Round 20 – Richmond v Gold Coast: A sunny day for Tiger faithful.

For Tigers fans, sitting in the sun at the Punt Road End of the MCG, as the Tigers kick away to a big win, is about as good as it gets. At so it was for me, my mate and his son, as the Tigers steam-rolled the Suns on Sunday afternoon. Before this match Richmond’s record against the league’s second newest club hadn’t been great. The Tigers had won one of the previous, and only, four encounters. The first three matches had been played in Cairns after Richmond sold their home games to be played in the tropics. I guess the Tigers saw easy wins to go with the largesse from the sale of the games. Then Richmond football director, Craig Cameron, described the deal as “the best of both worlds”.

But the plan backfired. It was the worst of both world’s: the Tiges played home games about 3,000 kms from home, and lost more than they won. Even Karmichael Hunt got in on the act. His goal after the siren giving the Suns a win, and the AFL the highlights on the Queensland news that they so desperately craved. Last year instead of playing Carlton in the traditional season opener, Richmond travelled to the Gold Coast and were beaten again. In such a short history the Tigers already have a rivalry with the Suns.
So this match was to be the first time the two teams have met in Melbourne. It’s been a pretty cold winter down here, but Sunday was a perfect day for footy. As with all fans whose team is in the run for the finals I’d studied every permutation and computation of wins and losses to deduce all possible roads to the finals. The outcome was pretty simple. Keep winning and the Tigers are a chance for the top four, start losing, and they might miss the finals all together. And win they did.
The Tigers kicked six goals in the opening term. Brett Deledio delivering the ball lace out to Jack Riewoldt a brilliant start to the day. The Tigers led by 25 points at quarter time. The quarter time stat that has been reported on frequently since the game is that the Tigers only laid one tackle. In the way the modern game is analysed and dissected this was noted as a weakness for the Tigers. But you know, you don’t tackle the opposition when you’ve got the ball. And one quarter does not a season make.
The second quarter was a more even affair. Tom Lynch showed plenty for the Gold Coast and his goal after the half time siren kept the Suns in the match.  In the second half the Tigers kicked away  kicking 14 goals to three. The Suns already substantial injury list was added to leaving them undermanned and undersized. There were eleven individual goal-kickers for the Tigers, six of whom kicked multiple goals. The final goal of the day was kicked by Tyrone Vickery. The goal umpire, having no sense for the occasion ordered a video review.  Robbing the moment.


It was great to see the game played in an expansive manner with plenty of goals kicked. And it was great to be amongst the faithful at the Punt Rd end. Like a massive therapy group, we understood each other’s pain. The Dad in “Looks like a bit of brainwashing going on here.”
“Bit of brainwashing never hurt anybody.”
“It hurt me!”
After the game we had a kick on the ground before meandering down to Richmond Station. The merriment and banter between the Tiger Army was fun. We ran into Richmond players Sam Lloyd, Ben Lennon and Kamdyn McIntosh. Friendly guys happy with the win. Then coach Damien Hardwick appeared. Friendly and engaging, he had photos with all the kids.
On a day Bollywood star Sonam Kapoor had handed the ball to umpires and tweeted the moment to her 7.5 million followers and an expansion franchise, whose short history has involved code-hoppers, superstars and scandal, played a traditional club who previously had sold their game away from the heartland. It’s always good to be reminded of what makes footy great. Sitting in the sun, amongst the brethren, at the Punt Road End.

About Chris Daley

Tiger fan Chris Daley works in Community Nursing, which has taken him to Perth, Broome and now Dandenong. Being tall, he used to get a game in the ruck playing bush footy outside of Warrnambool.

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