Reflections On Another Wasted Year

It’s a beautiful day. A cloudless sky wraps around the horizon, with rays of orange sun lancing between eucalypts onto the road. The only unnatural sound of the morning is twin tip-taps, black school shoes, step-by-step along the asphalt. Cockatoos dot the sky like white punctures on a blue canvas. The occasional kookaburra sits contentedly on a fence post. Two goats stare, dead-fish eyed, into the early morning sun. An alpaca and a sheep sit off the pack, chewing lazily on grass and casually observe the morning scene.

I reckon the weather’s gloating. “See Pat, cheer up, it’s so nice out! Yes, it’s Monday, but it’s Spring! Have some fun, mate!”

I want to hang my internal monologue. I want to hang a lot of things, to be honest. Doubting journos? Gone. Sports editors? Gone. Monday’s infinite experts? Gone.

Boomer friggin’ Harvey? Please. Gone.

Paddocks. Dewy, green, welcoming paddocks. In every bloody one, at least four kangaroos stand, indignantly appraising the two school kids on their way to the bus stop. Rippling shoulder muscles, arms and tail held steady and warily analysing the intruders, they unknowingly pry fresh mental wounds while moving not one inch.
Questions. Why did Troy Chaplin try to step around Robbie Nahas when his mobility leaves too much to desire? Why can’t Harvey just retire? Why does Ben Jacobs have to embarrass Cotch like he did? Why does a certain umpire ignore the most blatant holding the ball free of all time? Why can Ty Vickery find Wayne Harmes’ space on the boundary and kick straight but spray a chance in the run from 30?

I try to place blame. We deserved it. They didn’t. It wasn’t fair that North rested so many. Umpires were crap. So on.
There are no real reasons apart from the simple one. We lost because we weren’t good enough. North were. That’s about it.

Internal monologue is back, having realised that it physically cannot be hung. “But Ty’s goal! Jack’s four straight! Deledio’s tackle! Rancey! That roar when the banner came up! High-fiving random Tiger fans, dancing in the aisles! Talking with the brethren at the All Nations, kicking a footy in the back streets of Richmond, the walk with the Tiger Army to the ‘G’! Come on!!”

Nup. Not working. All I see is 80 000 Tigers trekking numbly back to their car park. All I hear is assorted swearing from assorted Tiger fans. All I can smell is spilt beer, lit up cigarettes and celebratory hot dogs for the bouncy North family ahead. All I can feel is Dad, hugging me and Oll in Fitzroy Gardens.

And Newy! Bloody hell, 200 games for a failed footy club before 83 of relative success. Three elimination finals, all lost and a career culminating in a final walk of the MCG, pointing at his jumper, kissing his family and with his heart and soul spent on the Tigers.

Newy is not for booing. Newy is for cheering with emotion, for talking of loyalty and service. Newy is a legacy, he displays the Richmond spirit in every action. But he’s gone now. We are hollow without him.

Horses are frolicking in the paddocks. The sun is belligerently shining, grinning a drugged, faked smile at the world. What do I have to look forward to? Six months of heat and cricket and barbecues and beach. Where is my footy?

Where’s my footy club gone? Why do I have to set the remote to channel 9 again?

And then, the question. Why couldn’t I born a Hawthorn fan? Or Geelong, hell, even Freo?

But I also have the answer. The same answer that I’ve had to repeat to myself since 2013. Because if Richmond fail three times, we’re three times better off for it and can come back again three times as strong.

There’s a Dog’s fan at the bus stop. She went to the ‘G’ as well. I do try to compare our teams. I’m better off, I try to say. I have 10 Flags that I can try to look at in fond memory. I can’t do that, but I’ve got at least one partly reassuring thought to fall back on.

Bus is here. Five seats back, aisle facing seat on the left. There are mixed statements floating about. I smile, feign detachment and press play.

“I’ve got another confession to make: I’m your fool.”

Dave Grohl helps.

I dust my weary Tigers cap off, pop it back on my substantially haired head, and close my eyes.

It’s gonna be a helluva long summer. But we will, I will, come back stronger for it.

Go Tiges.

 

Comments

  1. Malcolm Ashwood says:

    Paddy as a non tiger in that the players in the crunch don’t seem to feed off the huge support of the tiger army and suffer stage fright.A Richmond final just seems to be a carbon copy push the rewind button of previous finals.The footy analyst in me says it is the bottom end of your list is just not good enough
    The Tigers are a fascinating case to say the least thanks,Paddy

  2. Terrific writing Paddy.

    Cotchin needs to have a good hard look at himself.

    The Tigers seem to be missing the necessary steel in the tough moments.

  3. Keep up the great scribing Paddy. Please don’t be so disconsolate. Let me put this in context, you’re 14 years of age, and in that time your beloved Yellow and Black has played in four finals series. It’s important to acknowledge that after winning the 1980 flag , the Tigers reached the finals only twice in the next 21 years. Paddy the tigers are on an ascension. Good luck,

    Glen!

  4. Kerrie Soraghan says:

    Agh Paddy what a great story. As a Dogs fan I feel more and more kinship with Tiger fans. I won’t tell you my age but the Dogs haven’t played a grand final in my lifetime: they were last there in 61.

    Be glad you weren’t born a fan of those other smug clubs because when The day of the Tiges or the Dogs comes, it will be sweet in a way a Hawks fan with their premiership glut could NEVER understand.

    Yours in empathy

  5. matt watson says:

    Paddy,
    I’ve often wondered why we don’t take more care in selecting our team.
    I follow North Melbourne, so I was thrilled with the win.
    It just seemed so inevitable when the game was over, that Richmond would falter.
    Such a shame.
    I follow North because the junior club I first played for, Oak Park, wore North Melbourne jumpers.
    My dad was a Footscray fan. Thankfully I bucked that paternal desire.
    North has won four premierships in my lifetime. That might seem lucky.
    But every fan goes through years of heartache.
    Premierships seem impossible to win.
    And for some clubs, the heartache just goes on and on…
    Do not give up on Richmond.
    Not if you love them.

  6. Chris Rees @4boat says:

    Paddy, i enjoyed that even though it hurt a bit. Our Tigers sometimes don’t deserve the fans they somehow still have in astonishing numbers. But they owe us, and they owe themselves, another crack at finals next year and I have faith they will make us all smile. Good on you and keep writing.

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