Ramp up the rivalry
Collingwood chief executive Gary Pert. Photo: Paul Rovere
COLLINGWOOD and Richmond are hoping to rebuild their once-storied rivalry, having requested that the AFL schedule the clubs to play each other twice again next year.
The Tigers have backed Collingwood's push to have the clubs play twice a season, with the clubs hoping that a rising Richmond will re-ignite what was once one of football's fiercest rivalries and regularly bring 80,000 plus to the MCG.
Collingwood chief executive Gary Pert confirmed that the Magpies had formally requested the AFL schedule two games against Richmond in 2013 - a request endorsed by the Tigers, who said their developing team would benefit from playing on ''the big stage'' while the club had a ''compelling commercial motive'' for playing Collingwood twice.
''I think the time is right to start building the rivalry that I think is one of the great rivalries of AFL football, which is Collingwood and Richmond,'' said Pert, who said the clubs could ''rebuild the rivalry and the competitive dynamic between the clubs'' starting from next year.
Pert said the clubs had the capacity to attract crowds greater than 80,000 to their games.
''It's two of the biggest and most passionate supporter bases in Australian sport.''
Collingwood and Richmond have seldom played one another twice over the past decade - the clubs have played once each since 2007, with the Pies having beaten the Tigers in the past five encounters; the clubs have played two games in a season only twice since 2004.
The Tigers have been playing both Carlton and Essendon twice - having the season opener on Thursday night versus the Blues and the ''Dreamtime at the G'' game against the Bombers - but have had fewer opportunities to play Collingwood. The clubs have averaged better than 63,000 in their past five games - including more than 70,000 in 2008 - despite Richmond's struggles over that period.
The Magpies are routinely drawn to play Carlton twice - a rivalry that will ramp up further in the likely event that Mick Malthouse joins the Blues as senior coach - and has played Essendon twice every season since 1992, including the perennially sold-out Anzac Day clashes.
With each club set to play Carlton twice next year, Collingwood certain to play Essendon twice and Richmond perhaps also playing the Dons twice, next year may see all of Melbourne's so-called ''big four'' having two games against one another.
The Pies have been playing Geelong twice in recent seasons, with Hawthorn twice this year. It seems unlikely that they could accommodate two games against both of those sides, plus the mandatory Carlton and Essendon double-ups and two matches against Richmond, given that clubs only play five teams twice in the 18-team competition.
Richmond chief executive Brendon Gale said Richmond's developing team would benefit from participating in their club's ''biggest rivalries'' with Carlton, Collingwood and Essendon.
''We think to subject our developing list to the competition and the big stage is important and, clearly, there's a compelling commercial motive.''
The Richmond-Collingwood rivalry has waned since the '90s, having been intense in the 1920s and '30s - the neighbours played in five grand finals from 1919-29 - and again from the '70s and '80s.
During the '80s, both clubs almost bankrupted themselves in a tit-for-tat recruiting war in which David Cloke, Geoff Raines and Brian Taylor defected to the Magpies, prompting Richmond's retaliatory poaching of Phil Walsh, John Annear, Peter McCormack and Neil Peart.
The clubs clashed in 2004, after having an arrangement to play one another in the opening round of 2002 and 2003, with the Pies dumping the arrangement because the Tigers declined to gate share.