Jack Riewoldt Posts

Spencer does some things; that’s pretty much it really

Round 22, 2014
Richmond 6.0, 8.3, 13.5, 15.8 (98)
St Kilda 2.2, 4.7, 5.9, 10.12 (72)
Crowd: 47,188 at the MCG, Sunday, 24th August ay 4.40pm

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As I left the MCG on Sunday night, I had a kind of junk food buzz from Spencer White’s three goals. Or perhaps the kind you get listening to Morrissey.

But the more I think about it the more clearly this was a stand-out element of the game. Partly because he finally played and actually kicked three goals, but also partly because come this point of the season – when all you’re playing for is to not get the number one pick – no one will remember much otherwise. I certainly can’t remember anything else.

Sunday evening, 4.40pm start, cool MCG, only a sprinkle of rain – not great circumstances for a match by any means, but it wasn’t overly bad and this one was only ever going to count for the Tigers. For me it was a chance to stamp my return to Melbourne life after three weeks visiting my parents in London. It wasn’t a long time but it was great to watch the Saints with Dad (albeit on my laptop screen); otherwise you really do feel a long way from the game when it’s summer over there (yes, they still have a summer of sorts) and the games are over by the time you’ve got your day up and going.

It was also a chance to use the MCC membership for the first time this season (the Hawks debacle fortunately one of the only Saints matches I’ve missed this year). Better late than never, although I do have nearly all of September to give it a run, too.

I sat with my brother goalside of the centre favouring the City End along with a few of his friends. It was an incredibly relaxed atmosphere (around us, anyway) and, as I’ve said before in this reviews, when the Saints are this bad the games still serve the purpose of a valued social outing with my brother. I really do get something even in sitting back and having a chat with him about the Saints and everything else (no beers this week though, being in the MCC – had to settle for the coffee).

A six-goal start to the Tigers meant yet another game this season which the Saints supporters would wait for all week, only to spend almost its entirety waiting for it to finish. Even when My Favourite Hair in the AFL kicked a lovely set shot goal from the boundary to bring us within seven points, and even though we ended up winning two out of the four quarters, I don’t think anyone at the ground felt the result was in doubt. Billy Longer’s reaction to Ben Griffiths’ early goal basically summed it up – a few minutes in and we’re already done.

It dare say it still feels strange at this time of year not going to the game with the idea that the team will be out there hunting for something serious. That the time just might be now. Instead, there were about 18 Saints supporters on hand to see not much at all.

The Lenny Hayes Farewell Tour entered its penultimate week to, I must say, what felt like little fanfare. He got a small cheer each time he received the ball, but overall it was a far cry from the Robert Harvey exit in front of 77,002 in a Preliminary Final. I know he had the home game devoted to him a few weeks ago but this was still the last time most of us would be able to see him live.

Honestly, it really did look like the players were playing for fark all. It wasn’t just a six goal start to the Tigers, but also that we didn’t look like scoring a goal.

You barely had time to sit down before Jack Riewoldt had begun resumption of regular proceedings and was on his way to taking his usual giant shit on St Kilda’s head. It was somewhere between “fitting” and “even more annoying” that half of his six goals came from arsey Geelong-style set-shot kicks from around the corner.

Armo inexplicably found the ball in traffic deep in defence and kicked it about 30 metres across goal, which my brother broke the bemused silence following with, “If you did that in the Under 12’s the coach would be pretty flat”.

This came after a Seb Ross nothing kick to Roo on a rare foray forward; a good Mav contest undone by his own poorly placed kick to Tom Curren, and then Newnes getting caught. There was a concerningly long list of “One of those days” moments.

Then the moment we’d all been waiting for – SPENCER WHITE DID A THING. A mark, and then – as often occurs – a kick, but the passage ended up with a Schneider (do we need him?) point.

It took a dubious but otherwise commendable Nathan Wright smother-tackle-handball effort to set up Shenton who atoned for his earlier miss (so he of all people ended up kicking both our first behind and goal). Strangely, it was the start of a chain of four goals which should have threatened to turn the match on its head, but when the aforementioned Favourite Hair brought us within seven points I don’t think anyone was seriously considering that some sort of highly competitive Australian Rules football match was about to unfold in front of them.

