Finals Week 3 – Richmond v GWS: The Day I Went to the ‘G with 90,000 of my closest friends.

 

We are on the train and Yellow-and-black is everywhere. My wife strikes up a conversation with two ladies on their way to Hamer Hall and they comment on it. We can see that Yellow-and-black is everywhere, they say, good luck, we hope you win.

 

We are on the platform at Flinders St and it takes ages to touch-off. Yellow-and-black is everywhere.

 

We are sitting alfresco in Degraves St, sharing a quiet drink and a pizza with our niece and nephew. They are telling us about their trip to America and we are all happy, it is a lovely family moment. They are in Yellow-and-black. The passing parade ambles by, dressed in Yellow-and-black.

 

We wander through Fed Square and along the banks of the Yarra. A Brisbane Lions fan is walking along, his friends are teasing him gently. They are in Yellow-and-black. I join in and we share a joke. His girlfriend pokes him in the ribs. She is in Yellow-and-black.

 

We will retrace these steps in a few hours. We will be with more family and friends, we will all be on a high, discussing each kick, each handpass, each year of hardship we have endured. Yellow-and-black will be everywhere. It will be a magical moment.

 

As we sit in our allocated seats we are with 90,000 of our best friends. We are Yellow-and-black and we have known pain.

 

Today tradition meets expansion, pain meets privilege. Richmond finally returns to the big stage, having spent decades playing off-Broadway. They have shown resolve and blue collar work-ethic to overcome adversity. By contrast, Greater Western Sydney, bursting with precocious talent, has known only entitlement and preference in its brief history. Whilst the Tigers paid their dues, GWS was deftly engineered to fast-track penetration into a significant but apathetic market. Where is the orange-and-grey? Yellow-and-black is everywhere.

 

Here is an interesting question for you to ponder. Do you have a family business? Is your family full of grocers, or butchers, or teachers? Did you follow in your father’s footsteps?  The Riolis have a family business. They are in the business of kicking goals on the big stage. Young Daniel will kick four sublime goals today and complete his apprenticeship.  Yellow-and-black is everywhere.

 

Dustin Martin has had a wonderful season. In the first minute of this game, he crumbs the ball cleanly and we have our first goal. 90,000 of us erupt! We have his back. Yellow-and-black is everywhere.

 

Trent Cotchin has a wonderful game. He sets the tone and others follow his lead. He is bedrock. He stands resolutely and holds ground. His teammates stand behind him and 90,000 of us stand behind them. Yellow-and-black is everywhere.

 

I feel for the Giants players. We know what they are playing for, premierships, enjoyment, individual honours, money. Everybody gets that and understands their motivations.

 

But WHO are they playing for? How many people in Sydney even know that they are here, representing them? How many people in Sydney care about them? What do they think when they see Yellow-and –black everywhere? Why are they wasting their careers like this?

 

The Yellow-and-black refrain rings out and the MCG shakes. We are there, with our family and our friends, enjoying the moment. My daughter lives in England but she is there with us, courtesy of Facetime and her brother’s phone. I see her beaming face as he moves his phone around, letting her drink in the atmosphere. It is such a tender family moment. I cry.

 

It is now Sunday and we are at Etihad Stadium, watching our VFL team, catching up with more Tigers, both old and new, sharing a few quiet beers and our tales of the Preliminary Final, of the day we shared with 90,000 of our closest friends.

 

The stories are all the same, we were with family, we were with friends, we laughed, we cried. Yellow-and-black was everywhere.

 

The night before, we had been in the City, at the Maurice Rioli Social Club, in Swan St, in Bridge Rd, in Hampton, in any street in any suburb of Melbourne.

 

Yellow-and-black was everywhere, everywhere, everywhere!

 

And next week we get to do it all again.

 

Read more of our Richmond v GWS coverage HERE.

About Joe De Petro

My favourite period in history began with the Summer of Love and came to a sad end with the birth of Disco. It was from 1967 to 1975. What was not to like in those days? The Grateful Dead, Creedence, The Beach Boys, The Doors, Janis Joplin, Cat Stevens, Neil Diamond and the mighty Tigers won Premierships every other year. It was a magical time!

Comments

  1. How good was Swan Street after tha game????

    Pumping

  2. steve todorovic says:

    Loved it Joe. I was there and had the same experiences. The tram we took on Wellington Parade back to Fed Square after the game echoed to THE song, time after time after time. Yellow and Black everywhere. Yours is a lovely balance to a lot of the anti- tiger propaganda that has been written in the last few weeks. Seems that despite our inability to win any silverware in nearly 4 decades, we still have the most passionate, committed and ( based on AFL attendances and TV ratings data) the largest supporter base in the AFL. It’s almost impossible to conceive the size of the Tiger Army had there been anything that even approached the success seen by other Melbourne clubs whilst we’ve languished. Some would have gone under by now. To think it only took a finals win to have most of the competition hating us again….it’s lovely to be back up where we belong!

  3. John Butler says:

    Will we ever see a ‘G crowd like that again?

    Great stuff Joe.

  4. Tom Riordan says:

    Super piece, Joe.

    Loved the bit about Dan Rioli completing his apprenticeship.

    As a Dogs fan lucky enough to have a seat high in the MCC it brought back memories of our glorious September last year. All the best this Saturday.

  5. Joe De Petro says:

    Steve, I hear you. I had written the “90,000 citizens of the Roman Empire, baying for blood” piece but I hated it. It was not the day. It was actually a really beautiful experience.
    JB. Maybe next year if the Tigers, the Magpies or the Blues play against GWS or Gold Coast in a final…..or any other year that might happen
    Tom, thanks. Hoping for another Bulldogs-style fairy tale.
    Kate, I didn’t do Swan St but some of the guys did. They said the same.

    Thanks, guys.

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