Finally Tiger Time is here, but Richmond must again rise to the occasion

Tim Lane Columnist

By Tim Lane, Tim Lane is a Roar Expert

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33 Have your say

    It’s surely a heady time for Tiger supporters. Even more so for the Richmond Football Club itself. Not only is the monkey off the back, but now the unthinkable appears possible. First, there’s an opponent to be determined. Then there’s a match to win on Saturday week. And then?

    Whichever team becomes its Preliminary Final opponent, Richmond has beaten it on the MCG this season. And the Tigers are now playing better than ever. So, the gate to the MCG on the last day in September is tantalisingly ajar. Next stop: The Gates of Heaven.

    Everyone knows it. Administrators, coaches, players, supporters, every man, woman and their dog. And, of course, there’s the dreaded media!

    Which is why I’m worried for the Tigers. Two weeks is a long time to wait while the world is in public rapture about you.

    Josh Caddy Richmond Tigers AFL 2017

    (Photo by Michael Dodge/Getty Images)

    The Tiges are being widely compared to the Western Bulldogs of this time last year, but there are significant differences.

    For starters, the Dogs did an apprenticeship in 2015, making the finals and learning from disappointment and experience. Yet, even after they went to Perth and beat the Eagles on the first weekend of last year’s finals, no one was imagining the Bulldogs as potential premiers.

    Also, once the finals were underway, the Dogs didn’t get a week off to wallow in their success. They had to keep their eye on the ball through every day of the campaign. The Scraggers went into each game as a serious underdog.

    Neither did they cop a team that has been stung and had to think and fight its way out of a corner as the GWS Giants will be seeking to do, first this week, then – they hope – in a Preliminary Final.

    Of course, the Giants have a couple of huge outs due to injury, which only heightens the belief that Richmond has them covered.

    All the experts have been giving GWS a kicking. Even Denis Pagan has been prompted to put his head up and deliver an old-fashioned spray, the like of which frightened the hell out of Wayne Carey and Glenn Archer back in the day.

    The prevailing view is that the Giants have big heads and the future of this group of prodigiously talented players is at the crossroads. Yes, the whole venture into western Sydney is on shaky ground because a bunch of young punks got ahead of themselves. That’s what they’re saying.

    And what a good place that is for a club with high ambition as it prepares for a tilt at redemption! And what a concerning prospect it should be for teams about to confront GWS!

    Not that it guarantees a thing. And if it’s not the Giants it will be the Eagles who take on the Tigers.

    Of course, the football world knows the boys from the west are hopeless when they travel east of Adelaide. Not only that, they’ve twice escaped from situations in which Harry Houdini himself might have struggled. Dead-set lucky to have come this far is the general view. The Tigers would be happy to have them as their opponent.

    If it wasn’t for the game being played late in the day, they would have the Eagles on toast with avocado and feta for breakfast.

    Mmmm… if the Eagles don’t have a point to prove over the next couple of weeks, I’d be surprised.

    But Richmond has been spoken of as a potential premier since 10:30pm last Friday night. The lid flew off, clean out of the MCG, over Swan St, and was last seen crossing South Gippsland, headed for Mallacoota. Fifteen days of that as preparation for a Grand Final eliminator and who knows what might happen.

    Are the Tigers as good as the 2016 Bulldogs? Certainly, their quartet of champions puts them ahead: Martin matches Bontempelli, Cotchin is better than the Dogs’ next best midfielder, Rance is way ahead of any Bulldog key defender, and the same can be said for Riewoldt at the other end.

    Trent Cotchin Richmond Tigers AFL 2017

    (Photo by Michael Dodge/Getty Images)

    Yet the Dogs were more even. And in 2017 they were sprinkled with some rare magic dust, inspired like no team in living memory.

    It remains to be seen whether the young men of Richmond, too, will be lifted to a higher plane by the opportunity now before them. Or whether they melt under the spotlight. Collapse under the weight of expectation they now carry.

    Whatever, as our beer-drinking, baby-loving, footy-convert of a Prime Minister might say: there’s never been a more exciting time to be a Tiger.

