JavaScript disabled. Please enable JavaScript to use My News, My Clippings, My Comments and user settings.

If you have trouble accessing our login form below, you can go to our login page.

If you have trouble accessing our login form below, you can go to our login page.

Tiger Army's broad church is the backdrop to a perfect day at the footy


Martin Flanagan

I MIGHT not have gone to the footy last weekend but my daughter egged me into it. "Weather looks a bit grubby," I said when she rang. "Not from where I'm standing," she replied. She sees TV games as fillets of footy. She says you've got to go to games to get the big picture.

She lives and works on the other side of the city. Going to the footy together is our way of catching up. Basically, we go to any game which promises to have a bit of zing in it, but this year we're mostly watching the Tigers.

Why? The usual tangle of reasons. Her grandfather is an old Tigers man, as is one of her uncles, and half the fun of footy is sharing it. Then there's the Tiger Army, the best sideshow in the game – people like the tormented in Dante's inferno who still erupt wildly with hope. And another reason - my daughter taught Matt Dea when she spent two years as a live-in tutor in the boarding house at Ballarat Clarendon College and saw male adolescence at its most frank.

She also has a bloke deep beneath the surface of the earth in a coal mine in Queensland. He's a mad Hawthorn supporter from a predominantly Richmond family. That matters because last weekend we went to the 'G and saw Richmond play Hawthorn.

Normally we meet at the statue of Ron Barassi. Normally she brings cheese and salami sandwiches, made just as I like them. But she'd had a big night, we were both running late and I settled for a sausage from the fried food van. I don't like sitting in the upper tier. I always feel the need for a couple of Sherpas returning with the beers after half-time. This time, our luck was in. There were level one seats available behind the goal at the Ponsford end and we ended up four rows from the fence. Best seats in the house.

At the first bounce, Hawthorn tried to lock the ball in. Cotchin unpicked the lock, the ball bounded forward, Richmond goaled. This was a whole new joy for the Tiger Army – the mighty Hawks were undone, disarmed, from the start. Cotchin was marvellous – almost ungainly in his gait, he is brave and awfully clever. Martin attacked like a shark. Big Ty Vickery is a strong player now. My daughter likes the Tiges because, she says, they've got spunk.

She grew up knowing footballers like Peter Schwab and James Morrissey as family friends and liking them as men. "They wouldn't sit back and let a man trash-talk a woman or make fun of a disabled person". She doesn't follow a player because of his stats. "I follow him because of the sort of man he shows himself to be on the field".

Having worked with adolescents, she sees footy "as an expression of male youth. Every week, they get this chance to be heroes. They can be Icarus for a week. If they fail, they have another chance next week". She loves the way the players rush in to congratulate one another after a goal.

It was mid-way through the second term that the first chilling deluge hit. What happened, I think, was that there was a party in heaven and someone emptied the ice bucket over the forward pocket at the city end of the MCG.

At half-time, we watched the mini-league. The smallest kid on the ground was called Ollie. His family was just behind us, filming him. At three-quarter time, with the game looking pretty safe for the Tigers, my daughter rang her grandfather, a Tiger man from Jack Dyer's day who still sees the game pretty much as Jack did.

My daughter says of footy, "I don't see anything else in our culture that unites 50,000 people". Towards the end of the match, we saw a Hawthorn supporter in a wheelchair going nuts at his team. The man, in his 60s, had no words, just a wild array of noises. He signalled his disgust to his carer, a wan bored-looking young woman, and they left early.

Before the game, I saw a blind kid with a stick being led towards the ground by his father. Richmond supporters. I saw a one-eared man. Richmond supporter. After the game, the Tiger Army went crazy. Six times they played the club song. There is something both heart-warming and comic about the Richmond song. It's a statement of ridiculous optimism and, for one cold wet afternoon, it seemed we had witnessed what might be termed the Tiger Spring.

Meanwhile, in a coal mine in Queensland, a Hawthorn supporter came off his shift to be met with a barrage of texts from jubilant Richmond supporters. His response cannot be printed.

It took me one whole day to warm up. She went down with a cold on the Tuesday. We'll be going to as many matches as we can this year.


  • Martin, the next time you go to a tiges game, please have a beer for me - and if you can, make it a good old fashioned one and smuggle in a boags draught.

    I can only dream... and so will add one bit of support for them - Carn the tiges.

