So painfully, agonisingly and tigerishly close

If today has taught me anything, it’s this: don’t sit in an area cluttered with fragile objects when you’re watching the football – especially if you happen to follow a team like Richmond.

Just don’t.

Remove yourself from the area as things start to get heated. Go for a walk with the radio or, better yet, actually go to the game. Otherwise, you’ll break a lamp like I did and have your mum come after you with a wooden spoon the way mine did. She was cooking at the time, hence the spoon, and as I sent the pillow forcefully on its way, I knew that if I didn’t make a dash for it up the stairs, the spoon would soon be flying in my direction.

But while glass shattered and sirens sounded, I didn’t move. I just watched on as blue and yellow jumpers rejoiced, while Chris Newman screamed in fury and flung his mouth guard at the turf in disgust.

With some effort, I peeled myself off the couch, mumbled an apology to mum and promised to pay for a new one. I then made a half-hearted attempt to sweep up what was left of the lamp, replaced the pillow and slumped my way up the stairs. I had entered my post-siren depression. The rest of the evening was to have a bitter taste to it, I could tell.

A half finished politics assignment saw me watching the Tiges on the couch. Not an ideal way to watch the footy, but I didn’t really mind. I’ve got it in for Etihad. To be honest, I don’t think I’ve ever actually seen Richmond win there first hand, bar the ‘it meant-nothing-at-all-really,’ win over Hawthorn in the ‘this-isn’t-really-football’ round robin back in February.

It really doesn’t count for much.

But I shrugged off my doubts and settled on the couch with a cup of tea and some shortbread. How civilised, I thought to myself. No pies for me today.

As the siren sounded, my eyes lit up, because all I could see was yellow and black. The Tigers were everywhere. They ran in waves, they linked up, they supported one another. It was extremely encouraging to watch. Big Ivan Maric snapped the first – his flowing, luscious locks streaming behind him as he ran back to contest the next bounce. What a sight.

As quick as you like, Martin slotted another and all of a sudden Richmond was two goals up and looked to be on song. West Coast then banged on the next couple, with Hille, Hams and Darling doing the damage. It began what was to become an arm wrestle of a day.

At quarter-time, only seven points separated them, a margin that was quickly added to in the second quarter, as the Eagles got on a bit of a roll. Priddis was excellent around the stoppages, made only more volatile by the supreme ruckwork of Nick Natinui. Every time the Eagles kicked away, Richmond would claw their way back – desperation being their only combatant against West Coast’s sublime skills.

The closing of a 26-point deficit was made even sweeter for Richmond fans, with the sight of Jacky Riewoldt climbing on the shoulders of all in sundry to take an absolute screamer. He went back and slotted the goal. It was the Jack we all know and love. I was so happy to see his spirit back.

Normally I would take the halftime break to peruse the record or go for a wander, but being in the comfort of my home, I attempted to make a start on my assignment. Foolish idea. I got about as far as re-wording the prompt before I decided this wasn’t going to work. I slinked back along the hallway to the couch and watched the ads instead. A halftime well spent.

The momentum continued to shift and sway in the third. Jackson somehow managed to barge his way through the Eagles defence to kick a first, albeit scrubby, goal – one that preceded Brandon Ellis’ first goal in the AFL.

The Eagles went into three-quarter-time only 2 points up. We were still so heavily in this game, making it that much more frustrating to reflect on.

In the last quarter, it seemed that every challenge the Tigers threw at the Eagles was answered, and then bettered. The minutes ticked away, with the Tigers struggling to gain any sort of upper hand.

Then Miller goaled and, somehow, we were in front. I could almost taste it. I dreamt of reading about our toppling of the ‘big boys’ in tomorrow’s papers. I was so happy. The lid was off. We were going to win.

It was as Darling snapped the ball over his shoulder for a goal with only ten seconds remaining that I threw the pillow – much the way Newman would soon send his mouth guard hurtling towards the ground. I’m not proud of it. I should probably be a little more level-headed about these things.

