Tiger Spirit Animal was alive and kicking at the meritorious Mecca

I remember the very moment when I decided Richmond Footy Club were serious finals contenders. It was during the final week of July leading up to the Round 19 games. Since I do not have Foxtel my younger brother Richard invited me over on Saturday afternoon to watch the double-header Gold Coast Suns v Richmond Tigers game followed by the Port Adelaide v St Kilda clash. By this stage, I felt that the Saints had squandered their chances of playing off in the finals so I wanted to support my younger brother and put some of my creative energy behind the Tigers to spur them on. I chose to make him a cushion but with a very special tiger, the relatively rare White Tiger.

 

The Tiger cushion I made especially for my younger brother Richard aka Richo as a good luck gift for his beloved Richmond to make it into the Finals.

I recalled reading the 2008 40th Man Booker Prize-winning book The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga which told the story of Balram Halwaias, a low caste rickshaw driver’s son, who triumphantly climbs India’s social hierarchy to become a chauffeur and then eventually a successful entrepreneur. The protagonist and narrator of the book, Balram is a common man but adopts the alias of ‘white tiger’, thus author Adiga chooses to portray him as unique. For me, the white tiger perfectly represented Dustin Martin, Damien Hardwick and the Richmond Tigers Season 2017 team to a “t”.

As Elena Harris, SpiritAnimal.info Editor says, “In the kingdom of spirit animal, the tiger puts a special emphasis on raw feelings and emotions. The tiger spirit animal symbolizes primal instincts, unpredictability, and ability to trust yourself. By affinity with this spirit animal, you may enjoy dealing with life matters spontaneously, trusting your intuition and acting fast when needed.” In this fashion, Elena indicates the primary meaning of the tiger spirit animal is willpower, personal strength and courage when faced with the unpredictability of life events and human emotions. Her description of the spirit animal spoke volumes to me about the maturity and capabilities of Richmond FC this year. But I wondered if the Tigers could harness enough strength and courage to affect enough change to turnaround the unlucky fortunes of the club thus I made a cushion for my brother ‘Richo’ specifically with the white tiger design.

 

The white tiger spirit animal Photo source: SpiritualAnimal.Info website

It worked a charm. Richmond 14.14 (98) defeated Gold Coast 10.5 (65), while in the latter game – in the last seven seconds – Port Adelaide 9.9 (63) devastatingly defeated St Kilda 8.13 (61).

In Round 16 St Kilda hosted the second Maddie’s Match at Etihad Stadium and successfully annihilated Richmond by 57 points; however the tables were turned in Round 23 with the Tigers victorious by 41 points over the Saints. This was an emotional game for me and fellow diehard Saints fans as we farewelled Nick Riewoldt after his remarkable 17 year illustrious AFL career playing solely with St Kilda FC. Richmond beating us in the final game of the home and away season saw them finish third on the ladder and they marched triumphantly into the Qualifying Final against Geelong two weeks later.

It was at this point that I officially boarded the Tigger train with a monthly pass for which I may, or may not, receive full value. Turns out the Tigers went all the way by first beating the Cats on the Friday night and subsequently the Giants in the Qualifying Final making it through effortlessly to the Grand Final thus exceeding both my expectations and that of many keen footy fans.

I should at this point explain why such an avid Saints fan came to truly embrace Damien Hardwick’s men in the AFL Finals campaign. My younger brother Richo barracks for Tigers, as does my dear friend of 19 years, Rob – and I wanted to support them both as I know how much they have suffered over the last three decades. My allegiance was further strengthened by the fact that during my years working in commercial radio I came to know Graeme Bond and Rex Hunt, both of whom were fortunate enough to have played in the 1969 Richmond FC Premiership team. Plus there was also Robert Walls who played in Carlton’s 1968 Premiership team and later coached Richmond from 1996 -1997. To this day I remain friends with Bondy and felt immensely proud watching him being honoured by Richmond as their ‘Coming Home Hero’ at the Tigers v Saints game at the MCG last year. More than anything I really wanted Graeme to attend a winning Grand Final with his daughter Cassie and darling granddaughter Illy.

My plan for Grand Final Day was to watch the Adelaide v Richmond Grand Final with my rabid Tiger mate Rob, on the big screen at the spiritual heartland of Richmond Football Club, Punt Road Oval. But when the actual day came around Rob was so nervous about the game he suggested we keep in touch during the first quarter to see how the game panned out before making the trip to the ground to digest it with all the Tiger fans. Fortunately Rob lives in Richmond, and I live nearby in South Yarra, so at about twenty minutes into the second quarter we both made the call and raced to meet each other at Punt Road Oval to watch the second half. It was such an adrenalin rush as I raced up Punt Road to meet Rob. We greeted each other excitedly, remarking that we truly thought the Tiges could cause some serious damage. For the first time, in so very long, both as loyal supporters of underdog teams, Rob and I trusted our intuition and we were spot on! That third quarter was unbelievable with the Tiges running rampant with an avalanche of five goals straight, two of which were booted by impressive 19-year-old Jack Graham playing in just his fifth-ever AFL career game.

The game was undoubtedly sealed in that third term with the final quarter merely going through the motions and discovering just how convincingly Richmond would ravage the ailing Adelaide Crows team. In the end, it was a 48 point win which emphatically ended the Tiger’s 37 year Premiership drought. Not surprisingly Dustin Martin was awarded the Norm Smith Medal, even though I think Bachar Houli was possibly robbed as he defiantly demolished the Crows in the first half and continued through with his rollick throughout the third and most significantly in the final fourth quarter. Either way, there’s no disputing the fact that the yellow and black tribe were as proud as punch with their team’s astonishing performance on this historic last Saturday day in September and were roaring well into the wee hours of the morning around Richmond town.

Luckily for me, I was invited along to soak up all the atmosphere and that I certainly did!

 

 

L-R Rob, Ian, me and Graham. We were a jubilant tribe at Demitri’s Feast, Swan Street, Richmond

 

There were 5 Herald Sun Premiership posters on the wall at Demitri’s Feast when we first arrived. By the time we left the ‘Don’t Argue’ version had adorned the wall!

 

 


Souvlakis were the compulsory fare for Tiger fans at Table No. 4 at Hollywood Palace.

 

 

 

 

About Jennifer Muirden

Jennifer Muirden has been a keen St Kilda supporter since 1978 and fondly remembers her childhood Saturdays spent at Linton Street, Moorabbin. In her lifetime she hopes to experience the Saints second Premiership.

Comments

  1. Peter Warrington says:

    great stuff. you should stay on the Tiggy Train!

  2. Jennifer Muirden says:

    Thanks for your kind words Pete… but I’m afraid I will never be a full-time passenger on the Tiggy Train as the Fortius Quo Fidelius motto/mantra pumps passionately through my veins !

  3. Robyn Wootton says:

    Glad to hear that there’ll be no defection! Love the article too and your new cover photo. ?

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