Tigers ready to roar

Rich­mond fans cheer on he­roes

Mercury (Hobart) - - FOOTY FEVER - PETER ROLFE, ANEEKA SIMONIS and AN­DREA HAMBLIN

THE Tigers Army has roared its sup­port for Rich­mond ahead of to­day’s drought­break­ing AFL Grand Fi­nal.

So many Rich­mond fans turned up to the team’s fi­nal train­ing yes­ter­day that Vic­to­ria Po­lice is now con­sid­er­ing clos­ing busy Punt Rd after the Tigers’ first Grand Fi­nal since 1982.

In a strong show of sup­port, a crowd es­ti­mated at 100,000 lined city streets for yes­ter­day’s Grand Fi­nal Pa­rade to the MCG, with Rich­mond and Ade­laide fans in full voice.

Ear­lier, a crowd of about 8000 spilt in and around Rich­mond’s home ground, with queues form­ing at Punt Rd Oval from 6.30am de­spite train­ing not start­ing till 9.45am.

Some fans were turned away and a lane of Punt Rd was closed to keep crowds flock­ing to the area safe.

Vic­to­ria’s top cop Gra­ham Ashton said the clo­sure of ma­jor roads out­side the MCG late this af­ter­noon could be “in­evitable” as a re­sult.

Po­lice would work with VicRoads to as­sess traf­fic but Chief Com­mis­sioner Ashton said there was a “good chance” Punt Rd and Swan St would be closed if Rich­mond won.

“We were hop­ing not to have to close Punt Rd but I’m not sure whether that will be in­evitable,” he said.

A de­ci­sion on whether to close the thor­ough­fares will be made to­day.

“That whole area will be­come a bit of a party precinct over the next 24 hours both in and out­side the ground,’’ he said.

The party started early for ador­ing Rich­mond fans at the club’s open train­ing yes­ter­day, with Tiger­land trans­formed into a sea of yel­low and black as fans cheered their he­roes.

The most diehard fans spent the night camped out the front of Punt Rd Oval.

Long-suf­fer­ing sup­porter Jen Mitchell and her sons Michael Rise­ley, 22, and Tyson Jones, 15, ar­rived at the gates at mid­night.

Ms Mitchell said it had been a freez­ing night but worth the wait to see her team hours be­fore its big­gest game in 35 years. “It will be the first Grand Fi­nal I can re­mem­ber, I was four the last time we won,” she said.

The oval reached ca­pac­ity within 20 min­utes of open­ing.

Zach Atkin­son, 25, was on the wrong side of the gates after tak­ing the red-eye from Perth. “I got a ticket to the fi­nal,’’ he said. “That’s the main thing.”

Out­side the MCG, MCC mem­bers en­tered their sec­ond day camped out for the last re­main­ing Grand Fi­nal tick­ets which will be dished out on a first-in ba­sis to mem­bers to­day.

Rich­mond triple pre­mier­ship player Kevin Sheedy said the Tigers looked “dan­ger­ous’’.

“I think we’re in for an ex­cit­ing Grand Fi­nal be­cause both teams are play­ing at their peak and it’s go­ing to be very hard to pick the win­ner,’’ he said.

Brown­low Medallist Dustin Martin said he would never for­get yes­ter­day’s open train­ing. “It was ab­so­lutely awesome,’’ he said.

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