Nick Dal Santo Posts

St Kilda – Wall to Wall DVD

11804The 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.

Contents as per the inside of the DVD below:

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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.

The quieter side

After last week’s farceshambles it felt as though our collective care for this season had careered off a cliff and washed up in a bloody, broken mess on the jagged rocks below.

I couldn’t remember a bigger non-build up to a game than this, probably not since the early GT days. If the Ahmed Saad storey hadn’t broken I’m not sure we’d have actually realised we were playing this weekend.

This is what it feels like when your season has been winding down since May and results like those are thrown up in Round 18. After losing by a 100-plus point margin for the first time since 2002 we watched the Bulldogs the next day give their supporters more to be excited about, not just showing development as the season progresses but getting the results, too.

It didn’t help this game’s cause – not that humanity missed out on anything – that it was tucked away up at Brisbane on a Saturday night, with the Saints up against what has been arguably been the lowest-profile team in the competition in the last couple of seasons. This was new, upsettingly ghostly territory.

I’d gone into the city for a quick drink with a friend at Hell’s Kitchen, with the plan to walk around vaguely afterwards in the CBD and find a place to watch the game. I ended up going to Twitter for help, and Rich ended up telling me from our RWB account to go to the Imperial, so the Imperial it was.

I also ended up watching the game on my lonesome; Rich and Tamar were cooking up a storm for Rich’s folks at RWB’s Abbotsford headquarters; my Dad and brother were wisely staying at home to watch on the comfy confines of the couch, and it seemed everyone was staying at home themselves or tied up.

Rich titled his preview “The only way is up?”, but even with the question mark as a caveat this was tempting fate as only a supporter of the St Kilda Football Club can. After recent years, we look like we’ve won a premiership only because the Football Gods had an off day a while ago, rather than decided to help us out on one.

But for this week at least, it came off ok. This is how low we’ve slipped: “It came off ok” = a five goals loss. The margin did threaten to really blow out late in the game, and it could have been a 10 goal-plus margin.

As I’ve said, the thing that really struck me (kind of ironically, but not really) was the lack of any anticipation whatsoever. Not just during the week, but even during the day. I watched Sandy get rolled, and then on the tram into the city there was no excitement about anything at all. There was a guy on my tram with a Freo scarf which had red and green on it – that was the most exciting part of the tram ride, otherwise it was just cold and wet.

We’ve been rather spoiled in recent years, and I think we got used to having such high hopes (and quite reasonably, too) that right now it feels almost like there isn’t any footy being played at all by the Saints. These dead rubbers (for us anyway) feel beyond useless.

The game started off living up to the lack of hype. Jack Steven kicked the first, but he didn’t even get half the number of possessions he got against the Cats. That was a timely reminder that as exciting as he’s been this year there’s still some improvement to come in terms of consistency.

The Saints looked a bit more lively than last week, but it’s easy to forget we started that game quite well. Jonathan Brown hobbled off early for the game, and perhaps even for the final time in his career, but that didn’t really hurt the Lions. For all the Saints’ hard work there were blink-and-you’ll-miss-it goals to Rich and Merrett, and Docherty scored another goal on the rebound to have the Lions up at the first change.

One of St Kilda’s goals came from a great set shot kick to Ahmed, who incredibly came onto the emergency list for TDL. TDL and 2018 (or 2019) Premiership Captain Jack Newnes apparently were crook, so Ahmed was in. Jack’s Vice-Captain Big Ben was also affected, and apparently  a few in the team was, so that it would have been annoying to have the aisle seat on the plane.

My Favourite Hair in the AFL wasn’t getting on the end of any, and a stray kick from Dal on the quarter-time siren saw him crack the Ahmed Saads. Sammy Hamill, complete with slightly oversized polo, had to step in to calm him down.

The Imperial is more of an Association Football pub, and I was the only person there with a vested interest in the game, asides from one guy who had a Saints home jumper on under his hoodie (don’t know what year – couldn’t see the collar) but was there with his friend just as much watch the Liverpool-Olympiakos non-match. Seriously, how many matches does that sport want its teams playing? There are so many competitions and friendlies that the games lose a lot of meaning. How are Wigan Athletic fans meant to feel right now? What was the point of any of their achievements and follies in any competition last season? As they say in the classics, “Fark that”.

