Rod Butterss 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.

Landed, but with reason to look up

“Members of those doomed Collingwood sides don’t have joyous reunions. McKenna, the Richardsons et al and the brave Tom Hafey teams of 1977-81 don’t have reason to celebrate. But the Riewoldt generation does. In a flawed club that too often emphasised the brilliant individual, Riewoldt and co forged a team ethic that can be a platform for the future. Should a future St Kilda team reach the final frontier, it will be standing on their shoulders.”

In my researching for the debut RWB podcast (i.e. sitting on my arse one afternoon eating burritos) I again read Jake Niall’s brilliant piece from The Age in July, “No returning to Never Land”.

As a deeply sentimental person I really do feel some heat behind my eyes when I read this article. Perhaps more so now due to our Gregorian Calendar, which sees us tend to become quite reflective around this time.

This year represented the start of a new era, both on and off the field. On the field, it wasn’t quite as clean a start as what we had in the GT era. The club really had bottomed out under Tim Watson (yeah I know, WTF?) and there was a massive personnel change both in the playing group and off the field/Butterss promoting his best mate: Roo, Kosi, Dal, Hayes, Ball, Milne, Maguire, X. Clarke and so on in the youth department gave more urgency to the idea of “newness” (I’m still trying to think of Jack Newnes gag), as well as two huge coups in getting Aaron Hamill and Fraser Gehrig to Moorabbin. The game was changing then too, and the development phase of 2002/03 gave us the excitement of the real “new era” when everything exploded in 2004.

When Ross the ex-Boss took over things really did feel new in terms of the game style, and whilst we were spoilt for hope (and, of course, disappointment) with the great starts the top draftees got several years earlier there was still the chance that, should the team be managed properly, the best was yet to come. Obviously, that brought us the 2009 and 2010 Grand Final teams, and the relative nightmare that was the following off-season and 2011.

Scarring will remain on the St Kilda side that will be taking the field in 2013. Siposs, Newnes, Ross, Dunell and the like all came after those heartbreaking days, whilst Stanley and Simpkin arrived during them but are about a time beyond. However, Roo, Kosi, Dal, Hayes, Milne and others will still be there. Their time has come and gone; their purpose now, above anything else, is to shepherd in the next generation.

Niall’s article hit home at the time of publication – and hits just as hard now – because it was one of the first that looked at the 2002-2011 decade with hindsight. It talks about that time as a part of the club’s past; a part of the club’s history, with something that came before and after. I remember as a 16 year-old in 2004 feeling as though we had an eternity ahead of us with these players, and that it was just a matter of when, not if, a St Kilda premiership would happen.

What really makes me well up is Niall’s acknowledgement of an overlooked, underlying aim of the “Riewoldt generation”. St Kilda is still the club that has only won one premiership, regardless of the changes and opportunities of recent times, and it’s incredibly saddening to contemplate that the whole decade was for nothing. Niall gives us the perspective that, for all the heartbreak, it really might have been for something.

As 2012 demonstrated, Swat is hugely keen on staying competitive whilst generating his own crop of players; as Niall wrote, these younger players have come into a club that was entirely different a decade ago. There are higher expectations for everyone both on and off the field, and they have the senior players to guide them through and show by example how to meet and exceed those expectations.

“The teams that were built around Tony Lockett weren’t renowned for their professionalism, for their resilience, for their persistence and obstinate refusal to accept defeat,” Niall wrote. “Robert Harvey, Nathan Burke and Stewart Loewe were referred to as islands of excellence in those years. They were exceptions.”

This was an inherent element of the club’s culture that needed to change. There is further scarring on the club and its supporters, but the fibres below it are now stronger.

And so one year in, and we’re unmistakably in a new phase of this club’s history. Something now comes after what was meant to be this club’s most successful decade; one that felt like, for a time, it would never end. We have reason to hope it’s not as terrifying as we once might have thought.

This really is a new era. We’ve landed.

A brave new (rest of the) world

Half a decade ago Rod “Definitely doesn’t party much at all – just check out his demeanour and hair” Butterss floated the ridiculous and kitsch concept of strategically lighting the Telstra Dome/Corporate Stadium field during games to heighten the theatrics of the play.

