“Richmond, Richmond, Richmond
Fire Up, Fire Up, Fire Up
Richmond, Richmond, Richmond.”
The cheer squad chanted to no avail.
On Saturday, I went to the Richmond v Melbourne game with some of the family. On our way to the ground we stopped by the Punt Road oval to check out the seconds and to look for any signs of hope on the Tiger horizon. As my own Tiger boys kicked at half time, I was lured into the den of the Tigerland Superstore by the prospect of some retail therapy. The store literally heaved under the weight of all its merchandise; Guernsey’s, hoodies, t-shirts, key rings, even baby grow suits; all emblazoned with slogans in capital letters.
‘HEAR THE ROAR’,
‘YELLOW AND BLACK’
‘STRONG AND BOLD’,
they all declared.
My favourite slogan though, was one on the back of a young woman who was ahead of me in the queue at the cash register. The yellow lettering on her polar fleece announced “I’VE BEEN COTCHED”.
As I exited the store I realised that perhaps, I too, had been cotched. $25 I spent on a Richmond beanie. Strange given that Melbourne is currently in the middle of an autumnal heat wave and it is a time when this team is falling rapidly down, not up, the ladder. My Tiger boys looked towards me with quizzical glances and wide eyes, “ahh, finally …….on board are we?” They saw my purchase as an admission. For too long I’ve been hovering on the pickets of the football fence.
My purchase took me back.
As a child of the 70’s, I had a penchant for entering newspaper competitions; usually The Sunday Press colouring-in variety, but just as often it was the ‘Spot the ball’ competition in the local paper, the Sunbury News. Place an X where you think the football should be, said the instructions. And so I would.
Bruce Doull, Alex Jezzalenko, Sam Kekovich and Leigh Matthews were all, at one time or another, scissored from the paper, marked with an X above their head and posted off to the local editor with a stamped self addressed envelope enclosed.
One year that envelope was sent back to me. I had won. The prize was generous, a $50 gift certificate at this country towns one and only sport store. I still remember going into that little shop. I knew I did not want a pair of those Puma tracky pants with the fat stripe down the leg. I wanted a footy jumper, but I had to make the decision as to who I barracked for. I chose Carlton. My name was written in the paper as the winner. I was ecstatic. I got a number, Mum ironed it on for me.
For the years that followed I wore my jumper with pride. I was an avid Blues supporter.
Things have changed since then. A lot has happened. Study, work, mortgages and kids; more kids and more work. I couldn’t fit it all in. Slowly, my youthful love affair with Carlton dwindled as I became preoccupied with more important things like feeding the family, removing solidified Weetbix from walls and getting kids to school on time with their clothes on.
More recently, and with a little more time on my hands, a different stirring has awoken with in me. Tiger blood has gradually infused my veins and filled the space vacated by the seepage of the old Blue blood.
No one in the family barracks for Carlton and I no longer live on that side of the river. The family is a mixed bag of supporters, two for Essendon, two for North and two for Richmond; three, if I declare myself. My daughter laments the fact we are not one of those families where everyone barracks for the same team. I get her point.
My $25 Richmond beanie has cemented my new calling. It is now official.
I barrack for Richmond.I’ve