The Monday Knee Jerk Reaction: AFL Grand Final 2017 | Titus O'Reily

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The Monday Knee Jerk Reaction: AFL Grand Final 2017

Footy is a passion, not some cold hearted, spread sheet dominated rational exercise.

On a Monday, you want irrational reaction. You want emotion to trump reason.

What you really want is idiotic hysteria.

You’ve come to the right place.

Adelaide (60) v Richmond (108)

I woke the morning of the Grand Final and sensed immediately that something was not quite right.

The feeling bothered me as I poured my breakfast whiskey, and then I realised what it was; Daylight savings would start the next day, and Richmond were still playing football.

As I headed to the ground, I was surrounded by Richmond supporters, who all had that nervous, twitchy energy I usually associate with ice addicts, which being Tigers supporters can’t be ruled out.

The Adelaide supporters were also very nervous and chatting to a group of them; they told me they worried their favouritism could make the players complacent and some would go missing.

I assured them there was no chance that could happen.

Entering the MCG, I was struck by the size of the crowd. It was easily the largest crowd I’d been in since Melbourne v Gold Coast.

I was seated between two Richmond supporters, and I quietly marked the closest exit and worked out which of them I could best in a fight if things went south.

A group of Crows supporters were behind me, and despite their Adelaide accents, I could make out some of what they were saying but true to stereotype, they were drinking Chardonnay very quickly. Given a tiny plastic glass of it costs about $43 at the MCG, they drank the equivalent of South Australia’s Gross State Product before the first bounce.

I began chatting to the lady next to me, who was in her late 60s and had come by herself.  She had been to several Richmond premierships before, never missed a Richmond home game and on a scale of nervousness, was at ‘Schapelle Corby going through customs’.

To my surprise, she was nice, sober and spoke in full sentences. It would not be the last surprise of the day.

She said she appreciated being able to chat to someone as she felt sick from nerves, I said it was no problem and asked if she could protect me when the rioting started. She stared at me blankly for a few moments.

As the retirement parade went around the ground, my new Richmond friend asked where Zac Dawson was. I explained there had been concerns about the amount of coordination required to sit on the back of one of those utes.

Of course, the real measure of a Grand Final is the entertainment, and as The Killers moved from When You Were Young into Somebody Told Me it started to dawn on everyone that not only was this not a train wreck, it was actually amazing.

Typical AFL, ruining another great footy tradition.

A cover of Midnight Oil’s Forgotten Years, had the crowd singing along and then there was Mr Brightside.

Usually, Grand Final entertainment is met with mild disinterest from the crowd, but people were singing and dancing. Even my dead black heart felt a moment of happiness.  

Then Mike Brady, who had moments before been unfrozen from his cryogenic sleep, was wheeled out to sing Up there, Cazaly.

This also went over very well.  

Then the teams came out. The Tigers came out to drummers and strangely without their theme song playing until sometime after they ran through the banner. Luckily, we’d hear that song 2,345 times more before the day was out.

The Crows ran out to fancy flamethrowers. This would turn out to be the highlight of the day for Crows fans.

The national anthem was sung by Dami Im who seemed to do a perfectly acceptable version, once again dashing my hopes of a terrible musical performance.

The Crows stood in their they're famous ‘frozen on the spot’ stance, a frightening harbinger of what was to come for Adelaide’s movement during the game.

Then it all started. The noise that greeted the opening bounce was as loud as I’ve ever heard at the MCG, as 37 years of pent up frustration was unleashed.  

The Crows though got off to a fast start, and as Eddie Betts strolled into an open goal, you could sense the collective concern that swept over the Tiger Army.

A few misses by Jack Riewoldt had the terror threat warning lifted to red, and I was glad that the security guard’s metal detector had not picked up the sword hidden in my umbrella.

The Tigers started to come back though, and by the second quarter, you felt Richmond had the momentum.  

At the ground, you could really see the impact of the Tigers whole team pressure.

During the week leading up to the game, the Melbourne media had made it almost impossible to know the Crows were playing in the Grand Final.

