St Kilda – Heaven & Hell – The Saints from 1897-2003 DVD

by Tom Briglia

This is probably the most engaging documentation of the St Kilda Football Club’s history. However, the fact it was initially produced in 1996 – just before the dramas of 1997 and 1998 – and then updated in the arbitrary year of 2003, right before arguably the most tumultuous and remarkable extended period in the club’s history, is quite a quirk of fate.

IMG_7711I’m sure it was never on the cards given Sports Delivered’s dwindling number of and interest (presumably) in archival productions since 2009, but I dare say this might be the only in-depth production to chart the club’s story we’ll get. To track in-depth the club’s fortunes in the second century of the competition, i.e. 1997 onwards is something we might have to settle on last year’s Open Mike: 50 Years On special for for the time being. It certainly might be premature to do so now, but should this group salute then a thorough look at what the club the endured in that time up until a premiership would be a hell of a ride to relive (let alone actually experiencing it in real time).

There’s certainly a lot of glossing over in the newly added section, presumably because it was more freshly etched in people’s minds when it was made. The 1997 campaign you’d think was a just a minor blip in the club’s history. Hardly touched when compared to 1965 or 1971, and even the heights of the early 1990s, only Aussie Jones’ goal is shown from the Grand Final itself. In comparison, all seven of Gary Loft’s goals in Round 19 of 1978 are shown (you’d actually think 1978 was a premiership season on a per-minute basis); one of Gordon Fode’s five goals in Round 3 of 1994; Daniel Wulf hitting the post from point-blank to tie the scores in “the worst game ever” of Round 5, 2002 as well as Nick Dal Santo’s kick after the siren with the scores tied; Brendon Goddard’s huge mark in his second game against the Bulldogs is shown twice across two different angles. That’s not to say none of those are worth mentioning, it’s the relative airtime they all receive that’s a little odd. The remarkable capitulations of both 1998 and 1999 aren’t given much attention either; in retrospect they were huge factors in the club finding itself in the position that gave them access to Riewoldt, Koschitzke, Ball, Goddard et al. via the drafts and quite simply were quite dramatic at the time anyway.

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Gold Edition: Does anyone know the difference?

One little trick thrown in is in the ending of the new version as opposed to the original version. The original closed with Talking Footy‘s summary of St Kilda’s 1996 season in the show’s Grand Final week episode, which ended with a very disappointed Robert Harvey and Matthew Young post-siren after a late-season loss to struggling Footscray that scuppered the Saints’ top eight chances, with the end-0f-match scoreline on-screen. The shot fades to black, and into an almost sombre piece to camera by then-President Andrew Plympton. It works incredibly consistently with the club’s history that you’ve just spent your last two hours being depressed by, before going into a grimly nostalgic highlights package under “Mr. Magic”, and the club song.

The newer version ends with the conveniently forward-looking 2003 season, as the side featuring Riewoldt, Gehrig, Harvey, Dal Santo, Hayes and co. began to gel together. This time, its closes with the team singing the song after the Round 5 victory over – yep, the Bulldogs – with the final scoreline this time showing a St Kilda victory, and narrator the late Stephen Phillips (who returned for the extended chapter) saying “big wins, big performances, and high hopes for the future”; cue the “Mr. Magic” rendition with a bit more buoyancy on the viewer’s part. It seems all well and good then, but knowing what happened to that team – not just in the immediate years following, but ultimately the entire era they were a part of – like anything to do with the Saints, you’re left with a feeling of emptiness.

St Kilda – Wall to Wall DVD

by Tom Briglia

11804The Wall to Wall series of videos produced for several clubs are a rather curious bunch. They’re like a playlist with a flow that has been curated with at least a little care, but then played on shuffle anyway.

As far as the Saints are concerned this DVD is essentially an extras for the Heaven & Hell club history DVD (which we’ll be uploading soon). I’ll go into more detail about that when I post it, but I’ll put in a few related notes here. Heaven & Hell was originally produced at the end of 1996 does a great job of going through specific eras – mostly chronologically – and was updated in 2003 like a number of other productions by Visual Entertainment Group via Sports Delivered. This was decent timing considering the dark finish to the 1996 version, which was now updated to end with a very positive outlook on the future fortunes of the 2003 side.

Ultimately, Wall to Wall is a rag-tag production with no real rhyme or reason to its structure, although would be great viewing for anyone with a fetish for highlights from the neither-here-nor-there 2003 season. Perhaps save this one for after I get around to posting Heaven & Hell.

Contents as per the inside of the DVD below:

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St Kilda 2004 Season Highlights DVD

by Tom Briglia

The distance in time between the 1997 Grand Final and 2004 is the same as the time lapsed between 2010 and this year, so I guess there’s some synergy in putting this up now.

*Disclaimer – you can read me whinge about Sports Delivered and talk about these productions in more bleating depth here.

img_7299This production for this was spearheaded by Channel 9, who was one of the broadcasters at the time, complete with match-day intro sequence and Brownlow Medal round highlights graphics. Like anything Channel 9 does in a promotional vein, it glosses over a lot of the negatives of the 2004 season – some losses simply aren’t mentioned at all, and the bloketastic element is filled by the hosting of Michael Roberts, who is obviously a mate of the much-featured Grant Thomas – a huge bonus for GT fans, although he probably doesn’t steal the show in the same Ken Sheldon does in the 1991 and 1992 Season Highlights productions. He certainly does say some interesting things – his admission that he hadn’t prepared the team well enough for the Qualifying Final against Brisbane, and more bemusingly, that the team has structured itself differently in the Round 21 and Qualifying Final games at the same ground against the same opposition in case they met the Lions in the Grand Final.

