I was born a Richmond supporter... I just never got a choice. In my family, you either are a Tiger, or you don't really belong. All my Grandparents were mad Tigers, as were Mum and Dad - needless to say, myself and my brothers have followed in their footsteps. When my mother met my Granddad Bob, his first question was 'who do you barrack for?', to which she replied meekly 'Richmond'. Bob's response? 'Welcome to the family!' Let's also say, my aunty - who replied 'Collingwood' to the question, was in no uncertain terms told to get out! On the other side... Nanna Lil', well she grew up in Richmond and was often changing the score board as a kid. Memories of staying at her place include dancing around in the kitchen, playing air trumpet to Nan's 45 of Tigerland blaring - which often still occurs.
Yesterday... I was excited! Tiges on the TV tomorrow playing Sydney and with our recent (but perhaps not totally deserved) string of wins (and draw) I was sure we were in with more than just a chance. Perhaps things were finally looking up in Tigerland.
Today, after our dismal performance against Sydney, I updated my facebook status declaring my disappointment. To which someone replied: "You need to go for another team". What the? For a true Tiger that is never, ever an option!
More often than not, I can tell if a person is a Richmond supporter shortly after I've met them. Not a word of a lie, I speak the truth, and it's always without any discussion of footy. I've never met a Richmond supporter I didn't like. Similar to picking which star sign someone is due to characteristics they display - a fellow tiger always stands out.
So, what is it? And I'll say right now... it's not the arrogant bastards who are missing teeth! Get it right... they are always Collingwood types (the type that tell you to go for another team). And sometimes they can fall under the Carlton banner.
We Tigers are a special breed... Generally, hard workers who like a good time. We are loyal and down to earth. We know that things we want in our life take hard work and we're willing to go the yards to get them. When we lose, we stay on to the end of the game before walking out - unlike other supporters who will walk out as soon as they realise it's not going to be a win. And we are there week after week, decked out in our scarves and beanies in the freezing cold (and on rare occassions rain), hoping that this will be the week our hard work pays off. But if it doesn't, we'll curse and say we're hopeless, head out for a few beers, dicuss the changes that need to take place and do it all again next week. Are we merely gluttens for punishment? Or, are we Tiger tough?
Every now and then, like say 6 years over the past 15, we finish just outside the 8. With a sense of pride we start talk of next year... next year, is our year! We are full of hope, promise and the dream of a truly great season ahead. More often than not, we finish much further down the ladder. And yet again, regardless, we will talk of our potential and re-building and start all over again.
See, it's this mentality that makes or breaks a true tiger. And we are very similar in life - never giving up... Working away, no matter how hopeless the cause seems, until we do get what we want. After all, we all know that one day, we will finally have our day in the sun. One day, we will take home another premiership. And it's those rare days that we get to sing 'Tigerland' at the tops of our lungs, that makes it all worthwhile. We know all hope is not lost after all!
So, next time you walk out of a game early... You think 'fuck it, it's too cold and we'll probably just lose anyway'... Or, you can see yourself giving up all hope (and I'm not just talking in the footy sense)...
Then picture a true Tiger, sitting in the pissing down rain, freezing their tits off (even though they are decked out in their duffle coat, scarf and beanie), knowing that a win is certainly not on the cards today.... Still somewhat content - they'll be heading home drenched, cold but warm with the inner glow of knowing our day is coming.
Oh and for those unfamiliar with the magic that is our theme song... Here is a little sample:
Oh we're from Tigerland... A fighting fury... We're from Tigerland... In any weather you will see us with a grin... Risking head and shin.... If we're behind, then nevermind, we'll fight and fight and win... For we're from Tigerland... We never weaken till the final sirens gone... Like the Tiger of old... We're strong and we're bold... For we're from Tiger (YELLOW AND BLACK)... We're from Tigerland! (cue air trumpet instrumental)
Sometimes I think Tigerland is written about the supporters, more so than the team...