So it proved. The Tigers slowed it down, held possession and worked their way to Jack. It was a sign of the maturity of a Richmond team that were storming their way to eight wins in a row, after very nearly reaching the top four last season. A couple of steadying goals for the Tigers to round out the half and they were out to a 50-point lead deep into the third term (even the half-time scoreline of 8.3 to 4.7 showed an equal number of scoring shots). If it wasn’t for Richmond taking the foot off a little and three Spencer White goals  this could have been really ugly. When the final siren went, it hardly felt like the conclusion to a match decided by “only” 26 points.

Let’s get it out of the way. Spencer White. OK. Cool. How do we feel? We should be feeling half-decent I think. He didn’t get a whole lot of the footy but he clearly made the most of things when he did. His first goal came from some nice body work to get to the drop of the ball from My Favourite Hair pushing hard up the ground and giving off to Joey. It followed a Roo kick in which, after so many times of grilling teammates after poor delivery to him in recent years (and rightfully so, might I had), the skipper spotted the first-gamer on a hard lead and gave him an absolutely dog’s balls pass. But, as the captain should, he made up for it within minutes. Spencer reciprocated and calmly kicked the goal from 30 in front with his rather lackadaisical style.

Dare I say it, but combined with the manner in which he kicked his three goals off the left with the minimal follow-through of the boot, did it not recall the great G-Train? His second and third goals, wheeling onto his left foot, instantly reminded me of the G-Train’s specialty also. Likewise, his minimal celebrations capped off the quietly confident attitude he seems to have.

The second goal I really liked because he seemed to position himself for his teammates to do the right thing by their structural expectations. Once he got the footy his opponent was quickly on his hammer but he showed some real composure to turn around and kick the goal – also note that, again, despite the minimal follow-through the kick easily went about 50 metres. The third was lucky because Mav and TC were there to spill up the mark he should have taken in the first place, but again, he atoned for it by working himself into the space and finishing.

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Certainly from the reports of his VFL appearances his ability to get to the right position offensively and defensively have been key topics. There were a few occasions he did hang a bit off the packs, but given what else we saw of him you could easily put that down to a first gamer simply being unsure if that’s what he was meant to be doing – Roo was right next to him on a couple of occasions and I think that might have confused him a little. Because it wasn’t until Roo was pushed up the ground during the third quarter that Spencer all of sudden found himself confidently leading and putting himself in good spots in attack. Although he got caught his attempted burn along the boundary in the third was a good sign, too. He clearly needs a bit more muscle and to work on his tank, but he’s also 19 and has played one game.

I think the exciting thing about this is how much more promise he’s already shown than so many of the tried and failed tall(er) forwards this club has tried since the Gehrig/Riewoldt/Hamill/Koschitzke attack of a decade ago, when the club took the step up to being a consistently strong performer. The roll call is spectacular in its disappointment – Paul Cahill, Matthew Ferguson, Tom Lynch, Fergus Watts, Beau Maister, Tommy Walsh, Justin Sweeney, Ryan Gamble, Charlie Gardiner, Will Johnson, Daniel Archer. And that’s not to mention Tom Lee, My Favourite Player Arryn Siposs, Sam Dunell and even Josh Bruce and Tom Simpkin, who we’re all still waiting on. That’s without including all the briefly-tried-and-failed experiments of Barry Brooks, James Gwilt, Zac Dawson and Sam Gilbert, and the unfortunate Jarryd Allen.

Which, of course, brings us to the Big Rhys Bandwagon, which has clearly been lost in the Spencer White Roadshow’s rearview mirror. Unfortunately, but rather predictably, apart from the obvious this game will simply fall into the unconscious regions of our St Kilda supporting lives, and Rhys was no exception. He suffered the ignominy of being subbed out of the game with fark all impact, and in all honesty I only remember two things that he did, and one didn’t even happen during the game. That was to be the last Saints player off the ground, shaking hands with the Tigers players as they broke from their guard of honour. Which I thought was strange because it appeared as though Rhys of all people was representing the club in thanking the Tigers after their admirable show of respect to Lenny.

