It was grand final day of the Australian Rules Football League. The Richmond Tigers had finally made the AFL grand final.
They hadn’t been in a grand final since nineteen eighty-two. That was five years between when two friends were born in nineteen eighty-seven. Two avid fans of the Richmond Football club. They had grown up together, they had been two best friends. But over the years the onslaught of defeats that faced the Richmond football club made those two friends drift apart.
Over the years they would grow up watching the game. They would watch the game and kick the footy around in their backyard. As children they were filled with hopes and aspirations. They would kick the football back to one another and ask the same question consistently, “Do you think the Tigers will make the grand final this year?”
At first, as they were young, they would always respond with, “Of course mate, the tigers are the best.”
Over the years those an assurance of certainty grew cold and despondent. When one mate would ask the other, “Do you think the Tigers are going to make the grand final this year?”
The response slowly became one of, “Look mate, I don’t know, I don’t know.”
“But there’s always hope, right?”
“I guess,” the other would always respond.
Over the years, the constant losses and defeats that the football club received would slowly wear down one of them. And when the Hawthorn football club began to win several premierships in a row, the one who had lost faith in his football team of choice decided to switch banners. It was the second time that the Hawthorn football club won the premiership that he decided to do it. He was older now, in his mid-twenties. And for once in his life, he wanted to know what it was like to win.
So he made the swap of teams and the Hawthorn football club took out the premiership. He had a good night. He got drunk with lots of beautiful women, but at the end of the night, he went home alone.
His friend was bitter at the experience and they both parted ways in life. Now barracking for different teams.
When the Richmond Tigers finally made the grand final in the year of our Lord; two thousand and seventeen. His friend who had switched sides had called him and was begging him to get back in with his old mates. He was consecutively calling him on the phone. Attempting to join in on whatever celebrations would occur. But his friend who had been adamantly following Richmond this whole time, refused the phone calls and blocked his old mate’s phone number.
And when the Richmond Tigers broke away and came to an obvious victory. It was the greatest moment in the loyal follower’s life. Over the years of hardship, over the years of adversity, he had always followed the team.
Now over drinks. For the fan was a man of small stature. A larger man raised him with a mug of beer in his hand. He had drunk over four litres of beer that night. And the crowd of tiger’s fans all toasted him and sung out their anthem, “Welcome to tiger land…” And on the song went, to be sung at various drunken intervals throughout the night.
It was an epic night.
And as for his former friend. The one who had switched teams. He sat at home watching the television with a six pack of beers, all by himself.