Remember when people cared about the pre-season cup? And 66,888 of us would go to Waverley to see St Kilda play off for a premiership? And then pack out Docklands eight years later for what was the official beginning of one of the better rivalries of the aughts?
They were good times. But Carlton shoved the integrity of the competition up our collectives soon afterwards and now here we are, with the bemusing match up of Adelaide vs. Port Adelaide (feat. St Kilda).
If you proposed this 10 years ago you would have dismissed it as a ploy from the 22nd Century, when footy jumps the shark and introduces a new format a la Twenty20 cricket. Instead, the 21st Century is still in its infancy and we’ll be watching Cameron Shenton, Sam Siggins and Nathan Blee duke things out, possibly or possibly not all at the same time. Either way, the shortened games will be over before anyone can say “who the fark is that?”. Then we have a couple of weeks of closer-to-regular-length games, during which we ask ourselves, “who the fark is that?”.
Effectively, it’s easier to name the players who aren’t playing than highlight who’s actually in the squad. The following aren’t pulling on what will be the NEW CLASH JUMPER (i.e. the culmination of the evolution of the cross clash design that began in 2011) on Sunday, considering the club hasn’t released a NAB Cup/Training-specific jumper for the first time since 2009: Lenny, Riewoldt, Schneider, Dempster, Fisher, Stanley, Simpkin, Markworth, White, Pierce (a lot of leadership missing from this one), or Minchington. Basically, everyone else is. As in, everyone. Players such as Lever, Staley and Webster will try and replicate the 1996 Ansett Cup heroics of Andrew McLean, Jason Traianidis and Jamie Elliott, starting off with a 1996 Lightning Premiership kinda thing.
On the topic of jumpers, my head burst this morning when I read that the club is offering supporters the chance to design the NAB Cup/pre-season training jumpers for 2014*. I know what I’ll be doing for the next four weeks – see my poorly slapped together first design (there’ll be more) on Paintbrush (I have a Mac but am rubbish with Photoshop).
[Edit: A Google images search for “St Kilda logo” yields a very similar design from BigFooty user pie_machine in this thread – which, a quick look at will show you, I quote and reply to immediately. As I say in the post, I’d already spoken about that kind of design before, so before anyone says I’ve stolen the idea from pie_machine, I’d actually stolen it from the 2009 black training jumper a long time ago.]
*Disclaimer: Echoing the Butterss Board’s alleged poll rigging several years ago, “St Kilda Football Club reserves the right to alter winning design to suit corporate and brand requirements”.
Back to the actual (sort of) footy: the Saints are the third wheel in this faux-Showdown and so play their games back-to-back straight off to get them out of the way. The Crows are up first and freak knows what kind of shape they’ll be in, Port likewise. Everyone’s been training the house down, everyone’s fit and everyone including Kosi is looking incredibly toned. I’m looking to sit back and enjoy watching some kids get some sort of game time in a St Kilda jumper.
We all got excited about Jack Newnes last week and so Saintsational members everywhere, myself included, will be keen to see if he can continue what seems to have been an incredibly strong pre-season from him. Perhaps a smokey for captain in the future (Rich: I’m not sure if he’ll get there in time for the 2017 premiership. Hickey might throw my current list out over time though, which has Big Ben at 1, Armo at 2 and
Josh Saunders seem to have been the most hyped of the 2012 draftees and he showed good signs in the number 35 after Cripps POQ’d. With Lenny and Joey out it gives a chance for guys like Saunders, Seb Ross, Armo, Jack Steven, Ledger and Tom Curren to get used to working together and sort things out on their own, except for the times they’re under the watchful eye of Clint Jones.
The hardarse this club needs, Nathan Wright, played like a kid amongst men last week, but what do you expect when he’s a kid playing amongst men? He showed some signs but everyone shows signs at this time of year and at this time of their career. For our anxieties’ sakes, let’s just hope he shows enough to make us feel, for the time being anyway, that our first pick in the draft as well-spent. Actually when I think about it, Seb Ross, Newnes and my favourite player Arryn Siposs all have this over-confidence this club has lacked since 1873, so Wright is yet another necessary acquisition.
Tom Hickey’s not quite a kid and will probably be playing Round 1 if fit, but he’s possibly the one I’m most keen on watching after last weekend’s intra-club match. St Kilda’s own Stephen Merchant had a good presence in aerial contests and, most importantly, was strong in the ruck against the slightly more seasoned Big Ben. It’s only the NAB Cup but it’s a small step towards making sure pick 13 was worth it.
As always, my favourite player Arryn Siposs will have most of my attention, aside from the NEW CLASH JUMPER.