The other was actually a positive – Billy Longer, still quite fresh from his slightly overhyped and ultimately unsatisfying Schneiderman appearance, put in a softish effort going back with the footy just forward of centre wing, and Rhys came in with a big tackle on Billy’s opponent and then went in for a bit of push and shove immediately after. So, you ask, where the hell is that throughout the rest of the game? After the Fremantle game we were all jumping around celebrating the official arrival of Big Rhys, and after some of his form earlier this year you might have been forgiven for thinking that he’d played enough games to know how to recapture and then maintain that form. But this club doesn’t forgive, and it will let us down some way, somehow. For now, we’re just left with another question mark.

Question marks aplenty, really. Writing a report at this time of year is hard to morph into simply a season review for whoever I mention. I was just about to bring up Cam Shenton but what am I going to say that’s any different to what I’m going to say about him next week? Or in the season wrap faff we’ll no doubt produce throughout September? Well, he kicked our first goal and first behind through some hard running, and also took a nice contested mark on the wing which led to Roo’s goal from the boundary.

Nathan Wright’s game has similarities but I think Wright has a better head on his shoulders. He hits the contest harder and he’s probably more reliable structurally and with the ball in hand. Who comes out for Savage? What about Webster? Has Brodie Murdoch shown enough? Is Farren Ray still playing regularly when that time comes? Again, all questions on a more macro level, relevant to 2015 and beyond rather than next week.

It meant nothing really but it was at least nice to see the players gave enough of a shit – even if only for their own careers – to kick five goals to two in the final term. The Tigers fans had been singing their song for nearly 20 minutes by the time the final siren sounded.

It had also been some time since the throng of supporters around the St Kilda race had begun growing so fans could get their last glimpse in the flesh of Lenny in his St Kilda jumper. Like his most famous moment and most famous performance, it was in the St Kilda clash jumper – albeit a slightly different version – on the MCG. But Lenny was clearly embarrassed by the attention. He’ll never walk off the MCG a St Kilda premiership player. Indeed, he walked off the MCG on Sunday with St Kilda staring at its 27th wooden spoon. Whatever the task, however, there was still some hard work ahead. And before the memories could come flooding back, he was gone.

Spencer Spencer Spencer Spencer Spencer Spencer Spencer

Aaand here we go.

Spencer White will make his debut. A guy most people thought was a myth will hog most of the pre-match spotlight, rather than a legend who is playing his final game in the club’s home state.

It wasn’t the case until yesterday’s naming of the final team. Until, the week (from a St Kilda perspective, remember) had been all about Jason Holmes starring in the club’s entry into this year’s Virgin Australia Film Contest, which seems to be some vague annual competition open to about four AFL teams.

The most striking thing about this year was that it was a dramatic shift in tone to last year’s, which was so ridiculous it had claimed the St Kilda careers of Scott Watters, Jordan Staley, Jay Lever, Ahmed Saad, Ben McEvoy and Jackson Ferguson within weeks.

It was full of bad acting, but they weren’t given much choice with the script. This year, Jason Holmes somehow demonstrates that it’s possible for an AFL footballer to put in a convincing performance in the voiceover booth, as well as on camera. As melodramatic as it is, I actually like the last blurred shot of him in the background walking out onto Corporate Stadium in a St Kilda uniform – something we actually haven’t seen before.

Likewise Spencer White. For all the hype Saints fans have built up around him – and even members of the wider footy public – the only highlights and imagery we have of him so far are in the black and gold stripes and blue collar and cuffs of Sandringham (and occasionally the sky-bordering-on-highlighter blue clash, or the unnecessarily mostly-white clash).

What are we expecting from Spencer this Sunday? Last week aside, we’ve recently gone in with the attack set-up of the My Favourite-Bandwagon Alliance complimented by Josh Bruce hanging around doing stuff. Spencer in his first game probably won’t have the physical presence Bruce would and you’d expect his natural game ideally to be somewhere between Roo’s and and Rhys’s games – quicker than Roo and can play deep, press up or run back into open space. Dare I say it…like Buddy? I think the problem with that comparison is more to do with people’s reaction to it – they think he’s actually going to be as good as Buddy. Rather, it’s more his style is like Franklin’s, although at pick 25 and with some of the bits and pieces we’ve seen we realise he could be anything (for better or worse). Also, he’s 19 FFS.

