Author Topic: Apathy fast overtaking anger at Tigerland  (Read 807 times)

Offline mightytiges

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Apathy fast overtaking anger at Tigerland
« on: June 14, 2004, 01:55:25 AM »
Monday Focus
By Jake Niall
June 14, 2004

In weeks past, Danny Frawley might have copped a spray - verbal or liquid - from a throng of yellow and black ferals following a loss like that. Yesterday, only one Richmond fan summoned the rage to run to the race, armed with invective, for the traditional post-game frothing of mouths.

The anger that Tiger fans felt earlier in the season, and for much of the past 20 years, seems to have given way to despair. Only 18,666 bothered to turn up for a match that, theoretically at least, might have kept the faint finals flame flickering, though in truth this was extinguished long ago.

Consider the state of the Richmond Football Club, not simply the team, which succumbed to Fremantle, itself a by-word for flakiness, at the MCG, blowing a lead of 39 points in a game when the winners produced only a dozen goals. Freo, as you know, doesn't win much on the road - yesterday was the fifth win from 25 road trips under Chris Connolly.

Richmond has a financial crisis and will require AFL assistance to make ends meet - yesterday's crowd, the worst in Richmond-Fremantle history, will not have improved the dismal bottom line. It has no CEO, having sacked the saviour from Nike within 12 months of his appointment.

The coach entered the season in quicksand, with a four-and-a-half-year resume that reads ninth, third, 14th, 13th and 4-8. Those numbers speak for themselves.

The injury crutch that most struggling clubs cling to, even as they claim "injuries are no excuse," cannot prop up Richmond's self-esteem. The only significant absentee is Mark Coughlan, the club's 2003 best and fairest and fiercest midfielder, who has been grounded for several weeks by a lower-abdomen problem.

Meanwhile, the natives who haven't given up the ghost are getting restless. A supporter by the name of Michael Pahoff has circulated a petition, demanding the heads of the entire Richmond board, and a spill of all positions before the end of the season. Three directors have resigned already this season.

Greg Miller, the club's savvy football director, is concerned about what may happen if the barricades are stormed mid-season; one assumes he is thinking about appointments and recruitment for 2005 and worried that upheaval in July and August will enhance Richmond's well-founded reputation for volatility.

Yesterday's capitulation will have done Pahoff and his revolutionaries no harm. It cannot have been too hard to find disgruntled types at 4.45pm, when "Freo, heave ho" echoed across the 'G.

Frawley said the buck stops with him. If only this were true. For if the coach was truly responsible for the state of the Richmond Football Club, the mess could easily be fixed. Frawley referred to the club's collective crisis when he said the Tigers were "up against it in a whole lot of areas".

The coach said, however, that the external problems were not an issue for the players. "There's been 1000 distractions, that doesn't worry us, that's out of our control, out of my control and out of the players' control," said Frawley.

"So we'll just try to focus on Carlton and getting the boys up for what's going to be a big game for both clubs."

In past seasons, the angry natives have been prone to point accusing fingers at the enigmatic figures of Matthew Richardson or Joel Bowden, both sons of 1969 premiership players.

Far from representings the problem with this troubled team, Richo has been, in Frawley's words, "a shining light." He booted 5.4 from an aggregate of 10.11 yesterday and was probably the Tigers' best player.

Bowden, whose career stagnated in 2002-2003, has had a mini-revival in recent weeks playing behind the ball.

Yesterday, he contained Fremantle's most dangerous player, Matthew Pavlich, to a very modest game.

Brad Ottens, another player of greater ability than output, also was more than serviceable.

Considering that Richo, Ottens and Bowden were better than respectable and that Wayne Campbell and Kane Johnson were prolific, and yet the Tigers were still overrun, demonstrates the limited contribution of the tiger tail-end.

Frawley, as ever, kept up the positive facade. "We've just got to make sure we keep the spirits up . . . our first half was some of the best footy we've played for five or six weeks."

The coach has no choice but to keep forcing smiles. The supporters are another story.
All you touch and all you see is all your life will ever be - Pink Floyd