The Dickensian festive season footy fan (Part 2): The ghost of footy present

The Ghost of Footy Present


I set out to write this piece about the second club I adopted, Richmond, before the 2017 Preliminary Final had been played. Given the slings and arrows Richmond had suffered in recent decades and the deliverance a solitary finals victory represented, I was already overwhelmed at the prospect of writing about them with a clear mind. So I put it off for a while; wisely I thought.


What a big few months it has been in football since that dismantling of Geelong, so long impervious at home or far away at the MCG, now seemingly base-camp to the Hillary Step that was Adelaide in the Grand Final.


And what a present this “ghost” team is.


I could wax lyrical about the great and small things that accompany the journey of being a supporter of Richmond. Indeed, I most probably will do at some stage.


But my mind is on the here and now, as I reflect as a fan away from the feral hordes of Punt Road faithful.


As mentioned in my previous tale, Richmond, like Fitzroy, is about family. My grandpa (he of the yellow and black blood) passed his Tigerish love on to both my mother and my uncle, his own love had been forged from tales of his own uncle, Jack McConchie, who laced up the boots for Richmond in the 1930s, most notably playing in a 1933 final with a broken collarbone. His debut season echoed current wunderkind Jack Graham’s as the team won 6 games from 6 starts that he played in on the way to a flag. Unfortunately, my Jack didn’t take part in that flag and funnily enough considering the way my support would pan out, he played out the twilight of his career at Fitzroy.


When I heard tell of Jack, my imagination ran wild. He was the Robin to Jack Dyer’s Batman, the Aristotle to Doug Strang’s Plato…truth be told he played more reserves games than seniors.


When I first entered the hallowed halls of the Richmond FC social club after a win, I didn’t need my imagination… I was greeted by pennants, cups, sepia-toned photographs, a famous tiger skin and a budding left footer named Greg Tivendale.


It was this juxtaposition of sacred artifacts with an up-and-coming cub towering over me as he signed my jumper with a smile that solidified their status in my heart. Grandpa by my side, it was as close as I’ll ever get to following in the footsteps of Roald Dahl’s Charlie (of chocolate factory fame).


For all of Richmond’s power and glory held in 11 premiership cups (that second “1” is still a treat to write), seven Brownlow medals, crowd and membership records, all wrapped in 133 years of existence…the real power is held in the stands watching Dustin Martin take your breath away with an army of tigers snarling at your back. It is in the gnashing of teeth, primed to clamp down on the jugular of one Tony Liberatore after he’d clawed at the face of the heroic Matty Knights. It is in the stories penned by Dugald Jellie, at turns poignant, raw and colourful.


The glory is in watching Richo weep uncontrollably as the seconds ticked down to a flag for a list missing his name, but not his spirit. It is in a club that lurches from agony to ecstasy like no other. It draws you in with its presence, its volatility, the dichotomy of thin-skinned yet incredibly loyal fans and a song without peer in professional sport (with apologies to Liverpool FC). Richmond is not a requirement for the league but it is the league’s colour and movement that blends the muscle of Collingwood, the battler gravitas of the Bulldogs and at its peak, the swagger of Hawthorn.


Primarily I am a footy fan before all else, hence my ability to follow several clubs without issue. Any hatreds I harbour are more pantomime than visceral (possible exception for Mr Liberatore) and following Richmond has stoked the fires of my engagement with this grand old game better than any other side could have done…but I would say that, I follow Richmond.




Part 1 here


Jack McConchie via: Boyles Football Photos




A classic jack of all trades & master of a couple, Jarrod started his footy career as a gangly ruck after a growth spurt catapulted him to the lofty heights of 177cm as a 12-year-old. Forward pocket off the bench was where he ended up as he topped out at 178cm eight years later. The trajectory of a career in health fortunately didn't peak during the pre-teen years & a keen interest in footy has turned from playing to coaching, volunteering and writing.

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