Armo had 30 touches for the game, which is the first time he’s had more than 25 since his supposed break-out game against GWS. He really did rack up the stats, but there were some glaring Tim Elliotts. The second term saw a passage that I thought really seemed to sum him up. He took a great contested mark on the wing as the Saints were coming wide out of defence, but kicked it straight to a Brisbane player (don’t actually know who it was, and that’s why I’m behind a keyboard). The player ran on but got caught by BIG RHYS BANDWAGON; the ball spilled and Armo, having run on and under a little heat, decided to take the advantage, collected the ball and fluffed the kick which went out of bounds. Soon after he put on a really boring hit on another Brisbane player (could have been the same one) that did donuts for anyone.

There was some genuinely good pressure applied in that quarter as well as the Rhys tackle. It was good to see Saunders put on a hard tackle, Tom Lee and Dal both caught Rich, allowing genuine space to open up and Milne – who had set the standard with a commendable effort on three Lions at the end of the first – to take the mark and goal.

As I put down my OK-ish cider and went to write a note I realised I wasn’t even thinking about the scoreboard. Have we been that deconditioned so quickly? Or is it just something inherent in us as St Kilda supporters? Is this the default setting?

It didn’t matter if I was caring about the score at this point, because Brisbane soon after got out the back to an open forward half and kicked a goal, before another from numbers running hard into the forward line.

There were both wasted opportunities at our end, although things were just breaking down anyway. Tom Lee hadn’t taken off yet and dropped a mark he should have taken; Roo was looking unfit, although as always he worked incredibly hard and he deserved the goals he finished with. That said, he continued cracking the Ahmed Saads throughout the game and I’m not sure how deserved it was? Curren kicked it real bullet to him at half forward, and then he totally went over the top of TOM LEE BANDWAGON who had put on a really good lead 40 metres out. I wonder if Tom cracked the shits with Roo?

The margin was only 19 but a really tired effort from Joey on the wing in metres of space to get to a low ball ended in the Sherrin trickling away out of bounds, and Rich kicked one of his great goals from the throw-in. Head Simpkin fumbled from the Lions’ forward 50 entry directly from the resulting bounce, and it looked like the cue was in deep conversation with the rack.

The deluge didn’t quite come then. Big Ben dicked CJ with an awful short centering pass in the middle, but CJ followed up further up the ground and kicked a most un-CJ like bullet to Tom Lee, but he had the arms out which forced the defender to hold him, and Saad took the loose ball, played the advantage and ran into an open goal. But I’d barely looked up from my cider and Merrett was lining up for goal.

A Jack Steven bullet from the centre bounce found Tom Lee again on the lead, but he went for the chest mark and the defender made things harder. He really learnt from that though and he had the arms out for the rest of the match.

For some reason in my head, before looking at the margin line again, the beginning of the end was Hanley and Rich goals. Hanley was all by himself goal side of the centrre circle and just needed to have the ball kicked to him and he was open from then on, and Rich kicked yet another monster.

There had been some good signs by half-time, certainly at least compared to the week before. The pressure and intent were up, as I’ve mentioned. Roberton put on a huge dumping tackle on Staker, and Dunell took a wonderful mark going back into oncoming traffic on half-back.

But by half-time the lead was four goals, BIG RHYS BANDWAGON had literally plummeted to earth and the Lions could always do things a little more easily. When a team is so low the sense of inevitability creeps in earlier and more surely.

I was already looking forward to going out from the Imperial, too. Someone was dicking around with TV in the course of putting on the Liverpool match on the main screen and instead of the half-time break I was left watching an idle input options screen. I eventually asked the manager to put it back on, but rather begrudgingly. Did I even want to stay around for this? It would also mean I’d have to end up writing about the WHOLE game. Whichever way you look at it, the manager happily obliged.

With the near blowout of the final term, even though the Saints won the third quarter my recollections of the second half are focused solely on some individual efforts. Dal’s four-bounce run and goal, Siposs getting low and setting Joey for another wonderful goal from tight on the boundary. I liked Simpkin hitting Green after the ball went out too.

