Tigers ready to roar
Richmond fans cheer on heroes
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.