    In japan
    Date and time
    June 02, 2012, 12:30AM
    • Is it true, has the ice age ended at last?
      Go Tigers

      Date and time
      June 02, 2012, 5:06AM
      • Nah - but the tundra is thawing

        Date and time
        June 02, 2012, 11:57AM
    • Being a Tigers fan abroad isn't as painful as when I'd wonder to the G from my Richmond residence in the 90's. I've watched the games live on the internet this year and can see something good happening, maybe not this year yet, but the next few years for sure. I'm coming back for a holiday in July/August and really looking forward to wondering down to the G for the Blues clash. Hopefully we are in the 8 challenging for a top 4 spot! The tough part of the draw is over (I hope), now it's time to consolidate some wins over the next few weeks. C'mon TIGES!!

      Essex, UK
      Date and time
      June 02, 2012, 5:55AM
      • My late great-uncle knew Jack Dyer through football. He would have been thrilled to see the latest edition to the family jumping up and down and yelling "Go Nahas!" at the events on the telly urged on by her big brother. At four years old she'd love to see the footy live, but she doesn't take losing well. It's so much better when everyone's barracking together!

        The bush - a long way from Punt Rd
        Date and time
        June 02, 2012, 8:04AM
        • Martin, i know you are Sheeds favorite journo and along with Mike Sheahan, youv'e become mine. Loved this article. Being a Tiger is living a thousand lives in one game, and you know what?...i wouldn't change it for a tatts win...

          willowgrove sth
          Date and time
          June 02, 2012, 8:16AM
          • Thank-you for sharing another wonderful football insight, Martin - your writing really speaks to my heart. I have been a 'rusted-on' Richmond man since 1965. While I think that my long absence has made my heart grow fonder for the Tigers in many respects, I only have TV dinners or "fillets" (as your daughter aptly calls them) to dine on - except when Richmond comes to Perth.

            Last week, I, like you and your daughter visited Melbourne and was treated to a feast when I attended the Tigers V Hawks game at the MCG. It was an almost religious experience for me to be there with members of the same yellow and black faith - sheer rapture, actually.

            Martin, your writing reveals a pure love of the game that bonds us all when we share in stories like this. PS: That Queensland coal miner sure is a lucky guy.

            Western Tiger
            Perth, WA
            Date and time
            June 02, 2012, 8:31AM
            • Good read. Eat 'em alive tigers.

              Joe Citizen
              Date and time
              June 02, 2012, 9:11AM
              • Martin

                As an old Glenelg supporter, I have always had a regard for Richmond because they wear trhe same colours, and because Royce Hart played for both - even though he was cleaned up in his one grand final appearance for the Bays. The point is, it's wonderful as you point out to see a Tigers resurgence after all these years. May it continue to a grand final!! And next year in Jerusalem for the Dockers ...

                Date and time
                June 02, 2012, 10:57AM
                • I'm a Footscray man myself but I'm very fond of the Tiges as well and LOVED last night's game. Martin is dead right in describing the Tiger Army, they are a joy to behold. Passion sans nasty - it's very attractive.

                  Date and time
                  June 02, 2012, 3:48PM
                  Comments are now closed

