While the AFL is on COVID-19 hiatus, David Schout is reliving some of the most notable upsets and bad beats over the years. This week, an MCG thriller from 2014.

Richmond and Melbourne were due to face off this weekend, in what would have been Round 6 of the 2020 AFL season. We’ve sifted through the archives and found a seesawing battle between the two from 2014 that surprised many – bookies and punters alike.

Upset merchants

In the years leading up to 2014, life as a Melbourne fan was a tough gig. The competition’s whipping boys (alongside AFL newcomers Gold Coast and GWS), the Dees had finished in the bottom five for seven straight seasons. But 2014 was supposed to be the fresh start fans had craved. With a developing list and – most importantly – premiership-winning coach Paul Roos at the helm, things were looking up for the red and blue. They had also traded in Bernie Vince (Adelaide) and Dom Tyson (GWS).

Years of underachievement meant they (understandably) started many games as outsiders. But this didn’t deter the Dees. In Round 4 they started $5.23 outsiders against Carlton (with a 33.5-point head start), yet claim a comfortable 23-point win. Then in Round 7, they started as rank $8.79 outsiders against the Crows at the Adelaide Oval, only to claim a famous win 3-point win. In fact, such was the gravity of this upset, it ranked at number 8 in our Biggest AFL Boilovers of the last 10 years.

Underdogs again

A fortnight later in Round 9, Roos’ side found themselves as significant underdogs yet again, this time against the Tigers. Despite the fact both sides were sitting outside the top eight with just two wins apiece, Damien Hardwick’s Richmond side were strong $1.18 favourites, while the Dees were $4.86 outsiders. Further, handicap markets gave Melbourne a 32.5-point head start in the clash.

It was an emotional day for many Tigers fans, with the club paying tribute to AFL legend Tommy Hafey who had passed away that week.

Seesawing battle

Nathan Jones got things underway with a wobbling kick from 50, drawing first blood. But the Tiges kicked back and, early in the second quarter, grabbed a two-goal lead. Two goals to the Dees (including one from Jack Watts) reclaimed the lead for Melbourne, but a horrible turnover late in the second term would see Shane Edwards grab the ascendancy back, kicking truly at the Punt Road end. If the Dees were going to come back, they’d have to do so against pre-game odds of $17 for a Richmond-Melbourne result in the Half Time/Full Time AFL market.

In the third term Melbourne grabbed the lead via two goals to recruit Tyson and fellow youngster Jack Viney. But their lead at three quarter time was just 8 points. Yet two more goals to Jack Watts and a sealer from Jay Kennedy-Harris would see them home by 17 points in a Saturday afternoon thriller. A wasteful Richmond incredibly had eight more scoring shots than the Dees, but couldn’t get over the line.

Unfortunately for Dees fans, they would win just one more game for the AFL season and finish on equal points (16) with Wooden Spooners St Kilda.

Final Score

Round 9 of the 2014 AFL season, May 17

Richmond:  2.3  4.8  6.16  9.20  (74)  def by

Melbourne:  1.3  4.5  9.6   14.7  (91)

RICH: Lennon 2, Edwards 2, Jackson, Riewoldt, Martin, Lloyd, Cotchin

MEL: Watts 3, Tyson 2, Pedersen 2, N.Jones, M.Jones, Riley, Dawes, Viney, Vince, Kennedy Harris

Brownlow Votes: 3 Nathan Jones (MEL), 2 Dustin Martin (RICH), 1 Dom Tyson (MEL)