Paul Keating, Mr Brightside and Bobby Ewing: For the true believers – Richmond 2017



Artwork by Zelko Zelac


Whatever your views on Paul Keating, the man did have some damm good lines.

So, like his comment just after his unlikely election win v John Hewson, the Tigers win was one for the true believers, and the sweetest victory of all.

For me, the true Richmond supporter either went to the game with blind faith and full conviction we’d salute, or with an acceptance that we’d run a great race, but like the Cats three times under Blight and the Dees in ‘88 and 2000, we’d picked a bad year to make the Grand Final.

I went with trepidation to the Cats final; with great hope but a level of concern we’d got ahead of ourselves against the Giants; and just wishing for a fair showing against the Crows. I am not ashamed to say I had doubts. Much like I imagine a coup must start off, I have had quiet chats since with other supporters who are willing to secretly admit that they too held little hope and are pleased to know they weren’t the only ones.

I had the pleasure after the game of meeting and talking with a past AFL coach who was also a player from our last Grand Final win, who said that whilst publicly he tipped the Crows based on logic and form, his heart wanted the Tigers to win and he would always be with the yellow and black. He said you always side with where you bled. He saw my 40-year-old scarf, with the yellow fading, and said this was one for the long suffering.

This was for those who saw Lounder parked like a tree in the goal square. For those who saw Tambling and Fiora taken before Buddy and Pav.

Those who watched draft picks go to the Cats and Swans, which they used for eventual premiership players whilst we took their hacks.

Those who watched players leave and improve, like Ottens and Roden. Those who watched as many came and sadly fell away like Brown.

Those who saw Andrew Raines, who looked like his dad but kicked like his mum. Who longed for David Bourke to bulk up?

For those who recall even back to John Pitura and who we gave away for him. For those who watched us rip out our hearts and wallets in trade wars with the Pies. For watching Cloke and Wood run around in other jumpers.

For the tormentors of the past, Dunstall and Ablett senior, and more recently the last minute efforts of the legal firm of Mundy, Grundy and Hunt.

For constant forlorn trips down to Kardinia Park and the awful drives back. For singlehandedly starting the Geelong Dynasty in Round 6 of 2007.

For Danny Frawley, nice guy and all, but a coach with no background in success; a player in a perennial cellar dweller and an assistant coach under Tony Shaw when the Pies were awful.

For the best hair cuts on the worst players in the late 80s. For why the hell was Ben Cousins still on the ground in the last 5 minutes of his debut Round 1 2009 when we were 80 points down and he did a hammy.

For when we needed a Jordan McMahon goal after the siren to beat a Melbourne side who were trying desperately to lose.

For kicking into breeze in Adelaide. For Chris Judd. For Jarrad Waite.

For chicken poo, microwaved memberships and spitting (non) fans. For no Friday games in 2017.

For Sproule, Patterson and the Geisch. For the ghost of Helen D’Amico.

For having to accept the cup in our clash jumper.

If you said at the start of 2016 the Bulldogs would win the flag, you’d have been laughed at. If you said they’d do it without Murphy, Suckling and Wallis, you’d be certified.

But even once we knew from that game that fairytales can come true, at the start of 2017, the idea of the Tigers saluting was fanciful. And that we could do it with Miles, Conca, Lloyd etc. in the VFL. And that a kid in game number 5 would star.

A large part of Saturday was stomach churning agony. The spectre of come backs and last minute fadeouts to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, along with the fear of Eddie Betts playing the role of an exhumed Darren Jarman and kicking 5 in the last stayed with me until Mr Brightside’s goal in the final quarter, when I dared to believe. I may have accepted later than some that it was real, but years of watching games through my fingers couldn’t be thrown away.

There’s an old joke about a feared and hated orchestra conductor who dies. The violinist rings the concert hall only to be told that the conductor is dead. He calls back every hour asking the same question, how is the conductor? Eventually they say “why do you keep calling, he’s dead’. I know he says, I just like hearing you tell me!

I need to remind and reassure myself again and again that it actually happened. That we won’t all wake up, Bobby Ewing style in Dallas, and it was all a dream.

The Tigers are 2017 premiers. Who’d have thunk it.

For the true believers.

Yellow and Black.

About Sean Curtain

"He was born with a gift of laughter, and a sense that the world was mad". First line of 'Scaramouche' by Sabatini, always liked that.


  1. Phillip Dimitriadis says

    That’s a ripper Sean. Many great lines here and so many names that came with hope and ultimately ended in disappointment..until last Saturday.
    Capper kicking 10 on a hapless Des Ryan in 1986.
    Gary Frangalas…
    It’s but a distant memory now.

  2. Sean – did you have to list all the shockers of the last 37 years so they could be put on the funeral pyre at the same time and expunged? I get why you are/were LS at PR, but really we should all win a flag every 18 years. 5.55555555556% of the time. Why do we see the Hawks as an achievable goal, rather than an extraordinary outlier? Why do we see the Cats as a monolith in the last decade rather than a 40+ year running gag from 1963? I have always liked the American professional sport system of divisional and league pennants defining success, with Super Bowls and World Series wins as once in a lifetime miracles. Watch the ESPN 30 for 30 on Cleveland and how Lebron James dragged those old footballers and baseball players onto the parade bus. Those “losers” were his childhood heroes. They lost the big ones but they won a shitload of games along the way.
    The genius of Dimma this year was to stop asking what do we wanna be, and asking what can we be? He worked with what he had and fashioned a game plan to their strengths. He didn’t want to copy Clarko’s game plan – he emulated his mind map. He saw a gap and he went for it. 90% of the time the gap closes. But if you don’t stick your head in you never know.
    Sometime Almanacker Dave Warner made a hit of “Monday’s Experts” 30 odd years ago. We are all geniuses in retrospect. Shooda wooda coda. “The trouble with life is you live it forward and learn it backwards”. (Kierkegaard – Danish centre forward – World Cup 1850).
    Like most things in life there isn’t a cigarette paper or a struck match between success and failure; Pyke and Dimma. Run it a dozen times and they’d break 6-6.
    ““Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen six, result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pound ought and six, result misery.”
    “Happiness is a gift and the trick is not to expect it, but to delight in it when it comes.”
    (Charles Dickens – or Mr Brightside as we used to call him).
    Good to hear you smile. Enough with the gritted teeth.

  3. Peter Warrington says

    ah, memories.

    we’ve climbed the mountain, looked to the other side. it’s just a valley. but valleys are cool.

    I have been thinking of Tape and Rogers and Naish and Bond and Prescott, guys who were better than most of our list but right place, wrong time.

    but, in times like these, we are all Tigers, even Peter Baulderstone.

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