Tuesday, April 15, 2014


I thought long and hard about what to title this post and I think the one word above sums it up best. if the picture hasn't given it away this is another football post.

As I said last time I spoke about the footy the Tigers have 3 arch rivals. One is Carlton, one is Essendon and the final one is Collingwood.

That's the emblem of the Collingwood Football Club, also known as the Magpies, commonly shortened to the Pies, some also call them the Woodsmen, commentator Rex Hunt used to call them the Carringbush in reference to the old name for the suburb of Collingwood. It's an aptly chosen metaphor for the club. Actual magpies are loud, annoying birds, who will take liberties if you let them.

The rivalry with Collingwood goes back even further than the formation of the two teams really. The suburbs of Richmond and Collingwood border each other and back in the days before the urban sprawl the two fought about everything. It was no surprise that it spilled onto the football field.

Richmond club legend Jack 'Captain Blood' Dyer was famously quoted as hating Collingwood so much that he wouldn't even watch a black and white movie.

For some reason the AFL have only scheduled the two teams to meet once a season in recent years. It is true that every club wants to play them twice because due to their passionate and large membership games featuring them are a cash cow, but the AFL have opted not to milk that particular cow in respect to the Pies and the Tigers. Round 4 seems to have become the expected date.

Both Richmond and Collingwood made the finals last year and both were expected to do so again in 2014. As things turned out this year form wasn't something that either side had a lot of going into this clash. Both were 1 - 2, rather than the expected 2 - 1 or even 3 - 0.

I'll admit that the Pies had a harder early season draw than the Tigers. They lost to last year's losing Grand Finalist Fremantle in the opening round, bounced back strongly against perennial finalist the Sydney Swans in Sydney in Round 2, then fell to the always highly fancied Geelong in the 3rd Round. All three of those times featured in 2013's finals series.

Richmond by comparison had lost to the Gold Coast in the 1st Round, fell in against Carlton at the MCG in Round 2 (and given Carlton's form this season that wasn't that hard a task), then disappointed against the young Bulldogs in Round 3. Of those 3 opponents only the Blues made the top 8 last year, and that was only because Essendon were disqualified due to infringements against the league's anti doping code.

The Tigers had injury issues across 3 lines (Alex Rance from the back line, Ivan Maric in the ruck and Brett Deledio from the midfield) along with an out of form defender in Troy Chaplin and forward in Ty Vickery, but the Pies weren't without their own woes on that score.

There's always a feeling of anticipation against Collingwood, knocking them off is extremely sweet and we've never let them forget the thumping they received in the 1980 Grand Final. I have to hang onto things like that even though they were 34 years ago, because it's looking increasingly like I'm never going to experience it again in my lifetime.

The loss against the Bulldogs, even though it was only by 2 points, had sent shock waves through the Richmond camp and to be totally honest I didn't expect us to really rally for this game either. I actually picked Collingwood to win it by 41 points. The margin isn't really important, I can never pick them ahead of time. I just pull a figure out my backside and go with that.

Even though I didn't go with much hope I somehow expected more than what I got. The Tigers played without system, without skill, without anything I could recognise as a game plan (I watched my nephew's under 12 side play on the Sunday and they had a better more systematic game plan), without confidence and without pride. They let the supporters down, they let the coaches down, they let themselves down.

Collingwood won by 38 points, we got a few in junk time to make it look slightly respectable, but it was how easily they did it. If we'd played a genuine contender like a Hawthorn or a Geelong they would have won by 138 points and still not broken a sweat doing it. The Tigers were like the witches hats at training, actually I think in many cases the witches hats would have put more of a contest.

I'm not sure what's going on down there at present, but they need to start at least playing like a team and showing a bit of passion if they want to retain their own pride and not further damage their image in the eyes of their once adoring supporters.

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