AFL Grand Final – Adelaide v Richmond: Tiger Fever in Osaka

Saturday, 30 September 2017
Melbourne Cricket Ground


Osaka is home of the Hanshin Tigers, a Japanese baseball team. In 1985, when they won the Japanese series (the campion matches), their supporters throw a Kernel Thunder toy of KFC into Dotonbori River in Osaka and some Tigers fans dived into the river.


Some footy fans turned up Coolabah at midday as well as did I. We had to wait 30 minutes for the door open, and started chatting. Introducing ourselves, discussing who will win and storytelling of their holiday here in Japan.


A Bomber was wearing a Hanshin Tigers jersey instead of Richmond guernsey that his brother in law was wearing. Not only he but other patrons turned up with baseball jersey.


A Richmond girl had been not sure if her Tigers would play Grand Final or not, so only brought a Richmond scarf. Her Bulldog friend also wore the baseball jersey while her Saints friend was wearing a Tokyo t-shirt.


The funniest patron was a Hawthorn supporter who was wearing the Hawks singlet underneath the baseball jersey. Some other footy fans including me were wearing their clubs’ polo shirts. Plus I was wearing a St Kilda cap as my identity.


Not so many Crows supporters turned up at Coolabah. The Osaka’s number one footy pub had Tigers fever as if the baseball Tigers are playing Japan Series. Probably with more passions – Australians’ passions of sports are bigger than Japanese people.


Surprisingly or not, three footy supporters from both clubs took their Japanese wives to the pub. Japanese support their Australian husband’s club.

The pub was packed as the biggest footy match was on.

Richmond had a slow start and Jack Riewoldt missed three opportunities to score goals. The minority at the pub was happy.

Meanwhile a young fella talked to me asking if I knew his dad or not. I asked him what his dad’s name was, although I was able to predict. I got his name and told him I knew him. He was the mate whom I thought would be in the previous Saturday for the match against GWS. He even messaged me asking me if I saw his son or not.

When Crows dominated footy, the pub was not so loud, even some neutral supporters clapped hands and roared.

Andy, the owner of Coolabah, asked patrons to close the door when it opened, to prevent from noise spreading outside the pub. We were in Australia at the time. I like being in the western world in Japan because I feel more comfortable and am relaxed and can be myself more.

Adelaide led by 10 points at the first break. My prediction for the first quarter as Richmond by six points was wrong.

Tiger Time started at the second quarter. Dusty tried hard as always and other Tigers took advantages of playing at MCG. Good handball and kicking skills were reflections of roaring Tigers.


When Tigers dominated and scored goals, Andy hit the bar counter showing passions and we patrons roared.. High fives were exchanged. I have done with the Tiger girl with the baseball jersey and her friends and other guys around me.


Unlikely to the last time I was at the Grand Final party two years ago, no Japanese cheer leader show was performed at half time. Girls turned up while the game was on but didn’t watch at all and then performed. They left after the performance.


It’s good that we had time to discuss the game rather than seeing such entertainment performed by girls who have no interest in footy. I needed fresh air, so was outside talking to some fellow Aussie patrons.

AFL should adopt our ways to spend half time. Spectators should be given time to discuss footy at half time. No entertainment is needed.


Tigers roared more and more at the last half. Dusty, Rioli and Houli were leading the game. Sadly I can’t remember who were other hero Tiger as I don’t know much about their play list. Indeed the Tiger fevers at Coolabah were getting bigger and louder time by time.


But Richmond supporters got nervous and I got emotional. I was so emotional to see a struggling club were succeeding as I have been struggling with enjoying my life and have not blossomed much in profession. And I sensed I felt jealous to the Richmond Football Club.


In the last two minutes, Damian Hardwick came down to the bench embracing players and coaches, like did Luke Beveridge and Bob Murphy last year.


Final siren sounded and Tigers broke their 37-year premiership draught. We shook hands, hugged and sang ‘Oh we’re from Tigerland.’


My mate asked me who I thought to win the Norm Smith Medal. I replied Dustin Martin and he disagreed.


My prediction hit the bingo and he was shocked because he thought Dusty didn’t perform well at Grand Final.


After seeing premiership handed to players and the Norm Smith Medal presented by James Hird, following my thoughts came up and revealed to other patrons.

The Western Bulldogs (Footscray) did last year.
Richmond won today.
Why not St Kilda next year?

Some people said, “Oh, Carlton might do.”
I replied, “Blues haven’t won the flag only for 22 years. St Kilda haven’t for 51 years. It’s our turn!”


Outside the bar, we talked again and I hugged two Richmond supporters with congratulating.

A Tiger, a fellow Sainter and I had dinner together at a Japanese fast food restaurant on the Main Street. Then we hit an Irish pub called Murphy’s on the other side of the street.


Some footy fans who watched at Coolabah had drinks there too. When I walked towards the loo, another Tiger talked to me and we hugged.


Then some people started singing “We are the navy blues, we are the old dark navy blues,” and I joined. Then Mitchell and I sang “Oh when the Saints go marching in.”


After Murphy’s, we had snacks at a convenience store and Mitchell left for his hostel.


David and I hit another Irish pub and talked to a Hawthorn supporter who has been living in Japan for five years. He said he knew me but seemed narcissistic. He is married but came to the pub on his own.


We went back to Coolabah afterwards, but the pub went back to an ordinary Saturday. No big footy party was held.


I can’t wait seeing Saints marching in at the end of the footy season. I hope 2018 will be the year of the Saints.


ADELAIDE 4.1 4.7 5.10 8.12 (60)
RICHMOND 2.3 6.4 11.8 16.12 (108)


Adelaide: Sloane 2, Walker 2, Betts, Greenwood, B. Crouch, Cameron
Richmond: Graham 3, Townsend 2, Martin 2, Riewoldt 2, Caddy, Houli, Grigg, Lambert, Castagna, Riewoldt, Prestia, Butler

Adelaide: M. Crouch, Jacobs, B. Crouch, Sloane, Laird
Richmond: Martin, Rance, Houli, Astbury, Prestia, Edwards, Graham, Grimes

Umpires: Stevic, Meredith, Ryan

Official crowd: 100,021


More 2017 Grand Final coverage here.

About Yoshihiro Imagawa

Love, passion and pride are seen on the footy that is the biggest part of my life. 1. St Kilda Club member: I am a passionate and crazy Sainter. Just hope we will win the second flag soon, especially after Dogs and Tigers having ended long premiership draughts. 2. The Osaka Dingoes Player and Public Relations Officer: Player number 44 that I chose to honour Stephen Milne with my wish being like a small forward like him. Lenny Hayes' hardworking attitudes are adopted on my trainings and practices. Nick Riewoldt's great plays are in my player audiobook too. 3. Writing: Here on the Almanac and also on the World Footy News. My skills utilise on great footy websites.


  1. John Butler says

    Good stuff Yoshi.

    After the last couple of years, why not the Saints?


  2. Joe De Petro says

    Yep, Yoshi, good luck for the Saints next year. They deserve it as well.

    Any year where fans can celebrate in large numbers is a good year.

  3. Thanks for your warm wishes for my Saints, John and Joe!! Sorry for the late respond. I hope we Sainters are having a big party in 2018!!

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