Uncle Tony barracks for Port. Aunty Kip barracks for Port. Uncle Tony is a joker. I’m not sure of his job. I remember he gave me a Crowded House cassette when I was seven, one Christmas in Helmsedale Avenue, Glengowrie. Aunty Kip is a nurse, who changed her name from Cheryl as a teenager.
I’ve attended two grand finals: the 1987 Rhys-Jones-Carlton victory over Hawthorn and the Pickett, Dew and Wanganeen, Port victory over the formerly-Fitzroy Lions. My day started with drinking at the Royal and ended it Kinky on Brunswick Street. In between was a kothu roti at Radley’s Curry Muncher’s on the corner of Swan and Lennox and a few too many peculiar tasting beers at the G on the second tier of the Southern Wing. Radley was the first local I got talking with after I moved to Richmond in 2002. He is Sri Lankan of Portuguese and Dutch descent and we immediately spoke of cricket. He has since sold his shop and moved on elsewhere as a cook. The shop has changed its name and its layout. His sense of humour evident in the shop’s name. Before going to Richmond games, I would pick up a few samosas or curry puffs for game time munching.
Stuart Dew, legend
It is not only Collingwood that shares a connection to the tragic story of John McCarthy: his last game was the draw against Richmond on 2nd September 2012. One week later he would be dead in Las Vegas. I remember the proud and humble words of his parents in the wake of their loss. If things had worked out differently, he could have played for Richmond, after spending time training with the Club. I wonder what RFC players remember of him.
The game’s highlights, apart from its poignancy show the skills of Edwards, once more. A goal from Astbury, and from Thomas in Port colours and the North Melbourne player, Robbie Nahas. A game that both teams probably think they should have won. The move of Port and the Crows to the Adelaide Oval connects the AFL to the SANFL in a new and layered manner. Port fans fill the Beautiful Oval with their rendition of Never Tear Us Apart and the Moreton Bay figs gently sway; oh footy poetry. Their new jumper, such a relief after the serial crimes against footy jumper designs. Their attacking footy; such a joy compared to the anti-footy of defence-first teams. Port went from pathetic to brilliant in the turn of a season and forewent the bullshit of rebuilding and bottoming out. They decided only to win and be winners. To draw on their SANFL history. Sometimes it is easy. Or is it? Their changes, in part, were symbolic but very powerful.
A home game for Shane Edwards
Richmond fans must be thinking we’re a chance. Port were flat last week; Richmond more than up and about: filling fans with hope and making them fall in love again with their team; love that had paused for a few weeks. Edwards is back and perhaps a threesome of Jack, Ty and Griff making their way around the forward line. The memory of the smashing in the first quarter of the elimination final no doubt lingers. Hope is that it can’t be repeated. Richmond players, in that final, seemed spooked; much in the way that Collingwood was spooked by the Lions in the 2002 Grand Final. Richmond fans will demand a mature performance from the team. Port fans will demand a victory. If Richmond wins, the season is well and truly alive and the worst fears brought about by earlier losses will be somewhat diminished. Lose again here and the pressure mounts once more. Mr.Hardwick, has been smiling, despite his refusal to not ride the roller coaster of emotions. Let’s hope he keeps smiling. And, oh yes, plays Rance as a defender rather than as a midfielder.
Worst case scenario: Riewoldt and Griffiths collide into each other in the opening term, injuring each other: one goes down with concussion, the other with some sort of horrible knee injury. Nonetheless, the Tiges remain in the game and lead by five points with less than a minute to play. Vickery drops a sitter of a mark, 20 meters out, after the ghost of Mitch Farmer distracted him. The ball is roved by Matty White who runs out of the Tiger forward line and through the centre, shrugging tackles of Houli, Grigg, Morris and Ellis before chipping to Schulz; Chaplin and Rance have collided and thus Jay turns, plays on and drills the goal from 8 meters out. The Richmond coaches of Portish backgrounds, Damien, Brendan and Choco, almost smile.
A neutral might say: Port by 26
The olden days of the Hardwick era. How far we have come.