I just finished watching my football team, The Richmond Tigers, lose horribly to the lowly Gold Coast Suns in what could only be described as one of the worst performances I have ever had the displeasure of observing. I can’t really blame the Tigers for their complete lack of endeavour and apparent ineptitude. Why? I’ll tell you why – it’s my fault. I am the most unlucky human being on the face of the Earth…

It all started in the early 90’s when, on one of my first interstate holidays to Melbourne, I attended the  Queen Victoria Market on a sunny Saturday morning in the company of my mother, father and older brother. I was probably around 6 or 7, whilst my brother would have been 8 or 9. At this stage, neither my brother nor I were ardent followers of Australian Rules football. We were kids; we liked playing in the dirt, riding push-bikes and beating the shit out of each other (something that would continue to be a feature throughout our childhoods and would follow us doggedly into adolescence).

We wandered through the marketplace, admiring the endless rows of cheap knock-offs and mass-produced Australiana souvenirs until we came across a stall tucked away to the back of the marketplace that was selling imitation AFL jumpers. My father, a dyed-in-the-wool Carlton supporter and ex-pat Victorian (you can call them ex-pats because Tasmania is basically like a country in and of itself) gave an ultimatum; ‘Right boys… you’ve got to pick a jumper and whichever jumper you pick, that will be your AFL team for your entire life.’

Not realising the ramifications that my choice would have for the rest of my life, I entered the stall, wide-eyed and with the reckless abandon that only a small child can engender. There was a jumper that drew me to it like a glimmering beacon; resplendent in blue, red and yellow, the jumper of the Fitzroy Lions beckoned me suggestively like an artificially-enhanced prostitute in the red-light district of Amsterdam. I was hooked. The Fitzroy Lions were my team.

Whilst this was occurring, my father had dragged my brother off to one side and whispered in his ear, ‘get the blue jumper with the white letter on the front’. My brother was now a Carlton supporter.

What’s the rub out of this little day out for the Knight family? Well, my brother has already witnessed a premiership (the mighty Blues of 1995) and I watched haplessly as the Lions lost game after game, year after year, until, financially and emotionally destitute, they merged with the Brisbane Bears in 1996. At this time, I was primed to continue to support the new incarnation of the Lions at their new base in Queensland but again, the voice of my father was the deciding factor.

You can’t barrack for a club outside of Victoria, it’s not right’, he proclaimed. I listened. I dumped the newly-formed Brisbane Lions like a crack-addict running from an overweight lawman in an episode of COPS and pledged my soul to the Richmond Tigers.  Why? Matthew Richardson, a Tiger great, grew up in Devonport and lesser-known backman Ben Harrison had actually grown up in my cul-de-sac. I had enough of a link.

What’s the end result of this change of allegiance? The Brisbane Lions went on to win 3 consecutive premierships in the early 2000s and Richmond has played finals once since I’ve followed them.

Fuck you, dad.

/end communication

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