Season 2004 Posts

Round 1 of NAB Cup not quite as exciting as New Clash Jumper

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.

Not the new clash jumper

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.

04/05/06 = 09/10/11

Some off-season fun/overthinking/consideration of how history likes to toy with St Kilda fans.

A marked improvement on the improvement of the season before.

2004 saw the Saints win their first 10 matches in unprecedented fashion, and go 6 wins/6 losses from then on through the remainder of the home and away season. The Preliminary Final loss had the Saints six points behind when the final siren sounded.

Five years later, the Saints won very nearly double the amount of games to open their season – 19 against the 10 of 2004 – and go 3 wins/3 losses from then on, against the 6/6 of the remaining games in the 2004 home-and-away season. When the final siren sounded in 2009 Grand Final, the Saints were six points down.

Roo would go down injured in sensational fashion in both seasons; the incredible season opener against the Lions juggernaut in 2005 and in Round 3 against soon-to-be-juggernaut Collingwood in 2010.

Over the first couple of months of each, the Saints would genuinely struggle at times. Inconsistent form and issues against quicker sides saw disappointing losses before drastic improvement around the midway point of the season. 2005 would see eight wins from the last nine matches leading into September; 2010 10 and a draw from the last 14.

Both seasons featured epic victories against the odds in Qualifying Finals. The 2005 1st Qualifying Final will be remembered for the Harvey-led Saints knocking off minor premiers Adelaide on their own turf by eight points; the 2010 2nd Qualifying Final will be remembered for the Saints surviving a late onslaught by warm favourites Geelong to turn the finals series on its head.

The Saints would be jumped early in the Preliminary Final against the Swans before working their way back into the game. A seven-point lead at three-quarter time had the Saints in a great position to advance to the premiership decider and deliver on the promises this energetic group seemed to have made to the club’s long-suffering fans, but the Swans stormed home in the final quarter – seven goals to none – as the Saints were left shellshocked.

Fast forward five years and the Saints were coming off heartbreak from the previous season, which for all intents and purposes was set to deliver on the promises the energetic group seemed to have made to the club’s long-suffering fans. A strong performance in the Preliminary Final against the faltering Bulldogs gave way to being jumped by Collingwood early in the Grand Final before the Saints worked their way back into the game. Goddard’s <I can’t find words to describe it accurately because it makes me too sad> mark and goal had the Saints up by six points as time-on neared in the final quarter, only for Collingwood to hit the lead again before St Kilda came again to force an incredible draw. Collingwood stormed home to a huge win in the Grand Final Replay, however, as the shellshocked Saints couldn’t find an answer all day.

After coming so close two season in a row, the Saints would look as if the game had passed them by in both 2006 and 2011.

Slow starts to both seasons had ACL injuries to Lenny Hayes as their centerpiece. Despite being written off, the second half of both seasons was quite strong and had the Saints playing at levels close to the best of the two seasons previous. 2006 saw the side win eight of the last 10 home and away matches; 2011 11 wins from the last 15.

Wasted opportunities early in the season would prove costly to the Saints’ final ladder placing – see the wasteful performance in the Sirengate match of 2006, and close losses to Geelong and Carlton and a draw with with Richmond in 2011 – and the side would be overrun in the final quarters of each season’s respective Elimination Finals after sixth-placed finishes.

Of course, both seasons would see sensational coaching changes in the days following the Elimination Final knockouts. Grant Thomas would be sacked by the board, headed by ex-friend Rod Butterss, whilst Ross Lyon would do it all himself as he set sail for Fremantle in unbelievable circumstances.

Both times, it marked the beginning of a new era.

Roo hits 200

In the lead-up to Nick Riewoldt’s 200th game on Sunday, we have a look at some of the most memorable moments in an amazing and dramatic career.

“Mark of All Time”, 2004

In Round 11, 2004, against the Sydney Swans at the SCG, the Saints were pressured early after 10 straight wins following their Wizard Cup premiership and would lose their first game of the season comfortably. Perhaps an important part of the story of The Bloods that would take out the 2005 Premiership, this game would principally be remembered, however, for the moment Riewoldt launched himself at full speed back with the flight of the ball into traffic and took one of the most memorable marks of the modern era.