The knock’s been on his defensive work so as anyone from the club who’s commented on him this week has said, Sunday will be all about providing a contest, whether it be at the ball or off the ball. Simple, I guess.

Unfortunately Shane Savage fractured his arm in TWO places at TRAINING on Friday. Fark knows how that happens, but it means Brodie Murdoch comes in. Fine by me in the sense that it’s a great chance for Brodie (who kicked his goal with a banana set-shot kick at the MCG against Richmond in a 4.40pm Sunday game last year), but geez that’s tough for Sav. Over the past eight games he’s almost been in our best in seven of those, and regardless of Friday’s mishap all of a sudden we feel like we have a long-term option off half-back.

Also into the side, perhaps bemusingly, is CJ. In a week in which Richo talked about really changing up the list after the season, surely a 30 year-old who has trouble kicking an Australian Rules football is being brought in for his last chance?

Jimmy Gwilt wasn’t so fortunate. If you’re in his position and you’re getting dropped for Round 22 when your side is on the bottom of the ladder, I think it says a lot about the club’s plans for him. I think we’ve all got a soft spot for Jimmy too – he was one of the few guys to really step up in 2010 and improve on the previous year when for so many that season seemed to be simply about doing just enough.

And uh, yeah, let’s not forget the opposition, considering that’s who we’re playing against and so on. The Tigers are roaring (and so on) and fark, they may well be in the eight by the end of the round. Dusty’s out with a hamstring though, and whilst that’s a huge blow overall I don’t think it will make or break them this Sunday night. They’re looking every bit of the team that was finished just outside the four last season, and rather strangely, if they do sneak in and lose the first week then they’ll have finished exactly where they did last year.

Look, unless the entire Richmond team broke out in awful acne and were put on Minocycline and they all came down with unpredictable but violent diarrhea (just a hypothetical scenario I thought up), no selection decisions are really going to influence this one. Barring a Bizarro game echoing the Freo day out (yes, that actually happened), you’d expect Cotchin to have another day out against the Saints and Deledio and Ellis to use a lot of footy to good effect. Look out for Jack Riewoldt trying to get St Kilda back to personal bunny status too.

Ultimately, for St Kilda fans this match will be about a chance to see one of the greatest Saints in person for the final time. The hype around Spencer from some may suggest we may also be witnessing the dawn of a juggernaut, but we won’t know that for a long time. What we do know is this is the last time we go to the ground to see Lenny play, so soak that up if nothing else.

Dour days

Round 15, 2014
St Kilda 1.2, 5.4, 9.7, 11.7 (73)
Richmond 6.2, 10.4, 13.7, 18.9 (117)
Crowd: 28,487 at Etihad Stadium, Saturday, 28th June at 2.10pm

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“You’ve got to win a game.”
– Mark Robinson to St Kilda Football Club CEO Matt Finnis, late on Saturday morning

Not so fast, Robbo.

Robbo was part of the SEN 1116 team interviewing our CEO before the game on Saturday, and had built up some of his customary rambling momentum to the point where it’s often difficult to tell if he’s just thinking aloud or actually is communicating his most considered thoughts.

On the surface, his statement is so obvious it wouldn’t be out of place in the first few dot points in the “Rules of the Game” documents, just to get the housekeeping out of the way “Shall be played on a field”, etc.).

If you think I’m heading towards encouraging tanking territory, well, I would be. But the problem is I can’t anyway, and nor can you, because this team simply doesn’t look like winning a game anyway.

Look, to be completely honest I actually quite like Robbo. I enjoy how passionate he is about the game as a whole, and how emotionally invested he gets in all of its issues and stories, whether they be good or bad or somewhere in between – this is more entertaining on AFL360 because you can actually see it on his face and in his mannerism and gesticulations. I say all this with an asterisk denoting his Essendon bias and conspiracy theorising in the ASADA case, and this article.

