Jul 29, 2020
AFL Mad Scramble: Day One
A column every day for twenty days, as we get more football than we even asked for.
Occasionally, this column will even mention football but rarely sensibly.
Western Bulldogs v Richmond (Metricon) 7:10pm Seven
And off we go. Twenty days straight of football as the AFL pulls out every trick in the book and some that aren’t, to try and get this season away.
If you’d told me last year that I was going to get twenty days of footy in a row, I’d have foolishly assumed it was a good thing, not that it needed the complete breakdown of the world we once knew.
I do worry a lot about how people are coping at the moment, those that I speak to aren’t doing that well and I’ve had my moments.
The only benefit I have is decades of supporting the Melbourne Football Club. have made me more resilient than a cockroach, just with less experience of success.
Most of my time has been spent writing or going down weird rabbit holes on the internet. Sport ones I should quickly add. My browser history unfortunately holds no salacious secrets, just a snapshot of a lonely person with too much time one their hands.
My favourite sporting fact I researched this week was the longest point ever played in a professional tennis match.
It occurred on September 24, 1984, between Vicki Nelson and Jean Hepner, who were ranked No. 93 and No. 172 respectively in the world at the time.
The match itself was already a long one, with multiple long rallies, the entire match ending up going for 6 hours and 31 minutes, which is the longest game ever played on a single day.
At the 2004 French Open, Fabrice Santoro defeated Arnaud Clément in 6 hours and 33 minutes, but darkness suspended that game in the fifth set, so an hour and 55 minutes of it was played the next day. Soft.
The longest point itself came in the second-set tie breaker, with Hepner on set point.
In a frenzy of baseline hits and lobbying whenever one player tried to come into the net, 643 shots were taken, in a rally that took a full 29 minutes to complete.
Consider how long 29 minutes is and then consider that Bernard Tomic managed to lose an entire match in 28 minutes and 20 seconds, in the ATP's shortest ever match.
In the end, Nelson won the point, saving set point, but collapsed with cramps in her legs.
As she lay there in great pain, the chair umpire showed great empathy by calling a time-violation warning on her.
Nelson somehow managed to pick herself up and go on and won the match.
In a bit of fixturing similar to the AFL’s, she had another match that afternoon, a match she went on to unsurprisingly lose.
She said later on that she could not move at all the next day.
I guess the story shows that when you’re in something that seems like it’s never going to end, just keeping lobbying shots back, everything ends eventually, even Covid-19.
As for this game, the Tigers get back Trent Cotchin and Sydney Stack, a welcome bit of news.
Cotchin, once criticised for a lack of leadership, ended up leaving a rather large leadership shaped hole in the Tigers when he was out injured.
Richmond have won three out of their past five games, but those wins came against Melbourne, Sydney and North Melbourne, hardly wins to write home from the hub about.
The Bulldogs appear to be on a hot streak but their recent wins include Sydney, North Melbourne, an injury plagued Essendon and the Gold Coast.
In that run they also forgot to beat Carlton, so the form of these teams is something yet to be truly tested.
The question is, are the Tigers actually interested in this season? There’s a lot of evidence that they aren’t. I get it, so many days you just can’t be bothered at the moment, and sometimes everything seems pointless.
I try and fight that mindset, but late at night my mind starts skipping forward to when the Victorian Government announces Stage Eleven, when you can only lie still in bed, breathing occasionally and blinking quietly.
Then I think, well, at least I don’t have to play a 6 hours and 31 minutes tennis match, I just have to be a bit bored, wear a mask and be nice to retail staff.
Life will be good again and we will appreciate it so much more.
Bulldogs to win.
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