So anyone who follows AFL knows how important Grand Final week is, especially if your team’s been lucky enough to make it through. So being a huge Tiger fan, this is definitely one of those weeks!
I’ve always barracked for Richmond for no other reason, than that’s the team my Dad barracked for. I will admit though that for many years I cursed my Dad for his poor choice of football team! If he’d followed his Dad (my Pa) and barracked for Essendon, I would’ve had two flags from the glory years of the mid-eighties, as well 1993 and 2000. If he’d followed Geelong, the team his Mum (my Nan) had followed before switching to Richmond with him, sure I’d have waited a bit longer, but I’d have had that glory period of 2007, 2009 and 2011. Yet I was stuck with Richmond...
Back sometime in the early eighties my Dad took me to my very first VFL game. I’m pretty sure to watch Richmond play Footscray at Waverley Park - most likely it was a cold wet Saturday afternoon, because let’s face it, it always rained at Waverley Park during the eighties and most likely the Tigers lost, because it was after the greatness of 1980 Tigers. Whilst I can’t remember a lot about the game, I do remember it was just me and my Dad and it was a pretty special day.
Footy in the eighties did seem a whole lot different to how footy is played today. In the eighties there was the mud, the big hits and the characters, that footy is probably missing a little bit today. Let’s face it, I don’t think someone like a Mark “Jacki” Jackson would be on many recruiters radars in 2019, but how more fun would the game be if he was?
Even though Richmond didn’t do particularly well when I was a kid, and I don’t remember any Richmond Grand Final appearances at all, I do remember always watching the grand final each year. As a kid It wasn’t so much about the game itself, but rather the pre-game hype. The build up, the team’s running through for their banner and, for some odd reason, I used to love when they’d let the thousands of balloons, in the team colours, go as the game was about to start. Admittedly this was well before the world appreciated the environmental damage that balloons posed, and its not too hard to understand why it’s stopped, but as a kid I always loved watching it and I remember being super excited one year when a heap of the balloons actually flew over our house.
So that’s my main memories of footy Grand Finals as a kid. Fast forward 35 or so years later and it’s grand final time again. There was a time when I was actually feared I’d never see a Richmond Grand Final appearance, so seeing a second Richmond Grand Final in only the last three years is pretty cool. This years Grand Final appearance is all the more special though, because this weekend I’ll get to repay my Dad for that memory of my first game back in the eighties, and tick one of the most important things off the bucket list - that is watching the Tigers play in a Grand Final, with my Dad and the boys. Win or lose, it’s a memory we’ll all have for life. #gotiges