                  Related Coverage

                  HuffPost Australia

                  AFL 2016

                  Round 1
                  Thu, 24 MarTimes shown AEDT
                  RIC vs CAR 19:20MCG
                  Sat, 26 MarTimes shown AEDT
                  MEL vs GWS 13:40MCG
                  GCF vs ESS 16:35MS
                  NTH vs ADE 19:25ES
                  SYD vs COL 19:25ANZ
                  Sun, 27 MarTimes shown AEDT
                  WBU vs FRE 13:10ES
                  PTA vs STK 15:20Adelaide Oval
                  WCE vs BRI 19:40Domain Stadium
                  Mon, 28 MarTimes shown AEDT
                  GEE vs HAW 15:20MCG
                  View All Fixtures
                  Round 2
                  Fri, 01 AprTimes shown AEDT
                  COL vs RIC 19:50MCG
                  Sat, 02 AprTimes shown AEDT
                  ADE vs PTA 13:45Adelaide Oval
                  ESS vs MEL 14:10MCG
                  BRI vs NTH 16:35G
                  STK vs WBU 19:25ES
                  FRE vs GCF 19:40Domain Stadium
                  Sun, 03 AprTimes shown AEST
                  GWS vs GEE 13:10SO
                  HAW vs WCE 15:20MCG
                  CAR vs SYD 16:40ES
                  View All Fixtures
                  Round 3
                  Fri, 08 AprTimes shown AEST
                  PTA vs ESS 19:50Adelaide Oval
                  Sat, 09 AprTimes shown AEST
                  STK vs COL 13:45MCG
                  RIC vs ADE 14:10ES
                  SYD vs GWS 16:35SCG
                  GCF vs CAR 19:25MS
                  WCE vs FRE 19:40Domain Stadium
                  Sun, 10 AprTimes shown AEST
                  NTH vs MEL 13:10BA
                  WBU vs HAW 15:20ES
                  GEE vs BRI 16:40SS
                  View All Fixtures
                  Round 4
                  Fri, 15 AprTimes shown AEST
                  WCE vs RIC 20:10Domain Stadium
                  Sat, 16 AprTimes shown AEST
                  ESS vs GEE 13:45MCG
                  HAW vs STK 14:10AS
                  BRI vs GCF 16:35G
                  CAR vs WBU 19:25ES
                  ADE vs SYD 19:40Adelaide Oval
                  Sun, 17 AprTimes shown AEST
                  GWS vs PTA 13:10SO
                  COL vs MEL 15:20MCG
                  NTH vs FRE 16:40ES
                  View All Fixtures
                  Round 5
                  Fri, 22 AprTimes shown AEST
                  HAW vs ADE 19:50MCG
                  Sat, 23 AprTimes shown AEST
                  SYD vs WCE 13:40SCG
                  GCF vs NTH 16:35MS
                  WBU vs BRI 19:25ES
                  PTA vs GEE 19:40Adelaide Oval
                  Sun, 24 AprTimes shown AEST
                  STK vs GWS 13:10ES
                  FRE vs CAR 16:10Domain Stadium
                  MEL vs RIC 19:10MCG
                  Mon, 25 AprTimes shown AEST
                  COL vs ESS 15:20MCG
                  View All Fixtures
                  Round 6
                  Fri, 29 AprTimes shown AEST
                  NTH vs WBU 19:50ES
                  Sat, 30 AprTimes shown AEST
                  MEL vs STK 13:45ES
                  ADE vs FRE 14:10Adelaide Oval
                  GWS vs HAW 16:35Spotless Stadium
                  RIC vs PTA 19:25MCG
                  GEE vs GCF 19:25SS
                  Sun, 01 MayTimes shown AEST
                  BRI vs SYD 13:10G
                  CAR vs ESS 15:20MCG
                  WCE vs COL 16:40Domain Stadium
                  View All Fixtures
                  Round 7
                  Fri, 06 MayTimes shown AEST
                  RIC vs HAW 19:50MCG
                  Sat, 07 MayTimes shown AEST
                  COL vs CAR 13:45MCG
                  GEE vs WCE 14:10SS
                  SYD vs ESS 16:35ANZ
                  GCF vs MEL 17:10MS
                  WBU vs ADE 19:40ES
                  FRE vs GWS 20:10Domain Stadium
                  Sun, 08 MayTimes shown AEST
                  STK vs NTH 15:20ES
                  PTA vs BRI 16:40Adelaide Oval
                  View All Fixtures
                  Round 8
                  Fri, 13 MayTimes shown AEST
                  ADE vs GEE 19:50Adelaide Oval
                  Sat, 14 MayTimes shown AEST
                  ESS vs NTH 13:45ES
                  HAW vs FRE 14:10AS
                  GWS vs GCF 16:35Spotless Stadium
                  BRI vs COL 19:25G
                  RIC vs SYD 19:25MCG
