If this is fool’s gold, then let us all be fools.
For another week, let us rejoice in what it means to be Richmond when the Tiger roars. Let them all be jealous of what we have. We may not be champions, but we have again found our pride, and this is all we ask for, all we need.
May this run of victories never end, may this fairy tale never cease. May the whole city know of what a tease our team is; how it can break our heart then just as easily piece it together again.
It’s not easy, being a Tiger, but it is true and it is raw and it is real and it is the only way we know how.
If any of us doubted, then forgive us. We believe, again. The love, it’s returned.
I stepped from the snows, from seven days in Tasmania looking for its mythical tiger, and heard the news.
I had walked into the wilderness not knowing the fate of Reece Conca. I returned, full of doubt, soothed by the sweetest victory of them all. The Tigers by 18! We won! We beat Essendon! On a Friday night, at the MCG!
Oh, how I would have loved to have been there, to hear the roar, to see the scenes, to sing the song.
Still, as with the Dreamtime game against Essendon, I have not seen the replay. I want this win to live long in the imagination. I want this game to hold on to its wondering. I want to shape this victory, fashion it like a dream.
In my mind, Troy Chaplin, who started the season so wretchedly, continues his resurgent form (how good was he in the wet, mopping up at the back, against West Coast?). In my mind, Shane Edwards sparkles with his livewire touches; Big Griff takes telling grabs and breaks lines with his long kicking; Jake Batchelor rag dolls opponents with his tackles; Anthony Miles racks up contested possessions; and Brett Deledio lights up the night sky, as only he can.
In my mind, Jack is imperious, and Brandon Ellis is fearless, and Alex Rance is brave and Dusty is unstoppable.
In my mind, it is a win that becomes a benchmark; for what is possible, for what can be achieved, for what the future holds.
So I stepped from the wilds, from long days of walking in snow, to be reunited with my mobile phone, and found this message from my partner:
“Oh, the tigers. My love. I can’t believe you missed it. Such a great game. I can’t believe they won, there were so many moments when momentum swung the other way and every tigers supporter expected the pulverisation to follow. Credit to Hardwick — he had Vlastuin as the sub, which was a brilliant idea — he came on just as Thomas really needed to go off (or perhaps Morris, who’d made one really terrible error) — and brought his solid form through the middle where it was needed. Especially valuable in the fourth when Essendon stacked things up forward in the hope of scoring whenever they moved it down their end. Everything just kind of worked – Griffiths had one spectacular quarter, and a good game; Gordon was wonderful; Edwards got two important goals. Jack was able to break away from his defender, finally, in the fourth, and do what he does best. Maric was terrific. Lids too. I can’t wait to watch it again. When I woke this morning, it was one of those foggy starts when you can’t even remember what day it is, and consciousness slowly came with the reminder that yesterday was Friday, I’d ended the day watching the footy and my team had won, and this reassuring sense of well being enveloped me. Now I get it, after all these years together. On that, I realise I haven’t read any of the commentary yet. I’m off! Might even watch Dimma’s presser.”
On returning to Launceston, to mobile reception, I sent a tweet, three days after the fact: “WE WON!!!! You beauty, Tiges!” In the replies, there is all I need to know about the game. I want to see it through the eyes of others. I want to savour in the beauty of it all.
@loumur81 (Lou Murray): It was awesome. I almost cried with happiness!
@Harris_Chas (Andy): The passion was back at the final siren!! Bloody ripper. Done a bit of trekking thru Tassie myself, too.
@sb1193 (Sarah Black): Best was when Ivan was kicking after the final siren and a trainer was alone in the middle throwing bottles of powerade in the air
@sb1193 (Sarah Black): Showed the real human element of a steadily more corporatized and poker face, cliché-driven industry
@Sarah_C_Rae (Sarah Rae): such a satisfying win over the dons (finally!) – at 2 mins to go I started inexplicably thumping the arm of our couch lol
@Sarah_C_Rae (Sarah Rae): loved seeing Dimma’s joy as he reached the players on the ground after the siren too. Much deserved.
In Launceston, on Tuesday, I called my father. He is a Bombers man and was at the game, as he always is. It was his birthday. I had thought about him on the walk. Dad goes to every Essendon game he can get to, and is an ardent member also of Melbourne Storm. His ideal dinner party companions would be Paddy Ryder, and Billy Slater.
Dad told me recently how, with his loyal football companion, Les, they had gone to a members’ function for the Melbourne Storm armed with letters. The two of them had thought they are too old for autographs. What they did instead was write a letter to their favourite players, and hand it to them.
This is what I would like to do, also.
Next week I will write an open letter to Bachar Houli. It will be on everything about Bachar that I have liked and admired. If any readers have any photos or comments they would like to add, please email them to me.
Thanks to all who’ve contacted me about TTBB’s ‘Tiger’ fundraising t-shirts. I will reply to emails later this week, and arrange payment/delivery details. Both Chris and I appreciate the support. A box of ‘Tiger’ hoodies has arrived. I will post details next week. Please keep spreading the word, we’ve a few more tees that need selling, and then I need to offload 20 ‘Tiger’ hoodies!
My last word on last Friday night’s game goes to Andy Fuller, who in his Tiger Abroad column on TTBB wrote this:
“But my moment of the match came a few seconds after Ivan had marked Ben’s long kick into the forward line during the game’s dying moments. Ivan lined up; the siren sounded –the crowd roared, roared, roared. And Ivan – did not blink. No smile, no relief, no nothing. The man was looking in between the goals: that is where I shall send the ball. And goal he did. No concentration lost by that booming projection announcing the Tiges as victors. Ivan the Maric. And the team swamped him. This was a win for the Believers. Ivan believed in the Tiges when he no doubt told the Team that they could be better. Ivan believed that the Team could respond to criticism; to take it on board and then improve and improve some more. Ivan leads by example and the Team follows. This was the Beautiful Game.”
Now it’s time to go watch this game.
Tiger tiger burning bright