Whilst a lot of the focus of what’s in there is the Wizard Cup final and then the 10-game winning streak to open the season, at a running time of more than 116 minutes this is about 75 minutes longer and 61 minutes longer than the 2009 and 2010 Season Highlights DVDs respectively, and around more than 116 minutes longer than the 2005 Season Highlights DVD, which would have been a genuine ride (again, for more of my dismay at the producers of Sports Delivered and the Visual Entertainment Group, see above).

It’s easy to forget just how good the G-Train was outside of simply kicking for goal, how impressively athletic Roo was, and just what we missed out on due to Aaron Hamill’s injuries not just in key parts of 2004 but in 2005, 2006, 2007 and perhaps beyond, not to mention Heath Black after his departure (see his stirring goal in the final seconds of the third quarter of the Preliminary Final), further injuries to Luke Penny and the inconsistency of Brent Guerra.

The 2004 season was truly a unique experience for St Kilda fans. Never before had the club looked to potent, and the youth brigade had us feeling that anything could happen, with no end in site. I remember thinking at the time as a 16 year old that I couldn’t imagine a point beyond this team – we were getting attached to the players that themselves were coming through together as a close-knit group. It’s incredible to think the journey we still find ourselves on could well and truly have been completed in this season. Either way, surely it was to be the beginning of an era that would change the club forever. It was, but not in the way we hoped.

St Kilda 2008 Season Highlights DVD

by Tom Briglia

Unsure as to the copyright restrictions on this but I’ve always felt St Kilda is under-represented when it comes to fans actively archiving the club’s history, aside from a few – namely the wonderful Riewoldt12 on YouTube. So before I get to the DVD itself I want to go over some ground I’ve covered a little already on this about Sports Delivered and these kinds of productions.

I try and include as many nods to the past as I can, where appropriate, where relevant, where whatever, when I write for this blog. History is what football clubs are built, it’s a key reason why this competition and this game have an exceptionalism to them, and it’s an inherent aspect of why we follow clubs in the manner that we do.

Sports Delivered had done a brilliant job of archiving teams’ better seasons through the 1980s, up until late last decade, through season highlights DVDs for clubs. Each season is its own story within a club’s ongoing epic saga. A season highlights DVD tracks an entire story, and the matches, players, coaches and everything that go into a season – successful or not – are unique. You relate different seasons and your club’s fortunes to where you life was that at the point. I remember how much my Dad enjoyed watching the St Kilda 1991 Season Highlights VHS when I managed to get my hands on a copy via eBay 21 years on.img_7305

In 2009 it made the commercially-driven and incredibly disappointing decision to not produce season highlights for anyone outside of the Grand Finalists, and so multiple stories of hope and heartbreak that were endured by other clubs in a season – the losing Grand Finalists, those that came within a kick, a few minutes, a quarter, a match of a Grand Final – were condemned to be splintered into short moments viewed on individual YouTube videos with no context and no reverence to the journey it was a part of.

Sports Delivered’s decision meant that St Kilda’s 2009 and 2010 seasons only received “members only” DVDs; shortened versions of the more involving DVDs produced up until that point. For whatever reason, the company had made what was at the time a one-off decision to do the same in 2005, meaning tangible preservation of arguably the three most turbulent and remarkable seasons in the club’s history were mostly eliminated for a large number of people.

For that reason I’ve decided to upload what St Kilda productions Sports Delivered did create, starting with the 2008 Season Highlights DVD, particularly as they continually slim down their offering and take older productions out of their line. Because we all want to revisit these and be heartbroken all over again.

This DVD covers what has become an increasingly overlooked season, given what happened over the next two years. Had the players been able to take on Ross Lyon’s ethos a little earlier they might been able to give at least a Grand Final appearance a more decent shake. Either way, the turnaround from Round 13 onwards triggered a remarkable finish to the year – Robert Harvey announcing his retirement and everything that went with it, the 108-point win against the Bombers in the last match of the home-and-away season to steal a top-four spot, and for the third time in five seasons coming within a game of a Grand Final appearance.

At 86 minutes it’s a thorough recollection of the year, mostly taken directly from Foxtel’s The Winners program (hence the random music before the DVD’s own soundtrack comes in over the scores and match details). It also has key parts of Ross the ex-Boss’s post-match press conference after each game, and the occasional inclusion of opposition goals actually gives a decent context as the respective matches (except for a random Melbourne goal in a 79-point win). The late Stephen Phillips is the narrator; as well as his more well-known work as part of the VFL/AFL and wider sporting media, he was a regular fixture in these productions, including the St Kilda history production Heaven & Hell and the club’s 2010 Season Highlights DVD.

The RWB 2016 Review Podcast – Part 3 of 3

by Tom Briglia

It’s the final part of our 2016 full-year review podcast.

We finish off the chips and Maltesers, tank the Top 5 Hair at the club, discuss the dynamic between the Saints and the Western Bulldogs, and ponder riding another tilt (hopefully) at a premiership.