Richmond vs Union of Soviet Socialist Republics of Greater Western Sydney, 2:30pm AEST
After 206 games of defensive drivel, coach sackings, Behavioural Awarness Officers, failed multis, worshipping of Lord Fagan, Tom Browne being used as a punching bag, laughter at South Australia, hands being placed in eye regions, and urine samples that taste like Gatorade, the 2019 season, and the Tumultuous ’10s, cultimate in a Grand Final between two clubs who barely existed back in 2010.
Shit, did I get everything in?
Anyway, time to meet the sacrificial victims- I mean teams.
After instantly being written off once Alex Rance had his season ended 3 quarters into Round 1, the Tigers have fulfilled quite a few pre-season predictions and reached the Grand Final for the 2nd time in 3 years.
The last time Richmond made 2 Grand Finals in 3 years, Graeme Richmond went insane and shipped Geoff Raines, David Cloke and Brian Taylor to Collingwood, and the Tigers were rattling tins and saving skins within 8 years.
After being crippled by injuries so severe they were reduced to the fabled Richmond position of 9th in mid-June, the Tigers have discovered their destructive best, eating their opposition alive on the way to 11 consecutive wins, just one short of equalling the club record from 1932-33- The heady days of Jack Titus and Captain Blood.
These days, Captain Blood is a hemophiliac who wears number 14 for Geelong.
It’s been another team effort to drag the Tigers back to the Grand Final- Trent Cotchin had his injury troubles but he’s back and leading from the front line, helping Tom Lynch escape from the Gold Coast has come home to roost, especially as Jack Riewoldt struggles with injuries and a drop in production, Dusty is firing on all 14 cylinders, Shai Bolton has come from the clouds, and the defence has stood up as a collective without Rance, featuring unsung heroes like Liam Baker, and led by All-Australians Bachar Houli, Shane Edwards, and Dylan Grimes, or Grimey, as he likes to be called.
Mental note- That’s 2 more uses before I burn that Simpsons gag to the ground.
Last Friday night against the Cats was the epitome of their season- A slow 1st Half with injuries, before rocketing home and getting the job done.
On the downside, Jack Graham has paid the price for heroically playing on and tackling people with a dislocated shoulder, which means the Tigers have a tough selection choice to make this afternoon.
Will it be VFL Grand Final best afield Marlion Pickett with his Andy Krakouer-esque story of comeback, in what would be his AFL debut, or the Pinjarra bogan, Kamdyn McIntosh, or Jack Ross, who I have no by-line for.
Richmond do have experience in players making their debuts in Grand Finals- The mythical Bill James debuted for the Tigers in the winning 1920 Grand Final, then according to legend, was shot in the foot rabbit hunting that offseason (Which actually happened in 1925) and never played again, before going to the US and killing baseball enjoyment forever with something called sabermetrics.
Hang on, wrong Bill James.
Regardless, 11 in a row, on their home ground, with the most one-sided Grand Final crowd in the history of Grand Finals roaring them on, and the Channel 7 commentary team preparing to fawn them all day.
The Tiges a deserving favourite for flag number 12…. not that this band of comrades give a rat’s coight.
Большой Западный Сидней
I kid you not, I had a viewer from the Ukraine this week.
Word has spread to the Soviet heartland about their long lost team.
If you travelled back in time in a DeLorean and told me mid-year that the Giants would finally make a Grand Final, I actually wouldn’t be that shocked, considering they were 2nd after Round 13.
But if you told me the Giants would make a Grand Final after finishing 6th, and once again losing 90% of their key players to injuries and fetishes with people’s eye regions, I’d ask you who your dealer is.
The team known informally as the Greater Western Soviets have come a long way in the 7 years since I was calling them many juvenile nicknames like ‘Gee We’re Shit’ and ‘Gee We Suck’, and laughing at their fanbase of three people, which for all I know is still compromised of Tony Abbott, Mitchell Starc, and my cousin Adam.
They could be the only three people in Sydney who know the Giants are actually playing in a Grand Final.
This week serves as an amazing contrast between the expansion clubs- The Giants are preparing for their biggest game ever, and the Gold Coast Suns are a blubbering mess in front of the AFL Commission asking for a priority pick, which they’ll waste anyway.
I suppose the big difference is that the Giants recruited a crazed salesman claiming to be Kevin Sheedy to lead them through the harsh wasteland of Parramatta.
