Thursday, September 19, 2013

Elimination Final - Richmond v Carlton - A Father & Son Journey

Finally, after 12 suffering years our beloved Richmond Football Club has made finals.

15 glorious wins and we finished 5th on the ladder, for me finishing 5th exceeded my expectations or this year - I had thought they would finish 7th or 8th. 5th meant we finished higher than Collingwood, Carlton and Port which was an awesome feeling.

Fans Leaving Messages for the players prior to game

The Elimination final for me meant far more than it did for most, for me it was my first ever live final - of course I watched their finals in 2001 & 1995 however it was the first time I had gone and watched them play it. Being in Adelaide its far harder for me to get to the games like a local melbourne sider would but I was determined this time, as soon as I knew they were in and what day they were playing - I would be there!

This in itself was huge but the proudest part of it all for me was sharing this first final experience with my son, Noah, who would also see his first ever final.

Monday morning came like a bang, the anxiety was huge and my stress levels were peaking! I had a heap of tasks to get done, firstly, book annual leave - whilst looking at flights Sunday night I realised getting there wouldn't be the problem, it was flying home the same night that would be. Not only was it very close to the end of the game (within 2 hours) but it was also going to cost over $350 each to fly home... I think not!

Second was getting the tickets, my son was previously a Cotchy Club member and not eligible for tickets, the team in the membership department suggested I sign him up for the $1 special that was happening - this way he could get tickets. Only problem, his sale went on @ 11am... I was stressing I wouldn't get any by then and they'd be all sold out!

Third on the list was flights, I knew I could fly in nicely with Jetstar for approx $100 each, the stress would be how to get home, we managed to score seats on Virgin the day after for $150 which was good.

Fourth and final was accommodation, I remember back 12 odd years ago I flew my wife and I over to Melbourne to not only watch a game but also take her out for dinner. Being I spent most of our cash on horse drawn carriages and dinner at the Windsor.. I spent less on accommodation.. we stumbled upon a place called the George Powlett, astonishingly it was 2 minutes walking distance from the MCG. I immediately looked it up for this trip, as really, all Noah and I need is a roof, 2 beds and thats bout it. Booked!
I broke the news to Noah later that night, we were all booked, he and I would fly out first thing Sunday Morning and would be on our way to the glorious home of football. His face was priceless, he loves his Melbourne Trips.

Crossing the bridge to Adelaide Airport

Speaking with alot of people via twitter one thing was common, the week was going just too damn slow!

Finally, Saturday night approached, we had our backpacks filled and our Richmond Flags ready to go. Before I knew it the alarm was going off and I snuck in and woke Noah up - 5 minutes to get ready and head straight for the airport.

The plane departed Adelaide nicely and it was clear skies toward Melbourne! Noah and I love flying and pretty much our favourite destination is Melbourne to watch our beloved Tigers, but this trip just meant so much more. I could sense Noah was extremely edgy about the game, 10 minutes in he announced there were no games to play on his DS... I said whats wrong with the 30 you have.. they're all boring...

Just like that we touched down in Melbourne, colder than normal but god it felt good to be back!

We arrived at our hotel, the George Powlett, which is a 2 minute walk to the MCG and about 5 mins to Bridge Road - awesome, the plan was to get our Guernseys on and have everything we were going to take to the game and go for a wander down Bridge Road to see what the shops had to offer..

That plan was quickly shelved as we stared out the window and saw one of the great Light Towers, we quickly got dressed, grabbed our flags and departed for the MCG. As we crossed the road we approached a bridge and noticed the train line in the picture opposite, I'm jealous of the public transport in Melbourne, it all makes sense and is so widely used - Adelaide we have a failing bus and train system and one Tram...

We made a quick detour as we noticed the gates weren't yet open, 3pm game and we were there @ 12.. is that too much to ask haha. The detour landed us at Punt Road Oval, more importantly, amongst the masses, we moved into the Tiger Den to see if any specials were available. Being we spent so much travelling to and from Melbourne we decided to not spend much on merchandise.. In the end I bought Noah a Dustin Martin hat which was on sale (Now I know why!!) and a player badge.

Before we knew it we were sitting at the G eating one of the most expensive souvlakis and hot dogs available, as we approached our seats (affectionately adorned as the "Nose Bleed" section), we sat down knowing 2 and a half hours to go..

Thankfully the MCG was playing the replay of the last time Richmond and Carlton played each other in a final, it was 2001 and what a glorious win and year we had!
We watched as the crowd slowly poured into the ground, the sea of Yellow & Black was starting to take shape. 

Suddenly - just like a switch had been flicked, the ground was full and Carlton was running onto the ground - the stadium filled with jeers and boo's as they crashed through their banner!

Like a flash of lightning the crowd lifted and watched as Richmond entered the stadium, the roar of the crowd was deafening as we all sang the song whilst clapping them. I took a moment and looked over at Noah, his face and jubilation was everything I wanted to see - there were nerves, just like me, but I wanted everything for him to see and witness what it would be like to sit and cheer along with 94,000 others. I must admit some happy tears started to form.

The siren sounded and like the whole world flashed before our eyes the game began.