But I am a one of those long-suffering Tiger supporters you hear about. You see us behind the goals, on the T.V, in the pubs, on the streets – we’re everywhere. And we do suffer. I know we’re improving, I know we’re getting there. But we’ve been “getting there” for thirty years now and I, for one, am impatient soul.

That’s why I throw pillows at lamps.

Twitter @cathdurkin

About Catherine Durkin

Catherine Durkin, who has been writing for the Almanac since her high school days, is now a reporter and presenter for Fox Sports News, based in Sydney


  1. Jack – one grab does not a season make.
    Jack Jack – Darling kicked the last goal in the dying seconds to put us 10 pts up. Marsten’s put us back in front.
    Jack Jack Jack – “Miller gaoled.” Should have been Jack.
    Jack Jack Jack Jack – The umpires feel so sorry for him they have to give him his goals.
    Jack Jack Jack Jack Jack – Nice midfield you’ve got there. Pity Jack’s on the end of it.
    Jack Jack Jack Jack Jack Jack (+ Tyrone) – That’s why you throw pillows at lamps.
    Jack Jack Jack Jack Jack Jack Jack – Suggest you ask him to pay Mum for the lamp.

  2. Duly noted, amendments made. Marsten’s quick pass off to Darling was what got me.

    As for Jack, the ability is there, he’s a wonderful player. His Coleman medal from a couple of years back speaks for that. We saw glimpses of what he can do today but his head just isn’t in the right place. It’s no excuse but I have faith that he will come good. Maybe a run in the seconds will give him the shake up he needs.

    And as for throwing things at lamps, I started doing that long before Ty and Jack came on the scene. But I’ll send an invoice off to the club and let you know how it goes.

  3. Jack be nimble, Jack be quick, but two poor late conversions let it slip.

    Heart breaking Catherine.

  4. Maybe if late sixties cult hero Billy Jack was there to beat up the evil bullies from the west the result would have been different Peter.

  5. Dave Nadel says

    And my name’s Jack and I live in a pack at the Matthew Richo home for wayward full forwards.
    (Courtesy Manfred Mann 1968)

  6. Thanks for raising Richo’s name, Dave. I had been reflecting on why I dislike Jack R and celebrate Richo? What is the dividing line between passionate and petulant? My thought was that it has something to do with the reason why they ‘spit the dummy’. With Richo, my perception was that he was always doing it for the team. With Jack R my perceptions are that it is about him. Richo did the wrong things often, but for the right reasons. So we forgave him his ‘dummy spits’. I gave Jack R the benefit of the doubt last year because I thought he was probably carrying a groin injury. This year it seems more attitude and inability to work in to a team plan.
    On a related issue – one of our football writers in the West Australian (Mark Duffield) wrote a generally interesting article on the weekend about the best West Australian raised players of the last 25 years. He had Buddy Franklin at #3. Give me a break. He is talented and great on his day. But he is the opposite of team oriented. He tries to do it on his own all the time, from what I saw at Subi a week ago. A legend in his own lunchtime.
    Duffield’s top 10 was Black (deservedly); Cousins (too high); Franklin (ditto); Jakovich; Matera (higher); Cox; Sandilands; McKenna (higher); Bell; Corey. His honourable omissions were Glass, Kemp and Winmar.

  7. PB,

    a ten point win against the Tigers appears to demand a an adjusted perspective after yesterday, one would think. And you had your best squad available, to boot.

  8. Dave Nadel says

    PeterB 25 years takes you back to 1987. Shouldn’t Jimmy Krakouer be included in the ten top Western Australians?

    I have a problem with your general argument that top players must be team oriented to be included because Gary Ablett Senior is probably the best player I have ever seen but he was a lot less team oriented even than Buddy Franklin. At least Buddy knows the names of the players he isn’t passing to, alledgedly Gary never did.

  9. Phil Dimitriadis says

    Cath, I watched the game on TV and I reckon that there is cause for optimism. You can build a team around a classy midfield and Riewoldt will get better once he gets a bit more confidence. A really good line-breaking defender would make a huge difference to the Tiges. Tough early draw hasn’t helped, but it may steel them for the rest of the season. Really enjoyed watching them play yesterday.

