This story was first published on May 26, 2017.
In it’s third year of existence, 2007’s Dreamtime at the ‘G clash had it all — scoring, comebacks and controversy to top it off.
And it was this game that propelled the annual clash into the marquee event that it has eventually become.
Each week, Aflplayers.com.au will bring to light the perspective of someone at the heart of a memorable moment from a game played between two sides before their upcoming clash.
A decade ago, the Tigers were struggling with a 0-8 record while the Bombers were a little more optimistic, but weren’t setting the competition on fire at 4-4.
Under the pump, Richmond needed to perform and there was no better way to do so than in the AFL’s newest marquee match.
Adam Pattison was the Tiger ruckman on the night and remembers the build up being a significant one for a few reasons.
“It was exciting to play in that game and I know it was special for a lot of the Indigenous players we had at the time in the likes of Richard Tambling, Andy Krakouer and Jarrad Oakley-Nicholls,” Pattison told Aflplayers.com.au.
“For us in terms of the season, we hadn’t won a game at that point so we wanted to put in a massive performance.”
As a fresh-faced 21-year-old in just his 23rd AFL game, Pattison was forced to come up against a peaking David Hille and remembers a lot about the battles he had with the Essendon best and fairest winner.
“I’ve been asked a couple of times who was the hardest ruckman I played on and David Hille would be right up there. He’s a big unit and he was in good form at the time, he was so strong at the contest but also quite smart with his running and could be quite damaging.
“I knew I wasn’t going to beat him in the hit-outs, so I was trying to spread him around the ground and run around but he was quite smart in that if I ran and didn’t impact the contest, he goes the other way without an opponent.
“Because I was giving away so much weight, the one thing I didn’t want to do was get engaged in a wrestle and unfortunately in the first goal of the game, I’m trying to engage with him a bit later than normal in a boundary throw-in and he took possession and goals.”
That first goal sent the Bombers on a roll before a couple of late majors to the Tigers reduced the margin to seven points at quarter time.
Things weren’t looking good for Terry Wallace’s men early in the second quarter when Scott Lucas kicked back-to-back goals, but four consecutive six-pointers to the Tigers, including one of the goals of the century to Dan Jackson in the last 30 seconds, resulted in a three-point lead at the main break.
Another dominant quarter from Richmond saw the lead extend out to 22 points in the first half of the third term before the Bombers scored with 10 minutes remaining to give them a sniff leading into the last change.
Enter the last quarter, where the two sides traded majors in the first 14 minutes before Essendon kicked three consecutive goals to tie the scores 24 minutes into the quarter.
A couple of minutes later the game’s most controversial rule reared it’s head.
As Richmond were launching an attack, Matthew Richardson marked the ball against Mal Michael on the half-forward flank. He then played on and kicked the most important goal of the match — or at least that’s what everyone thought had happened.
As it turned out, Richardson had placed his hands in the back of Michael, which was a clear violation of the newly imposed ‘hands in the back’ rule.
The result was catastrophic for Richmond, with a 50-metre penalty also executed due to Richardson’s inability to hear the umpire’s whistle and Pattison said not many heard the decision at the time.
“You could not hear the whistle on the ground. In that instance, all the Tiger faithful were getting excited when Richo took the mark and kicked the goal because it was obviously close to the end of the match,” Pattison added.
“You couldn’t hear anything. There was only 61,000 there but it felt like so much more – I actually thought it was close to 90,000.”
Pattison remembers training specifically for the rule adjustment but Richardson’s habits were harder to change given he’d been playing at the elite level for 15 years and was able to use his hands in a marking contest for 14 of them.
Unfortunately for the Tigers, they conceded a couple of points before Matthew Lloyd took a mark just outside 50 and the siren sounded to end the match.
Lloyd scored after the siren and the margin was eight points to send Richmond to a 0-9 start to their 2007 campaign.
As for the post match ramifications, Pattison remembers the feeling of losing one that got away.
“Whenever you lose a close game, initially there’s shock that you’ve lost and you’re in a bit of a daze but the ramifications hit you later.
“Then you see the replay and see how close it was and those little critical moments where you could’ve impacted, that’s when you realise how it slipped away.
“Terry was definitely good at giving sprays. He was normally pretty emotional and that’s because he invested so much.
“At times, we’d be expecting a spray and he’d praise our effort and other times when we thought we played alright, he’d really let loose and they were more often than not after the close losses than the thrashings.”
As for Richardson, he was devastated and visibly frustrated that the free kick played out the way it did despite being one of the Tigers better players on the night.
“I don’t remember much from after the game but I know I wouldn’t have tried to make eye contact with Richo or anything like that,” Pattison said.
“It’s actually quite bizarre because of all the people I played footy with, Richo was the most nervous before running onto the field. He’d almost be in a panic from the nerves of performing.
“You could tell he had some anxiety pre-game because he looked that stressed. It got to the point where you’d think there’s no way he’s going to play well and then he’d come out and play an absolute blinder.”
The Tigers would go on to draw their encounter the following week against the Lions before winning only three matches for the season and finishing last on the ladder, while the Bombers would end the 2007 season in 12th spot.
But despite the pair’s lackluster years, their Round 9 clash built the foundation for what would become one of the marquee events on the AFL calendar.