Almanac Footy: From the Arctic to a Grand Final at the Gabba, who would have thought?

So the mighty Tigers are in the big dance and I have gotten the chance to go and celebrate a Grand Final, a mere mild and quick 7 minute bus ride from my home in the heart of Sunny Brisbane to the home of Footy for this year, which is the Brisbane Cricket Ground at the mighty Woolloongabba.


On Tuesday morning this week after 7 minutes of unbelievable nervous pain as I waited to see, if (through the wonders of technology) I could lay  claim to the ultimate Holy Grail moment, of being able to receive the golden tickets,  of realising the dream of seeing my Tigers team ON GRAND FINAL day in Brisbane. I watched nervously like a cat stalking its feeble unwitting prey as the numbers on my device (the dreaded ticket queue indicator) started to drop (I started at 5449 in the queue) knowing there about 11000 tickets to lay claim to  and then 7 minutes in BINGO , I was there …  three clicks of a mouse later, I was arranging payment for two tickets UNBELEIVABLE – whether they win or lose this is a moment of a lifetime that will not happen again in the year without precedent that is called 2020.


Who would have thought that I would be celebrating the last Grand Final day back in 2019 safe in the knowledge of sleeping most of the Saturday local time knowing that the Tigers had already slayed the Giants? Of having the incredible satisfaction of walking out of a house (that had had mercifully satellite television including the mighty TSN 2) at three in the morning that Saturday to take in the glory that was the Aurora Borealis in its glory after entertaining bemused Canadians having no idea of the rules of holding the ball. Lets face it, who does?


At the beginning of this 2020 season back in March I was celebrating a hard fought win against the Blues in the heart of the Canadian Arctic at three o’clock in the morning on a Thursday, proudly posing in my mighty yellow and Black jumper in front of the meeting house of the elders in the little indigenous community under the mesmerising hypnotic  iridescent glow of the wonderful Northern lights. As I took those photos, I was aware that I would miss a fair chunk of the season and if I was lucky, I would see my team at Carrara sometime in July. Just how wrong was I to think that way.


Well as we now know world events intervened and within a matter of days I was winging my way back to the Wide Brown land across a broad Pacific looking down at the lights of Hawaii from 47 000 ft  – not knowing what the future held, only to be safe in the knowledge that a minimum 14 day Quarantine in Sydney awaited. Of which during which my stay in Marriott not far from Circular Quay (not normally having Fox at home due to the fact I would getting nothing done!!) I was able to enjoy the 50 to 1 countdown of the best Finals from 1970 ‘til the present – of which only one featured the mighty Tiges – the 1980 “Hungry running around Stan Magro moment and the subsequent two fists smashing the sky” demolition of the Magpies.  Surely there were others but then again, the Tigers hadn’t really featured in 37 of those bleak years and yet having said that I think the choices had to do with the quality of the broadcast not the actual games.


I came home to sunny Queensland to do more quarantine and then on with life so to speak , coming home of an evening after work to put on the ABC to hear the dulcet tones of Q , Al, Cellars, Lingy, Mick bringing to the daily festival of football to my ears. Seeing the Tiges in the flesh at the Gabba was a surreal experience when not playing the Lions it was a Suns game with the Tigers being the home team!!! I remember the sadness of being locked out of the Eagles game early in the piece down at Carrara and not being able to secure a ticket against the Cats as well due to the crowd being capped at 3300.


The absolute highlight for me ( besides if we win on Saturday) was of my good self proudly wearing my indigenous 2020 jumper watching the Dreamtime game at Marrara  – surely it should be there at least every two years – just such a symbolic yet powerful gesture by all involved.


There was the pain of missing Tickets for the Gabba final against the Lions – which meant we had to beat the Saints on our “new” home ground only just a lazy 10 decent golf drives from the heart of the Lights of Surfer’s Paradise – I mean who does surf on the main beach there? – which means my own personal record of not seeing the Tigers lose at the Gabba is intact, lets hope that record continues!! The last time I saw them lose was when Broderick proudly wearing 17 as the captain  (ah that was nice tradition) was chaired off in 2001 after the Lions absolutely smashed Richo’s hope of being in a Grand Final and I had to watch yet another Akka celebratory handstand from the heart of the Gabba members.


For me being a Lifelong  Tiger fan (well at least since 1970) has taken on a new meaning this year as we have become the hunted , the benchmark so to speak and somehow we have kept the culture alive which has been at odds to the reality of key injuries and the ongoing travail of short training, lack of space to do what’s normally been done, players having family issues and the curse of short turn arounds between games.


All this positivity in spite of certain incidents that will be hard to forget; of two young Tiger blokes sharing ill-gotten early morning dodgy Gold Coast served Kebabs and wives going for a shop when they are meant to be in the Hub. I can say that I have been proud to follow my team through the beauty of social media and to have some empathy of having to live life in a bubble quarantined from the real world and not being able to live in normality and yet somehow still play the game they love.


For me the challenge is to see what effect this has on the culture of not just Richmond but on footy in general, lots of talent has been lost due to the economic imperatives of this year including assistant coach Leppa who I hope can go out a winner. Will my band of brothers come together for one final assault on the blue and white hoops? I hope so !!


So the AFL Grand Final in Queensland (yes I can’t believe I am typing that !!!) awaits.


I can’t wait. Only three sleeps to go  Go TIGES!!!




To read more of Richard’s exploits, click HERE:






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About Richard Marlow

a humble middle-years teacher in a “middle of the road” private school in Brisbane having being a pastor, a youth worker, a school chaplain, a bank johnnie – 3 different banks, worked in Jails, driven a cab and been in bands amongst other things.


  1. Jeremy Wells says

    Fantastic Richard. Great journey! And yes – perhaps those Canadians have as good a chance of interpreting the holding the ball rule as the rest of us do!
    I too am very proud of the club for withstanding the pressures and challenges of the year and remaining united. Yes, I’m sure there are things they would do differently if they had their time again, but who wouldn’t? Their spirit has warmed the cockles of my heart during this difficult year.
    Enjoy the game, cheer loudly, and go you Tiges!

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