04/05/06 = 09/10/11

By Tom Briglia

Some off-season fun/overthinking/consideration of how history likes to toy with St Kilda fans.

A marked improvement on the improvement of the season before.

2004 saw the Saints win their first 10 matches in unprecedented fashion, and go 6 wins/6 losses from then on through the remainder of the home and away season. The Preliminary Final loss had the Saints six points behind when the final siren sounded.

Five years later, the Saints won very nearly double the amount of games to open their season – 19 against the 10 of 2004 – and go 3 wins/3 losses from then on, against the 6/6 of the remaining games in the 2004 home-and-away season. When the final siren sounded in 2009 Grand Final, the Saints were six points down.

Roo would go down injured in sensational fashion in both seasons; the incredible season opener against the Lions juggernaut in 2005 and in Round 3 against soon-to-be-juggernaut Collingwood in 2010.

Over the first couple of months of each, the Saints would genuinely struggle at times. Inconsistent form and issues against quicker sides saw disappointing losses before drastic improvement around the midway point of the season. 2005 would see eight wins from the last nine matches leading into September; 2010 10 and a draw from the last 14.

Both seasons featured epic victories against the odds in Qualifying Finals. The 2005 1st Qualifying Final will be remembered for the Harvey-led Saints knocking off minor premiers Adelaide on their own turf by eight points; the 2010 2nd Qualifying Final will be remembered for the Saints surviving a late onslaught by warm favourites Geelong to turn the finals series on its head.

The Saints would be jumped early in the Preliminary Final against the Swans before working their way back into the game. A seven-point lead at three-quarter time had the Saints in a great position to advance to the premiership decider and deliver on the promises this energetic group seemed to have made to the club’s long-suffering fans, but the Swans stormed home in the final quarter – seven goals to none – as the Saints were left shellshocked.

Fast forward five years and the Saints were coming off heartbreak from the previous season, which for all intents and purposes was set to deliver on the promises the energetic group seemed to have made to the club’s long-suffering fans. A strong performance in the Preliminary Final against the faltering Bulldogs gave way to being jumped by Collingwood early in the Grand Final before the Saints worked their way back into the game. Goddard’s <I can’t find words to describe it accurately because it makes me too sad> mark and goal had the Saints up by six points as time-on neared in the final quarter, only for Collingwood to hit the lead again before St Kilda came again to force an incredible draw. Collingwood stormed home to a huge win in the Grand Final Replay, however, as the shellshocked Saints couldn’t find an answer all day.

After coming so close two season in a row, the Saints would look as if the game had passed them by in both 2006 and 2011.

Slow starts to both seasons had ACL injuries to Lenny Hayes as their centerpiece. Despite being written off, the second half of both seasons was quite strong and had the Saints playing at levels close to the best of the two seasons previous. 2006 saw the side win eight of the last 10 home and away matches; 2011 11 wins from the last 15.

Wasted opportunities early in the season would prove costly to the Saints’ final ladder placing – see the wasteful performance in the Sirengate match of 2006, and close losses to Geelong and Carlton and a draw with with Richmond in 2011 – and the side would be overrun in the final quarters of each season’s respective Elimination Finals after sixth-placed finishes.

Of course, both seasons would see sensational coaching changes in the days following the Elimination Final knockouts. Grant Thomas would be sacked by the board, headed by ex-friend Rod Butterss, whilst Ross Lyon would do it all himself as he set sail for Fremantle in unbelievable circumstances.

Both times, it marked the beginning of a new era.

  • Harry

    Tom, thanks for a very interesting perspective on the emotional roller-coaster that has been the period from 2004 through to 2011. How lucky we Saints followers have been in many respects. How devastated with many of the outcomes that have unfolded. If only….

    What does the future hold? How hard it will be if the Suns and/or the Giants have a Premiership Cup in their cupboards over the next decade and the Saints don’t.

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