Round 21: Richmond v Hawthorn — the game that divides a family

When marriage occurs in Victoria , negotiation is necessary on football teams. Some are fortunate enough to have met someone who supports the same team as they do, but the majority of couples have a dilemma.

There are two paths that the couple can go down:

1. The less passionate footy follower agrees to give up their team in order to maintain a happy and harmonious family.

2. Both of them are too stubborn and passionate to give up their team. They decide that instead of making football-viewing a family event they make it a family competition, causing division and turmoil for at least one game a season.

My parents chose option 2.

And so Dad took it upon himself to make my brother and sister Hawthorn lovers. I, as the last child, was brought up to follow Mum’s Tigers. There was no way she was living in a house with four Hawks and she the only Tiger.

Since then we’ve followed our teams with great passion, going to the Melbourne games in rain, hail or shine. I’ve seen both teams play at a number of grounds, on the Gold Coast, and in Brisbane, Sydney and Tasmania. I’ve often been mistaken for a Hawk follower as I go with the others to every Hawthorn match. But just so I’m clear, that is solely for the love of football, and I am there purely as a neutral supporter.

We usually get along fine as different supporters. All family members have the other team as their second. (Or so they say) But today sometimes passion takes over. Disagreements are made over everything from when we arrive at the game (for Mum and I, if the players have already had their pre-game warm up we’re late, the others think if we beat the banners we’re early) to draft picks (2004 comes up a lot) to the game’s match-ups and predictions.

Today both parties aren’t liking they’re chances. Dad reels off all the young kids Hawthorn have in their side. I just tell him Richmond are pathetic.

As we arrive I sit next to my sister Bron and Mum. I feel safe here, Mum’s on my side, and Bron should be nice about winning.

Bron’s man, Luke Hodge, leads the Hawks onto the ground in his 150th game. I discretely give a little clap; after watching the Hawks for many years I have great respect for Luke and he’s one of my favorites from the Hawks.

A huge roar is heard for Graham Polak; it’s truly inspirational what he’s done. I really hope he can make some contribution tonight but I’m not expecting much.

The first quarter looks all right. Riewoldt and Jackson both kick goals while Dowler and Lewis do the same for Hawthorn. The Hawks look shaky though. Buddy seems to have the yips and is receiving a lot of attention from Richmond players and supporters alike.

Hawks find a bit of form in the second with Lance starting to find form as he kicks three for the quarter. Richmond are lucky Roughead is injured.

Nathan Brown makes a good case as to why he should stay at Richmond next year. He beautifully puts the ball on Morton’s chest in the goalsquare only to follow up with a lovely bit of roving, finishing up with a goal.

The people behind are explaining AFL to some English friends. So far the game hasn’t showcased what makes it so great. They explain who Ben Cousins is and right on cue he kicks a goal, keeping the Tigers in the match.

At half-time Dad reckons it’s anyone’s game. Mum and I think he just says these things so that when Richmond fail he can go on a rant explaining how disappointing Richmond can be.

Then the unthinkable occurs. Cousins weaves through Hawthorn players only to run into a Lance Franklin bump. Cousins is down and the Richmond fans once again start getting into Buddy. Dad and I argue over the bump, he says it was clean, I say it was head high, so he’s in danger.

Cuz isn’t the end of it. With Thursfield already off with an ACL as diagnosed by my physiotherapist-in-training sister, more players start to go down. Jackson injures his foot, Newman does his knee, Edwards is strangely holding his eye and Thompson is hobbling around. Not to mention a bloke in his first game back after being hit by a tram who’s only supposed to be playing in small doses.

The Tigers attempt to battle on in the fourth. Tuck kicks back-to-back goals and Morton snaps his third around his body. But the injuries are too much and Hawthorn get away yet again with goals to McGlynn and Buddy.

Deledio wraps up back-to-back Jack Dyer medals as he kicks two goals, topping off his 36-disposal game. I don’t know if I’m happy with a 22-year-old achieving successive best-and-fairest awards.

Another disagreement between our two football part-families occurs as we leave. Dad likes to beat the crowd, while Mum and I regardless of the score (apart from that terrible game against Geelong, of course) stick it out till the final siren. We compromise and watch the last few minutes standing behind the goals next to the exit.

Jack misses a shot after the siren. It seems to be in the Riewoldt blood. It’s the last thing I’ll witness live at a Richmond game this year. I farewell them, I’ll be back at the same place in Round 1 to see them take on the Blues.

Not a lot of sledging takes place in the car after the match. They know beating Richmond isn’t anything to be proud of, and they know their season has been just as bad as ours.

The disastrous season is almost over for the Allan family.

Richmond 2.2 7.3 9.6 14.9 (93)
Hawthorn 2.6 8.11 13.14 20.15 (135)


Richmond: Riewoldt 3, Morton 3, Tuck 2, Deledio 2, Jackson, Cousins, Brown, Tambling.
Hawthorn: Franklin 5, Dowler 4, Osbourne 3, Rioli 2, Kennedy 2, McGlynn 2, Hodge, Lewis.


Richmond: Deledio, Brown, Jackson, Morton, Riewoldt.
Hawthorn: Hodge, Franklin, Sewell, Mitchell, Osbourne, Dowler.


  1. Good work Michael :)
    my parents are option 2 aswell.
    Mum is only interested in her team Carlton when the play Dad’s Collingwood team.
    Because im a daddy’s girl i was easily devoted to Collingwood while my younger brother doesnt like footy at all.
    I think that IF i marry a non Collingwood supporter i will also give in to option 2!
    First piece of baby clothing for my kid? A COLLINGWOOD JERSEY!


  2. Steve Healy says

    Great piece Michael,

    I’m neither option. My Dad and most of his family go for the Dees while my Mum went for no one, because she came from England as a kid. But my family (apart from me, of course) aren’t very passionate footy supporters.

    I’ve always loved to know what the two-team families are like.

  3. It all makes sense to me now Steve. You got an entire family’s worth of footy passion stuffed into you. :-)

  4. Damian Watson says

    Great piece Michael,

    Do you think Buddy deserved one week?

  5. Michael Allan says

    I though it was a little unfair Damian, it seemed like a fair bump to me. I guess it doesn’t help that Cuz is half Buddy’s size. He would be off if it wasn’t head high contact.

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