Brilliant work big fella and I can see you’re well and truly into your retirement.Another year, another prelim.
What spoilt lives we lead as Richmond supporters these days.
Something resonated with me while on QF619 from Brisbane to Melbourne last Sunday.
My seat neighbour at 9B, who was also a Tigers supporter, got chatting. Peggy was in seat 1A and I may have given her a little high five on way to join my fellow plebs in economy.
It was an uncomfortable flight of just over two hours and with some serious celebrating the night (and morning) before, I wasn’t in a chatty mood despite the euphoria of winning our first interstate final.
I ordered a Boags Premium anyway. "Only cash accepted" was the call. who does that anymore? And what the hell is cash these days?
Nevertheless I had a $50 note left over from the night before. By some miraculous feat of fate I hadn't shoved this one into the G-string of a girl half my age and handed it over. Perhaps I just forgot it was there or perhaps I had been saving it subconsciously,
Regardless, hungover and ridiculously tired, I drank the contents with glee.
Flight attendant came back and gave my my $50 back.
"Tiges won, my shout" she said in a husky tone that suggested she wanted me as much as the strippers at Showgirls the night before wanted me.
Unlike the strippers who only wanted my money, the flight attendant just didn't have the correct change.
An example of life being cruel but kind.
Sensing an easy kill and anoter free beer, I even had the nerve to order a 2nd. No charge again.
But, my seat colleague, who was a ripping fella who I actually enjoyed talking to despite my physical and emotional shortcomings, said something that wasn’t overly astonishing at the time, but makes so much sense now.
“I’m just happy we are no longer embarrassing,” he said in a genuine tone of pride.
It’s true. We are no longer a laughing stock.
It took a hell of a long time to get there, but we can all now go along to the footy and expect to win.
I also realise that it can be taken away from us at any moment.
I don’t know when our next poor season will be but when it happens, it will feel strange.
That day on 30 September 2017 changed our lives.
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Our opponents on Friday night are no strangers to finals footy. Since 2007 the Cats have been perennial finals specialists although their record in recent seasons has not been overly flattering.
The Cats have been difficult to work out this season. At 10-1 it looked like the premiership was theirs, but since the bye, the side’s form has faltered, but their best still remains capable.
Of course the real outrage is that this is a Richmond home game at a ground where Geelong also plays home games.
It should be at Punt Rd Oval.
We all know it.
The ground held well over 40,000 on grand final day in 2017 and the day after.
It's a no brainer the game should be at the Swinburne Centre.
But Geelong get a free ride from the AFL.
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fu** you Gil.
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Now I will preface this by saying I live in Barwon Heads. It is a picturesque seaside village on the Bellarine Peninsula. The mighty Seagulls also won their first senior flag since 1993 yesterday. The win was made possible by a collecion of stars and 'one pointer' home grown kids like co-coach Mitch Herbison. Brett Deledio's brother played for the opposition, Torquay, further sending the Deledio family into finals misery. Like Brett, Matt is a ripper of a bloke, but I was very happy to see our little club take home the ultimate prize after being upset by Modewarre last year. Nathan Ablett plays for Modda. There is a theme here.
Barwon Heads has spectacular beaches, great surfing, terrific fishing, two golf courses ranked in the country's top 25, great cafes and a pretty cool pub. I like it. It is a picturesque town with some lovely walking paths and is a popular summer destination for folks from Melbourne seeking respite from the city grind.
It’s just over 20km from Geelong.
So technically I live in the City of Greater Geelong.
I have singlehandedly paid my rates so that Geelong can upgrade their world class stadium to a whopping 32,000.
You don't know how much that hurts friends.
Our rates are just over $2400 a year. I'm paying for that stadium.
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Geelong on the other hand is a largish city that is known for its meth heads, mall rats, crime, rampant unemployment, inbreeding and the Cats.
It's not all bad though. It's actually not a bad place, but you need delve deep to find it. Just avoid Malop St Mall and Moorabool St bus interchange and pretty much everywhere except for Newtown, Geelong West, Highton, East Geelong and the waterfront.
The point I am trying to make, is that if you live in or around Geelong and don’t barrack for Geelong, you are in for a tough time from March to September.
This can be both good and bad.
It’s good when Geelong are losing, but it’s bad when they are winning.
One good thing from all of this is that it brings supporters of other clubs together.
Fans of Carlton, Collingwood, Hawthorn, Essendon, Richmond etc kind of all unite as one.
And so it comes to this.
A preliminary final between these two proud clubs is upon us in a match up nobody really expected.
Geelong’s form has been topsy turvy while Richmond’s is unblemished in 10 starts.
Geelong was poor against Collingwood in the qualifying final. Don’t let the final margin fool you. Pies were far superior.
But on Friday, the Cats started well, got reeled in, and then settled for a 20-point win.
At the time of writing Tom Hawkins has been offered a one-game ban but will surely challenge.
It was Tom doing Tom things.
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You silly bugger Tommy.
