Max Hudghton Posts

St Kilda 2004 Season Highlights DVD

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

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.

A rare moment of insight

Amidst growing professionalism, the football landscape has become littered with cold clichés. Interviews with established players generally provide us with the 5 to 10 football phrases of the moment, that are at that point in time slowly and quite boringly revolving around on the football rotisserie, which at this point in time I don’t have much of an appetite to feast on.

Frankly, I would prefer if with my annual membership pack a player (senior or even rookie listed) personally came around to my home and took a small leak in my trouser pocket if it meant we could have something real for that season. As fans we are currently hearing the “inside our four walls we’re really confident things are going to turn around quickly” as a clause to get out of answering a question with any substance or just admitting that things simply aren’t going that great. “Our best is very good, but our worst is very poor,” this one is interesting. Combining the facts that you’re a professional football organisation, talent scouts have scoured the country (and now even other countries) high and low to find you, you practice football most days because it is your job and you receive monetary compensation to do so, sure let’s hope your best is reasonable. The fans want more! Bob Murphy has sky rocketed in the popularity stakes, why? Not only because he’s a likeable guy with Irish charm but because when he opens his mouth and speaks he provides us with the insight of what it’s actually like to be an AFL footballer, or maybe even what it’s like to be a human who happens to be an AFL footballer.

Luke Dunstan’s outpouring of emotion after the final siren on Sunday against the Kangaroos was a refreshing change of pace; a breath of fresh air. Why? Because it was real, it was raw. Take this event on face value without reading further into it. We don’t know about Luke’s private life (that’s one for the four walls, insert slant eyed half smile emoji). As fans that haven’t experienced the ultimate success you feel desperate and willing, sometimes you sit in your seat, deflated by what you’re watching as your team gets overrun. You feel like you couldn’t care anymore, you almost feel like you care more than those who are actually wearing the jumper. You watch Sam Gilbert’s uncomfortable looking ball drop and think that maybe after 10 years it wouldn’t be so awkward…the emotions rise…shout out to Sam Gilbert for being a good sport and taking a selfie with me on Fitzroy Street last year, and then even doing a follow up because the angle on the first one was all wrong.

Leaving the ground on Sunday Saint’s fans were emotional (savage, brutal, frustrated, violent, disenchanted, all of the above). The greatest comfort for me however was found in Luke Dunstan’s public display of emotion, it showed that I support a guy who cares about what he’s doing and what he’s trying to achieve and that he’s trying bloody hard to do it. Luke’s performance was fine, I can’t speak on his behalf, but if I may I dare say he was upset about the fact the team didn’t win, not because he probably won’t get a Brownlow vote.

It would be pathetically obvious to jump online, locate a generic meme creator, get a picture of Luke Dunstan vs Kangaroos, add to the mix Nick Riewoldt v Brisbane Lions, Max Hudghton v Western Bulldogs and show the world how much of a real man you are because water didn’t leak from your eyes because you don’t care about anything (maybe I should give people more credit, but right now I’m not going to). We’re all hearing the big big sound from the West of the town, that allegedly this GWS side is going to take the AFL by storm and no other team will ever win a premiership ever again, but after a few gutsy displays come round 7, 2016, I’m on board this passionate Saints outfit. KNOCK KNOCK…just kidding.

How we didn’t necessarily want to be

Recently turning 25 came with it an expected yet still slightly painful quarter-life crisis.

From 24 to 25 feels like you’ve aged at least nine to 10 times that overnight and it requires an honest look at yourself in a glass coated with metal amalgam, or as many people refer to it; a mirror. You assess your finances, relationship status, career progression and then naturally of course you weigh up whether or not you will ever witness a St Kilda premiership. Now no longer at the tender age of 24, this plight had been turned up a proverbial notch almost instantaneously. Amongst brushing up my resume, Google searching “community work” and signing up to eHarmony, came the thought of what the last 25 years has been and meant on this earth, and a large a part of that has revolved around being a St Kilda supporter.

When you’re a kid and you attend Auskick – or, as my junior football club’s program was very controversially named, “Midgets” – you’re happy just running around in a team’s colours courtesy of Dad; for me a traditional long sleeve Saints guernsey with Aussie Jones’ number 5 on the back. You’d hear a result and maybe care about it for all of 15 seconds before you’re chasing a footy around again worrying about your own very important career. This was more often than not made up of deliberately tightening angles for goals to have a shot at momentary glory. When Tom and I were little, we couldn’t wait to play for St Kilda when we were older, it was going to be fantastic. It turned out for us that the selection process was sufficiently more stringent than we could have ever possibly anticipated; our playing careers teetered out (not without serious injuries) and our success as footballers would now have to be fulfilled vicariously through the St Kilda Football Club, the passion no longer exerted on the field would have to be inflicted from the stands. That transition from being a child and being given a St Kilda jumper, to it being 100% apart of me: well, this was now complete.

