Being a Richmond supporter is like watching a team of footballers forever stuck in a revolving door; always moving but never going anywhere. Each season starts with hopeful fans thinking maybe, just maybe, this season will be different.
And while each season would start with hopeful fans, each season ends with fans feeling a mixture of frustration, disappointment and a hell of a lot of déjà vu. Oh and hope, of course, for next season.
The thing is, change doesn’t happen overnight.
But 2012 was different. The fans aren’t frustrated, they’re angry. They aren’t disappointed, they’re downright pissed.
Déjà vu is still there though – losing ten games by less than 22 points will do that to you.
Finally, though, the players have begun to trickle out of those wretched revolving doors. Finishing outside of the eight this year wasn’t expected, and it wasn’t hoped for that the Tigers would scalp a few wins and manage their first final series in eleven years.
The fans aren’t hopeful for a standout performance next season. They expect it.
With the likes of golden boy Trent Cotchin, classy Brett Deledio, warhorse Shane Tuck and the walking mullet Ivan Maric in the midfield, who wouldn’t demand a stellar 2013 season?
While Richmond has one of the youngest teams in the AFL, besides the two expansion teams, the Tigers have proven worthy opponents, leading the league in total disposals and ranking in the top eight for goals and points scored as well.
As far as individual performances go, Jack Riewoldt won the Coleman Medal and Trent Cotchin is one of the favourites to win the Brownlow Medal.
They are worthy to make finals now, yet ended the season in twelfth place.
The football world believes that Richmond is heading in the right direction. This year, the club has raised $6 million for the Fighting Tiger Fund which will be used to pay off debt, renovate Punt Road Oval and be put towards larger coaching staff and better facilities. Last week, it was announced that Port Adelaide premiership coach Mark Williams will be joining the team.
It certainly seems that the club is heading in the right direction, but what needs to be done between now and next season for this cursed club to finally see some success after thirty years of not being good enough?
The players have the heart, the drive and the talent. They have been competitive in every game this year, even if it’s just in patches. Yet, Richmond still couldn’t win enough games to make finals.
Lapses in concentration and a failure to convert scoring opportunities have been Richmond’s Achilles heel.
More players need to stand up like Steven Morris, Trent Cotchin and Shane Tuck do in those crucial moments in games, and not just in those last five minutes. Rather, those moments when the players seem to switch off and let the opposition score a few goals, or when the team successfully holds the footy in the forward fifty for five minutes yet all that can be shown for it is a few measly behinds.
There are a number of reasons for why Richmond is not in the finals this year. Perhaps the biggest reason is that, in those crucial moments in games, the Tigers didn’t believe in their abilities to defeat the opposition. A moment of doubt crept into their minds at crucial moments and they were back stuck in those revolving doors.
Gold Coast believed they could defeat Richmond, and did so despite being ten points down with a minute of game time left. Carlton and North Melbourne both played the same cruel game a few weeks later.
If these teams can grasp victory in the face of defeat then what is stopping Richmond from achieving the same?
The problem is that you have to believe you can win in the first place.
The current Tigers are the most promising, the most driven and the most talented Richmond side the AFL world has seen in a long while. No one doubts that. This year, four players were picked for the All Australian Squad, only one of two teams outside the top eight to have more than one player elected, along with St Kilda.
Let’s just hope that the players flick the switch over the summer, jump on the bandwagon and leave the revolving doors behind forever.