    Tim Lane
    Tim Lane

    Tim Lane is one of the most respected voices in Australian sport, having gained a strong following for his weekly AFL column in The Age. Tim has also called 32 AFL/VFL grand finals and was behind the microphone for Cathy Freeman's memorable gold medal at the Sydney Olympics. You can catch him on Twitter @TimLaneSport.

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    The Crowd Says (33)

    • September 14th 2017 @ 6:34am
      Slane said | September 14th 2017 @ 6:34am | ! Report

      Dislike all the chicken counting going on. As geneeic footballer doing an interview likes to say ‘we’re taking it one week at a time’.
      Let’s focus on winning next week before we worry about the week after that.

      • Roar Guru

        September 14th 2017 @ 9:28am
        Penster said | September 14th 2017 @ 9:28am | ! Report

        Yep, it’s like the expectations around the Swans, gets them every time. September and grand final day is as much about mental resilience and handling off field pressure as it is about football. I’m firmly on the Tiger bandwagon but am calling a Swans year, they’ll be more mentally prepared.

        • September 14th 2017 @ 9:33am
          Birdman said | September 14th 2017 @ 9:33am | ! Report

          hoping that the Swans get caught napping this Friday by the Cats

    • September 14th 2017 @ 8:13am
      truetigerfan said | September 14th 2017 @ 8:13am | ! Report

      Ahhhhh, yes Tim. What a great time to be a Tiger supporter. Still plenty of naysayers if this forum is any guide. Easy draw. No injuries. Umpires favourites. Gifted a home final. Can’t kick a winning score. Well here we are folks. Suck it up all you sour, non-believers. Carna Tigers!

      • September 14th 2017 @ 11:49am
        Truejackman said | September 14th 2017 @ 11:49am | ! Report

        Richmond the umpires favourites? They have the worst free kick differential of any team. The umpires definitely do not favour Richmond.

        • September 14th 2017 @ 12:50pm
          truetigerfan said | September 14th 2017 @ 12:50pm | ! Report

          Yes, this is true though many here will have you believe that Richmond, being a Vic club, will have the better of the umpires in September . . . just like the Dogs last year. All part of the AFL conspiring to achieve a result for Victorians. What a joke! Just like their pleas to have GFs in other states . . . pathetic.

          • September 14th 2017 @ 4:55pm
            fairsuckofthesav said | September 14th 2017 @ 4:55pm | ! Report

            Not pathetic. Backed by stats. Bulldogs coach openly admitted that the Dogs ‘had a few go their way’ in the GF. The reality is that Richmond will play all their finals on their home ground. In a GF surely all non-aligned Victorian supporters attending will back them. That will be some test for the Umps to adjudicate fairly. They failed last year.

            • September 14th 2017 @ 6:02pm
              true blue said | September 14th 2017 @ 6:02pm | ! Report

              Not me. Richmond are definitely the most bitter rival Carlton have. The Collingwood rivalry is full on but the Richmond one matches that of Geelong and Hawthorn: total hatred. I want Geelong to win the premiership but that is not going to happen, so I guess I will back Sydney.

            • September 14th 2017 @ 6:16pm
              fractalpixie said | September 14th 2017 @ 6:16pm | ! Report

              No way will I go for Richmond. I picked them to make the eight. I think they can go all the way now. But that doesn’t mean that I want them to win.

              We will probably lose to Sydney this week. Fingers crossed that we win but we were pathetic last week. Our recent record against Sydney is shocking.

              Our recent finals record of 2 wins in 9 appearances is sub par to say the least.

              I feel Richmond will play Sydney in the grand final.

    • Roar Guru

      September 14th 2017 @ 8:19am
      Will Sinclair said | September 14th 2017 @ 8:19am | ! Report

      Heady days indeed!

      On NYE, any Richmond fan in their right mind would have happily accepted a 2017 season that ended with a loss in the Prelim Final at the MCG.

      But now… the door to the Big Dance is wide open, and there may not be a better opportunity for this group of players to make themselves legends. It’s all on a knife edge. What a time to be a Tiger.


      • September 20th 2017 @ 9:03pm
        Philby said | September 20th 2017 @ 9:03pm | ! Report

        Yep – spot on.

