Have you ever pondered on this question, why would an angel barrack for Richmond?Angels are creatures of grace and virtue. They wear white robes, clean and virginal. They live in a better place amongst misty, fluffy clouds. They compose pure music to honour the greater glory of God. They play melodious tunes on their harps.
The Tigers are down and dirty. They are Robert Johnson at the Crossroads. They are Rock and Roll. They are young Elvis in black, wildly gyrating his hips, seducing innocent young girls. They are not fat old Elvis in a white jump suit.
They are Punk. They are The Ramones, Patti Smith on a bad hair day, shirtless Iggy Pop, dangerous and creepy. They are Lou Reed taking a walk on the wild side. They are tight black jeans, torn at the knees. They are soaring lead guitars and pulsating rhythms.
Surely, when they go to the MCG, the angels choose to barrack for someone less icky.
On a sombre ANZAC Eve, 85,657 hardy souls ventured to the MCG to watch the Tigers host Melbourne. I was looking forward to this one. For the first time, I was to be seated in the Members’ section of the ground, surrounded by Melbourne supporters. Usually at Melbourne games, I would be on the opposite side of the stadium, staring them down from a distance. For a down and dirty Richmond supporter, this could get interesting. It is a shame those torn at the knees jeans won’t get me into the Members’. One day!
The game is fast and furious. Melbourne have a clear advantage in the midfield. Oliver and Viney are busy, Petracca is brutal, Jayden Hunt uses his impressive speed. Melbourne pepper their goals but the parsimonious Richmond defence holds firm under a barrage in the opening minutes of the game. The Tigers do not go forward very often but when they do, the imperious Jack Riewoldt kicks goals to keep them in the game. Luckily, Melbourne seem to be a little bit better at everything except kicking goals.
The crowd is all I’d expected. Melbourne supporters all around us are knowledgeable when it comes to their team and dissect every play. The half-time consensus is that Melbourne’s small advantages will eventually win the day. I find myself tending to agree but I will wait to see what happens if Dusty and Rioli get going.
The third quarter almost confirms my fears. We are saved by the herculean efforts of Alex Rance. In the face of great adversity, he energiser-bunnies his way around the backline, a whirlwind of spoils, two-handed punches to back from whence it came and well-timed intercept marks. When Petracca beats him in a marking contest, I hear a Melbourne supporter add in disbelief “That was against Rance!”
Twenty down at the last change. They seem to be floundering, we seem to be stronger.
Richmond begin the last quarter calmly and with determination. Dusty does rise to the occasion, in his now familiar role as midfield dynamo cum dangerous half-forward cum Force of Nature. He gets his hands dirty. So does Rioli. Virtually unsighted until the final stanza, his class and youthful exuberance shine through. Still early in his career, his best efforts are cameos, but what delightful cameos they are! He splits a pack, lands on his feet and lays a match-defining tackle on the Melbourne player front-and-centre. Fittingly, Jack kicks his sixth goal of the day to give us the lead. Soon after, the under-rated Josh Caddy seals a fine win.
Why would an angel barrack for Richmond? That’s an easy one.
It is because when the Tigers win and the faithful rise as one to sing their mighty anthem, the Angels cannot help but join in. When the primitive strains of the yellow and black roar ring out, the MCG rises to honour the Tiges – and to acknowledge that the good Lord loves everyone.
I have it on good authority that, apparently, the Angels once tried to add a harp solo to “We’re from Tigerland.”
Barracking for Richmond may be dirty – if not profane - but it’s fun. And even Angels like to have fun every now and again!
Joe De Petro is a financial planner and life-long Tigers tragic who has raised his three (now adult) children as diehard Tigers fans. In some circles, the last of these things is considered an act of cruelty.
RICHMOND 3.1 6.6 7.11 12.16 (88)
MELBOURNE 3.4 7.6 11.7 11.9 (75)
Richmond: Riewoldt 6, Castagna, Butler, Grigg, Rioli, Martin, Caddy
Melbourne: Hogan 3, Garlett 2, McDonald, Watts, Petracca, Salem, Hibberd, Hunt
Richmond: Riewoldt, Nankervis, Martin, Houli, Grigg, Caddy, Cotchin
Melbourne: Oliver, Hibberd, Hunt, N Jones, Frost, Petracca
Melbourne: Petracca (left knee), Spencer (right shoulder/right knee), Smith (ribs), Viney (right knee)
Umpires: Donlon, Fisher, Stevic
Official crowd: 85,657 at the MCG