Unfortunately, for Adelaide, the actual game did not change this worldview.

The only question mark from the end of the second quarter on, was could the Tigers keep up this level of intensity?

It turned out they could and then some. Crows players got chased down so often I started to wonder if they were doing it on purpose.

Every time Tex Walker got a chance at a mark, the Tigers always managed to get the ball to the ground.

When the Crows midfield did get the ball, their delivery into the forward line was so poor that if you were watching your first game of AFL, you could be forgiven for thinking the aim of the sport was for the Adelaide midfield to target Richmond's defenders.

If you apply enough constant pressure to anything, it will eventually break, and in the third quarter, Adelaide did.

I knew it was over then but this being Richmond, there was still a sense that something could happen.

But the paradigm had shifted. This was no longer the Richmond of old; it was a fit, skilful team. Battle-hardened and with no interest in the sins of the past.

My new Tiger friend asked if I thought they could still lose. I said they were home and hosed. She said she’d wait for a few more goals before she would allow herself to believe that. Two minutes later she had those, and the tears came.

Luckily, I’ve got a lot of experience with women crying, so I was no put off by this, but it was nice that they were happy tears.

As the final siren sounded the roar was deafening. All that pain and heartache leaving tens of thousands of bodies.

The Crows fans I was near were devastated but to their credit were very classy. They stuck around and congratulated the Tigers supporters.  

Richmond’s song played over and over on repeat, the ‘Yellow and Black’ cry louder than anything else I’d heard that day and perhaps ever.

Then the presentations. There was some debate around who should have gotten the Norm Smith, but you know Tigers fans are in a happy place if their biggest issue is which of their players should have won the Norm Smith.

James Hird did receive a fair booing, but it was over quickly, people wanted to celebrate, and this was about the here and now, not the past.

Matthew Richardson perhaps received one of the biggest cheers as he joined the presentation, with the chant of ‘Richo’ echoing around the ground.

Then the cup was lifted aloft. It had really happened. The Tigers had won a premiership, and perhaps more importantly, I was going to be able to leave the stadium alive.

As I said goodbye to my Richmond friend she hugged me and said ‘you must sit next to you at next year’s grand final for good luck’.  Bloody arrogant Richmond fans I thought, always just expecting to win a premiership.

The reaction since the Grand Final has been interesting. People have described this as the worst list to win a premiership.

Now, I’m the first to admit I’ve never believed in this Tigers side but like a long-held scientific theory, you must realise the weight of evidence has proven you wrong, and it’s time to accept reality.

I think people are forgetting Australian Rules is a team sport, playing as a coordinated team is the most important thing. The Tigers have smashed all contenders this September. They’ve hardly fluked the last month, and they did finish third for the season.

This win shouldn’t be diminished.

I suspect though this Richmond side will need to rattle off ten premierships in a row for people to start believing in them.

Not that Tigers fans care, this was a victory that washed away 37 years of emotional torture, and I’m sure every Richmond supporter will tell you today that it was all worth it.

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Comments

Bloke from the outer 2 October 2017

As a Richmond supporter, I could give two tosses if a flog like Grant thinks they're the worst list to win a GF. They beat the other sides with all the 'big names'.

Spot on Titus, 'Australian Rules is a team sport', the bulldogs showed this last year. Its the new model.

Kafka’s Ghost 2 October 2017

Except last year the Bulldogs had a bit of “help”. This year the Tigers did it as a team, in a finals series that should go down as a template of how to play team football.
Congratulations to the Tigers on a great season, and well-deserved Premiership.

Craig 2 October 2017

So Cotchin being able to play wasn’t “help”? Puhlease......

Kafka’s Ghost 2 October 2017

Touché Craig. Nevertheless, it was such a dominant team performance, I doubt Cotchin missing would have altered the result. Houli, Grimes, Astbury and Vlastuin played outstanding games, not allowing the vaunted Crows’ forwards a look in. The commentators wet themselves about Rance all the time, but these other guys help him enormously, without getting the kudos.

