Sep 23, 2019
The Monday Knee Jerk Reaction: AFL Preliminary Finals
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.
Richmond (85) v Geelong (65)
There was a moment just as the halftime siren sounded, and surrounded by Richmond fans, I realised there was a very high chance I would not make it out of the game alive.
Richmond had played like the Tigers of old, that is, a disappointment to their fans.
The natives were restless, with one Tigers fan in the row I was sitting in loudly rueing his ‘Premiers 19’ tattoo.
After experiencing last year’s Preliminary debacle, I found myself once again making note of the exits and seeing how many Tigers supporters I would need to knock over to get out of the MCG as fast as humanely possible.
One direction had some Auskick kids, so I figured I could get past most of them.
Geelong had made Richmond look like they were new to finals in the first half. Where the Tigers had squandered opportunities, the Cats had nailed theirs.
A big part of their success was Tim Kelly, who finished with 31 disposals and three goals. It must be tough to lose a Prelim and Tim Kelly in one night.
As the second half started, it took only a few moments for the modern Richmond to reveal their true stripes, with Tom Lynch showing that having a key forward is important, a fact not lost on Tom Hawkins I imagine.
Lynch was stunning on the night, finishing with five goals and it must have been something for him to play in front of 94,423. It would take an entire season for him to play in front of that many Suns supporters.
The second half saw the Tigers run all over the Cats in a display more relentless than the charity muggers lingering outside of Flinders Street station.
For Geelong, the season, one that started so promisingly had come up short, once again the pinnacle of their season will be their Mad Monday costumes.
Yet you have to admire the Cats ability to keep turning out top teams. Most other fans would kill to have a team who regularly makes finals. They were possibly just a stray fist from making the Grand Final.
Now the Tigers fans have another Grand Final to look forward to. It just shows you that you can go from laughingstock to scary very quickly in the AFL.
Just a few years ago the Tigers were the Fredo of the AFL, now they’re Michael.
Collingwood (52) v Greater Western Sydney (56)
Nothing could have been set up better, at home and with three of the Giants stars out, it would take a lot to go wrong for the Pies to screw this up.
Which made this all the more enjoyable on the day.
Sitting there in the rain, this started out as a terrible game, only to transform into one of the most intense games I’ve seen.
It had everything, a huge lead to the Giants, a stunning comeback by the Pies, a mad scramble for the last ten minutes, and the AFL’s ARC proving it’s just as bad as the previous system.
The first half gave no indication of this being a classic, it was in fact a slog, with both sides performing in the wet like I perform small talk, stop-start, fumbling and with a lot of falling over.
Then came the third quarter, which saw the Giants all over the Pies like an ill-fitting suit at the Brownlow.
By third quarter time it seemed all over, the Pies appeared no chance and the anger in the stands was intense.
Then the fourth quarter happened, it was like all the excitement of a Prelim, normally spread over four quarters, had been jammed into just one.
The Pies suddenly got moving and the MCG came alive. Goal after goal started to come, each one awakening hope in the Pies fans.
Then, the ball seemed to become permanently stuck down the Pies end with the thinnest of margins separating the teams.
Every player threw themselves on the ball like their whole careers had built up for this moment.
It felt like the Pies would get there, but the goal that would have sent the Pies into the Grand Final and the stands into joyous rapture never came, the Giants held off the charge.
When the siren went the stadium sat in stunned silence, except for the Giants supporters, who reacted with that relief only a close win brings.
It was something else to see.
You can’t praise the Giants enough for this victory. They were on the road, with key players missing and facing a hostile crowd.
Yet still they held off a very good side and faced down one of the most frenetic attempted comebacks I’ve seen.
Not everyone is thrilled the Giants are in the Grand Final, but by any measure, they certainly deserve to be.
Titus is touring around the country in the upcoming months, visiting Hobart and Brisbane. Tickets available here: http://www.frontiercomedy.com/titusoreily
Titus’ new book Please, Gamble Irresponsibly: The rise, fall and rise of sports gambling in Australia will be out on 5th November 2019. You can pre-order it now.