Richmond and the “F” word

by Cheryl Critchley


THE “F” word is rearing its head at Richmond. Not the “F” word we usually yell after yet another miss from point blank range or loss to the Gold Coast Suns: This time it’s “finals”.

After 32 years of frustration and finishing ninth, Tiger fans are daring to dream. Some are even considering cancelling their September holidays, a permanent fixture in most Richmond households.

Since losing the 1982 Grand Final, being free in September has been a near certainty. The Tigers have made the finals twice: 1995 and 2001. No wonder their fans are vocal.

Our record over that period is worse than Fitzroy’s. From 1981-1996, the Lions’ last year as a stand-alone club, they played finals four times. Since 1981 Richmond has made the finals three times.

For a team with such a poor record to maintain a huge supporter base is nothing short of miraculous.

Finally, it seems us long-suffering diehards (and the inevitable bandwagon) are being rewarded with good, solid, consistent footy.

Friday night’s eight point win over St Kilda, following the 62 point thrashing of Hawthorn and close calls against Geelong, West Coast and Essendon, was like Christmas – times ten. Hard wired to accept morale sapping losses in crunch games, Tiger fans were left stunned.

Jack Riewoldt and our midfield have been brilliant. Trent Cotchin, Brett Deledio and Dustin Martin are showing what they can do and a new cult figure has cemented his status.

Ivan Maric has dominated the ruck, upstaged only by his mullet hairdo. Interviewed on SEN last week, big Ivan said the stand-out style was the result of a competition with former Adelaide teammate Taylor Walker.

Maric also said his mullet was here to stay. The good news just keeps coming at Tigerland. But, sadly, it could be too late for some. After a short lifetime of disappointing Richmond games, my nine-year-old boy hates footy.

During our eight goal last quarter against the Hawks, he didn’t look up once. Not even thunderous cries of “yellow and black” could entice him to stand on his seat. “Can we go home now?” was all we got. Oh well, you can’t win ‘em all.

Since the Hawks win, the rest of us Richmond fans have been out in force with some, ever so quietly so as not to jinx their beloved team, uttering the “F” word. And it feels good.

Now that we’ve beaten St Kilda for the first time since 2003, when the aforementioned nine-year-old was two months old, the lid is almost off.

We are daring to dream that an army of Richmond children who have never finals action may just break the duck. My kids are 9, 11 and 13 but have never seen their team play a final. The oldest was two when we last made it in 2001, so remembers nothing.

Hopefully they and other Tiger cubs will soon see that their team is a true sleeping giant. After just two wins in a row we sold out the MCG for the Dreamtime game and Friday night’s was a sell out, drawing almost 50,000 people to Etihad Stadium.

The big question is now: What are we going to do if Richmond does make the finals? We’ll have nothing to whinge about.

My husband has been known to write off seasons after one quarter, like Ben Cousins’ 2009 Richmond debut debacle against Carlton. The sad thing is, he has usually been right.

This time, finally, it feels different.

Cheryl Critchley wrote Our Footy; Real Fans vs Big Bucks and is on twitter: @cherylcritchley.

 

Comments

  1. Stainless says:

    Cheryl

    I agree with everything you’ve written. “Stunned” was my reaction when we twice slipped the St Kilda noose on Friday night. Actually “speechless” would be a better description.

    But….

    Richmond is currently 10th on the ladder and by my reckoning we’ll need to win 13 games (that’s 8 of our last 12) to be sure of making the finals. Even with a favourable draw from hereon, that won’t be easy.

    And even allowing for Carlton’s current slump, there’s no obvious side currently in the Top 8 that looks likely to drop out.

    I love what I’m seeing in this young side but let’s not drop the “F” word for a couple more months yet.

  2. Nice piece Cheryl

    I was talking about Richmond’s surge on Sunday to a mate of mine. He doesn’t really follow footy anymore, but he had also pciked up on the media hype. He then went to look at the ladder and saw that you were 10th, and thought “That’s so Richmond … talking about being back and still being only 10th on the ladder.”