Round 1, 2005 – First game as captain

The Saints were looking at premiership favouritism coming into the 2005 season, as the young side that found themselves in fashion in 2004 were tipped to only improve with another year of experience. Roo was given the captaincy, and become the youngest player to lead the Saints in its then-132-year history. The scene was already set at the ‘Gabba in the season’s opening game, with the Saints taking on the powerful Lions, coming off four consecutive Grand Finals.

Disaster struck in the third-quarter of a hard-hitting, tense encounter, when Roo broke his collarbone reaching down low to take a mark on the forward flank. The Saints had kicked five in a row to hit the front, and as Roo got up obviously in pain, Brisbane defenders Mal Michael and Chris Scott went after him, as Milne kicked another goal for the Saints. Riewoldt left the ground, and spent the remainder of the game a shattered figure on the bench. The scenes of him crying as he could only watch his teammates play out a 23-point loss heightened the drama of the incident.

Roo missed the next five matches, and another period later in the season with another broken collarbone, opening the way for his good friend Justin Koschitzke to captain the side and play arguably the best month of anyone wearing a St Kilda jumper in the aughts.

2009 1st Qualifying Final

The captain typified his side’s amazing season with display that saw him apply relentless pressure without the ball, and take a number of telling marks and kick five goals with it. A sensational performance that was the precursor to his second half two weeks later. His snap goal on the run in the last quarter was magical.

2009 1st Preliminary Final

Four second half goals saw the captain drag his team into a Grand Final against a brave Western Bulldogs outfit. The Dogs had threatened to end St Kilda’s magical season a week early right up until the final siren; Riewoldt had put his team in front with several minutes to go after a great mark close to goal before a moment that would now be a wonderful but bittersweet moment for Saints fans – his goal off the ground with just over a minute left in the game to keep St Kilda’s dream alive. It is hard to find words that do justice to this game, and as a St Kilda supporter, that moment.

2010 2nd Preliminary Final

Having missed most of the season with a severe hamstring injury, Roo returned to help his side launch another assault on the premiership race. After a heart-stopping win in the Qualifying Final against Geelong, the Saints went into half-time of another Preliminary Final against the Dogs a goal behind, just as they had one year before. Riewoldt’s third term included hugely important goals of his own, and despite seeming concussed after crashing heavily into the turf in front of the MCC stand, his mere roaming the forward line a dangerous presence lifted his side to a match-winning third quarter performance and comfortable victory.

In This Round…Round 17

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

In the lead-up to this week’s huge match against Hawthorn, we look at three memorable Round 17 games featuring the Saints.

St Kilda 12.20 (92) def. Brisbane Lions 5.14 (44), Round 17, 1997
Waverley Park

A typically cold and blustery day at Waverley was given a silver lining on two fronts – that of St Kilda’s continued good form and their rise up the ladder, and club favourite Nicky Winmar making history by becoming the first indigenous player to play 200 games at the highest level.

It was fitting that Winmar should be the first, as it was just a bit more than four years earlier that he became the subject of one of the great Australian sporting photos by lifting up his jumper, pointing to his bare chest and proclaiming proudness in his colour and heritage in response to constant racial abuse from Collingwood fans at Victoria Park.

Back to 1997, the Saints did Winmar proud on his big day with a commanding performance, keeping the Lions to just five goals. Winmar himself kicked three goals, as did full-forward Jason Heatley, and fellow stalwart Stewart Loewe helped himself to 14 marks and three Brownlow votes.

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St Kilda’s dismay and distress with the Match Review Panel

What to say?

Steven Baker’s season – for now – has been disposed of by an incompetent Match Review Panel, clumsily attempting to atone for questionable decisions in recent weeks and make someone pay a hefty price.

That Baker was not even properly cautioned by the field umpires – no free kicks were paid for any of his misdemeanours – is just one reason as to what makes this decision both stunning and ridiculous.

Though there were several hits that Baker landed on opponent Steve Johnson – the pair tussled all night – these hits were barely forceful and only served to annoy the Cat, rather than injure him.

Not to mention that  Johnson, who laid the only hit harsh enough by either player send the other off the ground, will probably only miss three weeks if he submits a guilty plea. Baker left the ground with a bloodied face, and returned with a closed-over left eye, after Johnson collected his face with a forceful left elbow.

Chris Judd (apparently) had no case to answer after extracting blood from the face of Matthew Pavlich the week before. And how does this compare with the most dramatic on-field hit of recent times – Barry Hall’s hit on Brent Staker (watch it here, from half-time of Channel Ten’s original broadcast) in 2008?

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