Grand Final Preview: This Richmond Life



Everyone has different ‘first memories’ of football. For a lot of us they are intertwined with some of our first memories of childhood, back when we were toddlers with no conceptual understanding of these goliath athletes or the stakes involved.


Many of my first memories revolve around four players. Jason Dunstall, Tony Lockett, Wayne Carey and Matthew Richardson. I have flashes of these players’ careers etched in my mind like a fragmented, disjointed highlight reel. Dunstall’s unwavering accuracy, Lockett’s unmatched strength, Wayne Carey’s huge strapped shoulders bustling through with ball in hand, and of course Richo soaring through the air with flowing hair clunking a ball over the top of a maze of blurry faces. These names built the foundations for my love of footy.


My first true vivid Richmond memory was the 2001 season. I was seven years old. I was so excited by the prospect of Richmond being in the finals but didn’t truly appreciate what a rare occurrence this was. I remember almost nothing of that season. Campbell, Knights, Ottens and (of course) Richo all figure into my recollections somewhere but only one game specifically comes to mind. That year’s Qualifying Final against Essendon was my first tragic Tiger memory. I hated Essendon. Almost all the kids in my class barracked for them. Those who cared could even arrogantly brag that they were the best team because they won the flag last year. I was so jealous. I hated James Hird and Matthew Lloyd with a passion. I truly felt that they were both terrible people because when the umpire gave them a soft free kick, they wouldn’t own up to it and insist on balling it up like I would’ve at Auskick (not that I ever remember refusing a free kick at Auskick!). Seeing the Essendon fans run onto the ground with Lloydy after his 100th goal that season was so painful. To add to it we were sitting on the fourth level so couldn’t even join in on the ground invasion fun. That was the extent of my memory of Tigers finals football for a very long time.


My next distinct Tiger memory comes in late 2004. Dad showed me the backpage of the newspaper. It had three new young Tigers that had huge reputations that we had just drafted. I remember the photo well. The three teenagers were standing shoulder to shoulder, arms crossed scowling fiercely into the distance. In the middle of the picture was Brett Deledio. On either side of him was Richard Tambling and Danny Meyer. My first false Tiger dawn.


Last year, the final player of that draft year left the club. A frustrated Brett Deledio amicably parted with Richmond, symbolising an end of my Tiger generation. An era of memories now gone, it was time to start again. “Transition” was the key word this time, not re-build.


Incredibly, this season has been like no other. Five wins to start a season, an unrivalled competitiveness and one underdog victory after the next. This season, I’ve made lasting memories after seeing interstate wins against Port Adelaide and Gold Coast. All of this topped with finally breaking our finals drought with a win over Geelong, made this my favourite season ever.


The win against GWS turned the season into the unthinkable. Every goal in that final quarter I tried desperately to hold in my mind, creating a visual imprint to every wrinkle of that quarter. I wanted to remember it like I remembered Lockett or Richo. A romanticised mirage of Richmond triumph to revel in. Dusty’s goal with the outside of his boot, Jack Riewoldt finally kicking truly, and Dan Butler kicking the sealer. I hope I never forget these moments. I wanted to have that lasting memory of the siren sounding. I have that and more now. This Saturday, memories for good or for worse will be left with me forever. Whichever it is, I’ve waited long enough to have them.


But watching the replay, one thing stood out to me that I didn’t recall watching live. Straight after the siren, both Cotchin and Rance went to console the beacon of my teenage tiger memories. Brett Deledio stood up and fought for Richmond through all those false dawns. He was there for nearly every vivid Tiger memory I had. He was our only shining light through those years when I could only dream of a premiership.


Deledio lost faith in playing in a Richmond premiership. I thought it was over too, but only one of us had the option to leave and join a surer thing. As a fan, my role was to stay blindly loyal to the team that has given me such joy and pain. My patience has been rewarded, Deledio’s judgement has been tragic, the type of tragic that only lingers around true Tiger people.


On Saturday I will make new lasting memories. These will perhaps be the most vivid and accurate recollections that I will ever hold for the rest of my life. Whatever happens on Saturday, for better or worse, I’ve loved it all, and couldn’t imagine supporting anyone else.


Michael Allan is a 24 year-old Richmond fan and MCC Member who hopes to see his first Richmond premiership on the weekend. He’s still waiting to wake up from this crazy dream.  










  1. False dawn, love it Michael. False no more. I think we’re going to be in the mix for some years to come.

  2. Yes, have to say it was strange last eeek walking into the ground with my 12 year old still wearing his lids jumper…. it drew many a comment.
    Hope you had a great weekndv

  3. One boy’s Lids is another boys Prestia, Kate.

  4. Michael
    Great to read your work again. You’re the same age as my younger son who was with me yesterday (as I mentioned my older son got his timing all wrong and is preparing for a European wedding in two weeks time!) But I digress…
    I love reading about those childhood memories because they sound so familiar. Have you done the “is it ever going to happen to us?” line of questioning. If yesterday seems surreal to me (having now attended three Richmond flags) how must it be feeling for you??
    And yes, it was a great gesture towards Deledio last week, but the hard-nose in me says, emphatically, it was the right thing to trade him. Our recruiting decisions of recent times have been spot on and instrumental in yesterday’s result.

Leave a Comment