                  Sun, 15 MayTimes shown AEST
                  CAR vs PTA 13:10ES
                  MEL vs WBU 15:20MCG
                  WCE vs STK 16:40Domain Stadium
                  View All Fixtures
                  Round 9
                  Fri, 20 MayTimes shown AEST
                  HAW vs SYD 19:50MCG
                  Sat, 21 MayTimes shown AEST
                  COL vs GEE 13:45MCG
                  GCF vs ADE 14:10MS
                  PTA vs WCE 16:35Adelaide Oval
                  NTH vs CAR 19:25ES
                  FRE vs RIC 19:40Domain Stadium
                  Sun, 22 MayTimes shown AEST
                  MEL vs BRI 13:10MCG
                  GWS vs WBU 15:20Spotless Stadium
                  STK vs ESS 16:40ES
                  View All Fixtures
                  Round 10
                  Fri, 27 MayTimes shown AEST
                  SYD vs NTH 19:50SCG
                  Sat, 28 MayTimes shown AEST
                  BRI vs HAW 13:45G
                  MEL vs PTA 14:10TIO Traeger Park
                  STK vs FRE 16:35ES
                  ESS vs RIC 19:25MCG
                  ADE vs GWS 19:40Adelaide Oval
                  Sun, 29 MayTimes shown AEST
                  CAR vs GEE 13:10ES
                  COL vs WBU 15:20MCG
                  WCE vs GCF 16:40Domain Stadium
                  View All Fixtures
                  Round 11
                  Fri, 03 JunTimes shown AEST
                  NTH vs RIC 19:50BA
                  Sat, 04 JunTimes shown AEST
                  HAW vs MEL 13:45MCG
                  CAR vs BRI 14:10ES
                  GEE vs GWS 16:35SS
                  GCF vs SYD 19:25MS
                  FRE vs ESS 19:40Domain Stadium
                  Sun, 05 JunTimes shown AEST
                  COL vs PTA 13:10MCG
                  WBU vs WCE 15:20ES
                  ADE vs STK 16:40Adelaide Oval
                  View All Fixtures
                  Round 12
                  Fri, 10 JunTimes shown AEST
                  ESS vs HAW 19:50ES
                  Sat, 11 JunTimes shown AEST
                  PTA vs WBU 13:40Adelaide Oval
                  BRI vs FRE 16:35G
                  GEE vs NTH 19:25ES
                  WCE vs ADE 19:40Domain Stadium
                  Sun, 12 JunTimes shown AEST
                  STK vs CAR 13:10ES
                  RIC vs GCF 15:20MCG
                  GWS vs SYD 16:40Spotless Stadium
                  Mon, 13 JunTimes shown AEST
                  MEL vs COL 15:20MCG
                  View All Fixtures
                  Round 13
                  Fri, 17 JunTimes shown AEST
                  NTH vs HAW 19:50ES
                  Sat, 18 JunTimes shown AEST
                  BRI vs WCE 13:40G
                  FRE vs PTA 16:35Domain Stadium
                  WBU vs GEE 19:25ES
                  Sun, 19 JunTimes shown AEST
                  SYD vs MEL 13:10SCG
                  ESS vs GWS 16:40ES
                  View All Fixtures
                  Round 14
                  Thu, 23 JunTimes shown AEST
                  ADE vs NTH 19:50Adelaide Oval
                  Fri, 24 JunTimes shown AEST
                  COL vs FRE 19:50MCG
                  Sat, 25 JunTimes shown AEST
                  RIC vs BRI 13:40MCG
                  GWS vs CAR 16:35Spotless Stadium
                  STK vs GEE 19:25ES
                  Sun, 26 JunTimes shown AEST
                  HAW vs GCF 15:20AS
                  View All Fixtures
                  Round 15
                  Thu, 30 JunTimes shown AEST
                  WCE vs ESS 20:10Domain Stadium
                  Fri, 01 JulTimes shown AEST
                  PTA vs RIC 19:50Adelaide Oval
                  Sat, 02 JulTimes shown AEST
                  GCF vs STK 13:40MS
                  SYD vs WBU 16:35SCG
                  CAR vs COL 19:25MCG
                  Sun, 03 JulTimes shown AEST
                  MEL vs ADE 15:20MCG
                  View All Fixtures
                  Round 16
                  Thu, 07 JulTimes shown AEST
                  PTA vs HAW 19:50Adelaide Oval
                  Fri, 08 JulTimes shown AEST
                  GEE vs SYD 19:50SS
                  Sat, 09 JulTimes shown AEST
                  GWS vs COL 13:40Spotless Stadium
                  GCF vs BRI 16:35MS
                  WBU vs RIC 19:25ES
                  MEL vs FRE 19:40TIO
                  Sun, 10 JulTimes shown AEST
                  CAR vs ADE 13:10MCG
                  WCE vs NTH 15:20Domain Stadium
