Round 18 – Richmond v GWS: Hawks fan turns yellow and black (for a day)


It’s been years since I attended a game that didn’t feature Hawthorn. Little inspires me to drag body and soul outdoors in winter. Yet here I was, lunching in the Long Room with my guest, determined to support him in his passion for the Tigers. A rusted-on fan since our school days, he’s known mostly disappointment, near-misses and glimpses of promise. But it’s different this year.


There’s probably no better second team than a well-performing Richmond. The supporters seem galvanised, hopeful, dreamy (but rarely cocky, for they’ve trodden that path too many times).


We started on the train. Mainly fathers and sons, decked out in the gear. A burst of the song here, a match preview there, talk of odds and a top-four finish. And the dare-to-dream undercurrent. It’s been a while for this crew. I boarded an outsider, yet I’m already in.


Game time as my guest and I finished lunch (“The best I’ve eaten at the footy,” he declared). The Giants were on early, skipping out before a nervy Richmond had even turned the key. Three easy goals against the sullen Tigers. Light rain added to the gloom.


Tiger of the moment Dustin Martin opened the second quarter with a clearance, Daniel Rioli finished off. I’m missing Cyril, but this younger version provided his own highlights.


“This is better, they’re finding their feet.” Special comments courtesy of my old school friend. On cue, a Tiger slipped and fell.


The lights were on, small puddles shining beneath the wattage. Midway, the rain steadied, Jack found some ball and the Tigers put on four, owning the quarter.


Looking around our bay I noticed an intensity in the Members I’d not experienced. The fever of the Tiger army is well known. What I wasn’t prepared for was the fire in the eyes, the set of the jaw above a tightly wrapped scarf.


The showers lifted just on half-time, Richmond by a goal.


We enjoyed the afternoon tea ritual, then back to the theatre. An early goal from Riewoldt opened the quarter, and the sun emerged, cutting the ground in two. It lasted all of a minute. Richmond’s game was riddled with skill errors and poor decisions. Yet they kept pressing, running in waves and tackling with fury. Late in the quarter the rain returned, this time for good. Sheeting down, it sent all but the poncho-clad into retreat. A deft shepherd from Martin saw through a snap from big man Nankervis. It gave Richmond a handy break in filthy weather.


My guest’s demeanour mirrored the fortunes of his team. Initially weighed down by the Long Room’s carvery, he soon found voice and animation. The same could be said of most of the Members’ Reserve.


A subdued start to the final act from both players and crowd. Do they think they’ve done enough? Even I know that’s been the undoing of many a yellow and black victory march. GWS scored in zero visibility, bringing concern to our row.


“It’s become a scrap,” my nervous guest observed. Slips, fumbles, and poor soccer kicks. Ten minutes of survival footy. A little better for Richmond, with a 20-point lead. But still the edge-of-seat-nails-between-teeth Tiger fans.


Rioli, quiet since the main break, spoiled a certain Giants mark and time was on Richmond’s side. A GWS goal soon after restored the tension. Answered by a banana from Castagna, my guest found the poise to proclaim, “That’s it”. And it was.


It’s an odd feeling to share in the jubilation of others at the football. As they sang the song (that song) I managed to prise away my old schoolmate’s scarf for a photo. I’ll never support Richmond, but I left a fan.



RICHMOND                                   0.2     4.6     8.8     9.10     (64)

GREATER WESTERN SYDNEY     3.4     3.5     4.5     6.9     (45)



Richmond: Riewoldt 2, Martin, McIntosh, Lambert, Castagna, Rioli, Caddy, Nankervis

Greater Western Sydney: Haynes, Patton, Greene, Whitfield, Kelly, Ward



Richmond: Martin, Cotchin, Vlastuin, B.Ellis, Rance, Lambert

Greater Western Sydney: Ward, Davis, Shiel, Wilson, Williams



Richmond: Nil

Greater Western Sydney: Shiel (right arm)


Reports: Toby Greene (GWS) reported for striking Alex Rance in the first quarter


Umpires: Rosebury, Mitchell, Mollison


Official crowd: 33,467 at the MCG

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