Richmond game without Richo is a lesser experience. He lined up alongside Kent Kinglsey, in his first game in the Tiger colours, and Jack Riewoldt, the 18-year-old Tasmanian (and cousin of Nick Riewoldt) in his first senior game. At the other end, Joel Bowden began on James Hird, providing an opportunity for the most erudite on-field footy conversation of all time.


The match struggled to settle into any discernible pattern. When Scott Lucas kicked across the backline to Dustin Fletcher and then received a pass straight back, a wag behind me called out, “Basketball, Sheeds”. A bloke in front me was so annoyed he said he was going back to watch the Diamond Valley League. Lucas picked up plenty of kicks, but his lateral defence upset a lot of people.


Late in the second quarter, it was clear that things were going Richmond’s way when Richo kicked a goal from a tight angle and then Daniel Jackson, brought on to replace Riewoldt as a third forward option, kicked a banana-bender goal from the boundary line. Jackson’s career has been pointedly free of highlights. He celebrated his goal with gusto.


Hille helped the Essendon cause by kicking two brilliant individual goals. For one, he took the ball from a boundary throw-in. For the other, he booted truly from 60 metres out. But his ruck dominance was going unrewarded.


When Richo kicked his fourth goal halfway through the last quarter, Richmond were three goals ahead and looking the winners. Essendon fans began to traipse out of the stadium. Then Hird, as he’s done so often, changed the course of the game—at his own pace, of course. Whenever it was tight in the midfield or the Essendon forward line, he managed to spirit the ball to his team’s advantage.


Lucas took a mark and kicked a goal. At the 23-minute mark, Adam McPhee took a strong mark and booted a magnificent goal from 60 metres. Remarkably, scores were level. Richmond fans were outraged that they might yet lose.


Then the ultimate outrage. With seconds to go, Richo outmarked Mal Michael at half-forward. He wheeled around and booted long and true. The goal umpire’s impassivity suggested something was amiss. The field umpire had paid a free kick against Richo for placing his hands in Michael’s back. The ump awarded a 50-metre penalty because Richo had booted the ball through the goals after the decision. Richo had that pained look of a boy who’s been pinged for a playground indiscretion but I suspect he’d heard the whistle. He just couldn’t resist the open goals.


Essendon whisked the ball into its forward line, where it stayed. The siren went with Essendon two points ahead. Matthew Lloyd kicked a goal after the siren to make the final margin eight points.


Hird was given the trophy for best on ground, a natty-looking boomerang, but all the talk after the match was about Richo and the cruel twists that seem to befall him. There’s no doubt he has a talent for drama. In front of a crowd of 61,000, an attendance that flattered two ordinary teams but confirmed the success of this leg of the Indigenous round, the night was made for him.



Richmond  2.3 6.6 10.9 12.12 (84)

Essendon  3.4 5.9 7.14 12.20 (92)



Essendon: Lucas, Lloyd 3, Hille 2, Dyson, Davey, McPhee, Fletcher.
Richmond: Richardson 4, Jackson 3, Krakouer 2, Deledio, Pattison, Tambling.



Essendon: Hird, Hille, Lucas, Watson, McPhee.
Richmond: Richardson, Deledio, Polak, Thursfield, Newman.



McVeigh (Essendon) 150 games; Krakouer (Richmond) 100 games.



Riewoldt (Richmond).



Farmer, Allen, Meredith.



Hird (E) 3, Richardson (R) 2, Lucas (E) 1.



McPhee (E) 3, Deledio (R) 2, Lucas (E) 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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