John Harms Talks Richmond

I’m not sure why I mentioned last week that Richmond might be good value to win the NAB Cup. But thinking about it (in an effort to justify it) I reckon it must be the forces of the universe which prevail at this time of the year. We know the gods are Richmond-centric every summer. And, unwittingly, I have come under their influence.

February and March are Richmond’s months. They have been for a long time – about three decades. Never has a group of supporters in any code, in any place, anywhere in the world, been as upbeat about the prospects of their club as the mob at Tigerland are in the lead up to the season.

A chain of clean handpasses off half back in some practice match in Goolwa and they’re in the eight. Jack Riewoldt taking a hanger in the square and they’re top four. A tap from Big Ivan down the throat of Trent Cotchin on the burst and they could be premiers. The momentum develops.

This week the old campaigner Chris Newman said that the Tiges hadn’t played finals for 11 years but he felt that this was their year. They had a maturing list and some good recruits. Of course these pearls of analysis sent the yellow and black faithful into a frenzy. As it always has.

My favourite Tiger frenzy of recent times is the Ben Cousins as Saviour frenzy. That lead-up was just phenomenal with thousands at training at Punt Road and Kevin Sheedy cheekily anointing his old club as a good chance to be premiers. He was a little off the mark. Their season was over half way through the second quarter of Round 1 when Carlton were absolutely smashing them. Cousins did a hamstring late in the game, when it was well and truly over.

I was standing at the Punt Road end and I have never seen such grim faces. One bloke was pacing around in tight circles like a madman saying, “This is crap. This is crap. This is crap.”

It was. So I left at half-time. Already the platform at Jolimont was full of Tigers supporters who needed to get home for a Bex and a lie down.

Those not burdened with the Richmond Football Club were amused that year. As we are every year. There is always some drama happening when it comes to the Tiges.

So, I suspect, in the spirit of the pre-season, I am thinking like a Tiger. And like a statistician. It is statistically bizarre that a once-powerful club like Richmond has made the finals a couple of times in 30 years.

It is also remarkable that their fans hang on – even when there is so much disappointment. There is a big swag of them who became Tigers in the glory years of 1967-74 when they won four flags. These fans have lived with great expectation since 1980. They are now 50 and older. But they live in some sort of permanent adolescence.

Maybe February and March is a cruel annual trick played by the gods as they try to force maturity upon them

This weekend they come up against North Melbourne and Melbourne. I reckon they’ll go hard. And well.

And all next week we’ll be talking about the Tiges.

Ah, Richmond, you are so good for football.