Ben McEvoy Posts

RWB’s 2013 End of Year podcast

A belated Merry Christmas to all our followers – our present to you is Rich and I chatting inanely about all things Alan Richardson, Scott Watters and trade and draft periods, and forgetting temporarily that Billy Longer exists, all edited laboriously to form RWB’s 2013 End of Year podcast – again, featuring some of our (my) favourite podcast-appropriate tunes from the year and for some reason T.O.P.M.A.N. by Blur.

St Kilda and Fremantle: The Bizarro Rivalry (update)

The Ross Lyon defection brokered a new sensational chapter in the ridiculous rivalry between St Kilda and Fremantle, which I’d written on in 2010.

Whilst Ross took things to a new level, this past weekend threw up a couple more very interesting links:
– St Kilda’s first Grand Final appearance was in 1913, against Fitzroy. Freo will make their first Grand Final appearance 100 years later.
– Freo’s strange decision to wear their clash jumper on Saturday makes them just the second club to do so in a Grand Final. The first team to wear a clash jumper in Grand Final was St Kilda – also under Ross – in 2010.

Here’s the original post, “St Kilda and Fremantle: The Bizarre Rivalry” (I’m not sure why I didn’t take the golden opportunity to throw in the Seinfeld reference then and there) from 2010:

St Kilda and Fremantle share one of the most bizarre “rivalries” in the AFL.

As the two least successful clubs in VFL/AFL history to date, it’s not all-important clashes between competition juggernauts that this rivalry has been based on.

Rather, it has been a mixture of the unique, incredible and questionable, with occasional flashes of both genuinely brilliant and sadly woeful football being played.

It began immediately – although inconspicuously – in 1995, when Fremantle played their debut AFL match in the Ansett Australia Cup against the Saints at East Fremantle Oval. Whilst the match itself was normal enough (St Kilda would win by 35 points), this would be the only time (to date) the Dockers would actually play in Fremantle in a competitive AFL match.

In Round 14 of the following season, St Kilda would break through for its first win at Subiaco, and in Western Australia – of course, against Fremantle – in a game which produced great goals from both sides.

The next clash between the two came on ANZAC Day of 1997, with Fremantle – in 10th place and the Saints in 16th – weathering a late St Kilda challenge to win by a straight kick. The return bout was played on a ridiculously blustery day at Waverley in Round 20 of that year, with Fremantle in 10th place (again) going into the match whilst St Kilda was second on percentage, on its way to a second minor premiership. The Saints that time won a scrappy game by 13 points after the Dockers got within a point in the final term.

St Kilda co-captain Stewart Loewe would be stretchered off in Round 9 of 1998 at the WACA after an awkward fall in which his head ended up making contact with his knee. Despite a thrilling running goal from ruckman Peter Everitt, the 4th-placed Saints were overrun by the 13th-placed Dockers in the final term.

After several years of minor quirks, things were about to get really weird.

Continue readingRound 15 of 1999 will be remembered for the mark that was taken by umpire Peter Carey. Early in the match, Docker (and former Saint) Adrian Fletcher centred a short pass to Brad Wira on the wing, only for the experienced Carey, who was in the path of the ball’s trajectory, to take the mark and call for a ball-up. Needless to say, the incident was a massive talking point in football circles, though ultimately it would take its place in VFL/AFL history as a wonderfully unique and humourous moment in a game that has a habit of throwing those up from time to time. The Dockers would go on to win the game by 23 points, and send St Kilda’s season into a further downward spiral.

By the time the two teams met in Round 12 of 2001, both teams had new coaches and were sharing 14th (St Kilda) and 16th (Fremantle) places on the ladder; by season’s end they would be 15th and 16th respectively. On this Saturday night at Subiaco, the Saints won their third game of the year after a young Stephen Milne sprang to life in the final term, on his way to kicking three goals and giving the Saints a 10-point win. However, captain Robert Harvey would seriously injure his knee in a gang tackle that continued well past its use-by date; with the ball locked up amongst the scrum, the umpire inexplicably chose to let play continue, long enough for the Dockers players to force Harvey to the turf as his knee buckled under him.

It would also be Malcolm Blight’s last victory as coach for the Saints, with his brief tenure at Moorabbin ending just three weeks later.

The next season threw up a couple more notable matches – in Round 2, the fast-finishing Dockers would roll the Saints by three points at home after trailing for much of the day, and in Round 17 St Kilda played a rare home match at Princes Park and defeat the Dockers in a dead-rubber in front of just 8,078 fans.

