Finals Week 3 – Richmond v GWS: My Day Out at the Footy

Victorian Richmond supporters, particularly those that live in Melbourne’s suburbs often talk about the ‘day out at the footy’ to watch their team play. It is a highly romanticised occasion; some take the family, others indulge in a beer or eight, some sit by themselves in the outer while glued to the spectacle before them. In this idealised world, your day finishes with singing the song loud and proud, gloating about your team and their performance before heading home to business as usual. Having lived a large majority of my life in rural Tasmania, I’ve only been able to do this a couple of times with each ending in a heavier defeat than the last (Hawthorn ’06, North ’15/16). Most of my football viewership has been clouded by the jealousy of those that got to have their ‘day out at the footy’ to watch the Tigers win the big game. In fact, we interstaters dedicate entire trips to watching our teams, which in my case have often been centred around heading to a game that the Tigers are favoured to win – sometimes I leave happy but more than likely this doesn’t occur. These are fine, they serve the purpose and fulfil the desire we have…but they’re not the romantic ‘day out’. If the trip involves a win, then it is in a sense ruined. Anything else you do on it will not compare to the high involved in singing the song with fellow supporters. If your team is on the end of a loss, you’ll ponder (at least once) as to why you spent a few weeks worth of pay going on your trip when the same result could be achieved by turning the TV on. This time was different however. I finally got my ‘day out at the footy’.

It started with an early flight out of Hobart with my old man, getting into Melbourne mid-morning before starting a trek out to Punt Road. Many characters were encountered along the way. There was the elderly lady keen to inform me that her cousin, Neville Crowe had played for Richmond and that she would be hoping for a Tiger win. If there was one Tiger throughout history that I’d like to meet it would be him. Just to say thanks for everything. For allowing me and many other fans to watch our team. Without him fighting the good fight when the battle was almost lost, who knows what the football landscape would look like. She talked of their country origins and about how she had a special football card that was going to the Richmond museum – humble, but knew the place of the family in the history of the game. From all reports, Crowe was much the same. I like to think we met vicariously through her.There were the workers on building sites shouting “‘arn the Tiges!” as they took a break from the walkie talkies, the neutrals that gave a “go tigers” as they passed and the cheeky ones; those that knew the magnitude of this game and felt the need to give an insincere “up the Giants!” despite secretly wanting Richmond to reign supreme. The city was ours and I felt at home. Alas, we moved on.

A function at Punt Road was next on the agenda – such a vibrant occasion. A reserves training session, legendary guest speakers, beer and food for miles and nothing but Tiger talk from the masses – ‘How will we go today?’, ‘Where will Ben Lennon be next year?’, ‘Isn’t the Jack Dyer stand a thing of beauty?’. After Dad got to meet one of his heroes, Jim Jess (as well as pump in numerous crownies) we headed to the ‘G. With every Tiger fan we saw, the nervous energy dissolved. “Surely a spectacle so beautiful cannot have an ugly ending?”, I thought to myself. For once I was right about football. The game began and the army grew. Lambert’s early goal, Dusty winning the hard ball and the highly polarising Jason Castagna was playing a mighty fine game and defending his spot in the team like his life depended on it. We weren’t going anywhere. The game went on, they came at us. I sat glued to what was in front of me in a rare state of ‘calm-nervousness’ – evidence of which came at three-quarter time. A five goal lead would generally result in sky high confidence, just not at Richmond. But for every question they posed, the answer came in the form of an Alex Rance spoil, Daniel Rioli goal or a Trent Cotchin clearance. Soon enough the final siren came – what a feeling! there were hugs between strangers, high fives all round and rousing renditions of the famous ‘yellow and black’. Then came the gloating that we all deserved to do so very much. I mean, how many ‘Ninth again’ jokes can 75, 000 members deal with?

GWS supporters are (much to my surprise) on the whole your typical AFL fan. They have nicknames for their players, they ride every bump, chant, cheer, jeer and watch intently. They exist within a microcosm of football supporters however, a very small collective. If their club gains more like those that sat in the Ponsford stand for the Prelim final, the controversial league expansion venture may in fact work. The most endearing feature that Giants supporters carry is their character – ‘They can dish it out but they can also take it back’, so to speak. To the man that said “Oh well, ya won’t beat the Crows next week” after the final siren, bravo for accepting my response of “Oh well, at least we’ll be there. How about you go and sook to the other thousand of you”. It was my turn to boast about the thing of beauty played out before me. I was on my feet for every goal, I joined in the claps for opposition mistakes and I echoed the earlier cries of ‘A bit quiet over there Richmond fans’ as the game was coming to an end. After the game, I did the normal things. I ate dinner, had a sleep and flew back into Hobart early Sunday morning. For once it had been a less than 24 hour Richmond stint in Melbourne. I didn’t have to think about the consequences of a loss. Instead, I enjoyed the game with family, I indulged in a few beers and I sat and took in every minute of the spectacle before me. Then I sung and gloated. As I stepped back off the plane early Sunday morning to the fresh Hobart air, it was home business as usual. I finally got my ‘day out at the footy’.

Full Almanac coverage of this match can be seen here

About Liahm O'Brien

Tasmanian Tiger - Born into the Northey era, blinded by the Wallace era, healed by the Hardwick era - Twitter: @BigSmoove83

Comments

  1. Joe De Petro says:

    Glad you finally were able to enjoy a game, Liahm.. loved your comments re Neville Crowe.

  2. You picked a great game for your day out at the footy.

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