100319_sadtigerIn the first of a series of reviews, written by the people that matter — the fans, Crikey Sports has the honour of having Scott Ewing, Tigers enthusiast and www.puntroad.com contributor look ahead at the 2010 season through yellow and black goggles.

Scott Ewing,  from www.puntroad.com — a good ordinary website, writes:

A rookie coach, a fresh manifesto and a new man-child to love — what’s not to like about the Tiges in 2010. With Richo metamorphosing from everybody’s favourite galloping galoot to the thinking person’s Dipper over the pre-season and fourteen new faces, the Tigers are a veritable clean slate.

And let’s face it- when the slate has been as dirty as Richmond’s over the last quarter of a century, clean is good.  My mate’s’25 Years of Shit’ t-shirt (see here) pretty much sums it up. But the darkest hour is just before the dawn although with the Tiges it’s been pretty difficult to work out when the hour was darkest.

Was it during the late eighties and early nineties when Jason Dunstall and Gary Ablett Snr were amassing personal tons against the likes of Brian Leys and Michael Laffy?  Was it last year’s humiliation at the hands of the blue-baggers in the season opener?  Hopes not so much dashed but given the sort of treatment the Coyote would get in a feature length Roadrunner movie.

Was it the two times the Tigers made the finals in 28 years and gave us a whiff of hope only to be ritualistically slaughtered in preliminary finals.  (I personally think it was in the preliminary final against Geelong in 1995 when in one of the few positive pieces of play from the Tiges, Micky Gale collected the ball strongly on the run and pumped it sixty metres the wrong way. Listening to Cat fans sing the club song in the dunnies at half-time added to the general bleakness).

So what’s to look forward to for Tiger fans in season 2010 now that Gold Coast has made this year’s catch of newbies look like what’s left after John West has been to market and taken the silver lining out of the cellar-dwellar cloud?

Watching the most feted 25 game player in the history of the game turn into a bonafide star for a start.  After his debut in 2008 normally reserved “blokes’ blokes” across the Glen Waverley hinterland had to deal with powerful feelings of attraction for the man-child Trent Cotchin.  Conversations about the size of his thighs, ice-cool temperament, masterful decision-making, silky skills and penetrating kicking struck up all over the Richmond heartland as fans tried to deal with their dizzying emotions. Since that debut however there have only been glimpses of the boy who stole our hearts.  What the draft giveth, sometimes osteo-pubis taketh away.  Hopefully this is the year of The Cotch.  And if it doesn’t work out there, then there’s always Dustin Martin.

There’s the heart-warming story of Graham Polak’s rehabilitation following his full-blooded attempt to shepherd a Dandenong Road tram for a team-mate two years ago.  This was the biggest tackle at Tigerland since Laurie Fowler sent Carlton goliath ‘Big Nick’ to sleep in the ’73 Grand Final.  Nicholls was in fact bigger than a tram but not as quick and, quite importantly, not made of metal.  I’m still hopeful Polak will be able to take his rightful place in the pantheon of ex-Dockers who have gone onto stellar careers post-Fremantle (possibly due to the motivational impact of not being forced to listen to the Docker’s dirge when you win).

Hopefully Richard Tambling will continue his improvement from last year and move finally and decisively out of the shadow of Buddy Franklin.  Through no fault of his own Tambling has spent his career being compared to the mercurial hawk due to his being picked ahead of him in the draft.  Last year Buddy went backwards and Ritchie had a good season- at this rate their paths should cross sometime in 2013, well within Richmond’s big, bold and beautiful 8 year plan time horizon.

The Tiger faithful can also look forward to what’s happening on the Ben Cousins Channel.  (Today on the Cuz channel ‘My binge drinking hell’).  The one man entertainment network certainly livened up Punt Road when he joined the club last year.  For a relatively unobtrusive accumulator on the ground, he’s certainly a showy bastard off it.  (Cuz may be a bizzaro version of Richo, who on the field is an Almodovar film and off it is more Loachian in tone).  Cousins has an innate feel for summer casual combinations, knows how much fading and meaningless writing a t-shirt requires and most importantly when to go shirts and when to go skins. With his documentary still to be released he’ll certainly be doing his bit to keep tiger lovers entertained.

Will ‘Jumping’ Jack Riewoldt fulfil his potential to become the game’s greatest goal celebrator since Wayne ‘The Dominator’ Johnston was ripping it up on a forward flank for the Old Dark Navy Blues and KB was popping them through for fun?  Can somebody come up with a better Richo memento than Taylor Bowls’ black and yellow speckled lawn bowl with a number 12 on the side?  Is Troy Taylor the new Mickey O or the next Andy K?  Can the Richmond Grog Squad work Damian ‘Dimmer’ Hardwick’s name into the Tiger Army chant?

It’s only Year 1 of the Eight Year Plan and I’ve got a feeling it’s all going to work out fine.  And if it doesn’t I can always throw away my membership card, spend a weekend sourcing a couple of cubic metres of chickenshit and yell like crazy at Jordan McMahon.