The Parade College Writing Workshop – Declan Taaffe Wyles: 2019 AFL Grand Final



By Declan Taaffe Wyles


The 2019 AFL Grand Final was to be played between the Richmond Tigers and the Greater Western Sydney Giants. Richmond was entering their second grand final in three years whilst GWS was entering its first grand final ever.


The Giants have been a solid team all year winning the games that counted and defeating Western Bulldogs, Brisbane Lions and Collingwood Magpies in the finals; defeating Brisbane and Collingwood by less than a goal, making them two of the best games of the season. Richmond have had a rollercoaster season, losing five-time All-Australian full back Alex Rance to a torn ACL in his first and last game of the year (Round 1). Richmond had a terrible injury run losing most of their leadership group for the first half of the season, dropping as low as 14th on the ladder. Only star midfielder Dion Prestia and goal kicking recruit Tom Lynch have played all the games this season. In the second half of the season Richmond got back the majority of their team from injury and went on a winning streak of 11 games to make it to the grand final beating Brisbane Lions, and Geelong Cats, who finished 1st in the home-and-away season, after being down by 21 points at half time.


GWS made two changes for the grand final, adding Toby Greene who was coming off a one match suspension and Lachie Whitfield who had had his appendix removed just a few days earlier. Richmond added a debutant by the name of Marlion Pickett, the first debutant in a grand final for 67 years and only the 6th player ever to do so. He replaced Jack Graham, who was side-lined with a shoulder injury. Marlion was picked up in the mid-season draft by Richmond even though he had a severely broken finger which would require surgery and months of rehab before he could play a game. He spent a few years of his teenage life in jail after an armed robbery attempt, but he learnt from his mistakes and spent 6 years in the WAFL playing an excellent standard of football. He is now 28, has 4 kids and is playing in an AFL grand final.


The MCG is filled with excitement and nervousness, Trent Cotchin, Richmond’s captain, won the coin toss and chose to kick to the City End. The 100,014 fans in the MCG cheered as they knew the game was about to begin. The first bounce was won by neither ruckman and the ball didn’t go far before the umpire called it back again for a ball up. Twenty minutes passed and Richmond had scored only a few behinds before Jeremy Cameron, Coleman medalist, marked the ball 50 metres out from goal near the boundary line, he went back and slotted the kick for the first goal of the grand final. Richmond wasn’t slow with replying when Dustin ‘Dusty’ Martin marked the ball inside the attacking 50 and ran around the corner to snap the Tigers’ first goal. Ten seconds left in the first quarter and Daniel Rioli scoops up the ball and goes on a short run and scores the third goal of the quarter on the siren. Richmond led a tight game at quarter time 15-8.


The second quarter started with Marlion Pickett turning a full 360 around GWS player Lachie Whitfield and then setting up a spectacular mark from Jason Castagna. The second quarter was a dominant one for Richmond as they scored five unanswered goals and kept GWS to just four points. Jack Riewoldt was the highlight of the second quarter scoring three goals and helping Richmond to a 35-point lead at half time.


The third term is known as the premiership quarter and the Tigers made it their own kicking another five goals. Pickett kicked his first goal in AFL footy when he was gifted by a pass from Dusty and went back for a calm set shot. The margin at three-quarter-time was 62 points in favour of Richmond and the outcome was well beyond doubt.


The final quarter was a celebration for the Tigers with Richmond scoring another five goals and only conceding one. Trent Cotchin scored a skipper’s goal, Dusty added to his tally to finish with four goals and Riewoldt bagged a total of five. Beating GWS by 89 points, the third biggest grand final win ever and the biggest ever for Richmond. After all the celebrations of the final siren the players went up one by one to receive their premiership medals. Once everyone received their medals it was time for the Norm Smith medal, the one everyone had been waiting for. Dustin Martin. Dusty wins the 2019 Norm Smith medal scoring 15 out of a possible 15 votes to make it his second in his career only three other players have achieved this feat.


It’s hard to believe that only three years ago coach Damien Hardwick and skipper Trent Cotchin were being questioned of their leadership skills and being told they should be sacked but now they will go down as legends of the era.



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