I think most people’s highlight would have been Tom Lee. I’m well and truly on the TOM LEE BANDWAGON, and now the Big Rhys looks like he’s out for the year this bandwagon will be taking centre stage. It’s the fifth week in a row he’s kicked at least two goals, and he’d only played two games before that. But it’s his attack at the contest that was really exciting. I’m talking about the second half particularly – we’ve talked about Tom Lee dropping things – which is when he really lifted. Some great contested marks in the forward line and further up the ground weren’t just good in isolation, but he actually affected the game. Two goals in quick succession had the Saints right back in it, the second after a strong mark in a dangerous position and it wasn’t the first time he’d led to the right spot. Then there was his really good mark on the wing in the last, which showed an ability to lead up and provide a valuable target between the arcs.

He missed a goal trying to emulate Dal right after the fact, but he showed that he was comfortable and willing to take things on in circumstance he doesn’t usually find himself, i.e. with the footy coming out of the middle and with space up ahead.

Tom Curren and Jimmy Webster got plenty of the footy too. TC got plenty of the ball in his first game, which was a step in the right direction in translating his ball magnetism at VFL level to the top flight. He also disposed of the ball really nicely on a couple of occasions too, which has been a knock on him to an extent at Sandy. Two of those were straight to Roo on the lead, and one of those set up Roo’s first.

I didn’t mind Jimmy at one point holding on to the ball for a second longer and getting dumped on his arse, either. He also took on three Brisbane players wide off half-back, which set up the passage of play that ended up in Roo’s second goal. Wanting to take things on is a promising sign that early in anyone’s career.

But then there were the disappointing things. After having the momentum in the third, by the time the Lions had wrestled it back we’d only made up two goals. Some opportunities were wasted by senior guys in front of goal – Roo and Dal shanked consecutive shot at goal that came at a really crucial time in the game, and Armo wasted two opportunities well within range too. Roo and Dal are the most senior of players, and Armo is in one of the nine leadership groups, and they’re the kinds of moments that need to be seized if this side is going to win games and also for the kids to learn from – although they did have a number of good moments and performances to learn from on the night, it must be said.

There was also Milne kicking forward in the last quarter when the game was still thereto a two-on-one, with Saad as the one. He didn’t get near it, and it went straight up the other end to Staker close to goal. Milne knew it – he was in shot and put his hands to his head when Staker took the mark. He kicked one goal and had 12 touches, but I feel like that’s the kind of thing we’re expecting from him from now on? I don’t know if the end is very soon but – for so many reasons – it will more than likely end sadly.

I’m not sure where My Favourite Player Arryn Siposs is at the moment? Another quiet Saturday night for him. Schneider should come back in, and Ledger and Ross are knocking on the door, so there may be a couple of changes next week and he might be one of the first to go. I’d like to see him kept, and with Rhys out that opens a spot up at either end for him.

Fittingly, Goose Maguire scored the game breaker, and more so because it was his first goal for the Lions. He loved it, too – shrugging off Head and slotting through nicely from a good range.

I still don’t think the club should have let him go when they did, and I’m still bemused he wasn’t given a game when fit in 2009, despite his great VFL form. There’s nothing to lose for us right now, so I don’t mind saying it: so it should have been him to kick that goal. I feel a rush of anger towards the St Kilda Football Club when I say that. I think I’m angry that the club wasted an absolute gift of a chance to win a premiership, and the consequences we’re experiencing as a result,emotionally as supporters as well on the field.

I think Michael Voss has a sense of theatre. He threw Goose forward for much of the final quarter. But he can do that kind of thing – he’s captained three times more premierships than St Kilda has won in 140 years. He led a dynasty and created a legacy of strength and success at the Brisbane Lions. St Kilda – the club and the supporters – can’t tempt fate in that way. Look where it gets us.

The bad new days

Round 18, 2013
Geelong Cats 4.1, 12.5., 16.9, 21.11 (137)
St Kilda 4.1, 5.1, 5.5, 5.6 (36)
Crowd: 27,200 at Kardinia Park, Saturday, 27 July

As they say in the classics, eleven years is a long time in footy. The last time St Kilda lost by over 100 points I was just a pimply 13-going-on-14 year-old, and the Saints had only won one premiership. Now, I’m just a pimply 25 year-old, and the Saints have only won one premiership. Hmm.