CD 2 October 2017

What Cotchin did was legal and within the rules and he had no case to answer for because of it. It's not his fault Shiel has no idea how to protect himself when around the ball, as evident by the numerous other times Shiel got bumped throughout that first quarter.

John Greenwood 2 October 2017

Help? what help? Seriously, the Bulldogs won from 7th, played 4 finals including 2 interstate, beat the 3 time reigning premier and the top team along the way. Richmond played 3 games on their home ground. Good luck to them for winning but don't sell short what the Bulldogs did.

Bloke from the outer 2 October 2017

Nice that you sat near some good Crows supporters; some on the interweb seem to think that one missed free kick caused an 8 goal flogging.

Dave 2 October 2017

I’m a Crows fan and I was at the G. I watched the Tigers systematically destroy the Crows’ season from half way through the second quarter. Richmond were all class and wanted it more. Simple as that. The raw skill displayed by Dusty, Cotchin and the boys was irrefutable evidence that the Tigers deserved to win and the Crows didn’t. Any Crows fan that tries to blame the umpires for the result either doesn’t understand the rules or is just a spud. Congrats Richmond fans. It’s well deserved.

Robert 2 October 2017

Thanks Dave your a gentleman and a good judge of Aussie Rules Footy. It's a credit to you that you can be so gracious in defeat, cheers.

Neroli 2 October 2017

You sir, are a scholar and a gentleman. Thank you.

Chris 2 October 2017

Crows fan and was there at the game. Dave you were spot on totally agree with your comments. I was on my own in amongst a thousand plus Richmond supporters and after the game congratulated the ones I sat next to and leaving the MCG did not receive any abuse or stirring from any Richmond supporters. Well done Richmond.

Tiger Slim 3 October 2017

Hi Dave well said. I have had tiger knockers tell me that Crows had an off day. Same thing from there mouths every time Richmond beat anyone this year... We did just tear them apart, BUT you have to be GREAT to get there in the first place. (crows & tigers) but the complacency of some CROWS fans before the game was enlightening. I must say it was lovely to see so many Crows fans come and shake my 9yo sons hand and congratulate him on his win.. As all us Tiger Fans have been saying for too long.
"There Is Always Next Year" BEERS ON ME ;-}

Borissimo 2 October 2017

Nice

Dazza 2 October 2017

Terrible outcome for football. Glad I didn't watch a minute of this waste of time.

Interesting how you don't hear a peep out of Richmond Supporters for 37 years and now they are everywhere. How is that possible? Did they come out of hibernation?

And I agree this is the worst list to ever win a grand final. Who cares if it's a team sport, you still need decent players, at the start of the season I predicted them to finish 13th. But the exceeded everyone's expectations including their own.

Jack Graham's 3 goals 2 October 2017

Go forth and multiply Dazza - with whingeing like that you could easily be mistaken for a Crows fan, most of whom make Geelong supporters appear sane & rational!

Jack Graham's 3 goals 2 October 2017

With whingeing like that Dazza you could easily be mistaken for a Crows fan - most of whom make Geelong supporters appear to be sane & rational...

Floss 2 October 2017

And that would be right back at ya 'Jack'. As a cats fan I don't think I can be told by a tiger fan about whinging. D. Hardwick layed the rules of engagement when he had to drive all the way to Geelong a few weeks ago.
Just enjoy Titus's humour for what it's worth.

Team Sport 2 October 2017

Don't hear a peep out of Richmond supporters? They have been in the top two or three highest attendance figures at games for many many years. So you're wrong. The fact you didn't watch the GF means you are not a true AFL fan so your comments become worthless anyway.

Dazza is a flog 2 October 2017

Biggest crowd attendence out of any club, one of the biggest clubs in the afl. Support has always been there.
Also best defender in the afl
2 brownlow medalists
2 x Coleman medal winner
No decent players?

You're a flog mate.

Who do you support?
Dees?
North?
Carlton?

Harry 2 October 2017

Richmond hadn't won anything in 37 years and still has had massive membership numbers over the last few years.
Richmond has always had devoted fans , remember a club that has been around for over 130 years is bound to have a substantial supporter base.
Go Tiges!!!!

