Two out of three ain't bad, but three out of four is even better. Richmond's rollercoaster season was capped off with its third flag in recent years, marking a 'Dimmasty', as some fans are terming it. The Tigers did it the hard way – some of it their own making – overcoming hub indiscretions, numerous injuries to key players, and losing the qualifying final.
Once again, Richmond managed to uncover decent players in the midst of injuries and unavailability. Forward Jake Aarts got his chance in his second AFL season, Oleg Markov showed great promise in defence when called upon and Shai Bolton starred when moved to the midfield. After an apprenticeship in various positions, Noah Balta has now locked down a long-term role at full-back, and can also provide relief in the ruck.
It's nit-picking in a premiership year, but the slow start to the season made qualifying for finals more difficult than it needed to be. The Tigers looked lethargic and sloppy after the long break between rounds one and two, and struggled against sides like Collingwood and Hawthorn who employed a "keepings off" kick-mark game. David Astbury battled hard as a second ruck after Ivan Soldo's season-ending injury, but looks more comfortable in his usual defensive post.
In a resounding endorsement of Richmond's rookie selections, Jayden Short took out the club's best and fairest in a premiership year. While benefiting from a full season, Short was the model of consistency off half-back. Had a season-high 26 disposals against Sydney in a torrid game in round six, but saved his best till last, finishing second in the Norm Smith count.
While Noah Balta grabbed the headlines with Alex Rance comparisons, Shai Bolton starred when moved to the midfield in Shane Edwards' absence. The lightly framed 21-year-old handled the rigours of stoppages well, creating his own space and using the footy effectively. Bolton rose to another level in the Dreamtime game at Darwin, winning the Yiooken Award after 29 touches, five marks, five clearances and a goal.
From a personal level having been involved in the club's previous two flags, Josh Caddy struggled to hold his spot in Richmond's best 22, playing just eight games for the season. While sidelined for weeks with calf and hamstring complaints, he lost his position within the team. Marlion Pickett and Kamdyn McIntosh were preferred on the wing, and there was an excess of mid-sized and small forwards. Showed his wares with two goals in the Round 18 win over Adelaide and was a key player in Richmond's scrimmages and main training sessions during the victorious finals series.
The 26-point win over Geelong in round 17 was a highlight, Kane Lambert's two final-quarter goals in the preliminary final was also up there, but could it be anything other than 'Dusty'? Superstar Dustin Martin booted four goals in the Grand Final win to be awarded a historic third Norm Smith Medal.
Forget just 2020, 'kebab-gate' was the club's lowest point in years. Callum Coleman-Jones and Sydney Stack were hit with 10-match suspensions (and the club with a $100,000 fine) after taking an Uber to a non-approved Gold Coast venue and being involved in a fight.
How should they approach list management?
It's going to be a fairly quiet trade period for the Tigers, who were briefly linked to Brad Crouch. Retention is the main focus, but there will be a struggle to keep players who are looking for more senior opportunities. Nathan Broad and Oleg Markov have both been linked to the Suns, but Broad did re-establish himself back in the best 22 by finals, while Jack Higgins' name has also been raised. Looking down the track, the club's key forward depth isn't great, depending on where Coleman-Jones and Ben Miller are best suited.
Early call for 2021
With the club's senior core – Bachar Houli and Shane Edwards (32 years old), Jack Riewoldt (31), Trent Cotchin (30) and David Astbury, Dustin Martin and Dylan Grimes (29) – entering the latter part of their careers, it's time to push for more success.
Third flag in four years equals an instant A+ (a sentence which would have sounded ludicrous in 2016).