Writing Richmond Together: A review of The Tigers’ Almanac 2017


Footy fans cheer together, barrack together, shout at the umpire together, and sometimes, cry together. During the third and fourth quarters of the 2017 Grand Final, when it became clear Richmond would be Premiers, many Richmond fans in the crowd – and elsewhere – started to shed tears. These were tears of joy, relief and euphoria.


Richmond fans were once fabled for being fickle: but this generalisation hasn’t been applicable for some years. Richmond fans have stuck fat through one rebuild after another and one disappointing finals campaign after another (2013-15). Richmond FC, now the Premier football club, is bursting at the seams with post-Premiership euphoria. Dollars are flowing into the Club as the fans lap up Premiership merchandise. Numerous categories of membership are already full. Good times indeed in the Land-formerly-known-as-Struggletown. Richmond was once a suburb to leave for greener outer suburbs, now Swan Street is trendy and apartments are valued for their ease of city access. The suburb and club have both had quite a turn-around.


A new book, The Tigers’ Almanac, edited by John Harms and Mandy Johnson, is a collection of stories by Richmond fans written throughout the ultimately overwhelmingly successful 2017 season. The book contains reports of all games and several on the Grand Final itself. There are several forewords by various Tiger-luminaries: John Carr, a fifth generation fan; Dugald Jellie, co-founder of Tiger Tiger Burning Bright and Cheryl Critchley, AFL Fans Association Vice-President. There is also a brief and very poignant piece by Rhett Bartlett – someone who not only carries a famous Richmond name, but also his own distinct perspective and love for Richmond (the Club). The cover is from a painting by Kate Birrell, whose paintings are humorous and imbued with footy knowledge.


The introduction, by John Harms, emphasises the narratives of the passion and loyalty of Richmond fans and that the Club is ‘good for football’. This volume provides an opportunity for making the reasons for this passion explicit, and to show the varieties in which their passion is expressed. For Carr, this passion stems from his family’s history which is linked to the suburb of Richmond and their trajectory from County Clare to Richmond and then outwards in the Melbourne burbs. For Jellie, it his is re-engagement with a Club and a desire to belong. Critchley finds fulfilment through seeing her own daughters’ happiness in the Club’s premiership, while also enjoying her son’s disdain for footy in general. The way we negotiate footy and our passions for our clubs shape who we are and the friendships we make or lose. Stories of friendships, conversations, longings permeate the book: somehow putting the unlikely Richmond success into a broader context. The frequent wins strengthen friendships and provide moments to reflect on those who are absent (Tim Kemm’s piece, for example).


This is a volume written by fans, for other fans. While Konrad Marshall has authored the insider’s account in his very popular book, A Season with Richmond, the authors included in this volume, write from a degree of separation from the Club itself. Yet, even if they are not ‘inside the four walls’ of RFC, Richmondish passion propels their writing and their years or decades of waiting and dying for a moment to witness a Premiership. This is a volume that has been written by members of the crowd (wherever they are): produced through a shared passion for writing and documenting what we love and think about, all year round. This volume, through its presence, asserts that the Fans should play a strong role in the writing of the history of the Club in which they invest their time, money and emotions. Like watching a game at home or on the telly, this book too has advertisements. Although these may be a curious addition for some, it also shows plainly where funds have to come from if indeed such a volume is going to be produced. [Yes, Andy, the costs are not insignificant – Ed]


Although many writers just contributed one piece, authors such as Sam Steele, Joe De Petro, Sarah Black, Paddy Grindlay and Jack Banister have several pieces in the book. Writing on Richmond is a part of their footy experience. Reflection on the game through writing complements the consumption of seemingly endless footy material that makes up a ‘Tiger Week’ (as outlined by Vaughan Menlove). The writers also contributed their photos: some showing their joy after the win, others wearing their Tiger gear out and about. Carr’s photos show his family’s Richmond heritage and show the intermingling of the Club with the suburb.


I was surprised by how much I enjoyed reading the game reports. The reports were close to the essays in style and references, with the games providing the framing devices for the authors’ thoughts. Two things struck me: first, how much emphasis the authors put on the social context of the game they reviewed. And, secondly, how quickly the Tiger writers sensed that something special was happening. Even in the first week, Banister writes, ‘and maybe the Tigers are back’.  By Round 4, Todorovic is already bursting with emotion: ‘was that the rain on my face or tears of pride and joy?’ Steele at Round 11, though, is more measured, seeing both an absence of tall forwards, but the plus of hard-tackling forwards who create ‘panic induced goals’. While later, De Petro enjoys the VFL game and Richmond’s history at Punt Road and bemoans the plastic constructs of Greater Western Sydney and the Gold Coast in his Round 18 Report. I hear you, bro.


The Tigers’ Almanac documents the everyday lives of fans who reveal their hopes, dreams and fears. The idiosyncratic tales of suburban and country life are juxtaposed with stories of travelling, longing and satisfaction. The book will rest happily on a shelf, in amongst other Richmondish books by Brian Hansen, Rhett Bartlett and Trevor Ruddell, Elliot Cartledge and Konrad Marshall. This one though, if I am not mistaken, is the first collectively written project.


Buy the book. Make your Richmondish friends happy. Torment your non-Tigerish friends and family with it.