    Anyway, hope he’s wrong and that this isn’t another false dawn. Go Tige’s

  3. brother david says:

    Are Richmond the new Fitzroy in more ways than one? I love watching Richmond win. I love that they have a huge supporter base that scream “yellow and black” in victory. Are Richmond becoming everyone else’s second team as Fitzroy were through the 80s and 90s? Or is that just me.

  4. Cheryl

    Tupperware I say, Tupperware. Let’s keep a lid on it.

    Yes, consectutive wins have been great, but neither side we’ve beaten are top 4 contenders.

    I really want us to get to the stage that wins like this are not greeted with the hype that they have been, that they are expected.

    At this stage, what scares me is that we are equal chances to win each game as we are to lose.

    What we need to do now is cement ourselves as a contender with at least 4 wins in the next 5 weeks of winnable games, and not blow it with complacency, a la the Dons last Saturday night.

    Loving us being up and about though, and think our draw has been criminal so far. How heh Dons must rue the lost years under Knights when they could have had Hardwick. The guy’s been around winners all his career, great choice.

    This will b*gger up the traditional September holidays though which I have confidently been able to book very early in the season for many years. Like your husband, I think I too was on the phone booking beach accomodation up north at half time in the Cousins debut match vs Carlton.

    Yours in Yellow and Black

    Sean

  5. Paul Daffey says:

    Brother David,

    You must be under 35 to think that Richmond could be anyone’s second team.

    You’ll soon learn.

  6. Paul Daffey says:

    PS. Well played, Cheryl.

  7. I’m happy to have Richmond as my second team – as long as they don’t win a flag before the ‘Dogs.

  8. Cheryl Critchley says:

    Hey guys,
    We want you to hate us! That is what is so sad about the Richmond of the past 30 years. People actually feel sorry for us. We loved it when we were hated as much as Collingwood cos other teams feared the Mighty Tiger. Let’s hope we can return to those glory days before my kids are lost to footy completely :-)

  9. Cheryl – nice one. But don’t go off too early. I heard a Collingwood supporter on talk back discussing Malthouse’s and Buckley’s “dynasty” at the Pies. So far they’ve only won one flag in the “dynasty”. Could he be going off a touch early?

    Good luck to the Tigers. They’re my equal second favourite team with the other 16 collections of rabble.

  10. Cheryl Critchley says:

    Hey Dips we’d be calling it a dynasty if Richmond PLAYED IN ONE FINALS MATCH!!! Just quietly though, we are keeping a lid on it. I still don’t relax until we’re 10 goals in front with 10 seconds to go…

  11. Rick Kane says:

    Good piece Cheryl. Are you sure your son isn’t a Hawks fan because that exactly how I behaved and what I said at the G that same day.

    Cheers

  12. Cheryl Critchley says:

    Unfortunately Rick he just hates footy, full stop. He doesn’t care about any team!! My dad has tried to convert him to Hawthorn but he’s like an atheist that won’t be taken in by any religion.

  13. Cheryl and Rick

    My grumpy Hawk loving 12 year old son said the same thing, with 10 minutes to go in the last quarter, after having thrown his Hawks scarf to the ground in disgust.

    Made me leave early he was so cross and upset, listened to the siren and song in the car driving down Swan Street.

    Sean

  14. Cheryl Critchley says:

    He should try following Richmond for a while :-). But hopefully those days are behind us…

  15. Phantom says:

    Is being a Hawks fan some type of eternal punishment?

  16. Rick Kane says:

    Now, now Mr Phantom, that was not necessary. I’m not sure if you are fueled by the great weekend you curated for fellow Almanacers (I would have loved to have joined you) or the first tingles of a sense that the Cats are rising but you haven’t been this daringly cheeky for a while. I’m watching you.

    Cheers

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