Look at me: Jack Riewoldt appeals to the umpire after colliding with Port's Jarrad Redden. Photo: Joe Armao
RICHMOND never does things by half.
On the last day of a long and arduous season its star forward wins the Coleman Medal and its popular captain stands down after several years of frustration. And it then contrives to throw away victory over Port Adelaide in the dying seconds of a game it looked to have won. It provided the AFL with its only draw of the year in its penultimate game.
No wonder Tigers supporters are sometimes said to lack the equilibrium of fans of other teams, who enjoy and endure campaigns steeped in success or routine failure. Ups and downs are certainly something skipper Chris Newman, who told the players before the game that he would be standing down for next season, knows plenty about at Tigerland.
Richmond v Port Adelaide
Coleman medalist Richmond's Jack Riewoldt. Photo: Joe Armao
Even Jack Riewoldt's six-goal haul, which allowed him to overcome Matthew Pavlich and Tom Hawkins in the race for the Coleman Medal awarded to the AFL's top goalkicker, could not really lighten the air of a match, and a season, that got away.
As coach Damien Hardwick put it after the match: ''It summed up our season in a nutshell. We didn't play anywhere near well enough. We were sluggish early … not quite good enough when we needed to be.
''Footy is an emotional game. To hand over your captaincy is a big event in a footy club. I would have expected the guys to respond better than what they did.
''Our intensity in last week's game against Essendon was unbelievable. This week's was opposite.''
Riewoldt's pursuit of the required four goals he needed to claim the Coleman as his sole prize was a key element of this match, although he seemed more perturbed that the Tigers couldn't do the right thing by Newman in his final game as skipper.
''It's always weird after a draw, but today was even weirder,'' Riewoldt said.
''Last game of the season, obviously I won the Coleman Medal, but it's tough, really tough. To watch your leader and one of your best mates in the captain of this football club say that he's going to finish up captaining us was really tough and then not to get the victory for him was even tougher. So it's a bit of a bittersweet feeling.''
Newman looked drained and naturally disappointed not to have signed off on a winning note.
''It's a decision I didn't make lightly. Probably I wouldn't have made it if I didn't feel there were some guys who were able to step into my shoes and do a better job than me,'' he said.
''I just feel that it's time, getting to the latter stages of my career. Mentally it might be a good one for me too. Its been a huge journey for me, especially the last four years. There's a number of guys who could step into my role. There hasn't been a lot of ups in terms of wins and losses but I think I can walk away proud. We have come a long way with our culture at this club and its probably time to let somebody else lead the charge.'' Trent Cotchin looks the obvious candidate to succeed Newman, but Hardwick was sticking to the established footy club protocols, saying simply that there were a lot of potential leaders at the club and that ''we will work our way through the candidates''.
He was heartfelt in his praise of Newman.
''He's outstanding. There are certain blokes in footy clubs who are very, very special and Chris is one of those guys. I have no doubt he has been the single driver in what has transformed this club, from where we have come from three years ago to where we are now. He has dragged us forward at a rate.''
Hardwick said also looked forward to the appointment of former Port Adelaide premiership coach Mark Williams to a development role with the club next season.