I have recently become a ‘footie tragic’. It all began with watching my friends (quite a few of them it as it happens) who over the years have donned their yellow and black and madly cheered and cursed their beloved Richmond Tigers. I did not ‘get it’ thinking them slightly odd ; and then this year I did (get it)
And for the moment, I too am caught up in the excitement that is Melbourne in Grand Final Week. Even to wearing a scarf. You bet it is yellow and black. And I mean Wearing it, all day, every day, to Park Run (I was not alone) to the shops, (I was not alone), to the grand parade, walking Coco; watching TV. And everywhere complete strangers become friends as the yellow and black unites us.
Founded in 1885 Richmond is a very ‘old’ club with its own railway station (well almost) The club has not won a premiership since 1980 – which in football terms is a very long time. Every time I read up on Richmond there is a different reason put forward for the remarkable passion the Richmond followers have for their team; from the age of the club to the club song (which is very catchy); to the colours to this to that 😂 so it would appear, no one is quite sure why. But there it is, Richmond fans are loyal and fanatical.
Whatever the reason, when the state declares a public holiday and Richmond is now in the finals, one just HAs to go to the grand parade in the city. Apparently 150 000 other supporters also HAD to go.
We travelled in by train – together with families of all shapes and sizes, single tragic supporters, couples, – the train was packed; standing room only. And so the fun began.
Melbourne put on its best face, the sun shone, but not too strongly, the wind blew, but not too briskly, the crowd moved, but not too quickly and we just smiled and allowed the throng to take us with it. A stop for a coffee gave us time to watch the world go by and then on to the parade.
We could see nothing of The March – we just weren’t tall enough with the crowd so deep. It didn’t matter.
The people, families, couples, singles, everyone willing their team to win, everyone soaking up the weather, the city, the energy, the glorious atmosphere that is Melbourne.
Our stomachs were calling us to fuel them, and we looked for a table – there were hundreds, all taken. Resourceful Jackie found us a corner and amongst scores of yellow and black clad diners, we shared a lovey paella, talked about everything football and non football; and wandered home, weary but so grateful to be in Melbourne at Grand Final time.
All that remains is to survive the actual match, families meeting in so many different places and ways. Some 120 000 lucky enough to be at the MCG, some at home, in hotels, in pubs, the city is Pumping with energy as we wait for our team to….. well that’s the question – win or lose? Time will tell.