1997 Posts

In This Round…Round 6

On the Thursday of each week of St Kilda’s season, we take a stroll down memory lane and take a look at memorable clash in St Kilda history from the upcoming round.

West Coast Eagles vs St Kilda, Round 6, 1998
West Coast Eagles 3.4, 6.4, 14.7, 18.11 (119)
St Kilda 3.2, 8.8, 10.13, 18.13 (121)
Crowd: 36,406 at Subiaco, Sunday, May 3, 3.20pm

Season 1998 will forever bring up bitter memories for all St Kilda supporters who were unlucky enough to experience it.

On top of the ladder after Round 14, and second only on percentage after Round 17, the Saints quickly fell away through a series of heartbreaking losses, and crashed out in a Semi-Final loss to the resurgent Demons. Coach Stan Alves was sacked eight days later, after the club looked for much of the season to fulfill the Premiership dreams so close to being realised the season before.

It was a rollercoaster season throughout, with some stirring wins highlighting the better part of the season.

In Round 6, the Saints won their third match – in a row, and ever – at Subiaco, over West Coast after a brilliant comeback in the final term.

The Saints were without co-captains Nathan Burke and Stewart Loewe and coming off a dogged win over Carlton in the wet at Waverley the week before; the Eagles were looking to bounce back after narrow losses to Sydney and Richmond in the previous two weeks.

It would be left to two birthday boys to cover the tall forward timber gap left by Loewe. Both dangerous ruckman Peter Everitt (now with blonde dreadlocks) and Daniel Healy, also working as a secondary school teacher at St. James’ in Melbourne’s East Bentleigh, would finish with six goals.

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St Kilda and Fremantle: The Bizarre Rivalry

Edit: This post has had an “update” with a couple of additional minutiae, in Grand Final Week of 2013, here.

St Kilda and Fremantle share one of the most bizarre “rivalries” in the AFL.

As the two least successful clubs in VFL/AFL history to date, it’s not all-important clashes between competition juggernauts that this rivalry has been based on.

Rather, it has been a mixture of the unique, incredible and questionable, with occasional flashes of both genuinely brilliant and sadly woeful football being played.

It began immediately – although inconspicuously – in 1995, when Fremantle played their debut AFL match in the Ansett Australia Cup against the Saints at East Fremantle Oval. Whilst the match itself was normal enough (St Kilda would win by 35 points), this would be the only time (to date) the Dockers would actually play in Fremantle in a competitive AFL match.

In Round 14 of the following season, St Kilda would break through for its first win at Subiaco, and in Western Australia – of course, against Fremantle – in a game which produced great goals from both sides.

The next clash between the two came on ANZAC Day of 1997, with Fremantle – in 10th place and the Saints in 16th – weathering a late St Kilda challenge to win by a straight kick. The return bout was played on a ridiculously blustery day at Waverley in Round 20 of that year, with Fremantle in 10th place (again) going into the match whilst St Kilda was second on percentage, on its way to a second minor premiership. The Saints that time won a scrappy game by 13 points after the Dockers got within a point in the final term.

St Kilda co-captain Stewart Loewe would be stretchered off in Round 9 of 1998 at the WACA after an awkward fall in which his head ended up making contact with his knee. Despite a thrilling running goal from ruckman Peter Everitt, the 4th-placed Saints were overrun by the 13th-placed Dockers in the final term.

After several years of minor quirks, things were about to get really weird.

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In This Round…Round 3

On the Thursday of each week of St Kilda’s season, we take a stroll down memory lane and take a look at memorable clash in St Kilda history from the corresponding round.

St Kilda vs Collingwood, Round 3, 1997
St Kilda 6.4, 12.7, 13.9, 19.11 (125)
Collingwood 6.3, 8.8, 13.12, 17.16 (118)
Crowd: 54,699 at Waverley

The 1997 season had started poorly for the Saints, despite a competitive showing in the Ansett Australia Cup and expectations of stepping up from 10th position on the ladder at the end of 1996. However, a narrow loss to the Hawks in the opening game of the season was followed by a 97-point mauling at the hands of new team Brisbane Lions at the Gabba, and coach Stan Alves left his charges in the rooms after training days later to give them space to discuss whether they wanted him to continue coaching. Some self-searching led by co-captains Nathan Burke and Stewart Loewe saw the players take it on themselves to turn the season around, and the first challenge for the Saints languishing at the bottom of the ladder from then on was the team who had soared to the top after two demolitions to open the season – Collingwood, who had smashed Port Adelaide and Melbourne by 79 and 107 points respectively.

For the Saturday afternoon match, St Kilda for the first time called on West Coast recruit Jason Heatley, who had struggled for game time with the Eagles after joining them on the back of brilliant form for WAFL side Subiaco, and champion Nicky Winmar was to return after a week on the sidelines.

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The Mission – Now Available (again)

Sports Delivered has again made available The Mission: St Kilda’s 1997 Season (perhaps compensating for inexplicably not releasing a season highlights DVD for the most recent season that ended with a Grand Final loss).

Whilst great to see this production is available again, the original master tape has degraded over the years to the point where the digitising process renders the audio sub-par.

Nevertheless, if you don’t have an original VHS copy, or want to get the digital copy as insurance, then visit the Sports Delivered website’s St Kilda page to get a brilliant record of the emotional season, featuring the senior masters Loewe, Winmar and Burke work in tandem with the sublime Robert Harvey, the dangerous Jason Heatley and brilliant Peter Everitt, all backed handsomely by the exciting young trio of Smith, Brown and Jones.