The Suns recruited Gary Ablett and Campbell Brown.
This year, in the absence of key cogs like Stephen Coniglio, Lachie Whitfield and skipper Callan Ward, Zac Williams has stood up time and time again, Tim ‘Tarantula’ Taranto currently leads the Gary Ayres Medal for the best player of the Finals, the backline has been anchored by 300 gamer Heath Shaw, Phil Davis and Nick Haynes, the Jeremies have been the big beacons up forward, with Jezza Cameron winning the Coleman Medal and Finlayson having a breakout year, and most crucial of all to this surprise run has been the return of former Peel Thunder star Matt De Boer in the midfield.
The Giants were 2nd before he hurt his shoulder during the season, then fell to 6th while he was gone, and since Matty returned, he’s tagged The Bont, Lachie Neale and Scott Pendlebury this finals series… and kept them all to season low disposal counts.
And of course, he beat Dusty so thoroughly with a tag in Round 3, that Dusty melted harder than Michael Richards receiving audience feedback, elbowing Adam Kennedy off the ball (And earning a suspension) and telling Shane Mumford quite politely, that he indulged in nose candy.
With the selfless withdrawal of comrade Coniglio, there will be 5 Giants who played in Round 1, 2012, who will be out there Saturday; Jeremy Cameron, Phil Davis, Toby Greene, Adam Kennedy, and Adam Tomlinson.
Speaking of which, I’d better mention the elephant in the room.
He’ll be back, and you just know this is the sort of game where Toby can be in his element, kicking goals, kicking faces, and if he gets near Dusty’s face, there could be eyeballs worn as earrings in the 2nd Half.
The Giants simply have to ask him one question to get him going- Are you prepared to miss the first 10 games of 2020 to win your teammates a Premiership?
What’s also slightly forgotten with all this talk about Toby, is that this could be Shane Mumford’s last game.
You just know Mummy has an entirely legal Alastair Lynch style farewell in him on some poor bastard…. followed by an Alastair Lynch style farewell on an unsuspecting packet of sausages.
And on another note, I wonder how Brett Deledio is feeling.
In 2016, he leaves Richmond for GWS after 11 years of shit, only for the Tigers to finally come good, beat the Giants in a Prelim the next year and win the flag, and then when the Giants make their first Grand Final AGAINST the Tigers… His career is finished by a calf injury three weeks prior.
The Orange Soviets avenged the 2016 Prelim loss to the Bulldogs in the Elimination Final, they got revenge for last year’s Semi Final loss to against Collingwood last week, and this week, the Revenge tour ends as they try to gain vengeance for the 2017 Prelim defeat.
As all good historians know, 6th place has won a Premiership before.
In 1900, Melbourne finished in 6th with a 6-8 record, but because of the weird Round Robin finals system, all 8 teams competed in 2 sections, the Dees finished top of their section, defeated Essendon in the Semi Final, and then defeated Minor Premiers Fitzroy by 4 points to win the flag.
Roys fans have always cried foul at Field Umpire Crapp favouring the Fuchsias that day, and I imagine both sets of fans on Saturday will be crying foul at Razor Ray’s strange explanations for decisions.
Unlike 2017, the romanticism about the Tigers being in a Grand Final is nonexistent, which is just as it was in the Hafey Era, and the romanticism about the Orange Soviets being in their first Grand Final just isn’t there, because they don’t have the supporter base of the other clubs to build that excitement.
I remember when Freo made the Grand Final in 2013- It was like the North Koreans had launched a purple rocket filled with hype on the Port City.
I think we can put the somewhat flat nationwide atmosphere about this year’s decider down to the fact that everyone was so excited about the idea of a Collingwood-Richmond Grand Final bringing the long-awaited destruction of modern civilisation, and then of course, it didn’t happen, and we’re now as flat as a cane toad meeting a Mack truck.
With the likes of Greene, Mumford, Martin, Houli and Cotchin out on the field, the potential for thuggery, bloodshed and nothing short of, brutal, dirty physical play is endless.
I’m a completely unoriginal bastard, so I’ll go with Richmond to win, and Bachar Houli to win the Norm Smith.
ON ANOTHER NOTE– As I already mentioned, The fabled 3AW program Nightline finishes tonight after 50 years, so here’s the one and only anchovies joke via Toby From Newport.