For the first time since well before I was born, the Richmond Tigers are premiers. What a time to be alive! Here’s the talking points from a drought-breaking grand final.
All the wash-up from the 2017 AFL Grand Final
» Match Report: Tigers are premiers
» BUCKLAND: Richmond go from rabble to flag
» Richmond Tigers player ratings
» Adelaide Crows player ratings
» Watch video highlights from the match
» Re-live the match with our live blog
Tiger intensity too much, Crows collapse
After a slow start in the first quarter that allowed Adelaide to kick a couple of cheap goals, I was thinking that Richmond hadn’t mentally turned up the game.
The easy ones they let through from Eddie Betts and Hugh Greenwood in particular were the kind of goals you just cannot concede in a grand final.
Pressure and intensity have been their two most defining characteristics when playing at their best this year – they didn’t have either.
But then, at the quarter-time break, they turned on the tap. In the second quarter they choked the Crows mercilessly and Adelaide could not break through.
Every foray that Adelaide made forward was like trudging waist deep through quicksand, every time they broke and turned the ball over Richmond were running on air.
An impenetrable Richmond wall with an insatiable thirst for the appetite simply refused to let their opponents play the game on their terms and with that being the case, the match was only ever going to end one way.
Adelaide don’t have the defence of being beaten by the better team tonight – just being beaten by the team that wanted it more. They were beaten in their heads and beaten on the field, and it’s a long road back from that.
Maybe Dusty really did have the best season ever
I’ve been a bit sceptical on all the talk from Leigh Matthews and others in the media that Dustin Martin’s 2017 season was the best any individual has every put together.
In today’s era of mass media and footy it’s easy for hype to get out of control and we forget the incredible feats of history past.
But today Dustin Martin won the Norm Smith Medal and a Premiership medal to go alongside his Brownlow Medal, and he’ll certainly pick-up Richmond’s best and fairest too. And All Australian. And the AFLCA MVP. And the AFLPA MVP.
You could argue there have been better seasons by others that were not as well rewarded, but you could not argue that this is the most well-rewarded season of all time, and not undeservedly.
Personally, I would’ve picked Bachar Houli for the Norm Smith Medal – while Martin’s stats exceeded his in the end, Houli did his best work when the game was in the balance and his goal in the first quarter was crucial.
But Dusty deserves every plaudit that comes his way, every single one, as do the Tigers as a whole.
Just retire now, Jack Graham
Playing in an AFL grand final in your fifth game is just a barely believable thing to see happen at all.
Doing it in your first year in the system, when you were pick 53 in the draft – wow.
And putting in an elite three-goal performance – one goal more than you’ve kicked in your entire AFL career before the game – in that grand final? Insane.
Oh, and they won the game. He’s a flag player. One of the first for Richmond in 37 years – just five games in.
Jack Graham should seriously (not seriously) consider immediate retirement solely so he can preserve his bizarre piece in history as holding the greatest ever five-game career.
He might play another 200+ AFL games and never have a feeling this good again – or who knows, he might. Watch this space.
Whatever happens next, he has already written himself in the legendary history of the Richmond football club.
Clash jumper the right call
There was plenty of talk about it in the lead-up to the game, and more than enough rabble-rousing from Kevin Bartlett (and everyone else), but you’d think Richmond fans are pretty happy with this result either way.
Many questioned whether there was a genuine clash between these two guernseys. Yes, there is – I’m not a big fan of clash jumpers, but if they’re ever warranted in footy then yes they’re warranted here.
Richmond’s lemon-light clash jumper provided a great contrast to Adelaide’s though and ultimately made the experience of watching the game much better visually.
On top of that, the Tigers merchandising group should be popping the champagne for more reasons that one tonight.
Expect these babies to fly off the shelves as early as tomorrow morning. Every Richmond fan will want to own one.
Crows will miss Lever and Cameron if they go
You’d be being a bit kind to say that any of Adelaide’s side played particularly well on Saturday, with the Rorys – Sloane and Laird – the only real standouts.
However, particularly early in the game, they were well served by two players who may indeed have been playing their last match for the club in Jake Lever and Charlie Cameron.
Although Cameron copped a knock to his leg early in the match he was still able to show off some of his speed, although teammates failed to capitalise on his play.
Lever was dynamic early, but faded out in the second half. To be fair to him, that’s true of every Crow.
If you believe the rumour mill, they will be playing at Brisbane and Melbourne next year respectively.
Trade requests will come as a cruel, cruel blow to mourning Crows fans next week.
Jumping Jack bounces back to avoid a mare
You don’t get a lot of chances in life to play in an AFL grand final and when you’re doing it with a club that hasn’t done so in more than three decades you feel the weight of that even moreso.
The thoughts that would have been going through Jack Riewoldt’s head at quarter-time when he had no goals, three behinds to his name from three attempts on the sticks would not have been pretty.
Think back to Nat Fyfe’s opening term in the 2013 decider – despite all the great things he has done since, his inability to convert opportunities early is forever etched in history.
Riewoldt has 21 individual teammates to thank for avoiding that nightmare. But he also has himself, because he played the match out and played well.
A few big hangers and two goals, the first in particular coming at a crucial time for the Tiges, was a very worthy effort.
He might well have cemented himself in the great finals stories of all times had he gone at a hundred per cent on goal – but I doubt he’ll be too disappointed, because footy is a team game, and what could’ve been a nightmare turned into living the dream.
The same could be said for Nick Vlastuin who had a few shaky moments early including a poor effort that let Eddie Betts sneak through for the second goal of the game, but ultimately played a big role in the win.
Roarers, it has been my very good pleasure to help bring you our coverage of the 2017 AFL season. Thank you as always for being an amazing group of people to write for and banter with. There’s nothing left to say but this… go Tiges!