The season promised nothing yet this young Richmond team delivered everything. After round 9, the Tigers were compared to the old dying Fitzroy team and were at extreme short odds to win ANOTHER wooden spoon. After round 22, the Tigers finished with 6 wins and plenty of renewed hope for long suffering Richmond supporters. The season included an exciting 2 month stretch where the tigers won 4 in a row and 5 of 8 games.
Jumping Jack Riewoldt enjoyed a wonderful break-out season, jumping out of ’Saint Nick’s’ shadow with 78 goals and the Coleman Medal. The highlight for many was Jumping Jack’s bag of 10 against the insipid Eagles at the mighty G’. He was the first Tiger to kick 10 in a game since Matthew Richardson’s haul against the Bulldogs. Jack shows a real love for the Tiger faithful and more importantly, the direhard Tiger Army love him. ‘Push-up’ King and Riewoldt have developed a cult following down at the Punt Road end.
Richmond have been accused of poor recruiting in the past, but this year it seems ’Dimma’ Hardwick and his troops have plenty to work with. Dustin Martin showed strength and composure beyond his years with the best ‘don’t argue’ in the league. Along with gut running displayed by Ben Nason, Dave Astbury’s reading of the play, Mitch Farmer’s long kick, Ben Griffiths’ athleticism, Troy Taylor’s freakish yet raw ability and a host of other first year players, Richmond seem to be on the improve.
The most difficult stage in this young team’s development will be the leap from being a competitive team too a consistent finals team. Club CEO Brendan Gale’s bold plan of 3-0-75 seems to be oncourse. Richmond supporters should hope for finals appearances in 2012 and beyond at the earliest, as this very young and inexperienced team still have a long journey ahead. With the outstanding leadership of Coach Dimma Hardwick and Captain Chris Newman it seems things at Punt Road are finally on the up. Well lets hope so, its been 30 years since their last flag and with only 3 finals appearances since. The sleeping giant of the AFL may just be waking up.