The Dreamtime clash between Richmond and Essendon had a new home in 2021, and the historic event was warmly welcomed by the Perth community.
Due to Melbourne’s coronavirus lockdown, the annual fixture was moved from the MCG to Perth Stadium in the eleventh hour.
West Australian fans were given a rare chance to see two Victorian clubs face off in the Sir Doug Nicholls Round, with 55,656 fans attending Saturday’s match.
It was the biggest footy crowd in Perth this season.
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Many West Australians supported VFL clubs before 1987, and not all jumped ship when West Coast joined the competition.
Before the Round 12 clash got underway, thousands of passionate fans took part in the annual AFL Long Walk across the Matagarup bridge.
Founded by Essendon legend Michael Long 17 years ago, the event typically takes place in Melbourne as a curtain-raiser for the Dreamtime match at the MCG.
Fans crossing the Matagarup Bridge for the Long Walk.Source:Getty Images
Footy fans young and old took part.Source:Getty Images
“We were so delighted that Dreamtime game was going to be in Perth,” Long said, as reported by ABC Radio Perth.
“It tells me that the love and passion for football in this state (is strong).
“Across Australia, WA has had the highest number of Indigenous players in the AFL for the last 20 years.
“Through the power of football, we have been able to unite people.”
The Long Walk finished at the famous Nicky Winmar statue, which depicts one of Australian sport’s most iconic moments.
Fans outside Perth Stadium on Saturday.Source:Reddit
Because the pre-match performers were not permitted on the field due to Covid restrictions, they instead danced in the aisles of Perth Stadium.
Pre-game both Essendon and Richmond were represented by dancers from 14 different parts of the Noongar nations who performed a traditional dance of celebration 👏#AFLDeadly | #AFLDonsTigerspic.twitter.com/A0AxGsSfst
The AFL’s 18 clubs unveiled their awesome guernsey designs ahead of the Sir Doug Nicholls Round, and there are some absolute belters among them.
The Bombers’ Dreamtime guernsey artwork was dedicated to Norm McDonald, the first Aboriginal player to represent Essendon.
Designed by Michelle Kerrin, the Tigers’ Indigenous guernsey symbolises the story of Shane Edwards and Jack Riewoldt, who arrived at the club together in 2006.
The Welcome to Country.Source:Getty Images
The Bombers line up ahead of the first bounce.Source:Getty Images
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The crowd was undeniably pro-Bombers, hopeful they could stretch their winning streak to four consecutive games and move into the top eight for the first time this season.
The Tigers looked poised for a comfortable victory after three quarters, but Essendon kicked four consecutive goals early in the final term to take the lead and set up a thrilling finish.
However, the defending premiers showed their class in the closing 10 minutes, responding with seven straight majors of their own.
Richmond ultimately clinched a 19.9 (123) to 12.12 (84) victory, their seventh win of the season.
The win stretches Richmond’s streak of wins over Essendon to 11 — dating back to Round 11 of 2014.
— with NCA NewsWire
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