Again I'm not really going to talk about the game as such, but more something that struck me in the lead up, during it and after it. I will say that we won, courtesy of Brett Deledio's 4 goals (3 in the opening quarter) and I'm very happy about that.
Brett Deledio gets a Conca cuddle on Friday night.
The media talked up the Fremantle game. Being a traditional Big 4 club and having in excess of 70,000 members, does afford the Tigers a fair bit of coverage, but even when we play a top club we don't get looked at favourably. They did that with Fremantle and it wasn't until the start of the game and it was mentioned that it hit my why. It was 5th playing 1st. The result of the game had the ability to change the competition and the finals race.
We lost the game narrowly, but it didn't dampen down the bullish enthusiasm for the Tigers, even though we were playing the all conquering Hawks. Hawthorn are the reigning Premiers, they're going for a 'threepeat'. They've won their last 8 games in a row. Two of their victims have been fellow top 4 clubs in Fremantle and Sydney and they thumped both of them. Admittedly Richmond also own victories this season against those clubs, but they weren't as emphatic as what Hawthorn did to them. They were deservedly favourites, but there was still love for Richmond, even if they lost the game. They were being seen as legitimate. I can't ever remember this happening before.
It's hard to say exactly why now all of a sudden the Tigers are the 'real deal'. Maybe it's because they've made the finals for the last 2 years. Our two finals appearances to 2013, in 1995 and 2001, were brief. They were exciting, but ultimately unsustainable. This time it's different, we've hung around and we've consistently improved and while we're still a work in progress, a lot has come together in 2015. We've won games against the likes of Fremantle and Sydney, we've come from behind, we've rolled over the top of teams, we've put together bursts which have sunk opponents. This was the sort of stuff we watched everyone else do to us. This is what good sides do, it's how they get though the home and away season and prepare for finals.
There's an air of expectation about the Tigers now. It's really cool to hear everyone, supporters of the club, supporters of other clubs, the media, players and coaches talk positively about the club and you can feel that fear. The fear the giant is waking up and is about to resume his rightful place at the top of the AFL tree.
We're in the top 8, we're locked in there. We were top 4 after beating Hawthorn, then Sydney won and knocked us down to 5, the Bulldogs had a big win over Essendon and that saw us 6th, but looking ahead I can see us winning our last 5 games and 16 wins would definitely get us top 5, maybe even top 4.
The Tiger is in town people, and he's hungry!