A skip to 2004 would find Brent Guerra breaking Docker Byran Schammer’s arm in a devastating bump as a barnstorming St Kilda extended their winning streak to seven to begin the season, as well as Fremantle wearing their predominantly white away/clash jumper for the first time in the return match in Round 22 at Docklands.

A trio of thrilling matches followed. Strange, thrilling matches.

In round 2 of 2005, St Kilda won their first match of the season by a solitary point at York Park in Tasmania. The Saints would overhaul the Dockers in trying conditions, with Aaron Hamill earning a free kick for holding the ball and scoring the winning point – but not before a final Fremantle charge into their forward line, with defender Luke Penny expertly safely punching the ball out of bounds in the final seconds from a marking contest.

The infamous “Whispers in the Sky” clash was a dire battle in Round 21 at Subiaco. St Kilda were pushing to solidify a top four spot after being outside of the 8 after Round 13, though tipped by many to win the premiership on the eve of the season. Skipper Nick Riewoldt has broken his collarbone in Round 14, and stand-in captain Justin Koschitzke had powered his way to stunning form and lead the Saints’ fight for redemption. He earned 11 Brownlow votes in just five matches, and with Riewoldt back, he was seen as a key component to St Kilda’s premiership hopes as September neared. Fremantle, meanwhile were hoping to return to finals action after St Kilda had knocked them out on the eve of the 2004 finals series.

What happened on that Friday night is now a part of St Kilda-Fremantle rivalry folklore. Awful and questionable umpiring decisions went Fremantle’s way all night, gifting the Dockers several goals and depriving the Saints of several chances of their own. Koschitzke would injure a quad muscle in the third quarter, and he would not be fit enough to return to the side, which bowed out in the preliminary final several weeks later (had St Kilda defeated Sydney in that match, he would have been a huge chance to return for the Grand Final).

The final term was an old-fashioned thriller. In the final minute, with the Saints up by a point, Justin Peckett was run down by Luke McPharlin just outside Fremantle’s 50-metre arc; the resulting kick forward saw Justin Longmuir take a spectacular mark over the top of the pack just 25 metres out from goal. His kick was straight, and the Dockers had won by five points, and were to face reigning premier Port Adelaide the following week in the final round for a spot in the finals.

Channel Nine reporter Tony Jones – travelling back to Melbourne from the game after Nine’s coverage – claimed that he heard umpire Matthew Head, who had made a number of the decisions that went Fremantle’s way remark, “Now I know what it feels like to have a victory”. Several other passengers made the same claim as Jones, but the AFL cleared Head of any wrongdoing after an investigation into the matter that week.

Though they would start strongly, Fremantle lost to Port Adelaide the following week and finish 10th as the Power clinched eighth spot. St Kilda would go on to record two amazing victories over the following two weeks – their biggest win in the club’s 132-year history over the Brisbane Lions, by 139 points, and a brave eight-point win over minor premiers Adelaide in the First Qualifying Final at AAMI Stadium, to secure a home Preliminary Final and a week’s rest.

But the centrepiece of this rivalry – so far, at least – came in Round 5, 2006; the final installment of this trilogy taking place where it started – at York Park (now Aurora Stadium) in Tasmania, referred to as “Sirengate”.

The Dockers were truly dangerous in 2006, and were only knocked out a week short of the Grand Final. Though notorious for poor interstate form, on this day they were all over an inept St Kilda, who were making another slow start to a season. Though the Saints would be in with a chance all day, that chance seemed to have disappeared as the clock counted down to zero as a desperate Dockers defence forced a stopped in the Saints forward line, with their team up by a point. The siren sounded, and Fremantle players around the ball began celebrating a hard-fought victory.

But the siren was quite faint, and umpire didn’t hear it – and play continued from the stoppage well after full-time. The Saints forced the ball to Steven Baker, whose flying shot at goal – a number of seconds after the siren – missed to the left, tying the scores. The umpire then awarded Baker a free kick for a hit he got as he kicked it, and so he was to take the kick again, with the first behind taken back, and the Saints again down by a point. As this was occurring, Fremantle officials had stormed on to the ground to remonstrate with the umpires, with coach Chris Connolly finding himself arguing with St Kilda player Lenny Hayes. Verbal stoushes were springing up between officials, umpires and players left, right and centre, and amongst it all, Baker missed again. The game was a draw.

