Terrific Tigers have turned me into an AFL tragic

In my 60 years on this earth, it was something I never thought I would have to confess to. Especially as the consequences will be so horrendous.

No more will I be able to show my face on the northern beaches of Sydney or Greenfield Park in Albury and I will be looked on with some disgust at Murrayfield – the home of the Steamers, a club where I am a proud life member.

And the reason is simple: I have become an AFL tragic.

No doubt a lot of it has to do with Richmond – a club I have followed since 1969 – winning this year’s premiership in such fine style. And it was just not what happened on the park.

The way the Tigers’ supporters came out hibernation to paint Melbourne yellow and black was truly impressive. And the fact the club has 78,000 members – about the same number as the total crowd at the NRL grand final – is almost unbelievable.

But what caused this change of heart? I blame my son, The D-Mac.

He started out life in the appropriate manner and was a foundation member of the Steamers juniors. But then something went wrong.

Before we knew it he had been poached to play junior Aussie Rules with the Albury Tigers.

But it got worse. He then went up to the Upper Murray league to play for Bullioh. And then he really rubbed salt into the wound by joining their committee and turning his back on the McGlone family legacy at the Steamers – something his sister didn’t do.

But they’re a good mob up at Bullioh, and it wasn’t long before The Lioness and I started to take the scenic route up to the Tallangatta Valley – even if it meant missing watching the Steamers play.

Don’t get me wrong. After being involved with rugby union for more than 50 years it will always be my game, especially with the success of the Wallabies during the 80s, 90s and early 2000s.

And the fact it is a truly international sport, and has had women involved with tackle rugby for well over 20 years.

So what happened to rugby league?

Although I went to a school that mostly played rugby union, my mates and I played rugby league for the school whenever we could, especially as it was located directly across the road from Brookvale Oval – the home of the Manly Sea Eagles. Back then, it was easy for our parents to buy us birthday presents, especially for us that were born in winter. We just wanted to be kitted out in the colours of our favourite team, be it St George, Manly, or, in my case, Balmain. That included jumper, shorts and socks.

I know there are many skilled, great players in the game nowadays. But they do not have the same aura as Johnny Raper, John Sattler, Bob Fulton and Arthur Beetson.

Back then, Australia played New Zealand, England and France in truly International matches – not like the fake world cup that is coming up.

Once upon a time, our best rugby union players used to cross over to rugby league for the money on offer. Now the boot is on the other foot.

At the end of the day, rugby league does not draw the big crowds it used to, despite the massive improvement in facilities.

And sadly, today’s youngsters will never know the pleasure of crowding onto the Paddo Hill, the Doug Walters stand or the concrete out the front of the Sheridan Stand at the SCG.

So I guess there’s only one thing left to say. Go Tiges.