The 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.
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.
This 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.
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.
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.
If you thought there was too much audible eating of Kettle chips and Maltesers in Part 1 of our 2016 Review Podcast, you’ll just about be able to taste them yourselves from this point (although they did mostly run out by Part 3 I think).
In Part 2 Rich and I talk more crap, this time about the backline, a Jack Steven 2011 reference, Jarryn Geary, the 2017 captaincy, the 2016 trade and draft period, and the pre-season, with a spotlight on Paddy McCartin and Blake Acres.