Andy Fuller is a contributor to The Tigers’ Almanac 2017. In his piece he observes Richmond in the hours after the Grand Final. It is an attempt to be dispassionate, but his love of the Richmond Football Club shines through.


Presenting The Tigers’ Almanac 2017. Read all about it HERE.

Purchase The Tigers’ Almanac 2017 HERE.




  1. Yvette Wroby says

    Great review. Such a great read for a moment in footy history. Thanks for your words.

  2. Andy
    Now that this is the second Almanac devoted to the Premiership team, the Bulldogs Almanac being the 2016 version, a question I’d be asking as a reviewer is whether the concept would work every year. My strong sense is that the answer is “no”.

    Both the Dogs and the Tigers won their Flags under extraordinary circumstances and after long droughts. There was heightened romance and emotion associated with the results, not to mention an unusually complex plot through the season as Richmond went from struggler with coach under pressure, to re-invented contender but still prone to “Richmondy” lapses, to the real deal, with the Dustin Martin intrigue bubbling away in the background.

    All this provided rich material for the writers and helped us create what I hope is an interesting narrative of how this remarkable season evolved. By contrast, I don’t think “The Hawks’ Almanac 2014”, for example, would be a particularly entertaining publication!

  3. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    This review almost makes this Crows supporter want to read the book Andy. Almost.

  4. Thank you for your comments Yvette, Stainless and Swish.
    Yvette: I enjoyed listening to you discuss your book, while in Adelaide, a couple of days after the Tiges beat Port :)
    Stainless: I agree with you partly. I don’t deny that the Dogs and Tiges wins were indeed worthy of such volumes. But, I also don’t think Footscray and Richmond fans have a duopoly on the kind of stories told in this book. Their premiership wins provided a clear framing device for the stories and of course make it much more marketable – as also applies to Konrad Marshall’s book.
    Richmond provides a lot of material for writers: the suburb, the Struggletown history, the gangsters, the fabled glory years, the near-banktruptcy, the saving of the club by the fans, the perpetual disappointments, the gradual improvement and the out-of-the-blue success. Quite a different story would be told if Greater Western Sydney were to win.
    I hope another volume of this kind is produced next year – regardless of who wins. I don’t have much interest in the Adelaide Crows, but, if they were to win the flag next year, Swish could just about write the lot. That, I would also read.
    Swish: see previous comment.

  5. Andy
    I think I may have been unclear in my comment. I’m not claiming any special rights for the Dogs or the Tigers, except that their 2016 and 2017 seasons were exceptional and worth recounting. Any club can have a remarkable year worthy of a book – and they don’t always have to be premiership years. Of course, the premiership tag makes such books more marketable, but in some years, the Premiers’ stories are relatively mundane. E.g. I would read an account of Geelong’s 2007 Flag but I doubt that I’d be so interested in 2009 or 2011.
    Had Adelaide won this year, I agree that their story would have been pretty compelling too.

  6. Great review, thanks Andy.

    “Writing on Richmond is a part of their footy experience. Reflection on the game through writing complements the consumption of seemingly endless footy material that makes up a ‘Tiger Week’ (as outlined by Vaughan Menlove).”

    This is exactly how it felt for me. Writing became a part of the whole experience. Reflecting on what we’d seen and where it sat. It’s nice looking back now though at how pissed I got after Freo, GWS & Adelaide first time around. In hindsight – it all looks very different!

  7. steve todorovic says

    Wholeheartedly agree with all the comments above, Andy.

    You beautifully summed up the reason d’etre for why I scribbled down my thoughts after watching the West Coast win in round three with my two daughters. There were far better and more significant wins to come in season 2017 but that match and the long walk back to the car, in the pouring rain, was the moment when I saw the same level of passion, excitement and commitment in my daughters, that I first experienced 50 years ago. I just had to express it in some way that would last the test of time and The Almanac gave me that opportunity. It was a thrill for all of us, the girls more so than myself, when that very modest piece was included in the Tiger Almanac.

    I’ve thoroughly loved reading each and every story and reflection. A good friend saw me today after having only been given the book a few days ago. She said that the first tears were flowing after reading John’s Loyalty foreword…..and each story since just keeps her crying…with pride and joy!! That’s why this book, as you mentioned, is as significant as any other written about the mighty yellow and black. It captures the absolute essence of what it’s like to be a member of the Tiger Army. Well done by all contributors. You should all be justifiably proud of the final publication.

    And to John and Mandy, thank you again, for giving myself and the rest of the Tiger faithful, the opportunity and public forum to share our reflections and reports. Our go to place, in losses and better still by far, in all those great wins. The launch at Percy’s was symbolic of the Tiger’s season. Played out at a frenetic, hot pace, in an area where space was at a premium, it was as difficult to get a beer at the bar as it was for teams to clear the footy from the Tiger forward 50. And, as was so typical of 2017, we all got to sing that great song once again.

    Best wishes to all for a peaceful and happy Christmas and may your 2018 bring you as much joy as 2017 did!

  8. Thank you JBanister and Steve for your comments.
    Yes, I agree wholeheartedly with the points you both make. It’s great to see the match reports reprinted – seeing how differently some games look several months down the track and one more Cup on the shelf.
    Steve, as for that West Coast game: seeing Rioli’s goal up close (well, I was ground level, Punt Road End) was one of my most enjoyable Richmond moments. What a thrill those early games of the season were: seeing the team playing with passion once more.

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