Grand Final – Richmond v GWS: The Day After

Check out more of Kate Birrell’s art work here.


This is Sharon.

We met the day after the grand final on a Punt Road bound train.

I got on at Caulfield station with Hugo, my only Tiger offspring, and at 14 years and five months of age he has been a devoted fan for all of his short years. Together, we have traversed the muddy times, the shock losses and crushing defeats.

But we’ve also ridden the upsurge and cruised upon the wave of recent success.

Sharon was seated alone a row or two ahead of us soaking up the festive atmosphere. With one arm outstretched along the seat backs, and one leg cocked upon the knee of the other, Sharon was taking it all in.

I noticed her fleetingly, wondering, cheer squad member, perhaps.

Shortly after taking our seats I heard a gravelly voice, enquiring somewhere just beyond my own thoughts.

“Off to Punt Road?”

Sharons face was turned, at slightly awkward angle, and looking back towards us. She had her sunnies on. I wasn’t sure if she was talking to us.

“Yes… yes we are” I replied, when I realised we were the only ones like her, clad in yellow and black in our pod of seats.

Keen to chat Sharon and I mused over the wonderful happenings of the day before from one side of the clattering carriage to the other.

We basked in the after glow of attending two victorious grands finals in three years.

We basked in the generosity of Dusty’s pass, the joy of Pickett’s Goal and the dexterity of that turn.

We basked in the glory and relief of the Captain’s run towards the goal and revelled in the subsequent expulsion of furies past that seemed to propel Cotch up and into that affirmative leap of celebration after scoring.

We delighted in the unity of our football team and the success of their physical dialogue throughout the season.

Prestia, Houli, Edwards… too many to name, for the way they linked, shared and delivered. Requests were met with replies, questions with answers, emphatic statements across the ground, footy banter at its best.

I don’t think we discussed the Giants at all. They had little to say.

Hugo sat beside me, silently listening, amused, as our spirited voices bounced about and filled the space between us.

United only by time and place and the colours of our footy team, the three of us alighted the train and walked together towards the Punt Road Oval.

Beneath the Welcome to Tigerland sign at the gate Sharon and I introduced ourselves to each other.

We wished each other the best ever “Go Tiges” and parted ways.

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  1. We are all connected by that feeling of afterglow, what a time to be a Tiger.

  2. That was a great piece Kate. I love how you captured that basking period that can come on straight after the match and in my experience last for a couple of weeks, if not more. Reliving various moments of the match, our wonderful players involved, and how this can all be perfectly done with a total stranger.

  3. Hi Kate
    Lovely story and artwork. Grand final day was my birthday and for 12 hours fellow Almanacker and Tiger Tragic Paddy Grindlay and me texted each other from pre game nerves to post celebration euphoria. There’s 40 years difference between us but on Sept 28 I reckon even our heartbeats were in sync!
    Connecting on such a pure human level is the number one reason we are here I reckon! I echo Chris above it’s a great time to be a tiger. Go Tiges!

  4. Thanks Chris, Vanessa and Tess.

    Glad you enjoyed the read.

    Looking forward to the season ahead.

  5. Frank Taylor says

    Nice piece Kate.
    The chance meetings – never to be repeated, never to meet again – are some of the best moments that deep, committed supporters of any club, can and do, experience.
    The joy. The emotional connection.
    Well done.
    Go Pies!

  6. Chris Daley says

    Go Tiges

  7. Thanks for your messages Frank and Chris.

    Game day was also full of chance meetings with random people and great memories. For some reason We had a great people around us, way up level 4, this year. I guess that’s how I will remember the experience best with this win.

    I think fans had mental space to relax, absorb and be really present in the moment.

  8. Very nice piece highlighting the connections we make with complete strangers…through footy.
    Thanks, Kate.

  9. Thx Smokie
    Yes, I always love a chat with a ‘random’ as the 14 yo would say.

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