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RFC Memorable Moments #5: "Every Dog Has Its Day"

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RFC Memorable Moment #5:

"Every Dog has its Day"

Richmond opened the 2001 season with a comfortable 5 goal win over the Dees with Richo back and firing after missing most of 2000 due to a fractured foot. The Tigers were expected to have too much tall firepower to be troubled by the Bulldogs in round 2 but all that went out the window with an off the ball incident in the beginning moments of the match.

Rex's call of the incident on 3aw - "Knights has been assassinated!"

A clip of the aftermath of the Libba/Knights incident:

Spud at quarter time shows Knighter to the umps:


Teams - Round 2, 2001



B:   Torney        Bourke      Biddiscombe
HB: A.Kellaway  Gaspar      Hilton
C:   J.Bowden   Campbell    Cameron
HF: Tivendale    Holland      Richardson
F:    Chaffey     Ottens        Rogers
R:    Hall, Daffy, Knights
INT: Gale, Fiora, Sziller, D.Kellaway

EMG: Broderick, Dragicevic, Vardy
IN: D.Kellaway
OUT: C.King (foot sprain)

Western Bulldogs

B:    Curley      Croft         Harrison
HB:  Smith        Ellis          Robbins
C:   Dimattina    West       Johnson
HF:   Cox         Grant        Eagleton
F:    Hudson     Hunter       Brown
R:    Darcy, Romero, Liberatore
INT: Bartlett, Murphy, Hahn, Penny

Blood at the G
By Rod Nicholson
Saturday, April 07, 2001

THE AFL will investigate an off-the-ball incident sparked by feisty Western Bulldog Tony Liberatore that left Richmond star Matthew Knights a blood-splattered mess yesterday at the MCG.

Liberatore was not reported and there is no video of the incident which ignited a melee, but the AFL will instigate an inquiry.

Liberatore was the focus of a fiery opening minute in which Knights and his new captain, Wayne Campbell, retaliated and are almost certain to be reported tomorrow on video evidence.

A blood-drenched Knights ran 20m swinging punches at Liberatore after the initial incident. Tiger teammate Wayne Campbell already had swooped on the nuggety Bulldog veteran and 1990 Brownlow medallist.

Richmond officials privately expect video reports of both Knights and Campbell, and the mood in the Tiger den last night suggests the players will accuse Liberatore of provoking their angry response.

Tiger coach Danny Frawley said he did not see the initial incident, but added: ''Richmond Football Club are a really proud club and it will be payback time at some stage.''

He said Knights told him he did not know what had happened (how he had sustained the split forehead).

''Every dog has its day, excuse the pun,'' Frawley said.

Frawley was clearly still upset at quarter time, making sure the umpires could see the damage done to Knights' forehead.

''I'm not sure what happened but one of our leaders has got multiple stitches. Maybe he fell on his shoelaces,'' he said sarcastically.

''It's not something we want to promote, that's for sure.''

When asked if he was concerned about possible repercussions for Knights from the incident, after he clearly appeared to strike Liberatore in retaliation, Frawley said of his former skipper: ''Well he's only human.''

Western Bulldog coach Terry Wallace said ''officials will deal with whatever needs to be adjudicated on''.

Wallace said he doubted Liberatore's teammates responded as they did only when they realised it was the popular small man in the thick of the action.

''When the heat of the battle is on everyone is emotional. That has been the same for 30 years,'' he said. ''The trick is to keep your eye on the ball.''

The AFL will be under pressure to launch an immediate and intense investigation.

Yesterday's ugly clash follows an off-the-ball incident in the opening round last weekend, when Collingwood's Paul Licuria went down behind play. Magpie players blamed Hawthorn's Aaron Lord and remonstrated.

However, the investigation fizzled when Licuria said he could not remember anything of the incident and there was no video to expose the culprit.

That clearly will not be the case with Liberatore, given Tiger skipper Campbell was instantly on the scene to support the man he replaced as captain at the start of the season.

Knights was forced from the field and required six stitches. He returned with his head swathed in a head bandage, but had to leave the field several times when the blood continued to flow.

Knights and Campbell did not shake hands with Liberatore at the end of the match. Camp bell also had to leave the field under the blood rule.

When Campbell returned to the action to man up with Liberatore, he concentrated on the opponent and gave away two free kicks.

Umpires Scott McLaren, Brett Rosebury and Shane McInerney did not make reports.

Channel Seven said they did not have video of the initial incident.

But they did have video of both Knights and Campbell launching into Liberatore.

AFL umpire chief Jeff Gieschen will inspect the tapes tomorrow morning to determine if any players have a case to answer.

