My first feeling after the siren in 2017 was: peeved. I can’t really explain it – I had expected Adelaide to win. That’s a pissweak explanation but I have never thought of a better one.
We were visiting Tiger mates in Launceston for the occasion. We had the whole last quarter to soak up the idea that we were going to win. But for me it didn’t happen. After the siren I sent silly terse responses to congratulatory texts, and refused to sit and watch the TV with our hosts as the usual muppets like Eddie sat behind their desk and mouthed platitudes about my club. I insisted Marcus come and kick the footy with me in the gathering dark while I tried to work out what it all meant.
As days went by and Richmond were still premiers, it started to really dawn on me that the drought was over, and happiness set in. I did my bumper sticker design, everyone loved it, and by then the 2017 premiership was a landmark in my life.
Obviously it wasn’t a long wait for the 2019 premiership, but in a way it has felt like an eternity. In August 2018 it felt like we would not only win that one but every flag for the forseeable future. I had another think coming.
This season has been marvellous. No-one wants to see injuries, especially to senior players that disrupt the whole team plan for the season – but how well did we manage it? How seamlessly did every single replacement fit in? Ross, CCJ, Egg, Balta, Marbs.
25 games from big Tom.
Stacky! Marlion Picket!! They don’t call it Punt Road for nothing.
How impressive were our senior men like Dylan and Sheds and Caddy and Bachar and Dusty and Jack in learning new roles, finding an extra gear, shrugging off their own niggles?
Leading up to the Grand Final one after another I heard players say as Cotch did: it will be nice to win another flag, but… we are building something here and that’s what we are really proud of. This kind of process-not-results talk is very common but rarely is it as convincing and authentic.
It didn’t convince me, and that’s because I was already thinking the same way. I don’t attend any finals; so Grand Final day was going to be very similar for me whoever was playing. Might watch it, or might not (like 2018 when I chopped a lot of firewood). Tiges turned it on in the 2nd half and got over Geelong – into the granny. Nice.
Usually we have dinner with Mum and Dad on Saturdays. I organised for them to come to lunch instead with the idea that I would wave them off at the gate, then hunker down in front of the TV with Tiger Marcus and no other distractions.
The folks decided to stay for the first quarter. And also my wife’s sister and family announced they were going to come by to watch it with me (a lukewarm Collingwood fan, a North Melb fan who can probably name twenty players on their list, my niece who will spend the game on her phone, and a yappy small dog). I forgot to set the TV to record it. All sub-optimal.
I’ll talk about the game itself in another post. We kicked 17 goals to 3.
I felt really weird after. I didn’t want to be with other Tigers, didn’t want to talk or read about the game, couldn’t watch a replay, bought a Sunday Age for posterity only. Thoughts that went through my mind;
- Take a complete year off from AFL footy
- Leave TTBB
- Delete my Twitter account (which is very Richmond-focussed all year round).
- Take down my footy designs on Redbubble, swerve the responsibility of doing a 2019 premiership design, and forego the income for myself and the club-endorsed charities that did well out of it in 2017.
Why did I feel like this again? I might have an answer and its bloody obvious. I think it’s missing out. It’s missing the fun, missing being there.
We attended round 23, 2013, when we sealed a first finals spot for 18 years. And I felt like I didn’t need to join the chase for finals tickets; I was happy enough to just know we were there. And it turned out to be a crushing experience anyway for those in attendance.
Since then I have stuck to my approach; I leave the finals tickets for people who have attended through thick and thin over the years. So I missed three losing elimination finals, then I missed three glorious wins, then a solid hiding handed to Hawthorn, a shocker against Collingwood, two fighting come-from behind wins over Brisbane and Geelong, then this spanking of the Giants. I have missed all of that, and been happy to avoid the anxiety, drama and expense, and the social overload of all the online Tigers I know who’ll be there.
But that approach ends now. Next time Richmond makes the finals, whenever that is, I am going to embrace the anxiety, the chaos and all my fellow Tigers. I am coming to Melbourne.
These are all my favourite photos from the day. Hats off to the photographers. Australian Football is pretty poorly served by administrators, commentators, journalists and whatever Sam Newman is – but what a wonderful lot of snappers we’ve got.Embed from Getty Images Embed from Getty Images Embed from Getty Images Embed from Getty Images Embed from Getty Images Embed from Getty Images Embed from Getty Images Embed from Getty Images Embed from Getty Images Embed from Getty Images Embed from Getty Images Embed from Getty Images