If a player was lining up for goal, the rest of the stadium would be dimmed to accentuate the drama of the set shot (I hope those in charge of lighting were quick to think if Jason Gram was running past looking for a dish-off); the players’ huddles between breaks would be highlighted above the rest of the field, and so on.

This was the peak of the oughts, a time when the “millennial techno-dread” that pervaded Radiohead’s Kid A was well and truly being affronted. I associate 2007 with social media surpassing the point of dominating our interactions with others and becoming necessary to do so, and the rest of our lives following suit and definitively moving online (certainly as an 18-going-on 19 year-old). This wasn’t inherently bad or detestable, but it would have a large effect on our lives whether we chose to embrace it or not.

Butterss’ idea seemed as melodramatically gratuitous as my friends and I whingeing about interactions on our MySpace (soon to be Facebook) profiles. I felt let down that the club I supported were the ones championing an idea that was then – and is still now – ridiculous. It threatened to push the game from a sporting contest to an entertainment event more than ever before. At the time I felt sad for feeling that the idea might be inevitable, for it incorporated a trendy depersonalising use of technology, and elements of naïve hyper-futurism and short cultural expiry dates in the battle for corporate one-upmanship.

I also remember that time in early 2007 for the familiarity and nostalgia I was looking forward to with Channel 7’s return to broadcasting bastardized by its overriding commitment to advertising dollars and viewer numbers. The footy was incessantly spliced with ads and slotted around Better Homes and Gardens on a Friday night and the 6pm news on Sunday evening. All around it seemed the game was being reduced to a money-making chess piece.

It’s now five years since the St Kilda board attempted to displace the organic experience of attending a game of footy. Last week the future came calling again, but the knock at the door was heavier. Our Saints will now become the first team to host games for premiership points overseas as of next year.

We’re faced again with St Kilda shifting away from a suburban Melbourne footy club towards a business and entertainment enterprise. Again, an integral element of our experience in going to the footy to watch and be in the same space as our beloved Saints is at the mercy of our board.

Like Butterss’ ill-conceived idea, money is the driving factor (but isn’t it always?). The move to play games in New Zealand, however, might be the thing that saves this club from becoming a “Kangaroos”, or the next Tasmanian team (“Southern Saints”?) or, ironically, moving to Wellington entirely. The financial windfall hasn’t officially been publicly announced it’s believed the club is set to make up to $500,000 per game in the New Zealand capital. The Saints don’t have the kind of supporter base and financial security that Collingwood, Essendon, Carlton and West Coast do and so must to be creative to find a way into that top echelon.

It might also be the decision that ultimately delivers this club a period of sustained success and, dare I say it, that second premiership. Scott Watters said he doesn’t apologise for ambitions of this club becoming a “juggernaut” on and off the field. To build on the professionalism Ross the ex-Boss brought to St Kilda the next step must be taken to improve the club’s football department spending. Playing five games in New Zealand over three years nets the club up to $2.5 million, which it otherwise wouldn’t have had. This can be spent on the player development academy, on training trips like this year’s to the USA, and on recruiting. Wisely utilised, the extra finances could really make this club a long-term home to players starting out at the Saints, a place that senior players want to spend the peak of their careers and a place that is an attractive proposition to players from other clubs.

Sometimes change is necessary. Taking five games over three years to New Zealand sounds as futuristic now as a light show did in 2007, but Michael Nettlefold, Greg Westaway and co have found a greater balance of corporate “vision” and hard-headed pragmatism this time around. We’re faced with something that will have a large effect on us whether we choose to embrace it or not. Sometimes it’s your turn to go.

On Ross – May 2012

For this week at least, St Kilda fans have been able to feel a little vindicated by Ross the ex-Boss’s decision to leave the club for the Purple Haze at the end of last season.

The Dockers have been universally criticised for their smashing at the hands of the Eagles on Sunday, having kicked only five goals in the process. They’ve indeed had Ross’s defensive blueprint stamped on them, which has riled some Freo fans and those who haven’t been a fan of his style of footy since he took up senior coaching.