Even if Liberatore's initial action is not on video, he can expect a visit from one of the AFL's three reporting officers -- Rick Lewis, John Coburn or Paul O'Halloran.

Liberatore is renowned in recent years for his nagging, scragging tactics. He has faced the AFL Tribunal on counts of scratching and gouging.

In the match yesterday he had eight kicks and three handballs in the Bulldogs' 42-point victory, but he was booed by Tiger fans every time he went near the ball after the opening minute incident.

At 35 he now is on the club's veterans' list, having played 252 games and having signed a new contract at the end of last season.


DESPITE being involved in numerous controversies, Bulldog veteran and

medallist Tony Liberatore has only three convictions at the AFL

They are:

1998 - suspended one match for striking.

1999 - suspended three matches for clawing .

2000 - fined $2000 for sledging.

Underdogs answer critics
The Age

RICHMOND 2.4  4.7    5.9      9.15 (69)
BULLDOGS 4.0  7.2   11.6   17. 9 (111)

Western Bulldogs: C Grant 4 R Smith 3 B Johnson 2 P Hudson 2 T Bartlett 2 S West L Darcy N Brown J Romero.
Richmond: M Richardson 2 R Hilton D Kellaway B Ottens M Dragicevic A Fiora R Hall B Gale.

Western Bulldogs: R Smith S West C Grant B Johnson B Harrison M Croft S Cox.
Richmond: R Hilton G Tivendale L Cameron D Kellaway M Richardson.

Richmond: D Bourke (knee) replaced in selected side by M Dragicevic, B Ottens (ankle), N Daffy (strained knee), B Holland (corked thigh).
Western Bulldogs: Nil

Reports: Nil.
Umpires: S McLaren, B Rosebury, S McInerney.
Official crowd: 36,427 at MCG.

TOO small. Not enough depth. Had their chances over the years. Definitely in decline. Still relying on Liberatore and Romero and smoke and mirrors.

We have said it about the Western Bulldogs too many times and, under Terry Wallace's crafty management, reports of their demise have often proven premature.

The Bulldogs are written off more often than the corporate lunch. After last weekend's loss to Saint Malcolm, we media types repeated our folly by all but declaring Richmond over the line. The Tigers had plastered Melbourne and, on a warm autumn afternoon at the MCG, Richo and co would be too tall for the Western Munchkins.

The Bulldogs have a nasty habit of making pundits look stupid and a satisfied Wallace was happy to remind ``outsiders'' - code for the media - that they had gotten it so horribly wrong. Again.

``I've probably got a little more faith in my players than others have in my players,'' he said pointedly.

``You know, it's been suggested that we've been heading down the list for a while and, you know, the players keep standing up and offering themselves and putting their bodies on the line.''

You can see how the punditry misread the match. We thought height would prevail, whereas skill and endeavor proved more crucial. Richmond's size advantage, personified by the Brad Ottens-Matthew Richardson tandem in attack, was fresh in our minds. Forgotten was the no-less significant edge in foot skills enjoyed by the underdoggies, who have a record of using the ball pretty well since their rebirth at the end of 1996.

This was the major difference between the sides yesterday in a match that was sorely lacking drama, besides the spiteful Matthew Knights-Tony Liberatore incident and its immediate aftermath.

Richmond had nearly as much football. But, as the Tigers went forward, they suffered a Groundhog Day-like relapse of their late 1990s brand of turnover football. The Dogs would mass in defence waiting for the ball to return to them and, as the match wore on, they were seldom disappointed.

From the moment Knights hit the deck and angry Tigers converged on predictable provocateur Libba, the game was played on the Bulldogs' terms. The Tigers kicked it high and wide but seldom handsome. The Dogs ran and pin-pointed leading forwards, particularly Chris Grant.

Wayne Campbell, clearly keen to fly the skipper's flag, did not help matters by giving away a couple of centre-square frees that led to those early Bulldog goals.

After 10 minutes, it was three goals to zip and you had the feeling that the bad Richmond had shown up.

While the scoreline didn't really look ugly until the third quarter and the Tiges were within range throughout the first half (they were on top for much of the first quarter), they were always in pursuit and never in true control.

The Richmond wreckers were a mix of usual suspects - Rohan Smith, Brad Johnson, Grant - and novelty acts such as Simon Cox and Ben Harrison.

The latter rubbed his old team's face in the MCG turf with a terrific game, particularly in the first half.

The difference in finish was evident, not only in delivery to forwards, but in scoring attempts. The Tigers missed too many, while the Dogs, led by the long-range missiles from Smith's boot, kicked some beauties.

