It was a great day, grand final day. Had all the family in Melbourne, got up early very excited, and while we were a bit nervy walking past a Police Operation in Fed Square, our spirits were high. The atmosphere at the kick across the river was great, and eventually we met up with a group of friends at Beer Deluxe for some “primers”.
The walk down to the “G” was great fun, and who could forget a memorable performance by The Killers. All that remained was for our beloved Crows to roll out and blow Richmond away as we all expected they would. Quarter time and we were on track for possible one of the great days in our lives. All those hours of happiness and anticipation, then in one utterly foul hour of football everything was shattered. Standing there at three quarter time with kids in tears and not really understanding what we had just seen.
Since then, well, what would you call it? Post-Traumatic Stress? We really shouldn’t trivialise such an important and at times tragic condition, its only sport after all. Nevertheless there is something in me which is just not sitting right at the moment. A sense that 2018 can’t and won’t mean anything in a game by game context, the season can only start when the siren sounds for the last game of the season at the MCG once again.
Maybe that’s harsh, but I can’t help feeling bitter and cheated by a team that was, by most measures, the best in the AFL in 2017. A team that had, just one week earlier, so demolished a fellow contender in the last 4, that they seemed untouchable. A team that was so efficient and in control in its first top 4 final against a highly fancied flag favourite. Of course all of this counted for zero after the last hurdle collapse.
I’ve since heard from a very reliable source within the 4 walls, that, after feeling good in the first quarter, the first signs of the Tiger Army awakening “spooked” the players. I’m told this was reported by a number of the payers after the game. Whatever it was, and you can pin blame anywhere and on anyone, they were rabbits in the headlights and failed the exam.
No doubt I will get back on the horse at some point this season, but of this I’m certain. Most games will mean little to me; most wins will bring noting more than polite applause. I will be there as always at all home games, as well as 2 interstate games. But the difference this year will be about significantly less enjoyment on the journey, and a steely patience for our arrival at the destination. I’ve little doubt the players will be feeling the same.