The Roar
The Roar

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Like the Tigers of new

Dustin Martin of the Tigers reacts after kicking a goal during the AFL grand final between the Adelaide Crows and Richmond Tigers at the MCG in Melbourne, Saturday, September 30, 2017. (AAP Image/Julian Smith)
Roar Rookie
1st October, 2017
22

The scenes that transpired on Saturday evening within the Richmond community resembled the youth, excitement, and camaraderie of the current playing group, but also the ferociousness and arrogance like the Tigers of old.

As Swan street was swamped by an unprecedented sea of yellow and black, some shopkeepers might have feared for what was to come next.

But the tens of thousands of adoring and jubilant fans largely mirrored the playing style of their premiership heroes: relentless tension driven by passion and love.

They were scenes that bordered on riot, but never really threatened. The exuberant fans were never really provoked, once again, much like their premiership heroes. It was unforeseen.

Last week, Gillon McLachlan would have been excused for hoping for a Giant victory. On the last day in September, he did get a giant victory, but of a different kind.

No matter his desire to expand the competition to monopolise the sporting market in Australia, there was no denying the importance to the integrity of the game that a Richmond victory had.

There is no value that can be put on bringing unbridled joy to so many people who have remained loyal with a club that became notorious for turning promise into failure.

In the past twelve months, Richmond turned tragedy into victory.

The Tigers remain one of the few clubs in the league that remains truly authentic. It is a football club that is not a business institution (like Collingwood) as much as it is a home.

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The suburb of Richmond continues to be the heartland of football and the broader community rides every socio-economic wave with every result.

Jack Riewoldt Richmond AFL Grand Final Tigers 2017

(Photo by Matt King/AFL Media/Getty Images)

After Eddie Betts kicked the second goal of the game it looked like the City of Yarra might fold by 5pm. By half time there was promise for a sustainable life. Before three quarter time, they were eating caviar.

Of course, there are many similarities to the Bulldogs on 2016. The significance of the club within the a notoriously working-class community; the inexperience of the players; the pressure-based game style; and the breaking of a premiership drought.

But, above all, it is the affection between the players, and the admiration that the players have for their coach, that most strongly parallels the premiership sides of ’16 and ’17.

It is a new brand of football, and it’s based on heart. Its foundations lie in determination, willingness, care and selflessness.

This was personified by the two rock stars of the opposing teams on Saturday.

In the first quarter, Tex Walker hopelessly attempted to check-side a goal from the boundary, 50 metres out, leaning back, with teammates open and with Tigers players carolling him. The ball was smothered out of bounds.

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Dustin Martin Richmond Tigers AFL Grand Final 2017

(AAP Image/Julian Smith)

In the same quarter, Dustin Martin found himself in a similar precarious position. He composed himself, surrounding by a murder of Crows, found Bachar Houli, and the result was a goal.

Martin’s signing with Richmond proved the catalyst for a successful finals campaign. It was the first public act of selflessness. The second was tucking his Norm Smith medallion under his jumper immediately after receiving it.

It is also indisputable that the love within the Footscray and Richmond communities was integral to their successes.

Richmond’s premiership was not just a win to the players. It was not just a win to the long-humiliated fans. It was a win to the dignity of the game, and it will long be celebrated.