A triumph over tragedy
ASMANIA will feature heavily in today’s AFL Grand Final, a day which promises a fairytale for both teams — one which has not won a flag since 1980, the other still recovering from the death of its coach Phil Walsh in 2015. Both are tales of triumph over tragedy. For Richmond, a legacy of being oh-so-close, but never quite making it. Of generating hope but falling at the final hurdle. Of supporters being too often referred to as “long suffering”.
Of tears and tantrums and members tearing up their cards.
For the Crows, it is a study in how to stay close and rebuild when the odds seem almost insurmountable.
The tragic death of Walsh rocked the footy world but the depth of feeling in Adelaide was something else. It shocked the city to its core and the tremors are still being felt to this day.
And beyond this, the game boils down to a story of two Tasmanian lads — Jack Riewoldt and Hugh Greenwood.
For Riewoldt, it would be the ultimate achievement — a testament to a player who was often accused of being selfish and immature, but is now one of his team’s elder statesmen; a player who has been instrumental in the rebirth of his footy club; and a man who has rebuilt his public image.
As Mark Robinson writes in today’s paper: “Where once he wanted to be the best player, he now thrives on being the best teammate.
“Where once he was accused of being selfish, he probably now is the most selfless player in the team.”
And beyond this, the game boils down to a story of two Tasmanian lads — Jack Riewoldt and Hugh Greenwood
And it would be a remarkable achievement for an individual who, along with his tight-knit family, has endured the heartache of losing cousin Maddie to cancer, and then channelled that grief into the MRV (Maddie Riewoldt’s Vision) charity and Maddie’s March. No doubt, she will not be far from his thoughts today.
Then we have Hugh Greenwood, the baby-faced basketballer-cum-footballer, who has become an integral part of the Crows’ imposing line-up, impressing with his speed, courage, silky skills and poise under pressure.
Two years ago, Greenwood made the bold move to turn his back on an NBL contract with the Perth Wildcats to join the Crows.
It has been a remarkable journey, made the more so by his mum Andree’s ongoing fight with secondary breast cancer. It is something he thinks about before every game. “I just do a little prayer before each game and before bed, more of a thank-you thing, obviously I’ve gone through a few tough times before with mum and being away from home,” he told sports writer Reece Homfray recently.
So today we wish the Tigers and the Crows the best in what is a fitting bookend to one of the closest seasons on record.
Both teams have overcome enormous hardship to be standing where they are today.
Win, lose or, dare we say it, draw, it is a testament to courage, resilience, perseverance and, in the very special cases of two of our local lads, the power of family.