The bubbly Hobart local, and indeed her entire family, are mad AFL Richmond Tigers supporters – and after suffering decades of devastating defeats and never-ending ridicule the massive Melbourne club, and Benson, have at long last reached the promised land – a premiership.
For Benson, who is on the committee of the Tigers’ Hobart Supporters club, and is a member of the Richmond Official Cheers Squad, a lifetime of loyalty, belief, hope, resilience and optimism has been repaid in spades.
The family’s connection to the club began with Benson’s grandfather, Royce, who lived in country Victoria and would trap rabbits to sell and make just enough money to get along to Tigers games during cold Melbourne winters.
His dedication to the club is more than matched by Benson, who’s obsession with the club is, well, a little OTT.
Along with a stunning Tiger tattoo that covers her upper left arm, the one-eyed footy passionate owns just about every piece of memorabilia the club has produced.
Her bedroom is floor to ceiling yellow and black, with team posters, framed pictures of Benson with players - and a wardrobe full of club clothing including tops, jackets, pyjamas, onesies, and more.
The kids at Lipscombe Early Years Education and Care in Sandy Bay where Benson works, certainly know who she follows, and while she’d never actively try to convert them to the Punt Road cause, her enthusiasm is contagious.
“Brainwashing is a strong word, and I never try to coax anyone to go for my team, but I think it just rubs off, my passion rubs off on them,” she says.
Speaking to Benson ten days after the club’s drought-breaking Grand Final win, Benson says she’s still pinching herself that her team are premiers.
When the siren sounded on that glorious Melbourne afternoon, it was complete euphoria for the Tasmanian.
“Tears streamed endlessly down my cheeks as I hugged my Dad, and didn't want to let go because I was so happy that I was there with him and we got to share that moment - just like he would have with his Dad 37 years ago,” Benson says.
She and dad Wayne were lucky enough to snare seats with the cheer squad on the big day.
“We cheered our hearts out until the very end and with about five minutes left to go people were embracing one another, hugging, high-fiving, crying together... it was the most amazing experience ever!!
“Within a few minutes of the siren sounding, one member came down to me, his face painted and wearing a complete tiger suit, and he said "we've done it! It’s ours!", tears streaming down our faces and he lifted me into the air and spun me around. I have never been so happy.”
Hours after the game Swan St and Bridge Rd in Richmond were bursting with euphoric celebration.
“The scenes there were like nothing I have ever seen,” Benson says.
“The roads were a lockout, as there were so many people out celebrating, so no cars could get in or out.
“Everywhere you went the Richmond song was being sung in full voice and "GO TIGES!" rang out every few seconds.
“People were celebrating with random strangers and everyone was having the time of their lives. It was the best!”
Despite being swept along by the enormity of the day, Benson’s thoughts were constantly of her father and grand father.
“The win meant so much to me and to our family,” she says.
“Throughout the game I thought of my Pa and Dad and I prayed to Pa and asked him to shine down on the boys and to help them be victorious.
“Afterwards we spoke of how proud he would have been.”
It’s sure to be a long summer of smiling Benson family faces, regular repeated screenings of the club’s epic Qualifying Final, Preliminary Final and Grand Final wins.
“I have never seen the Tigers have any success in my lifetime, so I am so happy I finally got to witness this,” she says.
“All that needs to happen to top it now is back-to-back wins! (haha)"
After such a superb season, one thing is for sure - the monkey’s finally off the Tigers’ backs and anything is possible.
The sleeping giant has officially woken - and once again the Tigers are hungry and well equipped to ‘eat ‘em alive!’