Last night I went to the MCG to watch Richmond lose to Port Adelaide. That was not a poor choice of words, I did actually go there expecting to see that eventuality. I knew that was what was going to happen, and I had prepared myself with an emotional detachment that resulted in some incessant sarcastic commentary throughout the course of the match.
Richmond is my team, and I will watch every game we play, usually multiple times, even when we lose, even when I know we are going to lose, even when we are diabolically shocking. I pay my membership, I want the best for my side, and support them even though my version of support can be different to others’.
Last night I pretty much spent the night mocking my own players, and the stupid game plan they are trying so fruitlessly to implement. Or sort of trying to implement, as it seems they’ve given up on it, as it is yesterday’s news, and clearly beyond them. I didn’t even like our game style when it was sort of working, let alone now that it has fallen in a big crumbly heap.
Perhaps it’s easier to remain somewhat aloof when you have lost hope, as the game plan seemed to affect me more when it was working a bit better. I must confess that earlier this season I did get very angry a couple of times, but last night I was mostly just watching with bemusement. Still, on a couple of occasions I did lose track of my emotional detachment and start barracking.
It is far easier to sing “Pretend Defender” to the tune of Elvis Presley’s Return To Sender when Brandon Ellis is near the ball, pretending to defend. Or just watch the criminally hopeless Shaun Hampson for a few minutes as he loafs around a 15 metre area of the enormous expanses of the MCG and simply laugh at how far away from an AFL footballer he is. Yelling out “Do something Tambling!” lightens the soul, whereas expecting a team of committed, driven, well drilled and trend setting footballers will simply lead to pain.
Still, I front up and am, strangely, proud to be a Richmond supporter. I’m not actually proud of my club, but I am proud of my support of them, and that of my fellow supporters. Every single bloody one of them. Even the ones who would be ashamed of my version of support. The ones that disagree with me and think that the club always makes the right choices – those in particular I hold in special esteem. I have no idea how they cling to such hope. I simply have a love of my club that can often be attributed to our song, our colours, our Tiger Army, and a few individual players who have occasionally lifted our team to heights of mediocrity the whole should not have been able to achieve.
It’s interesting though, that I would never doubt my allegiance to this club. I would never ever consider it remotely palatable the idea of me barracking for another club. The concept is horrible. Most other clubs I hate, and the ones that I don’t hate I appreciate for various reasons, usually their harmlessness, or similar levels of ineptitude to that displayed by my own club.
When I consider that my Mum is a Hawthorn supporter, and that if I had followed her lead and been a Hawk I would have witnessed nine Premierships since my birth in October 1980 (cop that for a birthday for a Tiger supporter) instead of the six Finals appearances resulting in only two Preliminary Finals and no Finals wins at all in the past 15 years, I am not even slightly deterred. I love my Mum, but I hate Hawthorn. I could never imagine myself as a Hawthorn supporter. I hate that hypothetical, though impossible version of myself. He sucks. And he’s so bloody smug.
When I got home after the game I watched the recording I had made of the game and fell asleep mid first quarter. A storm woke me up in the middle of the night. The lightning and thunder was immense, with the soft glow of the blue Foxtel light suddenly lit up by the might of the electricity of the sky and the hum of the TV drowned by the roar of applause with which the atmosphere greets such a display of light. Perhaps the weather barracks for Richmond too. Anyway, I couldn’t get back to sleep and found myself skimming through Twitter where I found a tweet that annoyed me.
It was a picture of a smiling Richmond team after a win, on it were the words “If you don’t support when we lose, don’t support us when we win.” The Tweet accompanying the image read “true supporters will support there (sic) club in good and bad days #gotiges”. The barely acceptable grasp of the English language aside, the overall message the Tweet is attempting to convey is ludicrous.
My interpretation of it is: “If you are not going to blindly follow and accept whatever the club does when they are putrid, then go away and don’t follow them when they are good.” Rubbish, I say. People have every right to expect more of their club. Supporters should expect results of their team. Tigers fans have every right to desire their club be as good as others, and in fact to be the best.
We fans have very little voice. The club can pretty much do whatever it wants, and the fans are helpless to do anything about it if they disagree. If the Club’s brains trust wants to continue to support a coach, and recruiting staff and a development process that results in us being so far off the pace after seven years of doing their thing, then the fans should damn well stay away in droves.
The only way the fans can send a message is by turning up or not. If the fans want change, then they have every right to stay away. Brendan Gale and co may crave stability above all else, but it is my contention that they are gun-shy of being seen as the same old Richmond that sacks it’s coach. Seven years in the job with nothing to show for it other than being back at the same place we started except with an older core of good players is a large enough body of work that no-one could possibly question the sacking.
If anything, the only thing we’ll get judged negatively for at the moment is sticking with a regime that has so blatantly failed.
Last night I did a Tweet of my own:
“They say not supporting this is not supporting your club. I refuse to support such ineptitude. Always a Tiger, but Hardwick can get stuffed.”
All done inside 140 characters. Pretty much sums it up.
If the senior coach can’t be held accountable for the skill errors, the execution of the game plan, and the willingness to run and support after seven years into his tenure with no results to speak of, when the bloody hell will he ever be held accountable?
Change is needed, we deserve to see that the club won’t accept such dismal failure, and is still aiming to be the best, not just a comfy place for a bunch of nice guys to go to work. My emotional detachment has obviously not extended into the day after the game, and that is because I am a passionate, loyal Richmond supporter. I always will be, and I deserve better.
Follow Greg Gibson on Twitter: @GregGibbo28