St Kilda coach Grant Thomas declared the game “one for the blooper reel” in the post-match wash-up, whilst Connolly was understandably furious. Fremantle immediately took the issue to the AFL. Sensationally, the AFL overturned the result during the week, with final score officially at 13.15 (93) to 14.10 (94), the Dockers victorious by a point.

The sides would meet again at Subiaco in Round 20. To date, this match is the most important game the clubs have been involved in against each other, with a top four spot up for grabs. Fremantle trounced the Saints, with the only highlight for St Kilda being a goal kicked by Brendon Goddard from an enormous kick late in the match; from just inside the centre square, Goddard’s kick would go through the goals at post-height.

The Dockers would finish third on the ladder, with fellow Subiaco tenants West Coast in first place. Though they would lose the Second Qualifying Final to Adelaide away, they won their first final of any sort at home against Melbourne a week later. Sydney knocked them out a week later, otherwise the MCG would have been set for an all-Western Australian Grand Final.

Several things of note come out of this. Firstly, St Kilda would have finished third on superior percentage if the “Sirengate” result had stood, forcing eventual Grand Finalists Sydney out of the top four, and forcing a Western Derby as a First Qualifying Final. Instead, the Saints finished sixth and limped out of the finals series in the first week, losing to Melbourne in the Second Elimination Final. Of course, if the Saints had won that game – which was a good chance of happening through the final term – they would have faced Fremantle in a semi-final, bringing the two teams face-to-face in massive game; as it happened, Grant Thomas would be sacked just days after the loss to the Demons. The other point worth considering – albeit a hypothetical one – is if the AFL would have overturned the result the way it did had Baker actually kicked a goal from either of his shots, “winning” the game for St Kilda. It’s one thing to overturn a draw, but to  completely reverse the outcome of a match would have made this issue far, far greater, and a much more daunting prospect for the AFL.

The following season was a disappointment for both teams. When they squared off in Round 20, with the Saints hoping to snatch a finals spot under new coach Ross Lyon, a collision between Steven Baker and Jeff Farmer would be the talking point of the competition for the following week.

Farmer left the ground concussed, with blood pouring from his face, after evidently running into the back of Baker. No umpires nor cameras saw or captured the incident, but a Fremantle trainer said that Baker had been malicious in the collision, and this was influential in the seven-match suspension Baker received. The Saints appealed, but this fell on deaf ears from the AFL. The decision would prove costly for the Saints, who were now without their star tagger as they were coming up against West Coast the following week, a must-win game for the Saints. The Eagles’ midfield of Chris Judd, Ben Cousins and Daniel Kerr were able to run far more freely and eventually the Eagles would win by eight points; though St Kilda defeated Richmond in Round 22, they would finish the season in ninth position after Adelaide also won their final round match to knock St Kilda out of September calculations.

Round 13 of 2008 saw a spluttering Saints wielding the axe on senior players Nick Dal Santo and Stephen Milne after just three wins from the previous ten games of football. Ben McEvoy, Robert Eddy and Jarryd Allen would all debut for the Saints on a dogged Friday night, with the Saints prevailing by eight points. It would be the beginning of a remarkable turnaround for Ross Lyon and his men, who would win eight of their final ten matches in the home-and-away season to finish fourth, including the return game at Subiaco in Round 20 which Stephen Milne played out with a grotesquely swollen cheek. The Saints would fall one week short of the Grand Final.

The Saints would go one better in 2009, as Fremantle were again finding themselves at the wrong end of the ladder. In Round 4, the Saints crushed the Dockers by 88 points, and keeping the visitors to a scoreline of 4.4 (28), the joint-lowest score at Docklands. Of course, that record is shared with St Kilda, who could only manage 3.10 (28) against Collingwood in Round 6 of 2002.

Most recently, their 2010 NAB Cup semi-final match was nearly called off, after storms ravaged the Melbourne CBD, leaving Etihad Stadium with internal roofing damage. The players ran out for a later start to no crowd in attendance, and the 5,000+ fans were eventually let in over the first quarter, but only allowed to be seated on the bottom level. St Kilda would win a position in the Final easily, but would lose that to the Western Bulldogs, who were making their first Final appearance of any kind in 40 years.

And now on Sunday evening, the two teams will be squaring off, and coming into this round are occupying the top two positions on the ladder. It’s definitely the first time this has happened with these two clubs; Fremantle will be looking to be on top of the AFL ladder at the completion of any round for the first time in their history, whilst the Saints are going to be entering a lengthy period of time with injured captain Nick Riewoldt. The football world will be watching this intriguing clash, which will hopefully be remembered for some good football, promising individual performances and solid teamwork. As long as no umpires take marks or feel like “having a victory”, or the siren fails, or there are unseen and inconclusive clashes which result in massive suspensions, or storms unleash fury over Melbourne, then there’s a good chance that just might happen.