Carlton made the first dent on the scoreboard but failed to execute early chances and our Tigers gained their feet and started to maintain the midfield well, Ivan Maric was dominating the taps early and you could see Martin, Cotch, Ellis, Jackson and Deledio all full of run and gaining good possessions.

The loss of Conca was mixed emotions, we just lost one of our key rotating midfielders but we saw early the addition of Shane Tuck who was earlier was listed as the sub.

At quarter time we held on to a minor lead of just 8 points.

Carlton again kicked an early goal in the 2nd quarter but after that it was all Richmond, the midfield completely dominated the 2nd quarter helping us pile on 7 goals to 4 and holding on to a handy 26 point lead at half time.

At this point Carlton looked a different team, body language was down and the Tigers and their supporters were full of roar!

Sitting there at half time though a sudden rush of nerve began to grow, we've been in this position before against Carlton, had awesome quarters then fallen asleep - god not today!

Just like that the switch had again been flicked, Carlton bounced into action. They applied massive pressure and hit the midfield running led by their former Captain Chris Judd, they dominated the 3rd quarter and all our players could do was scratch their heads and attempt to stem the bleeding...

By the 4th quarter the signs were there, Carlton had clawed their way back and not long into the final term had finally hit the lead. 50,000+ Tiger supporters all sat quietly in their seats as the unthinkable was starting to unfold, Carlton, boised by a huge running effort hit the lead and never looked back.

Sitting 3 goals down I think we were some absolute Maric brilliance brought one of the goals of the game, the roar from the crowd was second to none, we all stood screaming for joy as he too sprinted back to the middle trying to lift his team. But it wasn't to be as the next chance on goal went as one of our guns tripped over on the half forward and the ball spilled Carltons way as did the rest of the game.

Watching the time click over it was beginning to hit home, with a minute to go I sat in my chair, staring blankly at the ground - how and why the hell did this happen... The supporters were already on the march out of the ground, the Carlton crowd - along with some over the top drunk Tiger Supporters yelled abuse as they left early. 

The siren sounded and that was it, the Carlton crowd lept off their chairs and the sound was deafening, I looked to Noah who had tears flowing from his eyes - the look of a defeated 9 year old, the sadness and anger in his eyes were just too sad for me, I too had tears in my eyes (I'm starting to tear up again whilst writing this some 2 weeks after the fact...), I wrapped my arms around him and consoled him as best I could. The poor bugger!

Noah asked if we could leave and I suggested we stay to allow the crowd to die down a bit so easier to walk out. We both sat in our chairs staring blankly at the ground as the Tigers left for the changerooms but more importantly Shane Tuck received his final farewell, we stood and cheered him off then again sat quietly. Time seemed to pass slowly but before we knew it a considerable time had passed.. I gathered Noah up and said lets head back to the hotel, as we approached the stairs a sea of supporters were already waiting trying to leave also.

All I remember is just saying to Noah, 1) stay absolutely with me, 2) don't react to anything anyone says to you, 3) never leave my side.

An ocean of supporters both Richmond and Carlton ascended outside the MCG, some drunk and some abusive. We made our way peacefully and unscathed through the crowd and made it to the bridge we earlier crossed, we watched in shock as the train station which before was empty, was flooded with people all wanting to get the first train. It was madness and I was really worried someone could be hurt or killed.

We hit the hotel and sat on our beds still in shock. Later we peeled ourselves from the hotel room and made our way down Bridge Road to try and find something kid friendly for Noah and I to have some dinner. We stumbled a fair way down and came across a BBQ place with burgers and souvlaki - awesome, souvlaki is one of the best pick me up foods available! Noah and I sat, silently, as we waited for our food. Just after it arrived a shriek of horror came from Noah - a Carlton poster was on the wall... god dammit. I said its ok cos theres Richmond ones too as I pointed to the other side of the room.. Poor Noah, he was just so shattered.

After that we headed off in pursuit of dessert! On our quest we found the golden arches of Maccas - awesome - McFlurries all round!

Well this was our take on the Tigers finals push, I wanted to word this more so on the positives rather than the negatives, to do so would push me back into the stage of Anger I held onto tightly for many days. We returned back to Adelaide beaten, still angry but loved the experience. 

Ok the Tigers lost, but to me this game represented far more than just a final. To me, this was one of the moments in time I shared with my son which I will treasure for the rest of my life, this final was the first live final both he and I had ever been too. To share that moment with him, along with 94,000 others was electrifying. The sound, the atmosphere, the jubilation, the nerves, the gasping and finally the sadness and anger - it all created the trip of a lifetime for us despite the result.

I do hope this isn't the only time we'll be able to do this but for me this trip meant everything and meant much more than Richmond winning. 

Well I hope you liked our take on the Tigers Elimination Final, its hard I know but drawing your own positives from this extremely bad result has helped ease the pain in some way - but, the focus for us was always the experience and nothing more.




  1. The aim for the Tigers is that this will not be an isolated experience, but relatively commonplace for Tiger fans in years to come.

  2. God lets hope so - i loved the experience and keen to keep that going haha