Emergence of the Tigers a worry for the rest of us
Brett Deledio and Jack Riewoldt celebrate finally beating the Blues. (Photo: Michael Willson/AFL Media)
I am developing an uneasy feeling, one I’ve not experienced before, and its cause originates from Punt Road.
Although I’m not yet totally convinced, I have a feeling that all the talk may finally be transforming into results.
The Tigers are undefeated, having accounted for Carlton, St.Kilda and the Bulldogs.
Hardly the measuring sticks of the competition, but the Tigers did manage to get over the line in two close ones, something they haven’t been able to do in recent seasons.
They will be challenged over the next few weeks, starting this week against the Pies in what is now a bonafide blockbuster.
Just take a minute to consider just what it might be like if the Tigers were to get over the line this week.
After they finally managed to sneak over the line against the Blues in Round 1, the once dormant hoard of yellow and black followers burst back on to talk back radio, and this time it wasn’t to discuss microwaving memberships or to provide suggestions as to who the next poor soul to coach the club should be.
No, the Tiger fans showed the excitement and jubilation of supporters who, after 30-odd years of mediocrity and a couple of false dawns, finally believe that their charges may in fact have what it takes to still be around come September this year.
This mood continued to grow towards what can only be described as arrogance among the Richmond faithful this week, led by the Tigers very own prodigal son Kevin Bartlett.
He has been suggesting this week that the Pies will be lucky to get within about eight goals of Richmond, who if he is to be believed should now be clear premiership favourites.
All of this after beating three teams who didn’t play finals last year. God help us all if they do happen to knock off the Pies.
Undoubtedly, Damien Hardwick’s men have made significant steps forward this year, and their team looks to have far greater depth than recent seasons.
The return of a fit Tyrone Vickery and the surprise use of Luke McGuane as a forward has given them a far more potent look than when they relied almost solely on Jack Riewoldt.
Their midfield is classy, and they can now call on more players to run through the middle to support the stars in Cotchin and Deledio. The defence is also becoming more solid, with the inclusion of Chaplin and the return of Dylan Grimes making the back six look far more stable.
All the signs are positive, and you can’t help but think that they are coming. In the past few years, its been victimless crime to quietly enjoy watching the way the Tigers played. Last year, the Tigers at their the best were able to play some very exciting football, good enough to beat the two eventual grand finalists.
But you always knew that they would probably find a way to fall away, like dropping a game to the Gold Coast.
But if the Tigers win this week and kick on to September action, not only will the rest of the football public have to deal with the Tiger army on a level anyone under the age of 30 wouldn’t have experienced, but we will also lose our favourite whipping boy.
Ninth place jokes will no longer be quite as funny when the famous yellow sash finally re-appears in September. The next few weeks against the Pies, Dockers and Cats will go a long way to determining if that elusive finals appearance is this year.
And if it is, get ready, because after 30 years in the wilderness, the roar of the Tiger will be impossible to ignore.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves though. After all, it is Richmond, isn’t it?