Footy Almanac 2008 Round 17 Tigers vs Lions
Twists and turns. Tigers vs Lions. Tamagotchi wars. Fruit vs junk...
Another night at the footy.
The Footy Almanac 2008 edited by John Harms and Paul Daffey is available at bookshops.
Richmond versus Brisbane Lions
7.10pm, Saturday, 26 July
Telstra Dome, Melbourne
IT’S 21 MINUTES INTO THE LAST QUARTER OF A HEART-STOPPER AT THE DOME. Fans are on edge as Cheynee Stiller boots a point to cut Richmond’s lead to five points. I’ve lost my voice and almost broken my hand banging it on the seat in front. It’s nail-biting stuff. But try telling that to my seven-year-old daughter.
Bec is sitting calmly playing her hand-held electronic dog game, while five-year-old Ben looks for the Tamagotchi.
Such is life when you take kids to the footy. But this epic contest is worth the whingeing, fighting, sauce stains, chocolate fingers and sooking (and that’s just the husband). Nothing beats being at a contest like this.
The night starts with a buzz, as news filters through about the sacking of Richmond’s football director Greg Miller. Radio commentators ponder whether Miller’s abrupt departure will affect the players. As if. Those who know anything about the club’s recent political history are popping champagne corks.
We score free seats next to the Richmond cheer squad at the Coventry End, thanks to a deal that lets fans sit on Level 1 at non-ticketed games without paying a premium – if you know to ask. Management needs to fill the seats for TV but doesn’t promote this, so some suckers still pay almost twice the general admission price.
Sitting near the cheer squad brings on a severe case of déjvu. Cheer squad president David Norman, who was there when I first joined almost 30 years ago, hasn’t missed a game since Round 3, 1972. I watched Richmond’s 1980 Grand Final victory with him in my Michael 8 Roach duffle coat. Those were the days.
After I’ve distributed sandwiches the game starts and it only takes 44 seconds for Daniel Bradshaw to post Brisbane’s first goal at the Lockett End. The Tigers are trying but being outplayed by the bigger, stronger, faster Lions. Nathan Brown kicks our first goal at the 11-minute mark as I’m forcefeeding Jess, Bec and Ben fruit so I don’t feel guilty bribing them with junk later.
By the 23-minute mark, when Travis Johnstone kicks truly from 40 for Brisbane, we’re all eating chocolate biscuits. I almost miss Jamie Charman’s specky, and in a blink it’s quarter-time with Brisbane up by 10 points.
The Lions stretch their lead to 16 in the second quarter before Richmond turn it on with 15 clearances to one, snatching a two-point half-time lead.
A trip to the toilet, two buckets of chips, several Milky Bars and Freddo Frogs later, Brisbane has us on toast. The Lions dominate the third quarter, racing to a 31-point lead. Richo, who’s started the second half on the bench, misses from 15 metres out. “Jeez, not again,” we all sigh (but not Bec and Ben, who are now fighting over the Tamagotchi). Brown snaps a late goal to have Richmond 25 points down at three-quarter time. Things look grim.
But as I debate whether to gather piles of toys, scarves, drink bottles and fruit containers from under our seats, it starts. Richo goals from 40 on an angle and backs it up with a handball to Nathan Brown in the square. Brown converts. Bowden then goals after drawing a free from a brilliant tackle, and Richo kicks truly again from 35. Twelve minutes in, Matt White goals on the run to put the Tigers in front. The cheer squad erupts. Bowden kicks another after a great steal, but the Lions will not lie down and hit back with goals to Charman, Bradshaw and Justin Sherman. It’s Brisbane by eight points deep into time-on. There can’t be enough time. We’re stuffed.
Or are we?
Richo, who usually needs his head ripped off before the umpires act, scores a soft-ish free 30 metres out and converts. Two points down, 29 minutes gone. I can’t watch. Why the hell do we Richmond fans put ourselves through such torture?
To tell the truth I don’t remember what happens for the next two minutes; I’m too busy screaming, pulling my hair out and bashing my head against the seat to take notes. Then, at the 31-minute mark, Bowden marks 30
metres out on an angle. I can’t stand it. I’m going to die!
But Ben’s favourite player calmly slots it as the clock ticks past 32 minutes. We’re back in front! Richmond fans, if they haven’t already collapsed with heart attacks, will the time keepers to blow the effing siren. Finally, after 22 agonising seconds, they oblige. Tigers by three points. Pass the Bex.
It’s now 1.34am as I sit at my computer battling a stress-induced migraine.
My vision is blurred, my voice is shot, and I’m still shaking. I feel great!
Nothing else matters when your footy team has finally found its ticker.
Richmond 18.9 (117) Brisbane 16.18 (114).