“These shall not be forgotten years” Richmond: 1981 – 2016: An occasional series of reflections on the triumphs and tragedies that made 2017 so worth the wait.

 

  1. A great non-rivalry: West Coast v Richmond, 1987 – 2019

 Richmond v West Coast doesn’t figure among the League’s great rivalries.  For a start, West Coast have been clearly the superior side over most of their 32 seasons.  And the two teams just don’t seem to be drawn to play one another very often.  But, starting Sunday, the Tigers and the Eagles square off in the first of what might be a couple of huge games over the next few weeks, out of which a genuine rivalry might be forged.  I thought it was timely therefore to take a brief stroll down memory lane to recall some of the interesting encounters the two sides have had over 32 seasons (admittedly with a yellow and black bias).

 

Richmond was the Eagles’ very first opponent when they joined the VFL in 1987.  West Coast celebrated with a famous victory at Subiaco, reeling in a 33-point deficit at three-quarter time to run out comfortable winners.  These were dark days for the Tigers.  This dramatic fadeout prefaced a season in which we won the wooden spoon.  However, WA’s brash new entrant to the big league found the early going tough too, especially when travelling east.  Later that year, in front of a paltry crowd of barely 8000 – yes, 8000 is not a misprint, you 100,000 johnny-come-lately Tiger fans – the Eagles found the mid-winter MCG mudheap too hard to handle, losing their rematch with Richmond by four points.  A similar crowd was on hand in pouring rain to see Richmond record an emphatic win the following year.  If the miserable crowds were a sign of the times for the Tigers, these miserable performances away from hard, dry grounds epitomised the Eagles – at least before Mick Malthouse arrived to toughen them up.

 

As Richmond limped into the 1990s hanging by a financial thread, the Eagles became a powerhouse, the first non-Victorian side to win a Flag in 1992, and repeating the dose in 1994.  Needless to say, games between these sides during this period were largely one-sided affairs.  Richmond usually pushed the Eagles in Melbourne, but Subiaco was a fortress that we never looked like breaching.  By 1995, however, the John Northey-inspired revival at Richmond saw us hosting the Eagles at Princes Park in the unaccustomed position of ladder leaders.  The expected “big test” was a fizzer, the Eagles reverting to their aversion to wintry Melbourne, succumbing by ten goals on a joyous afternoon for TLSPRF.  Two years later, it was West Coast’s turn to head the ladder when we played them at the MCG on a Monday night.  In a season where Richmond’s best was brilliant and its worst appalling, the Tigers produced a 12-goals to one half of breathtaking footy, setting up a big win.  In a very Richmondy twist, a young Joel Bowden announced his arrival as a potential star, kicking four goals in that first half blitz, only to fracture a collarbone later in the match.

 

Wins in Melbourne became de rigeur for the Tigers during this time.  I recall Dean Kemp being flattened in our MCG victory 1998, sadly experiencing one of his many concussions.  Matthew Richardson set the G alight in 1999 in another big Richmond upset.  But all the while, we went winless on our (mercifully infrequent) trips west.  It was only in 2001, with the Malthouse era long finished, that a strong Richmond side finally broke through at Subiaco.  However, the Eagles weren’t down for long.  Under John Worsfold, they returned to their accustomed position towards the top of the table and went undefeated against Richmond from 2003-2007.  Only a classic game at the MCG in 2005 which Richmond lost by two points came close to being a challenge for the Eagles.

 

The departure of Ben Cousins and Chris Judd from West Coast ushered in another lean period from 2008-2010.  Richmond feasted on the weakened Eagles, achieving a 13-goal victory at Subiaco in 2008 and a ten-goal haul for Jack Riewoldt in 2010.  This was the season in which bookies paid out on Richmond for the wooden spoon in April only to see the Eagles win the race to the bottom by August.  However, in a sign of new beginnings, Nic Naitanui debuted against Richmond in an otherwise forgettable game at Docklands in 2009.

 

The record between the two teams over the last decade is pretty even, but the scarcity of recent contests makes an accurate reading of form difficult.  It’s been 15 months since Richmond succumbed to West Coast at Optus Stadium, and a further 13 months since another burst of wild Melbourne weather put paid to the Eagles’ chances at a sodden MCG in early 2017.  It’s pretty much impossible to draw anything from those results, so let me use long-term history to give a couple of pointers to what might unfold over the next few weeks.

 

  • By my reckoning, West Coast has been a better team than Richmond in 24 of completed 32 seasons, including 2018. In those cases, they have always beaten Richmond at home, but have regularly been upset in Melbourne.  The difficult question to answer is whether the Eagles in 2019 is a better team than Richmond;
  • Inclement weather has never suited the typically tall, high-marking Eagles, and they’ve lost most of their games to Richmond in wet or heavy conditions, including at a rain-soaked Subiaco in 2014. So pray for more rain on Sunday, Tiger fans!
  • History suggests that Richmond are unlikely to beat West Coast in a Perth final, but that may not matter if it’s the Qualifying Final and our subsequent games are in Melbourne.

 

Let the rivalry begin!

 

 

Our writers are independent contributors. The opinions expressed in their articles are their own. They are not the views, nor do they reflect the views, of Malarkey Publications.

 

Do you really enjoy the Almanac concept?
And want to ensure it continues in its current form, and better? To help keep things ticking over please consider making your own contribution.

Become an Almanac (annual) member – CLICK HERE
One off financial contribution – CLICK HERE
Regular financial contribution (monthly EFT) – CLICK HERE

 

 

 

 

About Sam Steele

Stainless (aka Sam Steele) started following Richmond in 1970 when he was 6. This occurred when his mother, under instructions to buy him a Melbourne jumper, found they were out of stock and purchased a Richmond one instead. Despite the decades of heartache and turmoil this fateful decision has brought on Stainless, after 30 September 2017 and 28 September 2019, his mum is now officially his favourite person.

Comments

  1. Hi Stainless. This great rivalry seems to have escaped schedulers at AFL House in recent years.
    Last meeting Round 9 2018.
    Previous to that Round 3, 2017.
    Then, Round 4, 2016.
    Yikes.

    Hopefully RFC officials have run some sort of workplace training module for your boys; introducing them to the idea of the West Coast Eagles.

  2. Hi ER
    Yes, it’s a glaring example of the lopsided schedule. Since that 2016 game we’ve played Collingwood 7 times!
    It’ll be a similar story with our match with Brisbane next week. Last meeting Round 4 2018 – we restricted them to 2.5 at the MCG. I reckon the Lions have evolved a bit since then!

  3. Stainless,

    I expect this rivalry to again play out in some form in September.

Leave a Comment

*