I’m mad as hell… but will probably continue to take it

By Cheryl Critchley

I’m on a girls’ weekend in beautiful Maldon with three of my favourite people in the world. Great company and plenty of junk to feast on while lounging in a gorgeous old renovated Victorian home in one of Victoria’s best preserved gold rush towns. What could be better?

But this special weekend we look forward to every year for months has been ruined. By my bloody football club. Twice.

I’m lying in a lovely old bed in a tasteful bedroom with high-ceilings and an open fire place. I should be relaxing and taking in a lazy Sunday morning, snoozing and forgetting about the worries of the world.

Instead, I can’t sleep and am lying here FUMING.

Why? Because my effing football team can’t beat the effing Gold Coast Suns, who haven’t won an effing game all year but beat my team because we’ve sold another effing home game to Cairns. I don’t think I’ve ever been this angry about the footy … at least since the last time Gold Coast beat us.

The worst part is I spent days working out how I could watch this game in the sticks. This weekend takes months of planning. We have to ensure all four of us have no commitments. I coach Auskick, Rose works in real estate, Frances works some weekends and Sonja has three kids so it takes some doing.

It also has to be a weekend when Richmond isn’t playing in Melbourne, so the last two have been when we played the Suns in Cairns.

Last year we were actually on the Gold Coast and I watched the game at the salubrious (not) Twin Towns club with Fran while the others enjoyed a relaxing few hours in the spa. As I’d predicted since we sold that blasted home game, we lost and I spent the afternoon in a fug.

Yesterday, after sussing out local pubs, none of which had Foxtel, I watched the game on my phone with earphones on while the girls chatted about the latest goss. I missed several good revelations as loyalty to my footy team won out. Sonja hates footy so I only interrupted when we came back from 36 points down and hit the front.

After an annoying game in which we played awful catch up footy, it finally looked like we were going to scrape in, which was not ideal but would shut the critics up after last year’s debacle. With five minutes to go we were three kicks up and I was getting ready to call my fellow Tiger husband Brian to let out a collective sigh of relief.

Then, somehow, my effing team managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, allowing the Suns to kick three unanswered goals including the final insult, a winning goal after the siren by rugby league ring-in Karmichael Hunt.

Unbloodybelievable (but then again not if you’re a Richmond fan).

I was ropable and have never heard Brian scream about his team like that. When I rang he let fly more F words than an Eminem song and vowed he wouldn’t be going to another game this year – this from someone who has followed his team through thick and thin all of his life.

You simply cannot describe the frustration of losing a game that should never have been lost and would not have been if it was played in Melbourne, then watching as that game, not once but TWICE derails an entire season. Is that worth $500,000 Richmond?

Is it worth hearing my 13-year-old daughter, who has never seen her team play a final but still turns up to games week in, week out, for the first time ever say that she’s had enough?

Last year and this year we had a sniff of playing finals until we blew this blasted Cairns home game, which never should have happened.

No doubt many will insist that we should simply have played better and we would have lost regardless of where it was played. Brian says we would have lost anyway “because we’re a crap team”. “We lost to Freo on our turf, on a cold, wet miserable day they came and beat us when we should have won,” he says. “Out played. Out coached. We’re a crap team and a crap club.”

Pardon my French but that argument is BULLSHIT. If yesterday’s game was at the MCG or even the Docklands we would have won. End of story.

Even the commentators noticed the spring on the Suns’ steps playing along a ground they knew they could beat us on. And traveling to FNQ when we could have crossed the paddock from Punt Rd to the MCG was far from the ideal preparation for us.

Yes Dustin Martin, Matt White and Daniel Jackson’s suspensions hurt, as did our injuries and the late withdrawal of Ivan Maric. But that would have mattered less if we were playing on home turf. The psychological advantage would have been huge, not to mention the home crowd.

Instead we played in front of less than 11,000, which is even worse than Melbourne and Freo’s 13,300. All for money we could have recouped if we simply won more games and sold more memberships.

It’s now Sunday morning and instead of enjoying a coffee with the girls I’m attacking my iPad and venting my frustration – again.

We’re now watching a romantic comedy, Under the Tuscan Sun, trying to choose which bloke the main character will inevitably fall for, but all I can think of is losing to effing Gold Coast – again!

Yes it’s petty and there are a lot more important things to worry about than footy – First World problems and all that. But when you’ve invested your whole life – and much of your time and money – in a footy team that continually disappoints, it just eats away at your heart.

I know Richmond is trying and has made some improvements in recent years. I also love my club and will support it until the day I die. But just as I yell at my husband when he does something infuriating – which is often – I reserve the right to have a go when my club has let me and so many others down.

Even if we do turn it around and start winning games from here we’ll probably miss the finals yet again, making it 11 years with no finals action and three finals series in 30 years. That’s just not good enough.

Thank God my Auntie’s 70th next week is a lunch on the day we play North, ironically at the Coach and Horses, one of Collingwood’s suburban pubs. I’ll probably sneak off for the second half, but am beginning to think the prospect of staying at a pub in enemy territory is more attractive.