Anyway, his advice certainly wasn’t lost on Finnis, but he and the club knows it. Finnis, in between Robbo sharing his ideas during his one-person brainstorm session, spoke about the club needing to hit free agency very hard in the next couple of seasons, again reinforcing the club’s plan to get the absolute best possible out of the next couple of drafts first.

We can already bank some high draft picks this year and most probably next year, too. I want that Number 1 draft pick, I want Patrick McCartin, and we’re now a game clear at the bottom after the Lions beat the schizophrenic North. It’s falling into place for that prized, occasionally abused first pick, or least until GWS want to flog off Jeremy Cameron or Jonathon Patton because they’re homesick. I’ll take either of those guys too.

Richo was looking the other way in his weekly Selection Insider appearance, calling the ground by its 2003-2008 name “Telstra Dome”, and then talking up Jack Billings after his “Norwich Rising Star” nomination during the week. I was expecting him to reveal Jason Heatley’s return to the side but we had to settle for Big Rhys up forward.

Ah, 2-for-1 day. We finished with a crowd number of 28,487, which means we didn’t break even with Etihad Stadium, and that’s on top of possibly losing a whole bunch of cash on people who turned up for the freebies. I’m not sure what the specifics would have been between the club, the AFL and the stadium, but given we didn’t crack the 30,000 break-even mark we can put this one down as a loss off the field to go with the smacking we all watched on it.

Sadly the New Zealand jumper alone wasn’t able to bring more people through the turnstiles on what was also “NZ Theme” day, which basically equated to the team wearing the NZ jumper, a whole bunch of merchandise being further discounted in the truck and the conveniently-timed announcement of NZ-based Liz Dawson as a club director. If anything, Finnis dampened the theme a little when he categorically stated on SEN that St Kilda wouldn’t be moving to NZ. Tasmania it is then.

I think the NZ jumper is incredibly close to being really good. Things head south, literally, on the bottom half though. Have the middle white strip the same as the home jumper and take away the fine pattern over the red, and all of a sudden you essentially have a bold redesign of the home jumper. Just look at Rhys’s post-match interview with Melbourne fan Tom Morris (I only found that out this week) – you’re only able to see the top half of his jumper, and with the black panels on both sides of the white stripe with the logo visible too, it’s an awesome start. Clean up the back too to reflect the front half more closely and you’re getting closer still to a winner.

Otherwise, Saturday was sadly one of the inevitable games you get in these eras in which you just can’t take away too much from. You can excuse the younger guys for a quieter week, that’s fine, but for the guys who simply aren’t relevant to the club’s list the next time we’re genuinely pushing for a flag these games just feel like wasted energy. I’m talking both guys who will simply have retired by then due to age, or younger guys who either don’t look likely or will need to be replaced/upgraded on by presumably higher draft picks, free agents and traded guys over the next couple of years.

Strange that both Richo on SEN on Friday and then Finnis pre-match highlighted how Shenton was to them a really good example of player development in the face of adversity hitting the older guys. In fact I think Finnis coined the term which will no doubt be on the lips of list managers nationwide soon: “Discovering a Shenton”. True, he’s really shown form and rightfully earned respect within and outside of the club for the way he’s worked himself off the rookie list. I feel a little silly for writing this paragraph because yesterday was his eighth game (Jack Billings has played more games FFS). But Shenton is the kind of player in which I’m not sure how much more improvement there will be in what he does, but rather that improvement will come more in how much of it he does within a game. He’s certainly not poster boy quality yet.

You look to your Billings and Dunstans (*muffled* and McCartins) to be the poster guys for the club because they have innate qualities and a professionalism to their games despite their age. Mr. 100% had a bit of a come down after his big week, last only a couple of touches before breaking his perfect streak with a wayward pass to Terry in the forward pocket. He had a couple of good follow up efforts in traffic early, but once the ball the spilled out the Tigers were off and away. Jack Riewoldt look like he was going to double his best tally against us, taking four inside 50 marks in space as the Tigers players ran in numbers through the middle once the ball became free and left Delaney in all sorts. He only finished with two for some reason, but it didn’t matter.