But who knows?

Links

Umpire Peter Carey takes a mark in Round 15, 1999

Justin Longmuir kicks a goal after the siren to win the game for the Dockers in the “Whispers in the Sky” match, in Round 20, 2005

“Sirengate” finish Part 1, Round 5, 2006

“Sirengate” finish Part 2

Brendon Goddard’s monster goal, Round 20, 2006

“It’s great to be amongst family”

Round 20, 2013
St Kilda 2.5, 3.6, 4.12, 7.14 (56)
Hawthorn 3.3, 8.13, 10.18, 14.18 (102)
Crowd: 24,765 at Etihad Stadium, Friday, August 9th at 7.50pm

What we were assuming would be my Dad’s final match before heading overseas – several weeks ago against the Power – expanded somewhat into a farewell tour. Friday night, however, was officially the last.

He and Mum are moving to the UK indefinitely over the next week or two. So this was Dad’s last Melbourne match, and it was fitting that it was this St Kilda and Hawthorn match for a few reasons.

This is the 20th year I’ve been going to the footy with my Dad. He took me to my first game in the opening round of 1994, which was between St Kilda and Hawthorn. The first Grand Final he went to (indeed, the first he was old enough to comprehend and have any sort of memory of) was Hawthorn overrunning St Kilda in 1971.

The first St Kilda match following my first move out of home, as a 22 year-old, was Round 17, 2010, St Kilda vs. Hawthorn at Etihad Stadium on a Friday night. I remember going to the ground feeling how familiar it still felt to be at the footy with my Dad, Evan and Matt. My brother moved out for the first time during week, at the same age, ahead of St Kilda and Hawthorn playing in a late-season game on a Friday night at Etihad Stadium.

Some further useless stats similarities: that first game that Dad took me to, St Kilda lost by 56 points, and kicked 15.7. On Friday night, they kicked 7.14 (56), and lost by 46 points. In 1994, Hawthorn broke open the game in the second quarter, outscoring the Saints by 31 points; on Friday night it was the same scenario, winning that term by 33 points.

My whole Friday in fact revolved around the St Kilda Football Club. I was fortunate enough to go to the Saints in the City luncheon at The Point in Albert Park. I hadn’t actually heard of this before – it’s basically a business networking opportunity aimed at Saints fans over a nice lunch and it’s a good fundraising opportunity for the club. This was the third of four for the year.

Amazingly (for me – this information doesn’t help your life in any way), I was sat next to Joe Riewoldt, father of My Favourite Hair in the AFL. Being a corporate function aimed at St Kilda supporters, essentially everyone in the room was a Saints supporter or had ties to the club. Several of us in a group were chatting before the lunch, and Joe came over. He was introduced to us all by Peter Summers, and then warmly said, “It’s great to be amongst family”. I loved it, I thought it was a genuinely sweet thing to say.

He really is a very lovely guy; very enthusiastic to chat with people on the day, and at one stage went out of his way to put his hand on my shoulder and draw me into a conversation he was having with another attendee. I had a good chat with him throughout the lunch; we spoke about the Essendon saga, my job, Joe being a St Kilda supporter whilst Nick grew up in the ‘80s going for Hawthorn – because his mother did and they were successful (Joe said that when Nick didn’t go for St Kilda when he was a kid because, in Nick’s words, “they always lose”) – and the unseen respect players have for each other before opening bounce and after the final siren.

Roo himself was there, albeit only briefly, given he lives around the corner and it was game day. Spud Frawley was the MC, and he gave a casual interview with him, about his preparation on game day, the chance of any father/sons, the way his role has changed over the years and so on. Spud also spoke with Sammy Hamill, who let slip that Adam Schneider would be playing. He actually thought he’d let slip that Minchington was playing, then he asked the audience if Minch was included in the team sheet (everyone said yes, he had), and went on to say he was looking forward to seeing how Minch would go alongside Schneider. Cue stock audio track of audience discussing things concernedly.

Sammy also drew the raffle tickets, and a whole lot of people from the same table won prizes. I think you actually need to shake up the tickets before you draw them. Not that I’m bitter – I wouldn’t have known what to do with a Volvo racing jacket.