  1. Laughing with you Cheryl, not at you.

    I listened to it and the end was possibly the Tigers worst nightmare. I found it hard to fathom what I was hearing at the end.

    I am not brave enough to ring my brother this week but I would expect that there is a Tigers scarf in his wheelie bin at this very moment.

  2. Cheryl Critchley says

    Hi Phantom. It is just SO frustrating. Five weeks ago we were talking finals, now Brian has vowed not to go to another game all year. Only at Richmond!

  3. Tough gig Cheryl. But hang in there.

    Herb Elliott says that the act of sport is pretty trivial. That is, running in circles, swimming up and down a pool, kicking a pig skin around. But what isn’t trivial is the journey to success in these pursuits. In the journey we learn lots os lessons. I suppose Tiger supporters are very tired of lessons.

  4. John Harms says

    Dips, there’s only so many PhDs you can have in one suburb.

    CC, I thought the girls weekend was in Cairns. At least you didn’t have hte 5 hours in aplane and airport to contemplate the misery of it all.


  5. Cheryl Critchley says

    Hi John, Cripes I’m glad we didn’t actually go there!! Imagine how angry I’d be then :-)

  6. David Downer says

    I’ll take some blame for this one.
    I’m a wonderful jinx.
    Post that pulsating StK-Rich Friday night game a few weeks back, in my @ApacheSaint guise I tweeted to yourself and some other Tigers fans that “Richmond are going places. Enjoy the ride”.
    Been a bit rocky since.
    On Saturday I was at PJ O’Briens catching up with a Tigers friend, who the day before had just returned from over 2 years living in Canada. As he watched the footy, I sidled up alongside with 45 seconds remaining. You know the rest.
    Given I almost got Black Caviar rolled at Ascot, I have plenty of form.


  7. Cheryl Critchley says

    Hi David, problem is I don’t think they needed someone to jinx them. They are pretty good at doing it themselves :-(. You can rest easy :-)

  8. Cheryl,
    It is great to see that the Almanac has yet another “People’s Elbow” venting the spleen!
    For what it’s worth, I cannot believe how many school-boy errors were committed by the Tiger players in the last two minutes. They really should not have lost that match regardless of where it was played!

  9. Cheryl Critchley says

    Yeah I know Smokie but if that game was in Melbourne we would not have been in that precarious position in the first place. I honestly believe the home ground advantage would have meant we played more confident footy with the backing of probably the league’s most passionate fans. That would surely have been enough to get us over the line, regardless of injuries, suspensions etc.

  10. I don’t want to add to the anguish, but…
    It is interesting that Guy McKenna, prior to the game,
    said that playing in Cairns meant the Suns “were 5
    goals better off”

  11. Cheryl Critchley says

    You haven’t added to it Smokie, just helped make my point!

  12. Look on the bright side Cheryl, it saved Richmond from finishing 9th.

    Have to admit, even I believed the Tigers were finals bound 5 weeks ago. A depleted team now though – I guess the next 7 weeks are a good chance to build on the depth of the list which is the biggest weakness it seems.

    Next year they’ll make it.

  13. Cheryl,

    the word over the ditch in Benny country (NW Coast of Tassie) that he will usurp young Andrew as CEO AFL soon.

    Heard the whisper yet?

  14. Cheryl Critchley says

    Hi Jeff, if I had a dollar for every time someone said we were going to make the finals next year I’d be able to pay the $500,000 to prevent us going to Cairns again! Check out the pattern. Whenever we finished ninth we went backwards the following year.

  15. Cheryl Critchley says

    Hi Phantom, I did read or hear that somewhere but I hope it isn’t true as he’s one of the people who have made a positive difference at the club in recent years.

  16. gnarleygeorge says

    Hey Phantom/Billy Bongos, I started that rumour about B Gale :twisted: And when he does take the top job he will pave the way for Tassie to get a team in the AFL.

  17. Aaah, I get it Horrie The Tassy Tigers. Richmond relocated to Hobart. A match made in heaven

  18. pamela sherpa says

    Cheryl, I was at the game in Cairns and I have to say it was an exciting finish.The Suns have been close to winning some games this year so it’s unfair to discredit them too much. Also I don’t know how you can assume the Tigers would have won if the game was in Melbourne. Perhaps Richmond need to think more about how they play instead of blaming losses on where they play.

  19. You certainly get about Pamela.

  20. Cheryl Critchley says

    Hi Pamela,
    Nice to hear from you. Yes it was exciting if you didn’t barrack for Richmond. For us Tiger fans it was literally another nail in the heart after 35 years of under achievement, and one that was not necessary if we had played the game in Melbourne. I still reckon we would have won it here, even if we’d just scraped in. I actually went to the Gold Coast Geelong game and they played pretty well in that one too, but Geelong is a good side and did what it needed to do to win, just as my side could have and should have. But didn’t. That is why I am so frustrated. You should try following Richmond for a few years and you’ll know what I mean :-).

  21. Dearest Cheryl, I hear the sound of broken hearts all around Melbourne. There’s only one happy team each year and the rest of us, well, there’s only dreaming. If you supporters feel so crap, can you imagine how the team felt. When watching, I thought they’d all die of shock. It was unimaginable that two goals will happen so quickly, and I can see your frustration when they didn’t shut down in defense and just bomb it up forward. I hear the similar heartbreak from Doggies and Saints and Melbourne and Port Adelaide and it goes on and on. Its 46 years for Sainters so we know the drill. It’s the expectations that kill us.