The fourth one came after My Favourite Hair in the AFL had missed a shot at our end. Still yet to find a major, and Richmond went straight up the other end. It became a running theme, the ease with each several Tigers cruised through no one in particular in numbers to get the ball to Jack and, thanks to a tweak in his game and lack of quality one on our part, Trent Cotchin. The man with the annoyingly not-quite-good hair – in fact, it’s shithouse, the whole thing is at least 1cm too big both on top and the sides – played as good a game as a Tigers fan would have wanted him to play on Saturday. Five goals and 31 touches. He actually kicked his third from the bounce straight after Jack’s aforementioned goal, earning Rich’s newly-coined title of “Billings of the Round”.

It got turned up in the second quarter, which to begin with we were 30 points in arrears. Shane Savage, who actually played a pretty good game (and all of a sudden looks a likely find), sent into a attack an absolute floater with the Tigers pounced on. They went straight up the ground with minimal resistanct and  Cotchin snapped his fourth goal. Billings, who we genuinely look to for some class in delivery, was right on 50 near the boundary in space and went to no man’s land. Straight back up for a goal.

Sav continued to work hard but put in another questionable forward 50 entry (again from about 25m from the arc – I think both times he tried kicked the cover off the footy), and shortly following that Jack Steven, our reigning Best and Fairest winner and widely regarded as untouchable come trade time, kicked another forward 50 entry out on the full.

And straight back up for a Tigers goal.

Shenton soon after didn’t have any awareness on the run towards goal and got worried out of the shot.

Straight back up again.

Then the momentum swung and the pressure lifted. For the first time we were able to hold it in the front half for an extended period, with two particularly good chances for a meaningful entry. Jack scrubbed another one.

And straight back up again, for Newman to mark in the pocket and kick the goal after the siren. All the pressure was effectively wasted, and Richmond went into half time

At some stage through the second term – probably just before we grabbed the momentum back a little – it felt as if the game should have well and truly been put to bed. Somehow we were still in it, although at best we’d only hover on or just above the three-goal mark for much of the third quarter, without getting nearer to put some serious doubt into the Tigers’ minds. Newnes had a shot after the siren to not just make up for Newman’s at half-time but give us a real sniff but missed.

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For a home crowd of 28,487, the members’ section – particularly the cheer squad – looked remarkably thin. Another home game that doesn’t particularly feel like a home game at all. Richmond’s cheer squad and supporters packed the opposing end, which  The closest we got to any sort of “atmosphere” being created by us Saints fans was basically Minchington excellent running goal on a tight angle in the third quarter. He’d been on the ground for all of 15 seconds too, and it was a good sign (at the time anyway) that it had come from Terry backing himself to go for a four-bounce run with Big Rhys the link between him and Darren.

Minchington was a rare highlight to take out of the game. That goal itself certainly was from a team perspective, because instead of that really lifting the side Cotchin kicked his fifth goal immediately after, followed by Roo and Newnes missing from set shots. But as far development goes he showed that he wanted to compete and get involved, and there was also the quality bullet pass to Roo (the aforementioned miss). Two goals and six touches is pretty good for someone playing the small forward role in their fourth game and being given just 40 minutes to show something.

BIG RHYS BANDWAGON isn’t quite rolling yet but I thought he was OK. There was a period in the third quarter particularly when he found himself in the 50 metre arc and struggling to find the right positioning to mark the footy, almost as if he was caught between using his height and reaching over his opponent or trying to get away from them. Which was kind of annoying given his physique. He find himself one-out with Cotchin and enjoying a 15cm height advantage (and probably the same in arm length), but looked anything like winning the duel, and this was after Mav Weller had earlier outbodied Ivan Maric (despite conceding 18cm) and taken a grab in their one-on-one marking contest.

Rhys actually took a couple of decent marks – and ended with eight – and two goals. I don’t know if we’re any more or less convinced he’s a long-term solution though, but at worst I reckon he’s a very, very handy player to have on the list and I do think he can still improve. A lot will hinge on the next two drafts and trade periods where he actually fits into the side’s structure but I think he’s roughly in the right spot.

