In February I wrote here “Dynasties don’t last much longer than this in general, so there’s every prospect of a dip in fortunes at the very least.” Thanks very much Nostradamus. So, you can blame me for the Tiges nosedive in 2021. But like 2017 and 2019, we did not lose in September.
You can also blame me for the huge gaps in TTBB this season. I have struggled for motivation, for time and sometimes for positivity. The team has had some terrible performances, sure. But in the past I think we would have been on here spewing words to dissect these losses and demand Liam McBean come into the side. I didn’t want to think about AFL footy so much this year. But that’s what this site is all about, so please accept my apology that I just wasn’t able to do it at times in 2021.
During lockdowns, and all the other difficulties and limitations the pandemic has imposed; football and sport generally has played an important part in giving people a distraction and something to look forward to. The AFL has been flexible, shipping games here and there, playing in front of low or no crowds, the show must go on. This meant that for some Melbourne footy lovers, the unthinkable happened: their side played in a Grand Final that they were barred from attending. Not just “tickets are scarce” but – you’re barred. And they couldn’t even congregate to watch together because of restrictions on indoor gatherings.
I am not convinced AFL footy should have gone ahead this year. I do not have a persuasive argument for this case; it’s just a feeling that dogged me through the season. I am in Tasmania, where we have only had isolated single Covid cases bob up over the last year. I could go to local footy, with its small crowds. It felt good to be keeping the flame burning for all the people who would have done anything to be able to stand in the wind and rain and yell ‘ballllllll’.
The AFL with its interstate travel and huge payrolls is so much more than a sport. It’s too big to fail. The stock market would actually take a hit if the AFL was cancelled for a year. TV would have panicked as they did when sports started cancelling in 2020. AFL 2021 was always going to crash through no matter what. I was in the privileged position where I could go to a game, watch the Hobart Tigers lose, come home satisfied and just absorb the AFL on the radio or in the paper. Didn’t watch it much.
I don’t know how we’ll do in 2022, or how I’ll feel when round 1 is approaching. Nostradamus needs to go up on the roof and fiddle with the aerial to the crystal ball.
I do want to thank, from the bottom of my heart, David Astbury and Bachar Houli. Two wonderful men that have been ornaments to Richmond Football Club and to the game. Football has given them a platform and a career to this point; I expect we will hear a lot more from them in the years to come.
Bachar has his Foundation and we know he’ll continue to do his amazing community work; which I think of as stitching Muslim Australians into the wider fabric of Australia. David comes across as such a deep thinker, a humanist and an optimist. I hope we will have further opportunities to hear him speak – whatever his public role.Embed from Getty Images