Tigers balance AFL and VFL demands

Would Port Melbourne or Richmond winning the VFL grand final be the bigger fairytale?

In both senior and reserves football, Richmond are the league’s great underachievers.

The AFL side is on the brink of a first grand final since 1982 and the reserves are in their decider for the first time since fielding a standalone VFL side.

But the Borough have fought their own battles this season – chiefly off the field.

Coach Gary Ayres revealed the depths of Port Melbourne’s financial woes this week ahead of Sunday’s final at Etihad Stadium.

“One board got voted out and the other got voted in and on the way out they passed them a little piece of paper that said you’re $300,000 in debt,” he said.

“It was (in peril). At one stage it was touted we may not be fielding a side this year.

“We’ve overcome quite a fair bit. I’d like to think it’s galvanised us.

“We think we’ve certainly got as good a chance as the Tiges have.”

The club played their opening round without being paid, eventually finishing third.

Richmond finished fifth but have won through to the grand final after upsetting second-placed Box Hill in their preliminary final.

It’s a far cry from last season when the Tigers lost to Frankston, which hadn’t won a game in 18 months.

“I do remember that game vividly,” coach Craig McRae said.

“You can imagine down in Frankston, the drums were beating and everyone was going nuts.

“Our guys went to ground and laid on the ground and it looked like we lost a grand final. It was an eye opener that we needed to build self worth. “

The Tigers must also manage the competing demands of having a team in the AFL and VFL finals.

The senior side’s preparation will come first, meaning some grand final participants could be on limited minutes.

“There’s obviously the AFL emergencies that will be part of the AFL squad all week,” he said.

“We’ll have probably three or four VFL players ready to go just in case.”

* All Offers and Promotions posted in this article excludes NSW residents.
Stay up to date with the latest sports news
Follow our social accounts to get exclusive content and all the latest sporting news!