Also in attendance were Stewart Loewe, both Wakelins, Frankie Peckett, Andrew Thompson, Dean Anderson (who was at my table) and, as bonus, Brett Moyle. It was really nice to have guys like that going to these things and maintaining a link to the club.

A few wines, pork belly and 120-day grain-fed something-or-rather steak, and a costume change back at Brunswick later, I was on my way to the game on the tram along Lygon Street poring over Twitter. I also had a cheeky Mac Attack pre-game on the corner of Swanston and Lonsdale. I was so entirely not nervous at all I was actually keen on stuffing my face before the match.

There was a bit of love for TOM LEE BANDWAGON for most goals for the match amongst Saints fans having a crack at the SEN guess-the-stuff thing, but I was more concerned that Roughead alone would kick more goals than us. General consensus in the football world, and quite rightly, was that this was sure to be a drubbing: a young Saints side playing inconsistent footy at best and with three wins for the year up against one of the competition’s slickest, hardest and most disciplined sides. On the flipside, it was strange being on the receiving end of reasonable expectations for 100 point-plus predictions, less than a year after the club’s third biggest win ever, and one that was less than two kicks from the club’s biggest ever win in 140 years.

The Hawthorn away jumper is sensational, but it flawed in its implementation. Even though it is darker than their home jumper, as the brown and gold are inversed, they wear it was an “away” jumper in Victoria – not as a “clash”. So they’ll wear this darker jumper against Victorian teams with a “dark” home jumper, i.e. St Kilda, Collingwood and Essendon. It takes us back to the days when St Kilda wore the hot-cross bun design for home games, and the traditional tri-panel as the away – purely as an “away” jumper, not as a “clash”. Hawthorn should make this one a “dark” home jumper, with brown shorts, and have its traditional mostly gold jumper the away/clash “light” jumper, with white shorts. And get rid of that rubbish hawk-on-white jumper.

Minchington was debuting wearing number 41, inheriting the number from other heroes that have worn the number at St Kilda, such as Brad Campbell and Paul Cahill, and those at other clubs such as FRIEND OF RWB, Tom Murphy in his early days at the Hawks.

Minch and returning Bull Murdoch were doing short kicks to each other in the pre-match warm-up and both managed to drop absolute sitters. Roberton kicked an awesome goal around as body as the team ran out, but after watching the dropped marks I became surer that it was going to be a long night. It turned into a long night more because of Hawthorn dominating but messing around (“lairising”, as GT would call it), particularly around and in front of goal. It would have been an absolute rubbish game for a neutral supporter. I would have been watching because I wanted to see records potentially broken, as I have for Gold Coast and GWS games over the past couple of seasons. Instead, viewers were treated to a whole lot of faffin’. The game, really, was beyond the Saints once the Hawks crept out to four goal-plus lead in the second quarter. The Hawks weren’t in any hurry, either. They just did what they had to do.

That’s probably selling the Saints’ first quarter efforts a little short. But for inaccurate kicking (although the same could apply to the Hawks), they should have been a couple of goals in front. Murdoch in fact did a couple of good things – he took a nice contested grab, and booted a big penetrating kick forward into 50, and then took another tough mark and dished it off to Josh Saunders, who could have run another 15 metres to about 30 metres out from goal, but he hurried it and missed.

Saunders had already completed a very exciting passage of play a few minutes earlier. Newnes won a free kick on the members’ side, and he hit Tom Lee high on the flank who really hit the contest and brought the ball to ground front and centre against two Hawks. The ball ended with Roo, fresh from fluffing a set shot at goal, and he gave it off to Saunders who goaled. I wasn’t sure if it was Roo not backing himself or him trying to get Saunders into the game – probably a bit of both. Whichever way, it worked.

If anything, Saunders’ haste later in the quarter was the exception to the rule. Several times through the night he looked to take on or burn an opponent, even when faced with a bit of traffic. He didn’t get too much of the footy but that kind of play is already becoming an expecation of him.

Like so many games this year, there were signs early that the Saints were working much harder for not much more reward than their opposition. The Saints had had most of the play but the Hawks took things the length of the boundary from a kick in and Breust delivered neatly to Roughead, who went back and kicked the goal.

Roughy never looked truly restricted by the Saints’ defence. His lazy snap goal in the second quarter really summed up the game. The second quarter did, really. Spangher was made to look good; the Hawks had the skill and discipline to dominate play and to have 15 scoring shots; but they also had the lack of urgency to kick 5.10 from those shots – because they could afford to.