    Be well and healthy, you will get over it….someday


  22. Cheryl Critchley says

    Hi Yvette. I can only imagine how Doggies and Saints fans feel – my team won five ground finals in the first 14 years of my life. But since then we have been the worst performed team by now. If we don’t make the finals this year it’s three finals series in 30 years. My kids are 9, 11, and 13 and never even seen their team play a final (the oldest was two last time and remembers nothing). For a club with such a big supporter base it’s just not good enough. We should be as strong as Carlton and Collingwood.

  23. Cheryl Critchley says

    Woops meant to say by far…

  24. Cheryl,
    I was born in 1955. My team, West Torrens won a premiership in 1953. We won a final in 1954. I was born in 1955 (and DD thinks he’s a jonah).
    In 1963 my grandparents started taking me to the footy and we finished minor premiers. I sat in the temporary scaffold stand at Adelaide Oval and watched them lose both a second semi and preliminary final by less than a goal.
    In 1970 we drew the first semi (Brian Mulvihill missed from 20 out straight in front) and we lost the replay. That was as close as we ever got to winning a final.
    I followed them most weekends until 1982 when I moved to Canberra. At the end of 1990 the club merged with the other perennial losers, Woodville to form the WWT Eagles. They have since won 3 SANFL premierships (including 2011).
    I can now look back on 35 years of disappointment as simply character building that qualified me for a move to Perth and life with the Avenging Eagle, barracking for the true blue and gold Eagle faith.
    It is a long road that has no turning. Keep the faith (then again you could move to Perth and barrack for the Claremont Tigers – current WAFL Premiers)

  25. Cheryl Critchley says

    Hi Peter, that’s not a bad idea – I’ll check the Perth Jetstar specials :-). I know it’s a long road but it just seems to get longer and longer for us Tiger fans …

  26. Cheryl Critchley says

    PS I really feel for all your suffering too. Imagine being a Bulldogs fan born in 1953!

  27. Richard Naco says

    Cheryl: I take it that you rate their effing effort no higher than an effing F?

    (I know how you feel too: my team lost again on Sunday, by 20 ………………. goals! ;-) )

  28. Cheryl Critchley says

    Hi Richard, yes most definitely an F!!! I hate the F word but was so angry that was the only phrase I felt was strong enough. By the way, the F word to my son is “footy”. It is for me too at the moment! I’d almost rather lose by 20 goals than 2 points to Gold Coast. What do you think?

  29. Horses for courses Cheryl.

  30. Stainless says

    To Cheryl and any other traumatised Richmond supporters looking for a bit of nostalgic comfort Episode 16 of my reminiscences of the 1980 season will be up tomorrow. In a kinda interesting comparison with recent events, in this week 32 years ago:
    – Collingwood lost the Escort Cup Grand Final after Kerry Good’s mark several seconds after the final siren and subsequent goal;
    – Essendon lost at home to South Melbourne on nearly the last kick of the day, courtesy an ex-Bomber, Neville Fields;
    – St Kilda’s home game against Richmond was not played at muddy, windswept Moorabbin but at the still, rock-hard SCG. The Tigers kicked their highest ever score in VFL/AFL history and won by 152 points.

    A fortuitous shift of venue for the Tigers, it would seem!

    Keep the faith!


  31. Cheryl Critchley says

    Thanks Stainless, sounds like a great read. I was actually at the Escort Cup GF that year (don’t ask my why as my team wasn’t it in) and I must say we didn’t feel very sorry for Collingwood. I felt even less sorry for them in the “real” Grand Final that year, but I must have jinxed my team as it’s been nothing but misery since…

  32. Dave Nadel says

    As I am a member of one of the the three Melbourne clubs that will never have to sell a match interstate I am a bit reluctant to buy into this argument but I do not think any club should sell matches interstate. There are better ways of subsidising poor clubs.

    While the Hawthorn and North excursions to Tasmania can be seen as building an increased supporter base for the Hawks and Roos most of the other “sold” games are simply a way of giving Northern teams extra wins. Before Richmond gave wins to the Suns in Cairns the Demons were giving wins to the Lions at Cararra.

    If the AFL wants to promote football in Cairns and Darwin it should stage games that are not for premiership points (e.g. NAB cup) or send two clubs that are equally disadvantaged (e.g. two Melbourne clubs to Cairns – but not Collingwood, thank you very much)

  33. One of my previous posts referred to the Pies having the apparent power to sell their away games and get the MCG, Dave.

    Curious and curiouser.

  34. Cheryl Critchley says

    I agree with you Dave but you make too much sense so it’ll never happen :-). While they’re at it they may as well even up the regular draw too – AS IF!!

  35. Peter Schumacher says

    Hi, I know that it is not the same thing as we won the 2001-3 premierships but since then not a sausage and non likely for years. I reckon that Brisbane will most likely evolve to be the Tiges outside of Victoria.

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