Magpie supporter 3 October 2017

Richmonds membership has only increased the last few years since they started making the finals. Where were the feral supporters when their team wasn't competitive?
Talk about fair weathered supporter base. Collingwood hasn't featured in finals for past 4 years yet our membership is the highest.

Anonymous 3 October 2017

Decent players what about 2 brownlow medalists r time all Australian and as captain
Riolis and a dual Coleman medalist you were completely outworked and played all day

Dusty Dusty Dusty 3 October 2017

Interesting Dave....worst list huh? Let's see, 2 X Brownlow Medallists. VFL Player of the year. 2 X All Australians (one of those being the captain). 2 X Rising Star Nominations. Also, we have the best defense in the AFL. Also, we score more goals than the competition during the last 10 weeks. We smashed all before us. Oh, we also have Coach of the Year.

Worst list huh?

Strong and bold 3 October 2017

Oh Dazza. Denial will get you nowhere. Richmond were pure unadulterated class. You might want to consider that they had a membership of over 70k even when they finished 13th last year.
Gut that little green eyed monster before it kills you matey.
PREMIERS 2017!!!!!!

Tiger Slim 3 October 2017

aaaaAhhmmm..... You Did See The Final Score DidN't You..????? What a TERRIBLE Bunch Of Jerks Those Tigers Must Be..
Much Love From A 20 Year Member who has only just NOW jumped on the TIGGY TRAIN. Now go back and hide in the corner

Tiger Slim 3 October 2017

Sorry Dazza forgot to mention the other 77,550+ Members that have only just jumped on board since the GRAND FINAL how remiss of me. Who do you barrack for and how long a MEMBER ??? Im just saying

Hollow victory 2 October 2017

A Sydney fan pointed out to me that 4 of the last 5 premierships have been won by victorian clubs that qualified lower than their opponent.

As a Tiger fan I agree this takes the gloss off the win. Time for the highest qualifier to host the GF.

Antoine 2 October 2017

Great article Titus.

After the 2006 Grand Final someone could have pointed out that the last 6 flags had all been won by interstate teams. Think the team that outworked their opponents won the day and the rest is knee jerk noise. Don Pyke was very accurate and all class in his post-match press conference.

Integrity 2 October 2017

You missed the point that the lower ranked team got the home ground advantage in all GFs since 2013. That taints these results. This didn't apply to the 6 GFs to 2006.

John Greenwood 2 October 2017

Bulldogs rarely play at the G during home and away, Sydney played as many games there in 2016. Bit of a stretch to call it our home ground.

Sam 3 October 2017

It wasn't the SCG

Simone 3 October 2017

As someone who attended the 2016 gf, I think you would be hard pressed to say that the Bulldogs didn’t have home team support

Bloke from the outer 2 October 2017

Thanks Antoine. Pyke was very good - just checked it out. Probably the most insightful commentary that I've heard or read.

http://www.afl.com.au/video/2017-09-30/full-postmatch-crows

However if you want to see comedy gold watch Roy Masters win tool of the year. Amazing who they'll pay to offer 'commentary'.

http://iview.abc.net.au/programs/offsiders/NC1714V038S00#playing

Drood Noezit 3 October 2017

The fact it WAS ANOTHER Victorian team is all the more reason for it to be jubilant. It's a Victorian game that has been stolen by the rest of the country, & now some wanka/flog/fwit wants to move the GF away from the MCG.
You'd have a better chance of moving Mt Kosciusko.
But, that's the temerity of useless wastes of space, to attack the victor in EVERY way shape or form, they get all outta shape when their team lose & drive it home they're better, when they win, look what the media, soc med & commentary said about the Tiges after their rd 6 capitulation. Grant Thomas , whoever you are, shut up, simply, shut it, you too Titus, fancy calling me an ice addict, come anywhere near me, you pus bucket, I'll snap your fucken neck!

Long time Tiger 3 October 2017

Where in Australia do you think we can hold 100,000 people and have them show up? Melb home of all large sporting comps!