As for the Saints, another barnstorming, entertaining win against good opposition with young, exciting guys at the fore has players and fans optimistic after the dark age that was season 2011. On Saintsational forums everywhere, Twitter and Facebook many in red, white and black have been quick and keen to criticise Ross.

But it all sits uneasily with me. I’m certainly not the only one, but judging by the reception the Dockers and Ross received when they defeated the Saints several weeks ago I’d be in a small minority.

2006

It was different when GT’s tenure finished.

Having taken over the coaching job in the same year that Roo, Kosi, Milne and Hamill played their first games for the club (via different pathways), and bringing in Dal, Joey, BJ, Goose, X Clarke and others that seemed set to take this club to glory through the aughts – and as a former player himself – GT felt like a part of the furniture. His close relationship with the players made me feel like there was a real presence in the coaches’ box from our members’ seats on level 2, like there was another player in there (regardless of what we thought about his capacity for effective match day moves). Indeed, his close relationships extended the other way too; he was close friend of then-President Rod Butterss.

So when GT got sacked by his now ex-friend Butterss it felt like the club had kicked out one of its own. A shocked GT wearing a shirt unadorned with the St Kilda logo and sponsors at the press conference was a strange sight.

(more…)

Did the St Kilda board rig a clash jumper poll in the 2007 pre-season?

Many of us cringe when we think of the “apron” design clash jumper worn by the club in 2007 and 2008.

Photo by Lachlan Cunningham, © The Slattery Media Group

It wasn’t simply the design that was bad – there was nothing bold about the basketball-singlet-style lines and the bemusing worn effect given to the club logo – but it was also that it had replaced the widely popular candy-stripe jumper, which had been forced out simply because it looked a bit like Collingwood’s jumper.

The design was widely panned by supporters, and the promise of change at the end of the 2008 season given by Nathan Burke at that year’s AGM was met with great enthusiasm.

Of course, the odd thing was that the apron design had won a head-to-head poll against this design:

In my opinion, this design is far superior – it’s far bolder. The black cuffs and solid logo look great, and the red, white and black stripes are at the very least echoed in the chevrons. It looks far more like a St Kilda jumper than the apron ever will.

But it seems that the poll results might have said something similar.

The designer of the the chevron jumper is “Mero”, who runs the fantastic footyjumpers.com. His knowledge of the history of all VFL/AFL (and beyond) clubs’ jumper designs is incredible and reflected in his website. (St Kilda’s own progression of jumper designs is on of the busier histories, so the site is well worth a look for that alone: for all jumpers, see here, and for full home uniforms, see here. There were definitely some interesting designs through the years.)

Mero posts regularly on the BigFooty.com forum, and in a thread titled “Jumpers that never were”, he posted something yesterday rather remarkable about the design (there’s some more information about his assisting the club with the design, the St Kilda Heritage Museum, and with the 2005 Heritage Round jumper design later in the thread). Taken directly from his post:

“The jumper I designed, with the chevrons down the sides was leading the poll with one day to go.

And when they announced the decision it was the other jumper by something like 60% to 40%.

My thoughts were they had decided on the one they wanted, and ran the other one to make it look like the fans had a say.

Not bitter, wasn’t getting anything out of it, so it doesn’t matter, and I don’t barrack for StKilda, but I was taking an interest because of the design, and they definitely pulled a swifty.”

It’s worth noting that Nathan Burke, made the promise of change as part of the new board that had just taken over from Rod Butterss’ regime, which had overseen the clash jumper design issue about a year earlier.

So perhaps the Butterss board actually did rig the poll. There’s never been anything to suggest the apron design was close to popular with fans, for reasons that simply wouldn’t apply to the alternative design. To be honest, assuming Mero’s story is true, I hope whoever gave him the information before the poll closed was wrong for whatever reason, and that the board didn’t in fact disregard the wishes of its fans after explicitly giving them the impression they’d been granted a say in the operations of the club.

To some this would be a non-issue, but to many the jumper is the representation of the club. It’s how you know the individual players and the team as a whole you are looking at represent the St Kilda Football Club.