Saturday, March 28, 2009
Carlton 23.12 (150) d Richmond 9.13 (67)
I hopped over to Melbourne on Thursday afternoon for the first match of the new football season, Richmond v Carlton at the MCG. The hype leading in to the game was massive, with tickets sold out. I tipped the Tigers to win by 11 points. While I was making a toasted cheese sandwich I had a very strong premonition of Mitch Morton kicking six goals.
It was Ben Cousins' first game for Richmond after being sacked by his old club and then copping a 12 month suspension from the AFL, for lying about his drug addiction. Cousins would be lining up against his former West Coast premiership captain Chris Judd, now with Carlton. Apart from this drama, everyone was expecting both sides to be big improvers this year, and to put on a good show.
John picked me up at the airport. He works in the area, and we swung by his office on the way into the city. All around there are acres and acres of office buildings, warehouses and workshops that look like they dropped from the sky overnight. It is all very new, and feels like a hastily populated paddock. Even when you are walking down a glossy marble-floored hallway on the second floor of an office building, you still feel that you are in the hinterland of a large pastoral holding.
The drive through the city took over an hour. The Grand Prix is in town as well, and with a crowd of 90,000 heading for the football like us it wasn't surprising we crawled along. John had teed up with a friend to use her parking spot in a back lane about 5 minutes walk from the MCG.
While John and I were shoveling down large mediocre burgers from a food van, Alex and Michael arrived. Just as we were getting toey about the time, the fifth member of the party, Vincent rang. He was standing near us somewhere in the crowd so I waved my hand above my head to help him zero in. I happened to have two tickets in my hand and I had to rebuff a few people who thought I was a scalper.
Once we were all together we surged in and up, up, up. We got to row Z in the Olympic Stand and kept climbing. At last we reached our seats in DD. The MCG is simply massive. As always its so impressive how the opposing fans mix so peacefully. Vincent and I were backing Richmond while John, Michael and Alex were there to see Carlton do the business. Its common to see couples or whole families with split allegiances.
Richo hit the post after about one minute. The next four scoring shots were Carlton goals, all from Richmond turnovers in defence. From the very beginning Richmond's skills were woeful. The headline in Friday's Herald Sun was eloquent; STILL LAZY, SLOPPY & INCOMPETENT. As Elf said, the word that hurts most there is "still". Carlton won by 83 points, and it would be very surprising if Richmond are not bottom of the ladder after round 1. Oh, and the super recruit tore his hamstring early in the last quarter and is out for 4-6 weeks. Mitch Morton kicked 4 - the toasted cheese oracle was just a little off.
As it was a work night, Vincent and John excused themselves and took off afterwards. Poor Vincent, he could have had a lovely quiet night reading a book or cleaning the fridge, and I dragged him out to watch Richmond. Michael, Alex and I snudged off along Swan Street looking for and failing to find coffee. No, I didn't know that was possible in Melbourne either. I ordered a round of soft drinks at the Post Office Hotel, and chatting to the barman about the game mentioned I had come over solely to watch Richmond and would fly home the next day. He gave me the drinks for free. Richmond are literally that pitiful.