Tiger Turbulence: From strained nerves to heavenly bliss


“Ahh here we go again. Another Tiger fan frothing over their success,” is what any neutral reading this is sure to think. And yeah, maybe some of us get a little insufferable. For a perpetual pessimist like me though, this last week and a half has been a real nerve jangler; now I feel it just deserves a self-indigent reminiscing upon.


Going back to just before Richmond’s prelim against Geelong my internal panic button didn’t know which alarm to sound. “What’s scarier?” I thought. “Loosing and blowing another big chance or winning and most likely seeing a Tigers-Pies Grand Final?” Such a prospect had even spawned a bad dream in the last few weeks where that very scenario had resulted in a one-point Richmond loss. Understandably, I was a bit on edge. I did find success in simply enjoying each moment when heading into the MCG that night of the prelim but come half time I was again a bit unnerved. 21 points down and part of me wanted to take consolation in the fact that at least that nightmare I’d had might not happen, but this soon made me feel ashamed of myself. “Damn it man, get your heart into it. You don’t deserve to see the win if you’re not willing to be brave and face up to scary prospects. There’s no place for that cowardly attitude here.” Re-galvanizing my investment proved to pay off, though with the margin at less than a goal at three-quarter time I was predictably shaky.


I don’t think I’m a superstitious guy, yet footy has a way of making me wonder. Though I sometimes ponder if thought patterns play an influence, I keep telling myself how utterly absurd such a notion is, but the ‘What if’ is always in the back of my mind. This probably has something to do with why I’m always thinking “Don’t get complacent; it’ll bite you in the backside.” Fortunately, the Tigers were able to come home strong that night, much to our joy.


Now though, given that it looked almost certain that Collingwood would beat the Giants, the scary thought loomed all the more enormous. This didn’t stop me from just enjoying the win at the time, however. “Just chill man. Enjoy it,” I kept telling myself.


Then came the unimaginable the next day. The Giants in squaring off against the Magpies did an amazing job of holding their own, and eventually got to looking like a surprise victory was on the horizon. Naturally, GWS were my preference in that game so when Collingwood’s last quarter do or die surge came, I started to do my defeatist thing again. “I can just see them finding a way to win here,” I thought with some agitation as the margin fell below three goals, two and then one goal. But somehow the Giants were able to just keep a nose hair in front when the final siren sounded and I gave a small outburst in front of my TV. This I quickly quelled as I thought “Don’t be too happy. If the Giants can pull that off then now they’re the ones looking scary. Be careful what you wish for, you just might get it.”


If all this nail biting wasn’t enough, the next day saw me hop along to the VFL grand final after some encouragement from my cousin Billy and here too was Richmond, taking on the Williamstown Seagulls. Today I was a lot more relaxed, but as fate would have it things would go right down to the wire yet again. After the Tigers had started strong and the Seagulls had fought back brilliantly, the final quarter’s dying minutes saw the margin at five points with Richmond in front. Then came not one but two posters from Williamstown and at that point everyone already on the edge of their seats would surely have fallen off had they gone any further. Like the Giants though, the VFL Tigers were just able to stay in front come the siren, but not without sending more than a few pulses racing. All this nerve straining stuff over the last three days had me pretty drained, happy as I was at each of the results. This feeling was starting to seem rather persistent, and the following week building up to the grand final was no exception.


All of those last few days before the big game I kept thinking “Don’t get complacent. A win is by no means certain.” Telling myself to just think about something else in the meantime tended to work okay. Fortunately though, I didn’t need to worry anywhere near as much as I’d expected in the end. Watching the game at Punt Road Oval was a great way to simply appreciate the atmosphere and given how one sided the result ended up being, all the frayed nerves of the last week quickly turned to blissful relief. It was like all the tension had just evaporated. “We’re home. Just relax and enjoy it now,” was the mood for whole of the final quarter.


In looking back though, this was a victory that made everything that’d come before it seem all the more meaningful. Though the Tigers might have made it look easy on Saturday, such a result did not at all reflect just how hard a season they’d weathered to reach this point. But with the victory achieved there was now only one thing left for me and so many other Tiger fans to do, celebrate.


Man, I love singing that song.



Apologies for the white (away) shorts but this drawing was done weeks ago when I had anticipated a higher placed Grand Final opponent waiting for the Tigers were they to make it.




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About Ben Kirkby

Ben moved to Melbourne at the start of 2016 from country NSW. Shortly after declaring his intent to live in Melbourne permanently, his uncle Sam suggested "If you're going to live here you've got to get along to the footy at some point". After seeing his first football match (Hawthorn vs Sydney, round 9 2016) Ben's interest in AFL took off in a way highly unexpected by both himself and his extended family. Ben's team alignment was uncertain for a time, seeing an interest taken primarily toward Hawthorn during much of the 2016 season, but during the finals series he declared his intent to follow the way of his cousins and uncle and become a Richmond Supporter, primarily on the grounds of them being the team he most wanted to see win, among a long list of other reasons. Needless to say the following year saw him very happy with his choice.


  1. Two flags in three years, Ben. That’s almost a Pickett-esque strike rate! I used to enjoy watching finals as a neutral, enjoying the drama with no skin in the game. I’m not sure that it’ll be quite as appealing in future! Let’s hope it’s a few years away.

  2. Ye of little faith, the BBRSC had sent it’s pre match magic message on both occasions! Superstitious? Me?…. never. Great story Ben, keep it going

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