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We’ve finally done it: The tale of a Tiger (AFL 2017)

A deep insight into one of the longest premiership droughts finally being ended, and the effect it has had on their 70,000+ members.

Years of disappointment

For years we were the laughing stock. For years we were known as the fans who would get so excited about the smallest of victories. For years we were let down. Nobody felt sorry for us and no other club showed us any other sympathy, and it would be common to go to games with all the optimism in the world, but be let down time and time again. There were times where I would go to a game hoping we’d just be in it until half time. There were times where I would buy the footy record so I could mark the goals and behinds as they went through the big sticks, and not tick anything in the Richmond column for a half of footy. Yet we still went, each and every week. 

Growing up as a Tigers fan during school wasn’t always easy, and while football in comparison to real life events can be seen as quite minor, as a nine-year-old kid, losing every game meant your whole week was ruined. Surrounded by Hawthorn fanatics and Collingwood diehards during my childhood made it difficult to show your face during lunchtime kick-abouts, because criticism about your team formed the basis of every conversation. We were a laughing stock.

I used to be that kid at school who brought their scarf in every time Richmond got a win, which wasn’t much at all. However, this meant I was seen as one of the more passionate ones, and everybody could see the angst on my face when we would lose. This encouraged, and still encourages others to have that cheeky dig. But not anymore. 

Doing a Richmond

There are certain games that will always stay in my head. Our 157-point loss to Geelong. Rushed behind gate with Joel Bowden. Even Jordan McMahon’s kick after the siren that meant we finished second bottom, which at the time looked bad, is now a blessing in disguise. 

We were the team who finished ninth, you know the song, ‘we finished ninth again, the Richmond Tigers finished ninth again.’ Yeah, that one. We also coined the phrase, ‘doing a Richmond.’ Every other team laughed at us. But Damien Hardwick has slowly but surely changed everything. Improvement from year to year has culminated in this seasons premiership, and the best day of my life. 

In the first winning final I have seen live against Geelong, the raw emotion after the game was rather subdued, given the magnitude of what we had just accomplished but with the expectation that we can go even further. The atmosphere I experienced at the MCG two weeks later gave me hunger, and I felt we could actually do this.

The ultimate prize

When the siren went on Saturday, and we had won the AFL Premiership, every single loss I had ever seen and ever single tear I had shed over my Tigers meant nothing. This time there were some tears shed, but for the right reasons. When the siren went and I looked over to my father, who had brought me to every single game he possibly could, buying me those footy records and a pie at half time, the emotion just fell out of us. 

It was too hard to hold in the tears, as our boys had finally done it. We had finally done the big one. Sharing the moment at the MCG with my role model and the bloke I had gone to the footy with for 15 years meant more to me than anything else, and our Tigers had delivered, just as we had delivered to them throughout all the embarrassing years. 

Writing articles about the Tigers all season has been a pleasure, and it is even more of a pleasure to be writing this one.

Go Tigers.

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Jarrod Febbraio

A sports journalism student from Melbourne. Die-hard tigers fan with a passion for all things sport.

We’ve finally done it: The tale of a Tiger (AFL 2017)

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