                  ESS vs STK 16:40ES
                  View All Fixtures
                  Round 17
                  Thu, 14 JulTimes shown AEST
                  SYD vs HAW 19:20SCG
                  Fri, 15 JulTimes shown AEST
                  FRE vs GEE 20:10Domain Stadium
                  Sat, 16 JulTimes shown AEST
                  RIC vs ESS 13:40MCG
                  NTH vs PTA 16:35ES
                  WBU vs GCF 19:25CAZ
                  ADE vs COL 19:40Adelaide Oval
                  Sun, 17 JulTimes shown AEST
                  CAR vs WCE 13:10MCG
                  STK vs MEL 15:20ES
                  BRI vs GWS 16:40G
                  View All Fixtures
                  Round 18
                  Fri, 22 JulTimes shown AEST
                  COL vs NTH 19:50ES
                  Sat, 23 JulTimes shown AEST
                  SYD vs CAR 13:45ANZ
                  GCF vs FRE 14:10MS
                  WCE vs MEL 16:35Domain Stadium
                  WBU vs STK 19:25ES
                  GEE vs ADE 19:25SS
                  Sun, 24 JulTimes shown AEST
                  ESS vs BRI 13:10ES
                  HAW vs RIC 15:20MCG
                  PTA vs GWS 16:40Adelaide Oval
                  View All Fixtures
                  Round 19
                  Fri, 29 JulTimes shown AEST
                  GEE vs WBU 19:50SS
                  Sat, 30 JulTimes shown AEST
                  GWS vs RIC 13:45SO
                  HAW vs CAR 14:10AS
                  COL vs WCE 16:35MCG
                  BRI vs PTA 19:25G
                  NTH vs STK 19:25ES
                  Sun, 31 JulTimes shown AEST
                  MEL vs GCF 13:10MCG
                  FRE vs SYD 15:20Domain Stadium
                  ADE vs ESS 16:40Adelaide Oval
                  View All Fixtures
                  Round 20
                  Fri, 05 AugTimes shown AEST
                  RIC vs COL 19:50MCG
                  Sat, 06 AugTimes shown AEST
                  SYD vs PTA 13:45SCG
                  MEL vs HAW 14:10MCG
                  GCF vs GWS 16:35MS
                  WBU vs NTH 19:25ES
                  ADE vs BRI 19:40Adelaide Oval
                  Sun, 07 AugTimes shown AEST
                  CAR vs STK 13:10MCG
                  GEE vs ESS 15:20ES
                  FRE vs WCE 16:40Domain Stadium
                  View All Fixtures
                  Round 21
                  Fri, 12 AugTimes shown AEST
                  WBU vs COL 19:50ES
                  Sat, 13 AugTimes shown AEST
                  BRI vs CAR 13:45G
                  HAW vs NTH 14:10MCG
                  GWS vs WCE 16:35Spotless Stadium
                  STK vs SYD 19:25ES
                  PTA vs MEL 19:40Adelaide Oval
                  Sun, 14 AugTimes shown AEST
                  ESS vs GCF 13:10ES
                  RIC vs GEE 15:20MCG
                  FRE vs ADE 16:40Domain Stadium
                  View All Fixtures
                  Round 22
                  Fri, 19 AugTimes shown AEST
                  WCE vs HAW 20:10Domain Stadium
                  Sat, 20 AugTimes shown AEST
                  NTH vs SYD 13:45BA
                  RIC vs STK 14:10MCG
                  GWS vs FRE 16:35Spotless Stadium
                  COL vs GCF 19:25ES
                  PTA vs ADE 19:40Adelaide Oval
                  Sun, 21 AugTimes shown AEST
                  CAR vs MEL 13:10MCG
                  BRI vs GEE 15:20G
                  ESS vs WBU 16:40ES
                  View All Fixtures
                  Round 23
                  Sat, 27 AugTimes shown AEST
                  HAW vs COL 12:00MCG
                  STK vs BRI 12:00ES
                  ESS vs CAR 12:00MCG
                  GCF vs PTA 12:00MS
                  SYD vs RIC 12:00SCG
                  NTH vs GWS 12:00ES
                  GEE vs MEL 12:00SS
                  ADE vs WCE 12:30Adelaide Oval
                  FRE vs WBU 14:00Domain Stadium
                  View All Fixtures
                  AFL 2015
                  Overall standings
                  Team P W L D % Pts
                  Adelaide Crows 0 0 0 0 - 0
                  Brisbane Lions 0 0 0 0 - 0
                  Carlton 0 0 0 0 - 0
                  Collingwood 0 0 0 0 - 0
                  Essendon 0 0 0 0 - 0
                  Fremantle 0 0 0 0 - 0
                  Geelong Cats 0 0 0 0 - 0
                  Gold Coast Suns 0 0 0 0 - 0
                  View all

                  Follow Us on Facebook

                  Featured advertisers