Surviving as a modern-day Richmond supporter: a user’s guide

by Julia Harrison

“If there’s a God he’s laughing at us and our football teams” As a 16 year old fan of Richmond, this Ben Folds lyric rings uncomfortably true. In the 10 years I have been aware of my family-bound allegiance to the club, the 8 I have attended matches and the 5 I have been a truly involved and concerned supporter, the Tiges have managed to reach the finals only once, in 2001. The ten premierships the club boasts occurred long before my time, the team having last held the trophy aloft when my Dad was fresh out of high school and still relatively in shape and in possession of a full head of non-graying hair. Richmond’s decades of mediocrity caused a break in tradition of kin with my Grandfather switching his support to Melbourne FC shortly after the turn of the century. The seriousness of the situation at hand is not to be underestimated.

There are several coping mechanisms I have used, particularly in recent times, in order to avoid resorting to extreme measures. By extreme measures I am of course referring to forsaking the beloved Tiges and declaring the club a taboo topic, dead to me, not criminal acts such as attacking unassuming punters with coffee thermos’ or footy records or torching certain coaches’ homes. The first practice was taught by my father and is easily explained; the ten goal rule involves leaving the stadium or turning off the television when the opposing team is 60 points up. This rule is only set into place in the second half of the match, as it is hoped than in the second and (shall I even write it?) first quarters a comeback is possible. By leaving when the ten goal margin is reached, you can avoid witnessing a total smashing, preserve what is left of your voice and dignity and steer clear of the depressing waddle out of the stadium amidst a sea of obnoxious club-song singing fans of more successful and talented teams.

Blame is another helpful tactic, and the supply of blame-ees is plentiful to say the least. Umpires are a given, regardless of the team you support. Terry Wallace’s 3 and a half year term as coach supplied a bevy of excuses for why Richmond wasn’t a premiership, or even a finals, club. Fumbling players were another fallback and the great footballers a reason to cling to hope. Doubtlessly, Richo was a legend. I missed him before he left.

Then there are the novelties – a great distraction from the expletive-inducing football being played on field. Jake King is a family favourite. Now deemed to have reached full height at 5 feet 5 inches tall I am about head to head with King, the only hobbit ever to participate in professional sport. Next up is Ben Cousins. He may seem an easy target, what with the drug scandals, prostitutes and massive tattoo across his abdomen of Ned Kelly’s mantra, but compound these factors with bitterness felt at his underwhelming performance subsequent to being picked up last minute as a 2008 draft and you have grounds for vicious exploitation of his many mistakes. Jordan McMahon and his Jack Sparrow-esque mustache, Deledio’s ever-changing hairstyle and the agreeability of Richard Tambling’s last name to the yell (almost making up for how frequently it is required to be yelled) are inclusive in the list of Richmond’s characters who make game going tolerable despite the rarity of a win.

Though I don’t suppose it provides much comfort for the straight male or entirely sports orientated Tigers’ supporters, the masses of cuties that have been and currently are listed at Richmond FC lifts my spirits when Tambling shanks the ball. Unable to argue when the team’s lack of skill is brought up, I will defend to the death the Tiges’ aesthetic appeal. Fear not Deledio; your hours preening have not been in vain. A prime example of Richmond’s lookers was Cleve Hughes. The Clevester’s assets included rippling muscles, shown off to their golden perfection in his Richmond guernsey, clear blue eyes and a cheeky grin but unfortunately no noticeable talents as a centre half forward. Today, after being delisted following the 2008 season, he plays for the QAFL and models, a career choice I’m sure pleases several more Richmond fans other than myself. Current eye-candy includes Trent Cotchin, Daniel Jackson, bad boy Cousins and the Deledio, the one true owner of my heart.

Despite the unkind nature of the previous paragraphs, berating the shortcomings of the Tigers, I owe much to Richmond Football Club and AFL in general. Richmond brings together my otherwise disunited, busy family. Hard-working dad, girl chasing, tennis dedicated brother, the extended family I see only at Christmas from my father’s side, my Godfather and his children – the love of the game dissolves all our differences when we gather at the ‘G, or Etihad, or squished on the couch slapping armrests at each missed mark and poorly delivered kick. Football connects us as Australians and gives us a common interest, a topic to complain about defiant of age and gender. Even if the rest of my father’s or the rest of my lifetime is lived out without another finals entry I will have only the fondest memories of supporting the mighty Tiges.

Comments

  1. Danielle says:

    Hey Julia, great piece :)
    It’s also great to see another teenage female on here :)
    Girl power all the way.

    Danni

  2. Steve Healy says:

    Yes, good piece Julia. I’m more concerned about the fact that we have another Richmond supporter. By the way, I go for the Dees

  3. Gday Julia,

    Really good read. I suspect I qualify one of those “straight, male, entirely sports-oriented Tiger supporters” that you speak of. Well, not far off anyway.

    Don’t listen to what Steve says, there’s no such thing as too many Tiger fans. Can’t believe you left Relton Roberts off the eye-candy list!

  4. Hi Julia,
    Nice to see another teen on here and great piece.
    I’m a Richmond supporter too, a passionate one who has experienced 16 years of failure as well.
    Dont worry, we’re on the up!