The other potential piece of the forward puzzle in Head Simpkin had a very similar game to the previous. One goal, although this one was pretty decent from around 50, and a huge tackle but that was pretty much it. I’m just not sure where he’s at right now. I’m not sure where any of it’s at right now; Roo can’t even get off the ground.

The experiment might have a new addition sooner rather than later. Richo’s comments about looking to play Spencer White before the end of the season were immediately followed by an indication that they wanted him to really hit the pre-season to come out firing next year. And maybe that spurred him on, or at least just made him more comfortable, because he came out and kicked three in the first half on Sunday IN THE SENIORS for Sandy. He could have kicked a few more if not for inaccuracy, too. He’s essentially been forgotten this season in calculations for the future forward set up of this club, with Rhys, My Favourite Player Arryn Siposs and Big Tommy Lee all tried whilst he’s sat out injured or doing freak knows what in the Development League.

Tommy Lee, on that note, kicked four in the same game. I don’t know if that’s enough for him to come straight back in but I’d be betting that unfortunately Head’s gonna be omitted this week. Spencer wouldn’t come in just yet either and, also unfortunately, Lamb might be injured. I think it would be very interesting to see Roo, Rhys and Tommy Lee in the same forward line, with Rhys staying higher up and Lee and Roo leading out from closer to goal (or perhaps Lee coming up higher also). We saw Roo, Rhys and Head trialled together on Sunday so I don’t think it would be farfetched if the selectors this week thought Tommy Lee would be able to make a bigger contribution than his last couple of outings.

As the smaller guys, I think Minch earned another game and it would be good to see him start. Terry might be in danger of losing his spot to Schneids, now that he’s put in a couple of very busy performances at Sandy, or to maybe Josh Saunders who’s likewise had good back-to-back games. Terry kept his tackle count high at five and was part of the set-up of the Minch goal but he just went missing otherwise.

Interestingly, Big Billy Longer had his best game for the Saints – and it was still just his 18th overall – but still might be supplanted by St Kilda’s Own Stephen Merchant in Tom Hickey. Big Tom was again in the best for Sandy and the side is really missing his presence around the ground and his ability to drift forward to half-decent affect. Billy actually made a far bigger contribution around the ground that his previous appearances however, using his frame at stoppages to help out teammates (he finished with an impressive seven tackles) and also kicked a goal. But he’s still not quite hitting packs in the forward line as hard or as effectively as he should. He’s there – he’s got that much covered – now he’s just got to do stuff.

Now, a change in course: Jimmy Webster. Shame he’ll be out for a week but showed again not just his good disposal but some real grunt in his game which is looking like playing more prominent role in his game going forward than we thought. My favourite part was his hit on Dusty, who’d picked off Mav as the man on the mark on the wing. The kick went to centre half-forward and Webster went after Dusty and put him on the deck. That’s the kind of thing you want to see the young guys starting to do – flying the flag for your teammates.

Maybe it’s time for Clint Jones to come out of the team. Maybe it’s not. Maybe Terry and CJ out for Schneider and Saunders? Otherwise I couldn’t fault anyone else I haven’t already mentioned, it’s just that they all had “ok” days. Armo did some physical stuff but went missing at times, and according to Crackers Keenan in Inside Footy the Lions might be after him which, if true, gives us a chance to get some decent picks in the trade period (he also said Freo is keen on Tommy Lee). Seb R0ss was alright again but continues to look more comfortable with the ball and taking enough time to properly weigh up his options, whilst Mav Weller was Billingsed by Cotchin in the first quarter but won some of his own footy from there. Throw Shenton and Billings into the “‘Yeah, I guess?’ – With Upside” pile.

I’ve probably undersold Sav a little too. He’s looking more and more like the player we wanted to have at the club when we traded Big Ben.

Genuine hope and momentum generated by a bunch of high draft picks and free agency recruits is the road we’re going down if we’re to avoid dour days at the footy. Low crowds, low quality Australian Rules football. We can only hope the guys in charge do it right, because that’s the only way the club will get the supporters and untapped  famous populace from “Port Melbourne to Portsea” to turn up and sign up for a membership. I hope this is the only 2-for-1 day the club needs to have.