Again the lack of a genuine key defender was exposed. Gwilt, who was never a full-back to begin with, was subbed out at the main change; The Blake was commendable and used his experience to good effect in a number of contests but isn’t quite a full-back either, and Sean Dempster, too – he isn’t a full-back. Roughead kicked five, St Kilda kicked seven.

TOM LEE BANDWAGON certainly didn’t get anywhere near that number of goals, despite some fans’ thoughts. In fact he didn’t get any number of goals; he did hit the post though. The stats will show he only took four marks, had 10 possessions and kicked 0.1, but I thought his presence was much bigger. He hit a lot of packs and hit them really well and he took a lot of heat off Roo. He had a couple of articles written about him during the week, maybe he felt a bit of pressure?

Roo was his usual hard-working self, not much need for analysis other than to say he benefitted from TOM LEE BANDWAGON’s presence, and that 1.3 wasn’t an ideal result, but he did more than so many others.

Murdoch put in some notable efforts through the game. In my head he ended up with three really strong contested grabs for the game, as well as a nice bump on Head’s brother after he took a mark and a really lovely long set shot goal. Only seven touches from seven marks, but most of them had a positive aspect.

Bull’s goal really came from Minch taking a contested mark out at half-forward, and then bulleting a pass to Roo who kicked it on to Bull. Minch likewise didn’t get much of the ball, but showed something with most of his touches. Some really slick disposal is what this side is crying out for and

One thing Dad and I noted was how wide the Saints tried to keep the ball when coming out of defence. At one point Farren was on the wing cracked the shits at everyone for not going wide, and then making sure they went wide out of defence – I think it was Dempster that went short and a little inboard from the back pocket, and Big Ben ended up with it soon after – but I really liked that he was taking control of things on the ground.

Dad and I ended up watching the third quarter from Livewire, but we wanted to watch the final quarter in our seats together. It was nearly all Hawthorn supporters one the way there, at the bar, and on the way back to our seats, although the St Kilda turnout wasn’t too bad. Oh wait, yes it was. You could say that, well, 24,700-odd that showed up and Hawthorn has 63,000-plus members, where were all they? A better question is, why did Hawthorn supporters clearly, clearly outnumber Saints fans at our own how game? The guy sitting next to us was talking to Dad about it during the final quarter and said something along the lines of that the Saints turnout was down because of the number of Jewish supporters we have and it was a Friday night. Dad and I agreed after the game that it was more to do with rubbish football. There’s a lesson: bad football is bad football regardless of race, religion, colour, or sexual orientation. Bad football doesn’t discriminate.

Joe pointed out when he was talking about Nick barracking for the Hawks that there were so many Hawthorn supporters in their early 30s now because of that stretch of dominance through the ‘80s. I worry that St Kilda might have blown a chance not just for the club itself to be strengthened by winning a premiership in the last decade or so, but its supporter base also. I’m optimistic about Scott Watters and where he’s taking us. I like what I’ve seen in a lot of young guys, but we’re still the laughing stock that’s only won one premiership and blew a golden chance over a decade to win at least one more.

Dad and I went to 90 Secondi, the new pizza place that has opened up at the bottom of the NAB2 building, in the space closest to Gate 3. We had a (very nice) pizza and a coffee. I think we just wanted to be close to the ground for a bit longer. Going to the footy is something we’ve always loved doing together. Even beyond that – going to the footy to watch St Kilda is instinctual for us. I grew up going to the footy and I grew up watching the footy, and I did all of that with him.

Simply supporting a club leaves its own legacy for those around you, particularly your family members. Dad’s just turned 50 and is making a huge life change with Mum. What has he passed on to Matt, dear cousin Evan and I as a St Kilda supporter at this key checkpoint in his life?

Obviously this isn’t about measuring him on what the club has achieved, but rather it’s an inherent mindset; a sharing of ambitions and heartaches. What will our legacy be as supporters? What will we be yearning to see in the future with those dearest sitting in the stands with us? Indeed, what will we see?

I wrote after the Richmond game last month that being a St Kilda supporter is already loaded for those my age. It’s a precarious period this club is in at the moment. Already there is the need to right a number of wrongs that I’ve seen first hand.

As Joe said, “It’s great to be amongst family”. If Dad and Mum are still overseas when we’re back into the pointy end of September, they’ll definitely be flying back here to see it. I couldn’t have it any other way. When St Kilda, finally, do reach the summit, it’s having those closest to us alongside us that will make it truly special.

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.