How fitting it is that it’s the Cats – and at their fortress, no less – that bookended that run. They represent the other extreme of what could have been for what shaped up as the great rivalry of the aughts. They won three premierships, we finished with none. They transformed their home ground, we’ve moved to Seaford to train for some reason. They’re contending for another premiership this year, we’ve won three games.

Playing at Geelong in itself is a sign that you’re either an interstate club or a lowly Victorian club. “Lowly” in the sense of either on the field or off the field, and we’ve been decent enough and attracting big enough crowds for the best part of a decade to warrant the Cats playing their homes games against us in Melbourne. Not so anymore, and it certainly wasn’t a point of contention for anyone when the game was scheduled. We’re officially back in the lower bracket alongside Melbourne, North, and the Bulldogs.

Although the game was scheduled to be played underneath the new lights, and on a Saturday night to be drowned in BT’s spittle as the Channel 7 broadcast game, it really did feel like a mediocre Saints team was being shipped off down the Princes to be out of the way of everyone’s Saturday night.

As it turns out, so they freaking should have been. Watters described it as “a challenge that could define us” during the week, and he was right to be bullish about it after a really encouraging second half against Port the previous weekend. That said, I would have preferred a Freo-style burnout as opposed to a strong finish that was enabled by a rubbish, soft effort in the first half.

I guess we kind of got that, but it effectively only lasted one quarter and Geelong scored the last 15 goals. Maybe there’s something in the psychology of the side, or this is something to expect from the kids particularly anyway, but we also got belted the last time we went down by under a goal to an interstate club with a novelty song. Maybe they still had “TOP, TOP, TOP” ringing in their ears.

We all would have been feeling pretty keen about the news during the week that the club was looking to extend Swat’s contract by a year. I certainly was, and to be honest, I’m not sure if Saturday night changed my mind. I don’t think it should change anyone’s mind, either. Ideally, this won’t happen too many more times over the next year or two, but that’s footy sometimes. He’s been a dealt a list full of holes and we have to accept that much and look forward from it, no matter how close we came to a premiership. Bad luck for us.

Staying at home to watch the game now looks like a good move. I wasn’t expecting too much from the game (although I wasn’t expecting it to be that bad). I’d been out at the Gasometer all day for Sequence Festival, which was a really good way to not think about the game in the lead up to it, and came home in time for the pre-match with a single pack from Pappa’s Fish & Chips as pre-emptive comfort food.

A couple of friends were over for dinner and drinks but they stayed over at the kitchen table for most of the game. The game wasn’t very competitive (let alone heated) at any point so any yelling would have seemed gratuitous, not to mention freaking annoying for my friends who were chatting away. But once Pat and Jack came over at three-quarter time to watch the final quarter I’d well and truly cracked the Ahmed Saads and decided to let go a little. Bad luck for whoever was still in the kitchen.

It’s hard to give this game a “report” or “review” because all you need to know is that after quarter-time the Cats monstered the Saints. They played their narrow ground to perfection, using the corridor at will and making space in the forward line for the Tomahawk and J-Pod to lead into. When the Saints had the ball in defence they totally shut down any possible avenues of getting out, forcing a lot of long, low-percentage kicks wide to contests which were forced over the boundary or came back the other way.

We got to a couple of small leads in the first quarter on the back of some really good running and spreading, and having numbers around the ball and further afield in space so there weren’t any of those useless long bombs that became chic throughout the rest of the match.

Some good things happened involving the younger guys in the first quarter, although these were rightfully buried by the wreck of the last three quarters. Head put in a great effort going back with the ball with the J-Pod coming through the other way, Tom Lee kicked our first two goals, Webster was comfortable with the ball to a fault, Saunders took on his opponent coming off a busy centre half-back and Newnes had seven touches.

It was going to take a huge effort to win this game, because even with Joey kicking a great long-range goal, Jack Steven having 12 touches and CJ actually showing poise, there were already signs the Cats had answers ready if needed. The Tomahawk was looking ominous with no actual full-back to take him, and he ended up kicking three in the second quarter, and the typical class of the Cats meant there was plenty more from where whatever decent stuff came from. Vardy put on a wonderful hit out to Selwood from a centre bounce, who then pantsed Farren, and Mackie easily mopped up a poor Geary clearance from deep in defence and kicked a goal. It should be described as arrogance to do that, but that’s just the Cats doing what they usually do.