When Finnis was talking about bringing talent to the club in the next couple of years he stated, “We won’t die wondering”. Like the recruiting of Gehrig and Hamill fast-tracked development of the side that had just recruited Riewoldt, Koschitzke, Dal Santo, Montagna and Goddard, the young group that will be representing this 141 year-old club over the next couple of years will need to boosted, and if not piloted, by some real and a little more mature quality. That comes later, though. If you can stomach it, the next year or two will be all about getting the best younger guys to the club. That’s how raw the project is.

With the club’s finances in a pit and the forecast for growth from memberships and stadium deals minimal over the teething stage for this team, I think we’re right to feel a little apprehensive about all of a sudden having a New Zealand-based director and Tasmania looking to refresh its deals with Victorian clubs. We may not die wondering, but sometimes in eras like these you feel like just surviving is the priority.

Becoming history

Round 14, 2013
Richmond 4.4, 10.9, 15.13, 17.17 (119)
St Kilda 3.2, 4.4, 7.5, 8.7 (55)
Crowd: 52,184 at the MCG, Sunday, June 30th at 4.40pm

It’s been a while since we’ve seen that kind of puke offered from the St Kilda Football Club.

The last time we all genuinely hated what we saw was probably Round 9, 2008 against Brisbane at the Gabba, eight-goal quarter then notwithstanding. We weren’t sold on Ross the then-ex Boss at the time, and it looked like the club was simply going nowhere fast under him. Obviously that changed, and so in hindsight that period gets lost.

This time we didn’t get any junk time comfort. We didn’t even feel the coming relief of an impending siren, because junk time effectively started a few minutes into the second quarter. And the crux of this is, we don’t know yet if this kind of thing – which there will probably be more of – will be worth it.

I’d spent nearly all of Saturday going the big vom after a big Friday night. I was better on Sunday, although not quite 100%, but so droll was this pasting that the remaining nausea barely spiked during the game. It was such a gradual, consistent swamping that there was no turbulence to bring things back up again.

It didn’t necessarily come as a surprise. As I said in the preview, this was a rather new scenario. Not since I was a kid – and you don’t quite look at things in such a historical context then – had I gone to a game resigned to the likelihood that the Saints would merely be fodder for a Richmond side looking towards bigger and better things.

For a mixture of reasons my game-day ritual also felt like it was settling into a new pattern. Always a constant throughout my life of supporting the Saints has been my dad, but he’s accepted a job in the UK, so he and mum are off to live in London indefinitely and they’re currently there on a pre-season trip looking for houses and getting a feel for the place. My brother Matt wisely chose to watch it in the comfortable confines of home, as opposed to in the cold on a Sunday evening, and dear cousin Evan had a friend’s spare ticket in the plush level 3 seats of the Southern Stand with a friend, so it was a solo trek to a game I’d be watching with Lewis (as I’ve mentioned before of the wonderfully-named band Footy) and a couple of his friends.

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J. Riewoldt and others v N. Riewoldt and others

I was keen on having this posted by around midday, but I instead spent my Saturday between going the big vom and intermittent sleeping due to too many on Friday night.

I probably should have held over until Sunday evening and wrapped it all into one big session though, because for all intents and purposes Jack Riewoldt is going to kick 10 and he’ll personally hand our proverbial to us again.

For those of us that will bother going to a stadium with no roof, we’ll also have to be dealing with a newfound confidence of Richmond supporters, who by all accounts have fortunately, en masse (if we’re going for stereotypes), been rather quiet for over a decade.

This is the first time really in my not-being-a-kid lifetime that Richmond genuinely look at having some sort of sustained success. We’re probably used to J. Riewoldt giving us trouble, but this will be the first match for a very long time in which Richmond come in as strong favourite against the Saints, and are expected to comfortably account for them on the way to bigger things.

First things first – Jack Riewoldt looks at getting a clearer shot at the goals than usual for a couple of reasons. Firstly, the Saints obviously aren’t as dangerous this year overall, and the Tigers’ midfield has taken another step and the top end of Cotchin, Deledio and Martin (who is in career-grossest appearance) is now one of the most imposing in the competition. Jack can expect a lot of supply.

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