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Assuming his challenge fails, it's a major blow for the Cats.
Hawkins was in rancid form going into the game, not having kicked a goal for a month.
But he turned in a big-game performance against the Eagles and booted four in a dominant display.
He is not easily replaced.
Maybe it will force Chris Scott to opt for a smaller forward line.
Esava Ratugolea in the goalsquare with the likes of Rohan, Dalhaus, Miers etc at his feet.
Of course Rohan is injured but may be rushed back as he a proven finals superstar.
Also expect Tim Kelly and Patrick Dangerfield to spend more time up forward.
Dangerfield in particular has been playing a bit hurt, but has past couple of months have been outstanding.
Inuries and suspensions happen.
It certainly didn't define Richmond's season earlier in the year. We won games in Adelaide and Perth with a shell of a side.
Unlike last year, Richmond seems to have timed its run to purr-fection.
The Tigers limped into the finals in 2018, disposed of Hawthorn relatively comfortably but not convincing in any way and then ran into a Collingwood barrage.
This season, after a horror injury run in the first half of the season, things appear different.
10 straight wins including consecutive thrashings of 2nd placed Brisbane, sees Richmond fit and flying.
The weather forecast for Friday at this early stage is for 22 degrees but with anywhere 2mm to 15mm of rain.
This will no doubt change many times and we all know grounds drain superbly these days, so it will have to be actually raining during the game for it to be affected.
It poses a question though. Do we play Nank and Soldo if it's going to be wet?
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Does one of them make way for, say, Two Phones Chol?
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I'll confess I didn't watch much of the game on Friday night.
I binge watched the 3rd series of Jessica Jones and then preferred the cricket, but the Cats' midfield showed they were still a formidable unit without the unheralded and underrated Mitch Duncan.
Tom Stewart also had a great game with 23 disposals.
I love this bloke. Anyone who turns up to the All Australian selection wearing a suit with RM Williams boots instantly goes up a notch in my book.
Of course, where Richmond excels is on defence, where it sets up many of its goals.
Dylan Grimes and David Astbury could have chucked in the towel when Alex Rance got injured in round 1, but instead decided to become better players and leaders.
Throw in Nick Vlastuin and Bachar Houli, who are both having career best seasons, and there is some serious chemistry in our back half.
Even without Duncan, Geelong probably bats a bit deeper in the midfield.
Dangerfield, Selwood, the vastly underrated Cam Guthrie, Kelly and even the likes of Dalhaus, Parfitt and Narkle are more than capable of rotating.
That's not to say Richmond midfield is poor.
Dion Prestia (will be a late out) is in career best form, Trent Cotchin and Dustin Martin both own Brownlows, and the likes of Shane Edwards and Kane Lambert can often slip under the radar.
But while Geelong has a slight edge in the middle, it's up forward where Richmond has a clear advantage, especially if Hawkins is out.
The twin towers of Tom Lynch and Jack Riewoldt will be more than a handful. Mark Blicavs may have to take Lynch and Harry Taylor, who even Tiger fans don't hate, may have to run with JR8. Taylor could even play forward,
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It's often said that preliminary finals are the hardest games to win.
I've played a lot of cricket in my time and have always said that semi-finals are tougher to win the grand finals.
Who will forget the absolute euphoria of making it to a GF when the final siren sounded against GWS in 2017?
Similarly who will ever forget the sickening chant of 'USA' at last year's prelim?
I know which one I'd rather.
Someone I know said they would rather get beaten in a prelim than in a grand final.
All I know is that you can't win a premiership without making it to a GF.
Bring it on.
I'm very much a glass half empty supporter.
And despite my geographical location and my banter, I do respect the Cats as a footy club.
I think we will have to grind them down.
It won't be easy.
But Richmond to win by 21 points to book a date in the big one.
Please, or it will be unbearable for those many Tiger fans who live near or in the shanty town.
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I know one statistic we didn't get smashed in.Hell no you're not the only one. We've been smashed in most statistics in our last two games against the Bears. So an inexperienced and young team was pumping us for large parts of the game and in the final could have had us well on the ropes if not for inaccurate kicking. Plus if it rains and we go in for Soldo and Nanks might be a bit tall against a tough, hungry and mature squad.
Not confident at all!
Can't tell who's in possession on that footage, but it definitely ends up a loose ball which Jetta gets to firstDavid King replied to me on Twitter when I said Geelong wasnt in possession of the footy so how could he be leading? .. .apparently I am wrong as behind the scene cameras clearly show Geelong had the ball.
Now I've looked at the footage a couple of times and i can swear I see the yellow footy rolling along the ground down field in the moments Hawkins whacks him .
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The ball is to the left of screen & leaving Geelong's forwardline as you can see above ... now unless the screen shot before this has a Geelong player kicking it the wrong way then I'm not sure you can say Hawkins was leading or "in play"
Hopefully we will smite him for the false prophet that he is. Even if he tries to go Dusty with the jawbone of an ass, that won't work (at least not with that haircut).