    • September 14th 2017 @ 8:28am
      Basil said | September 14th 2017 @ 8:28am | ! Report

      Got to love the Victorian media….
      Why don’t we just save everyone’s time by calling the finals off and just giving the cup to Richmond?
      Then we can all get ourselves in a big lather over the Tigers fairytale even earlier.

      • September 14th 2017 @ 9:24am
        BigAl said | September 14th 2017 @ 9:24am | ! Report

        – not to mention the CH7 commentary team – they were ridiculously over excited about what Richmond were doing against Geelong.

        Still, I suppose it’s “…good for football…” and hence good for TV ratings, and most importantly good for CH7 if the tiges make it to the Grand Final !

        Totally oposite to how they’d be feeling about an Adelaide v GWS Grand Final…

    • September 14th 2017 @ 8:41am
      phil.osopher said | September 14th 2017 @ 8:41am | ! Report

      Position A: They can’t win a final.
      Position Z:They can’t lose the grannie.
      The media have gone from A to Z in one step. That doesn’t mean that the players aren’t remaining level-headed.

    • September 14th 2017 @ 8:58am
      Roger of Sydney said | September 14th 2017 @ 8:58am | ! Report

      Richmond have beaten a very poor Geelong outfit so far, perhaps not time to get carried away as yet.

      • September 14th 2017 @ 9:34am
        Birdman said | September 14th 2017 @ 9:34am | ! Report

        yeah, Swans fans would never do that, eh Roger?

      • September 14th 2017 @ 9:41am
        The Ghost said | September 14th 2017 @ 9:41am | ! Report

        Your team of geriatrics will probably make the grand final, only to choke once again, as they fall over their zimmer frames trying to keep up with the fast paced Tigers. The ugly ducklings will go to water as the 70k Tiger Army cheer on the mighty Tigers to victory. The SCG will be renamed the Chokers retirement village, and Malcolm will choke on his chardonnay.

        • September 14th 2017 @ 10:18am
          GoSwans said | September 14th 2017 @ 10:18am | ! Report

          Team of Geriatrics? Last game Richmond’s average age 24yr 9mth vs Swans 25yr 3mth which compares to West Coast at 27yr 0mth. Games 91.7 vs 95.9. It tends to be older teams that win Grand Finals. You want most of your team to be 24 to 28 with a few older and few younger. Most Swans fans very happy with the age profile of the current players. Jarrad McVeigh is 32 and tomorrow is his 300th game. Seems to going Ok to me. Grundy is 31 and should have been AA. Franklin and Jack are 30. That’s 4 players over the age of 30.

          All Swans fans want is fair umpiring and not to have to play 25 like we did in the Grand Final last year.

          First Swams have Geelong. If we see you in fortnight I won’t be writing off the Tigers. Bogey team for the Swans for years and now have Grand Final game plan that was executed superbly against Geelong last week. Probably need to lose one first.

      • Roar Guru

        September 14th 2017 @ 9:56am
        Will Sinclair said | September 14th 2017 @ 9:56am | ! Report

        Man – I have heard this from SO MANY Swans fans. The saltiness is at Dead Sea levels in the Harbour City.

        “I don’t understand what Richmond fans are getting so excited about. They’ve only finished the regular season in third then demolished a team they’ve traditionally struggled against to secure a home Preliminary Final. Which will be played at the MCG in front of 100,000 people. Nothing to get excited at all!”

        I mean, I get it. The Swans are doing extraordinary things, and their fans probably feel like they deserve more credit. But surely there is enough love to go around?

        • September 14th 2017 @ 10:18am
          Birdman said | September 14th 2017 @ 10:18am | ! Report

          Swans fans might do well to pay the Cats some respect first rather than assume they are already in a prelim.

          • September 14th 2017 @ 12:14pm
            GoSwans said | September 14th 2017 @ 12:14pm | ! Report

            They were second for a reason and should not be underestimated. Winners of elimination finals are usually rated more than the losers of the qualifying finals but when the Eagles haven’t convinced for most of the year and the Giants were considered favourites for the flag, and the Swans are the form team with strong history against the Cats and the Cats have significant injury concerns then you get the assumptions that the Giants and Swans will win. Complacency is very dangerous and I hope the Swans don’t buy the hype in the media.

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