2010 Finals Series – Omens, signs and stats for the Saints

By Tom Briglia

What are the signs that we Saints can take into the 2010 finals series from the long history of this competition? With finals appearances relatively rare for St Kilda over the past 113 years, there’s not much to draw upon. But there are some little nuggets perhaps worth thinking about…

St Kilda and Collingwood, 1965/66 and 2009/10

The only time St Kilda ever won a premiership – with that famous victory in 1966 – they had finished as minor premiers and lost the Grand Final the season before, as they did in 2009.

Collingwood finished on top the top of the ladder in 1966, and were beaten in the Grand Final by St Kilda. They had finished the home and away season with 15 wins and three losses; after defeating Geelong in their top-of-the-table clash in Round 19 this season to solidify their minor premiership claims, they moved to 15 wins, three losses and one draw.

In the 1965 finals series, as they did in 2009, Collingwood lost to top-placed St Kilda in their first final (the first semi final) before bowing out to the eventual premiers (Essendon) in the preliminary final.

Another way of putting this:

Collingwood 1965 – Lost to St Kilda in their first final, and then lost their preliminary final to the eventual premiers, who defeated minor premiers St Kilda in the Grand Final.

Collingwood 2009 – Lost to St Kilda in their first final, and then lost their preliminary final to the eventual premiers, who defeated minor premiers St Kilda in the Grand Final.

Collingwood 1966 – Finished top of the ladder, before losing to St Kilda – who had won the minor premiership and lost the Grand Final the season before.

Collingwood 2010 – Finished top of the ladder, before ??? It remains to be seen if they’ll play St Kilda at all this finals series – who of course, have won the minor premiership and lost the Grand Final the season before.

St Kilda, after the heartbreak

Of course, the 1965 and 2009 Grand Finals aren’t the only time St Kilda’s season has ended in the ultimate heartbreak. Here’s how they’ve fared in those difficult follow-up seasons:

1914 – After losing to Fitzroy in the 1913 Grand Final – in the days when minor premiers had a “right to challenge”; St Kilda had beaten minor premiers Fitzroy in the “Final” – the Saints missed out on the top four altogether in 1914, but weren’t entirely disgraced with nine wins, eight losses and a draw, despite finishing seventh on the ladder out of 10 teams.

1966 – Famously, and sadly, St Kilda’s only premiership year to date.

1972 – A last quarter capitulation to Hawthorn in the 1971 decider spurred the Saints of ’72 Saints to within reaching distance of back-t0-back Grand Finals. With a Final Five introduced, a twist of fate saw Hawthorn at home to St Kilda in the final round, with the winner to progress through the finals. The Saints, much like they had in the last game of 1966, held off the Hawks at Glenferrie Oval in the final term to earn a place in September. After smashing Essendon at Waverley in the elimination final by 53 points, St Kilda defeated the third-placed Magpies by 18 points in front of nearly 92,000 at the MCG to earn the right to take on Carlton for the right to play Richmond in the Grand Final. In front for much of the day, the Blues took a five-point lead into the final change, and eventually edged the Saints 16 points.

1998 – A nightmare year to back up what should have been a fairytale season of 1997. Top of the ladder after a classic showdown in Round 14 against the Bulldogs (billed as the “Grand Final in June”), The Saints would win just two games from then on; losses of three points and one point to Essendon and wooden-spooners Brisbane late in the season saw St Kilda finish in sixth place. The heartache didn’t stop there, however. St Kilda would lose to the Swans by just two points at the SCG in their Qualifying Final, before being shunted out of September by a surging Melbourne outfit a week later.

St Kilda and Geelong – it’s hard to catch the Cats

Both teams may have been founding members of the VFL competition way back in 1897, but incredibly have only met each other four times in finals games. Two of those have come in the past two years, with Friday night making it three from three  – after two from 111!

Geelong have defeated the Saints in finals in 1968, 1991, 2008 and 2009, with a rather curious pattern of margins: 44, 7, 58 and 6 points respectively.

Based on this, the Cats may well expect an easy ride tomorrow night.