  10. Jeez Dave,

    you are up and about early in the week. It is good to see you taking the fight up to PB though. he needs tag teaming when he gets like this.

    Obviously the Eagles have the flag in the bag even at this early stage. I might go to Macquarie Island for the winter. There’s no eagles, just a few old cats hanging on for dear life down there.

  11. i once broke a glass, now the set of eight is a set of seven…sorry mum.

  12. Good point about Jimmy Krakouer, Dave. I guess it depends on where he fits on the 25 year time line. His best footy was certainly before then. Quickly looking at some stats, North were on the skids from 1988 onwards and I am guessing that he was also declining with age. Went to the elephant’s graveyard at St Kilda in the end. At his best he is in the top 3 of the players listed.
    Dunno about the team V brilliance thing. The modern greats generally comes down to an Ablett Snr; Carey; Matthews discussion. I have always been a Matthews supporter, because he could fill so many roles and was so consistently good. Made the unremarkable remarkable – week on week; year on year.
    Maybe its just our own personal criteria as to what weightings we give different attributes.
    In my view Ablett Snr is the the exception that proves the rule. He was so consistently brilliant, that it outweighed his ‘team/game plan’ limitations. Carey and Matthews by contrast were very team oriented.
    I just reckon that players like RiewoldtJ and Buddy make it very difficult for coaches and team mates to build a winning strategy around. What will they do next? How are their biorhythms today?

  13. You’re right, Phil, they did play a very good brand of football. As I watched Grimes sidle up alongside Lynch in defence I thought we were in a bit of strife. But they seemed to hold up well in the back line with Bachelor clunking anything that came his way. Midfield was also extremely fluid and exciting.

    But I think it is because we played so well that I was so angry. We had so many opportunities where we could of, and should have, snatched an unlikely win. All these years we have been playing shocking football and losing by hefty margins. Now, we’re playing great football, but still can’t manage to neatly tie off a game the way we should against the sides that matter.

    Definitely great cause for optimism and the draw has been brutal, but my porridge still had a bit taste to it this morning.

  14. Stainless says

    I don’t think I’ve broken a lamp while watching the Tigers but I’ve certainly been the cause of numerous shatterings of domestic tranquility. I sympathise with your plight.

    Yesterday was definitely a game better watched at the ground. Somehow, being there, the sense of the inevitable was more palpable – the numerous TV viewers I’ve spoken to all expressed similar frustrations to you, and yet I felt pretty certain all along that we would struggle to win in a close finish, especially with such an under-sized defence. My take at the end was that I was happier to lose and still have Brett Deledio out on the park, than win and have him sidelined for the year with an ACL (which for 10 minutes looked likely).

    I think Jack’s slowly getting his mojo back. OK he cost us a couple of big opportunities, but I would certainly take issue with those who reckon he’s not playing for the team. And he wasn’t alone in squandering chances. If I could be heretical for a minute, could I nominate Dustin Martin as one who has let us down at crucial moments in several of our games this year, missing very gettable shots. If he wants to fulfil his “superstar” potential, he’ll need to address that aspect of his game very quickly.

  15. Skip of Skipton says

    I watched all of that game yesterday and really enjoyed it. Ivan Maric looks a good recruit. Gives some grunt and goes well around the ground. His helping out in defence was significant too. Got a bath from Nic Nat at the centre bounces but he won’t be the last in that regard. Jack Riewold needs to get out and lead more. Miller is showing him up. Don’t know what to do with Vickery. Maybe back to Coburg to concentrate on learning the ruck trade. Dustin Martin is ready to explode. He will kick a dozen one day soon.

  16. Ah, breaking things because of the footy. I hear you loud and clear. Smashed my flag in 2 the day Sydney beat Richmond at Waverley in 1996. Smashed it on the bench seat in front of me. Few remote controls here and there, i like kicking things…that seems to help. Not things that will break but that make a good sound. And Jack will be ok…very team oriented last year but assists have been down this year. Forward line lacking cohesiveness so far, was our forte last year. Next week…

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