Things turned to absolute custard pretty quickly in the second quarter. At the time, My Favourite Hair in the AFL’s second goal looked like a legitimate spark to potentially get the Saints back in the game, but in hindsight it’s simply a thing that bemusingly went right. It turned out to be the last goal of the night for us – at the 16 minute-mark of the second quarter.

By then, the Cats had their press in place, and the Saints looked totally lost going forward. No numbers to run with or spread, so it was rubbish long balls to nothing for all. The margin started blowing out, so BT tried to get people excited when the Tomahawk got on to the end of one and described him as “STRONG, STIFF AND BIG”. It would have worked for Cats supporters given what they were seeing, but I wasn’t having any of it, instead taking a whingey sip of my white on the couch by myself.

Not even Motlop making a nuisance of himself could heat things up a little for the Saints. They probably had the warmth of the change room in mind already (one half too early) and of all people Head decided to be the peacemaker and offer Motlop a hand up after he and Geary went to ground and shortened the odds of a bit of biff.

Party tricks started early when the margin had crept out and J-Pod took possibly the mark of the year. Maybe we’d get a better idea of how high he actually got if Channel 7 stopped farking zooming in too much at every opportunity. Fox (2009, between Fox Footy incarnations) denied us a full vision of Brett Burton’s mark, which could be one of the best ever taken, but we’ll never know because they were too busy zooming in on his shoulder. He could have been anywhere, really.

All of a sudden it had turned into a repeat of last week’s first half, and I was finding myself involved in a reasonable conversation on Twitter about using BIG RHYS BANDWAGON as trade bait. He spent most of the game in defence and only finished with a few touches, and I’m not sure if he was floating around or what but he was on the J-Pod at one point, and clearly railing him to the ball on a couple of occasions, including to that mark.

Swat said post-match that Rhys would ideally be playing forward, and given he’s contracted for another two seasons he’s going nowhere anytime soon. Assuming a key defender is found in the trade period, it also means he’s got plenty of time to practice his wares in what’s considered his more natural position. Either way, he was lucky to be brought back into the side after being dropped and I don’t think at least a week or two at Sandy would do him harm at the moment. But even with Roberton coming back Gwilt might be out, so there might actually be a need for a bigger body down back.

My Favourite Player Arryn Siposs came in this week but finished with the same rather meagre stats as Big Rhys – four kicks, two handballs. Lamb kicked two behinds as well, playing off both attacking and defensive flanks, and if he’d kicked goals from both shots we’d say be saying it wasn’t a bad return overall. It was a hard night for everyone and I think we should keep him in, although like Big Rhys there’s every chance we’ll see him playing much of next week without a focused role. It looks like that’s just part of the plan for his development for the time being.

The new bandwagon that I’m shamelessly on is the TOM LEE BANDWAGON. He didn’t do too much after kicking those first two goals, but he was barely any opportunities from that point. If Roo doesn’t get up it will be interesting to see how goes again without him in the side; he kicked three against the Dockers the last time. I dare say he enjoyed the open spaces at Perth’s Corporate Name Stadium, but he really hits the contest hard and has a really nice kick on him, which can be really handy weapons, and kicked 3.3 at Melbourne’s Corporate Name Stadium the week after anyway.

One thing that a younger guy did in the last three quarters that I did like was Head’s reaction to Jimmy Webster giving away the 50-metre penalty to the Tomahawk in the centre square. Head was on that mark and when the umpire told him it was 50 he put his face in his hands and showed genuine disappointment and frustration. There was something comforting in that; I think there have been some wins and some losses this year particularly that have got some of the younger guys attached the club. I say I enjoyed this “comfort” as I sat on my arse doing nothing with another white in hand.

The 2018 (Or 2019) Premiership Captain favourite is firming as Jack Newnes. He continued his upward development curve, finishing with 24 touches and working hard off a half-back that was under enormous pressure. He’s still getting things together with his disposal and decision making but he’s only showing improvement. Can’t fault his attack on the ball and is the current leader of the Hardarse Triumvirate, although he’s got some really promising company in that.

