It took a pandemic to stop the Tiger Train


On Wednesday, after days of waiting, the AFL announced that the season would begin amid the coronavirus pandemic, only without crowds.

There would usually be 80,000 to 90,000 fans at the MCG for the traditional Blues versus Tigers season opener but this time there will be zero fans.

Hayden, 7, has been drawing pictures of his favourite Tigers players to help get his footy fix given he can’t be at the MCG for round one. It’s his way of coming to terms with the break in ritual.

“We are a little disappointed that we aren’t going tomorrow night to watch the Tigers together,” Ms May said.

“But at the end of the day we prefer to make sure we follow what is right to do and what is best for everyone.

“It is a really weird feeling. You’re so used to the football season starting, you get all excited to go and see your team play and now there is an uncertainty that we can’t even have our teams play at all at some point.”

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The Tigers have won two premierships in three years after decades of mediocrity.

Ms May said she never thought it would be something like the coronavirus that’s finally stopped the Tiger Train in its tracks.

“It’s come to a halt really, the ride we have been on. You finish off the [2019] season on a high and you expect to start again on a high and now we are starting it in a weird spot.

“We were so used to watching the Tigers always finish ninth, so having that turnaround in 2017 was awesome.

“The 2017 preliminary final against GWS, it was one of those things, you just can’t beat that feeling with the crowd.”

Fans across the league are still coming to terms with the news.

Matt Marsh, who leads the Aisle 29 St Kilda fan group, which has about 60 reserve seat members, is “shattered”.

“Everyone is a bit flat. It’s Saints’ luck unfortunately. This is our best pre-season since [2001 when] we got the G-Train [Fraser Gehrig] and now look what’s happened,” Mr Marsh said.

He is trying to organise as many of the Aisle 29 regulars to head to one of their “man caves” in Pakenham to watch St Kilda’s clash with North Melbourne on Sunday.

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