The Footygods: Sisyphus

Sisyphus came from a famous family although he didn’t like some of them all that much. He had a brother called Salmoneus who he spent much of his time trying to kill. It seems that he liked killing people generally. People would stay at his place and he would kill them too. It didn’t go down well with the gods who thought that you should be hospitable to your guests, even if they did follow Collingwood. Anyway, one thing led to another and the gods finally had their revenge. They gave him a giant rock to push up a hill. When he got it close to the top, it would slowly roll back down and he would get to start all over again.

It reminds you a bit of the draft. You can do really badly and go down to the bottom of the ladder. There you can wait for the draft to hand you some gun midfielder and a couple of forwards. But the worst is when you’re stuck in the middle of the table: too good to get some really good draft picks but not good enough to threaten late in September. Like Richmond.

What was it that the tigers did to make the gods treat them this way? Was it how they treated Hafey after he took them all the way to a premiership? Was it the way they killed their coaches almost yearly? Are they to spend their existence moving up and sliding back down the middle of the ladder?

Even those who don’t like the black and gold would admit that they have suffered enough. That is one of the problem with the gods. They don’t show much mercy. For them, the season never comes to an end.



  1. Phil Dimitriadis says

    Good call Ian,

    Richmond have definitely had a Sisyphusian curse over them for the last 30 years. Bulldogs, Saints, Demons and perhaps Freo may be under the same spell. Damn that hill and that boulder!

  2. Great stuff, Ian. Reminds me of the lyrics to a Jessie Winchester song from the early 70’s “Do It”. Great man – wrote “The Brand New Tennessee Waltz” and pissed most of it away. Story of my life – and the Tigers and the Saints – lucky the Avenging Eagle whipped me into shape.

    “If the wheel is fixed
    I would still take a chance
    If we’re treading on thin ice
    Then we might as well dance
    So I play the fool
    But I can’t sit still
    Help me get this rock
    To the top of this hill

    Do it
    ‘Til we’re sick of it
    Do it ’till you can’t do it no more

    Friends will pity you
    I guess that’s what they’re for
    But they just take you like they find you
    When they find you on the floor

    But you do it
    Til you sick of it
    Do it til you can’t do it no more”

    ©1972 Jesse Winchester
    From the LP “Third Down, 110 To Go”

    Back to the top

  3. Alovesupreme says

    After the heinous offences of the 1973 Grand Final, I’m not certain I can agree with the sentiment that “the yellow* and black” have suffered their full measure, even if that does make me sound like a missionary in the cause of people against lenient sentencing (which I’m not).

    * Given their acknowledged fine theme song, I prefer yellow to gold.

  4. Interesting concept Ian but……Geelong spent a lot of time in the middle of the ladder and they have managed to rock to the top.

    The water from their recruiting Wells is apparently very sweet.

  5. Ian – unfortunately the analogy doesn’t quite work. Sisyphus got his boulder almost to the top of the hill before it tumbled. Richmond only ever gets halfway!

    There’s nothing heinous about beating up (and beating) Carlton in a Grand Final. The footy gods rewarded Richmond for its efforts with two further Flags after ’73!

  6. Alovesupreme says

    We’re all entitled to our prejudices, but I would argue the trajectory of the Tigers’ fortunes post 1973 confirm the adage “The mills of God grind slowly, but they grind exceeding small”.

  7. Adam Muyt says

    “Even those who don’t like the black and gold would admit that they have suffered enough”.

    Absolutely not. I want this club to suffer for eternity. Richmond remain the one final element of the saga of Fitzroy’s demise that still generates anger and passion in me. I will NEVER forgive this club for it’s role in screwing over Fitzroy and those Fitzroy supporters wanting to support a club in Melbourne through the proposed merger with North. (And I’m not referring to the last game in Melbourne shellacking -150 points- the Tiggers gave us. I couldn’t give a shit about that result actually). Leon Daphne sat on the stage with Ross Oakley for gawd sakes, the night he announced Fitzroy was off to Brisbane.

    But I admit, I have met some nice Tigger supporters over the years…

  8. Malcolm Allbrook says

    Sisyphus yes, but the lessons of Tantalus work even better for St Kilda and the Bulldogs, with Freo starting to pay for their crimes with a definite shift towards tantalic (?) retribution. For those unaware of the story of this particularly nasty demi-god (son of Zeus we are told), amongst other charming acts, Tantalus did not warm to his son Pelops, deciding he would make a nice meal for the gods. Cutting him into pieces he boiled him and tried to serve him up as a banquet for Zeus and the panel of deities. They realised what was going on and, after Demeter had eaten part of Pelops’ shoulder, consigned Tantalus to stand in a pool of water beneath branches laden with luscious fruits. Whenever he reached to pick one, the branches lifted, always there, always just beyond reach. Whenever, he stooped to drink, the waters receded.

    What was Tantalus’ crime? Always a fair question in classical Greek cosmology and absolutely necessary if the perpetrator is to seek absolution. You have to ask the oracle the right question to get the right answer – take note the three above who have clearly done something to offend the footy gods. Was it that he had killed, cut up and cooked his son? Or that he had tried to serve him up as the main course? That Pelops was too tough and stringy? Or that he had failed to add salt and pepper? The panel of gods are not bound by the normal rules of justice and morality – think of them as ultimately malevolent, their sense of humour akin to the Taliban or a bikie cell. For those of us consigned to be followers of Freo, St Kilda, Richmond, Melbourne, the Bulldogs, a bit of effort to identify the original crime and advice on suitable absolution from the oracle, a bribe in other words, will I am sure go a long way. Anyone travelling to Delphi in the next few weeks?

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