Although they were a little quiet, Saunders did some good things, as I mentioned above, and Webster already looks happy to be in possession and not crapping his shorts when confronted with traffic, and I hope they’re kept for next week. Hickey likewise; he ended with 16 hit-outs although didn’t do much else.

Not sure about Curren though. He played more than a half of footy for one kick and a handball. He put in a couple of really good efforts low soon after he came on, but there’s guys like Ross and Ledger (and a smokey in Shenton) who have put together some good performances in the VFL and deserve a call-up – not to mention Adam Schneider. Lenny will probably be out too so there might be an opening for a couple.

Just on the topic of the younger guys, I was thinking during the week – has anyone heard the words “Youth Academy” mentioned in 2013 by any Saints coach? Or was that just a 2012 NEW ERA buzzword and nothing’s actually changed in the development ranks since last season? The development methods have obviously changed in Swat’s time, but is there officially a “Youth Academy” still?

Jack Steven was the best Saint on the night. I think it might have snuck up on us as well a little but it he really is up there nearly every week now. Even on a poor night for the side he racked up 36 touches, and he also recognised the need to get things moving and take the game and his opponent on so many times. This has become the year in which he becomes a genuinely effective, consistent player, but I’ll call it official once the season is over.

Some of the senior guys really gave him a chop out, too. Lenny (pre-injury), Joey particularly, and Dal all got plenty of the ball. Does anyone work as hard as CJ? I’m not sure about his prospects for 2014 and I know he’s only worth so much to the team given his age but I’ve changed my attitude towards him as the year’s gone on.

For those of us watching the game on 7, I think we only heard so much about Big Ben because BT likes saying BIG BOY MCEVOY so much. He did end up with 21 hit-outs but Vardy had a much bigger presence around the ground. Hopefully just another who was suffering a team-wide footy lethargy. You can afford young teams those once in a while, I guess? But only a few, and I think people need to start putting on hold their “Big Ben is the next captain” fantasies for the time being. He’s still probably clubhouse leader, but he’s not ready for 2014.

Just to really give us the arse, last night ran down through the lists of both clubs, too, with Sandy leading the Cats at quarter-time today before losing by 117 points. The Cats kicked 17.13 in the second half to 2.3. Strangely, there were probably more encouraging performances in that loss – Ross, Ledger, Shenton and Schneider, by all reports, got plenty of the ball and worked hard.

Joey said on 7 yesterday that this was the first 100-point loss he’d played in; he had only just come to the club for that last one in 2002, which was Dal’s first game. The second half was St Kilda’s first goalless half since Round 16 of 1996, on a Friday night at the MCG against premiers-to-be North Melbourne, which was the same night of the Opening Ceremony of the Atlanta Olympics. We’ve played in four Grand Finals since that night. Imagine telling a Saints fan leaving that game that statistic, and telling them that none of those would end in premierships. What if something similar applies to us, here in 2013?

It’s a slippery slope, that mindset. They are Geelong, the greatest team of all, and what are we? We’re still the club that has won one premiership. Being afforded the core of a great list for a decade couldn’t net that second premiership, and even managing the transition from that right era now looks like more of a cock-up than what others have done. Never mind, that cock-up is mostly the fault of the last guy in charge, and right now he’s looking a really good chance of winning a premiership with the competition’s novelty club.

Games like these are merely checkpoints for entering further into this new era. Ross the ex-Boss’s departure was the end, Swat’s appointment was the beginning, and these are just moments we will now need to go through given the situation he inherited. It’s not all bad – for all the pessimism we rightly hold this indeed might be the era that brings us that second premiership. But, perhaps in a case of bad timing, I’ve been reading through Strength Through Loyalty, which is littered with what could have beens. If only the club had more money; if only the administration had looked a little further down the track; if only the club had been more professional on the training track. For so many years in recent history I could read quotes and quips about the club like those, and then reasonably think and hope that a premiership, rectifying all those mistakes, might not be too far off.

For now, that’s not the case. The idea of feeling at ease feels very far off, to the point where thinking about a St Kilda premiership is irrelevant. It’s more a cause for pain of what has been and what could have been, rather than hope for what might be. I do still think these kids are worth persevering with, and I like to think Scott Watters is the man. In time.