When it was over, Wallace was asked about the game, giving his vertically challenged defence ``confidence''.

The coach, as ever, was quick with the jab. ``We've got a lot of confidence. We don't have to go looking for it. It's others that perhaps need confidence in us.''

Frawley vows revenge on Dogs after spiteful defeat
By Paul Gough
Saturday, April 07, 2001

RICHMOND coach Danny Frawley tonight vowed his club would take revenge on the Western Bulldogs for a controversial off the ball clash between Bulldog rover Tony Liberatore and former Tigers skipper Matthew Knights at the MCG today.

The incident, which happened in the opening minute of the game, overshadowed the Bulldogs' upset 17.9 (111) to 9.15 (69) victory over the disappointing Tigers.

Knights left the field with his face covered in blood after the incident but not before knocking Liberatore to the ground in retaliation and then appearing to punch his rival as players from both sides ran in from everywhere.

As the game threatened to get out of control, the Bulldogs settled by far the quicker and booted the first three goals of the game as the Tigers appeared more focused on 'evening up.'

After the game Frawley said he did not see the incident, which caused Knights to go the ground initially, but said his club would not forget it when the teams met again in Round 17.

'The Richmond Football Club is a really proud club and it will be payback time at some stage,' Frawley said.

'Every dog has its day, excuse the pun.'

Frawley was clearly still upset at quarter time, making sure the umpires (who made no reports) could see the damage done to Knights' forehead in the incident.

'I'm not sure what happened but one of our leaders has got multiple stitches , maybe he fell on his shoelaces,' he said.

'It's not something we want to promote, that's for sure.'

When asked if he was concerned about possible repercussions for Knights from the incident, after he clearly appeared to strike Liberatore in retaliation, Frawley said of his former skipper - 'Well he's only human.'

Bulldogs' coach Terry Wallace said he did not see the incident but added his club had steeled itself for a ferocious performance today after the criticism it received following last week's opening round loss to St Kilda.

'We needed to make a stand and play a tough, hard game of football,' he said.

The Bulldogs certainly did that as their midfield dominated through Scott West (23 possessions) and Brad Johnson (24 and two goals) while their work in pushing back in numbers to crowd Richmond's forward line worked perfectly.

Richmond's much-vaunted attack, which kicked 20 goals last week, was so bad that Matthew Richardson with two goals was their only multiple goalkicker as the Tigers repeatedly turned the ball over while trying to find a teammate in their crowded forward line.

The Bulldogs in contrast moved the ball far better and had winners in attack in Chris Grant (four goals) and Rohan Smith, who capped off a best on ground display with three goals.

Richmond's miserable day was completed when key trio Nick Daffy (strained knee), Ben Holland (corked thigh) and Brad Ottens (ankle) all left the field injured but the club is hoping all will be fit for next week's MCG clash against Brisbane.

Later the Sunday Herald Sun reported that the AFL would investigate the off-the-ball melee during the Richmond-Western Bulldogs match.

In a front page story featuring pictures of a blood-splattered Matthew Knights, it said AFL umpire chief Jeff Gieschen would inspect tapes tomorrow morning to determine whether any players had a case to answer.

The report said the umpires did not make a report and Channel Seven said it did not have videotape of the initial incident which sparked the confrontation.

But it did have videotape of 'Knights and (Richmond captain Wayne) Campbell launching into Liberatore', the Sunday Herald Sun said.

It said Richmond officials privately expected video reports of the pair, but they were likely to accuse Liberatore of provoking them.

Dogs stay cool, Tigers lose the plot
Monday, April 9, 2001.


The Tigers have seldom, if ever, been so poor since Danny Frawley became coach. Their disposal was awful. The marking forwards that had terrorised Melbourne had little chance, with the ball being kicked high and wide of the mark.

It was clear that several players, including skipper Wayne Campbell, were unable to control their emotions in the critical moments that followed the decking of Matthew Knights early in the first quarter. The Tiges were so honest last year that Saturday's meltdown should, at this early stage, be viewed as an aberration.


Greg Tivendale cemented a spot in the Tiger 22 last year; this year, he should become one of the club's top-dozen players. On Saturday, when only a handful of Tigers were up to scratch, the young left-footer stood up, especially in the first half.


The Tigers have a testing assignment against Brisbane; fortunately, the venue is the MCG rather than the Gabba. Nick Daffy (knee) must be doubtful, but the club believes that Brad Ottens (ankle) and Ben Holland (corked thigh) will be right for the Lions game.


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