Sam 3 October 2017

Why do you have such a complex about size?

Thedarkhawk 10 October 2017

Melbourne storm never let it be an excuse.

Mick 2 October 2017

Um, if this is the worst list to become premiers, does it then follow that Dimma can coach?

Longtime WCE fan-Never a BT nor Grant fan. 2 October 2017

A decidedly gracious and deserving serving of a nervy Melbourne fan and simultaneously the iron-nibbed Australian Grand Master of Irony-Titus!!
Thanks for the terrific year of hilarious work which kept me happy on a Monday and happily expectant on a Thursday.
Every week there have been some golden moments such as the Essendon/Bolt analogy and North Korean End Of World stuff.
All hail the victorious champion team that could beat teams of champions. The junior footy cliche has proven prophetic and timely. And well done Titus for making that point clear. Sometimes in sport it’s important to stay with what actually happened rather than attending to some precious and jilted never-were’s expectations of what they either want to see happen or how they wish to diminish others’ achievements. Well deserved Richmond.
Now, how can I ever get to have my comments posted first? Been 2 years of trying....maybe 35 more to go?
Thanks again.

Jazz 2 October 2017

Haha Dazza, I bet you were saying the same thing last year when the Doggies won. Who do you barrack for again?

Nick 2 October 2017

Or maybe the interstate team only won more games because they play, at home, against an interstate team every second week. Melbourne teams get that advantage maybe 5 times a year. And when you finish on top by half a win, that makes the difference.

Fact check 2 October 2017

Doesn't that mean non vIc teams have to play interstate more often?

Frosty of Collingwood 2 October 2017

The Home vs Away games stats.
Adelaide played 10 games at home against interstate teams, 2 at home against Port, 9 at interstate teams' home grounds and 1 against Melbourne in the NT (so no home ground advantage to Melbourne, or disadvantage to Adelaide either).
Richmond played 11 games in Victoria against Victorian teams (except Geelong), 4 home games against interstate teams and 6 away games (including one at Geelong).
By my reckoning, that means Adelaide had a home ground advantage (ie playing an interstate team at home) 11 times to Richmond's 4 times. On the other hand, Richmond had no home ground advantage 11 times because they were playing Melbourne-based clubs, whereas this only occurred twice when Adelaide played Port. Adelaide played 9 games away on the home grounds of interstate teams, to Richmond's 6. So Adelaide travelled 3 more times than Richmond but had a home ground advantage 7 more times than Richmond. I reckon that gives the advantage to Adelaide over the season, and I suspect the home ground advantage probably allowed Geelong to finish higher on the ladder than might have been the case if they had played all their home games at the MCG or Docklands.

Fact check 2 October 2017

By your analysis, Adelaide had home ground disadvantage 9 times vs Richmonds 5-6 during the regular season and Richmond played 11 times on neutral territory vs Adelaides 3

Frosty of Collingwood 2 October 2017

So would you rather 11 games with home ground advantage or 11 games on equal terms re home ground advantage?

Fact check 3 October 2017

So you would rather 9 games of home ground disadvantage (plus the GF even after being higher ranked), compared to 5-6

Sam 2 October 2017

By design of the the 666 rule, Richmond (13th in 2016) had an easier draw in 2017 than Adelaide (6th in 2016)

Tiger Fan 2 October 2017

The "worst list"? I would have thought the worst list would be any guest list that had DAZZA on it, or possibly the Crawfords productions back catalogue.
A list containing Rance, Cotchin, Martin, Prestia and Riewoldt is a classy as it gets.

Sore losers 2 October 2017

Who was the clown that said the Bulldogs got some help last year?!
They played 2 Interstate finals and smashed them.
Would love to see the 2016 Bulldogs play the 2017 Tigers... now that would be a game worth watching!

Glenn O 2 October 2017

"Would love to see the 2016 Bulldogs play the 2017 Tigers... now that would be a game worth watching!"

That really would be something. Perhaps we'll get to see it in 2018 if the Tigers continue in the same vein and Doggies get their mojo back.

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