    Go tiges!

  5. Danni – Read your bit on Collingwood’s win against the Saints the other day and very much appreciated the passion, particularly the Tom Cruise couch jumping analogy. Teenage female footy fanatics unite!
    Steve – Thanks. I will chose not to respond to the second part of your comment haha
    Adam – Thanks, good to see another Tiges supporter! After I sent it in I noticed various mistakes in the ‘hotties’ paragraph, including the criminal overlooking of Roberts, Dean Polo and Capt. Newman
    Dom – Good to see some people of a similar age. Hope you’re right about Richmond being on the up, though Sunday’s dismal performance was discouraging

  6. Steve Healy says:

    Thanks Julia, by the way I am also your age, are you in Year 10? There are a few young almanackers here and we are all very close.

  7. Close, Year 11 :)

  8. Danielle says:

    Thanks Julz :)
    yeah dont u love footy players?
    such SPUNKS! :)
    Obviously u know im a Magpie, im also 18 years old and in year 12.
    keep an eye out for my entry comming up where i have rated each player of each club out of 10 for hotness.
    Cousins is the only one with the perfect 10.

    Danni

  9. Each player of each club Danni? Surely you can’t be serious? You are aware there is over 700 AFL players? Oh well, it’s your funeral :P

    By the way I’m 18 and in Year 12 too.

  10. Tony Robb says:

    Great piece Julia,
    You forgot the mention the best part of being a Tiger fan. You occasionaly get to sing the best song in the comp. When I was a liitle younger than you, I was fortunate enough to go into the rooms before the 74’GF. I wonder if they still have the tiger skin on the wall these days. Keep up the good work “youngsters” but be careful what you wish for particularly if its a footballer lol.
    cheers
    Tony

  11. Great stuff Julia, just want to echo what the other teens have said already, great to see another young’n on here.

    I’m going on 16 next month, and support the mighty Roos. Bet you enjoyed the game last Sunday. I sure did.

    Daniel Jackson recently went to my school along with many other Richmond players (King, Cotchin, Collins etc.) in northern Victoria, and many girls (students and teachers) were quite awestruck by him. Jake King, on the other hand, no one seemed to notice him.

    Sure, it’s been a terrible past few years to be a Richmond supporter, a Melbourne supporter, a Freo supporter etc. but I think at the moment, it’s the most exciting club to barrack for.

  12. Tony Robb says:

    Josh,
    you didnt respond to my offer of the autographed Roos jumper. If you want one send me your address by email and Ill ship one off
    TR

  13. Its fair to say that the Cats have been the major source of the pain Tigers fans have felt over the past 20 years.

    And I cannot lie; I have enjoyed many of those games immensely, especially when Gary Ablett Snr ran amok. I remember both Cats and Tigers fans alike just shake their heads and laugh at some of the things he did.

    But I’m genuinely excited for and about the Tigers at the moment.

    It’s important for the nature of the game and for the benefit of the fans that the Tiges, Essendon, and Melbourne hold firm and continue to play fast, attacking footy because they will get better with time. Supporters just need to be patient and…well…supportive.

    Heaven forbid that we get more teams playing the StKilda way.

    PS. Tigers certainly do have the best team song.

  14. Tony,

    I commented back on my North v Richmond report.

    What is your email address? I don’t think I have it..

  15. Lovely article Julia – it’s VERY well written.

    It’s great Richmond have some passionate representation on this site – they’re my second team and I love them to bits. As a Geelong supporter, I know something about the pain of going for a team that many say – if you’ll excuse the expression – “suck”. But look how it’s turned out for me! Hopefully something similarly satisfying is just around the corner for the Tigers under Coach Hardwick. That being said, it took us 8 or 9 years to win our first, but we were NEARLY there after 4 or 5 years.

    I’m out of the teenager category (as of a couple of months ago) but like Danni said – always great for us to have more support!

  16. I’m in strong agreement that Richmond do have the best song, Tony and Pete. Despite being supportive of the team and happy with your optimistic view Pete I’m going to forgo the Tigers v. Pies match tomorrow out of self preservation…
    Thanks so much for the compliment Susie, I also hope some satisfication is near for the Tiges!

  17. Not entirely happy with Hardwick’s changes for the Collingwood match – I’d prefer to see Dave Gourdis make his debut in place of Polo.

    I’m wondering what will be higher – the number of goals Jack Riewoldt kicks or the number of weeks Jake King gets suspended for after the match.
    Since King has a VERY antagonistic relationship with the Pie players and Riewoldt will probably be matched up on Presti, I’m suspecting it might be the latter.

  18. You think Presti will keep Riewoldt in check? I reckon Jack might kick 6 or 7 tomorrow if he gets adequate amount of the ball.

  19. My pessimist in me says that Riewoldt will be kept in check eventually, and if anyone can, it’s Presti. Better hope that doesn’t happen though!

  20. Oh and someone asked Jake King when he was at my school if he was going to start any of the Collingwood players again (I think it was Jeff who asked) and King said he didn’t want another hole in his wallet.

    Don’t think you can take his word for it though.

Leave a Comment

*