Too young to appreciate, but I still observed the trail of destruction left by 1997; I sat there and watched but couldn’t really understand Stewart Loewe’s goal kicking yips, Joel Smith’s broken leg, Peter Everitt’s collarbone. I then saw Tim Watson and Malcolm Blight come and go; I saw Max Hudghton cry, Caydn Beetham lose the passion, I witnessed Daniel Wulf run in and hit the post, I watched Steven Baker suffer “amnesia”, Justin Peckett getting run down from behind with Troy Longmuir the beneficiary, Justin Koschitzke get blindsided by Daniel Giansiracusa, a nastily snapped Matt Maguire leg; I listened to the media circles of Grant Thomas being too friendly with the players, I’d seen Ross Lyon stop the other teams from scoring, I’d seen Luke Ball walk; I’d seen a toe-poke and I’d seen the unexpected bounce of obscurely shaped ball on the biggest stage.

On the contrary I’d watched Jason Heatley kick a few bags, Aussie Jones tear down the wing, and Troy Schwarze bang home a winner against Brisbane. I’d watched Robert Harvey, Nathan Burke and Lenny Hayes; Barry Hall’s winner after the siren against Hawthorn, Fraser Gehrig’s 100th goal in a season, Clint Jones run down Buddy Franklin; I’d seen Michael Gardiner come from nowhere, Nick Riewoldt’s soccer goal in the 2009 preliminary final; I’d seen a 55-point comeback, a last-minute Montagna goal, and the highlight: sharing a few lanes of bowling with Andrew Thompson, Justin Koschitzke and Justin Peckett in Moorabbin (watching elite athletes plough through my bucket of hot chips was slightly disheartening on the eve of the season but it was still a highlight).

I had ridden the St. Kilda wave since 1997 and upon reflection in the metal amalgam-coated glass, I was spat out the back witnessing 0 premierships. Regardless, on the eve of entering my 18th season as a member, despite the amount of times we have uttered profanities under our breathe to ourselves and sometimes regrettably out loud in front of families and children, there is never any doubt we’ll be walking through the gates again, daring to dream of the very best outcomes; even possibly putting our heads on our pillows at night and hoping we are the Leicester City of the AFL. We’ve witnessed the “How I Want to Be” slogans, and whilst we didn’t necessarily choose our own destiny, the first quarter has been one hell of an opening.

140 Years jumper talk

So I finally got my hands on my 140 Years jumper after it spent a few weeks at my parents’ house southside. And I love it.

Firstly, the design itself I think is brilliant. It’s bold, the colours look great and it would make a mean looking jumper should it ever be adopted full-time (which it obviously won’t). From a historical viewpoint it would actually be more accurate with black cuffs and white collar, but then you could take that to the next level and say they’d need to be wearing white handkerchiefs around their neck come the game in which they wear this.

Rarely are there St Kilda jumpers so dominated by red and black equally – in fact, this might be the only example of a St Kilda jumper featuring such a scheme alongside the slightly altered design that immediately followed this one in 1877 and to a lesser extent the hot-cross bun design.

It would look even better without the softening effect of the text throughout, but the text is there for a good reason. I’m not particularly keen on the whole jumpers-with-names on them thing in general because they’re often celebrating corporate contributors (Sydney’s QBE 125 Years anniversary jumper nearly spoiled by that factor), however this one has the noble intention of honouring all of those who played a senior game for the Saints. The designers also learnt from the Members’ Thank You jumper worn against GWS in Round 22 last year, which looked more like newspaper as a result of the names being printed in colour on white, as opposed to a white on solid colour.

Not sure how they arrived at where exactly which names would go where on the jumper. Some names are repeated (although not necessarily with the same names around them), and some higher-profiler players are often lumped together. For instance, on the top line of the black hoop immediately under the club logo reads the top 10 players for games played: Robert Harvey, Nathan Burke, Stewart Loewe, Barry Breen, Gary Colling, Lenny Hayes, Stephen Milne, Kevin Neale, Justin Peckett and Danny Frawley; second line in that hoop reads Nick Dal Santo, Ross Smith, Max Hudghton, Trevor Barker, Nicky Winmar, Jeff Sarau, Austinn Jones, Geoff Cunningham, Andrew Thompson, Harry Lever and Jason Blake; and the third reads Brian Mynott, Brendon Goddard, Carl Ditterich, Steven Baker, Wells Eicke, Bill Mohr, Justin Koschitzke, David Grant, Leigh Montagna, Tony Lockett and Sam Fisher. It’s amazing to think of these names on the same jumper as Trojan Darveniza, Emery Staines and Justin Sweeney.

Wayne Thornborrow – the four-goal hero in the six-goal loss to the Hawks at Waverley in Round 4 of 1995 – shares the honour with Jody Arnol of having his name immediately above the St Kilda emblem.

Widely recognisable names on the jumper include Mick Malthouse, Keith Miller, Simon O’Donnell, Ross Oakley, Lindsay Fox and, of course, Roy Cazaly.

Fortunately the ISC template changes don’t compromise the design too much, with the new stitching on the shoulder panels and the collar barely noticeable. Overall, I’d take this as a permanent jumper in a heartbeat, although as I said that won’t happen. Definitely one of my all-time favourite St Kilda jumpers.