The Eyes of a Tiger Fan
Delving into more about me...
My history as a Richmond supporter
I have a small confession to start with.
For much of my childhood, I was an Eagles supporter. It was however, with some irony, that the thing that caused me to stop following West Coast was actually moving to Perth. In 1994, at the height of the Eagles surge, I was happy to don the yellow and blue (I was so close to the right colours back in the day).
And then, I moved to the place I now call home, and following the Eagles didn’t quite feel right.
So for several years, I was in limbo… happy just enjoying football.
But it felt like something was missing.
Becoming a Tiger
I can’t remember the exact game, but I was home watching Friday Night Football… and the Tigers won. Before, throughout and after the game, for some reason I was entranced. The uniform, the crowd, the excitement.
And then the song... belted out across the MCG.
I was hooked, and a Tiger for life since that day.
Little did I know at the time just what that decision would mean.
The Years of sustained.... Meh
All Tigers supporters have heard the term, and gee-whiz, we are sick of it. I'm sure it was bad enough living in Victoria. But the unrelenting put-downs and abuse that was leveled at us here in the west? Quite frankly, it hurts to remember.
And particularly from Eagles supporters, those who have never really known pain when it comes to the team they support. 2006 was a particularly tough year (and don't they still continue to remind).
2001 was the last year we finished in the top four, and the last year we won a final.
Under Frawley, then Wallace, we have experienced more than one false dawn. After again finishing Ninth (to the uneducated, you need to finish Eigth or higher to play finals), it seemed that all hope had once again gone, and that the decision I had made all those years ago seemed to be in dire need of revision.
But, what could I do? I love the Tigers, and couldn't envisage supporting anyone else, even with the lack of success (and, at the time, lack of hope).
So I, like many others stuck firm, willing myself to once again believe.
I was even able to rope in the new girlfriend (now my beautiful wifey) and her wonderful son into supporting the Yellow and Black.
It would be another three seasons of building up before we once again began tasting success.
After more than a decade of heartbreak... the time had finally arrived. I could finally look forward to September, knowing the Tigers would be playing finals.
Sure, losing to Carlton in 2013, Port Adelaide in 2014 and North Melbourne in 2015 broke the heart (NM was particularly wrenching), but I knew we were back, among the respected teams in the comp.
We were winning games we should, but we were not quite at the upper echelon... yet.
In 2016, we came crashing back to Earth, missing finals once again.
I, like many other supporters, thought we had experienced another false-dawn. And for the entirety of the 2016/2017 summer, I couldn't quite figure out where we were.
My passion had not waivered, but my belief had.
Over the summer, we lost my all-time favourite player as well - Brett Deledio. I loved watching Lids play, and every time he took the field, I knew the Tige's would bring a new level to their game. But, I understood the decision. Brett wanted to move to a club to renew himself, and perhaps Richmond needed a change too.
We also lost Vickery as well, and while I knew he added something on his good days, unfortunately for Ty and the Tigers, those days were too few and far between.
But, we did bring in some decent players too. Prestia and Caddy have both added to our side.
So, over the summer, while I was lamenting 2016, I still saw some reason for optimism leading into 2017.
2017 - The Year of the Tiger?
It seems as though this season has gone on forever. We started well, winning our first five. Then, we lost a few, and won a few, and lost a few...
To say it's been a roller-coaster is an understatement.
Recently, we have heard the news that arguably our best player - Dustin Martin - has recommitted to the club for the next seven years.
And, like a Phoenix rising from the ashes, we seem to have finally come together as the team I had always dreamed we would be.
I love being a Tigers supporter. The only greater love I have is for my wifey and kiddies.
The highs and even the lows - they all form part of what it is like to support the Tigers.. They are a huge part of me and my family, and I can't wait to spend the rest of my life supporting them, whatever the next four weeks can bring.
And, as I write this, the Tigers are on the verge of their first Qualifying Final in 16 years. Can we go all the way and win?
My heart says "Of course, don't be stupid".