Stewart Loewe Posts

“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.

(Sort of) Looking forward to looking back

So my “2009 Games of the Year” DVD arrived. I don’t know why I bought it, in the sense that I’m not going to watch it any time soon. I think I bought to make up for the lack of a feature-length 2o09 Season Highlights DVD. The DVD we received as members was 45 minutes, and 2010’s was closer to an hour – long enough for many I’m sure, but not long enough to really go into the details of the season.

The 2009 and 2010 DVDs were outliers. Sports Delivered has been producing these videos/DVDs for a couple of decades, often making upwards of four or five feature-length productions for general release for clubs that enjoyed memorable or successful seasons (2002 saw six of these made!)

The 2008 DVD made for general release – for a year that the club somehow made a Preliminary Final – hit 86 minutes, but Sports Delivered decided  to only make general release, feature-length DVDs for premiers from 2009 onwards, echoing the one-off year in 2005 in which they only made a DVD for premiers Sydney. This meant Saints supporters were dicked that year also, with an amazing rollercoaster ride of a season featuring some of the most entertaining football and best wins the club has seen lost to the whim of incomplete YouTube clips in poor quality. Strangely, Sports Delivered are credited with producing the 2009 and 2010 DVDs, so I’m not sure why they just didn’t get off their arse and go a bit more in-depth with those. I should put in a disclaimer – I couldn’t finish either. The hurt is still there, and is too much, but in time nostalgia will win over and I will want to remember these times. As these years get further away, it’s dawning on me just what I will and won’t have when that moment comes.

These DVDs and videos are the record of those seasons we have for the next few decades, for us to relive a time that might take our club another near-140 years to replicate. I know how much I enjoyed sitting down with my parents in the last couple of years and watching the 1991 Season Highlights video, which I tracked down on Ebay (I’m still after the 1992 video). I turned only three years old in 1991, but I know my Dad particularly got a lot out of reliving a year in-depth that would have been incredible for Saints fans after the dark ages that were the 1980s. Players like Lockett, Loewe, Frawley, Harvey, Winmar and Burke all operating sensationally together after so many years as a laughing stock both on and off the field – they were good times, and it’s wonderful we live in a time and place where Sports Delivered could create these productions to look back on them.

I’m not planning on having kids any time soon (I’m not yet 25), but if I did then I might like to show them what things were like when I was a young St Kilda supporter. I have the 1997 (The Mission) and the 2004 Season Highlights productions, which are great – but they’re no longer available from Sports Delivered. They’re great to have them. I love following a club that plays in a sport which has not only a rich history, but a history that means so much to the clubs, players and supporters. The 2009 and 2010 seasons were the ones that will stand out, and to a lesser extent 2005. Who knows what will happen over the coming years, but either way I would like to sit down some time in the future and watch Lenny, Roo, Nicky Dal, Joey, Kosi et al. playing good footy together – perhaps the best this club has seen. As those years get further away it’s starting to dawn on me just what I will and won’t have from those times. I do have something for 2009 and 2010 which is nice, but it would have been so much better to have something that genuinely reflected just how important that time was for the club and its supporters.

140 Years jumper talk

So I finally got my hands on my 140 Years jumper after it spent a few weeks at my parents’ house southside. And I love it.

Firstly, the design itself I think is brilliant. It’s bold, the colours look great and it would make a mean looking jumper should it ever be adopted full-time (which it obviously won’t). From a historical viewpoint it would actually be more accurate with black cuffs and white collar, but then you could take that to the next level and say they’d need to be wearing white handkerchiefs around their neck come the game in which they wear this.

Rarely are there St Kilda jumpers so dominated by red and black equally – in fact, this might be the only example of a St Kilda jumper featuring such a scheme alongside the slightly altered design that immediately followed this one in 1877 and to a lesser extent the hot-cross bun design.

It would look even better without the softening effect of the text throughout, but the text is there for a good reason. I’m not particularly keen on the whole jumpers-with-names on them thing in general because they’re often celebrating corporate contributors (Sydney’s QBE 125 Years anniversary jumper nearly spoiled by that factor), however this one has the noble intention of honouring all of those who played a senior game for the Saints. The designers also learnt from the Members’ Thank You jumper worn against GWS in Round 22 last year, which looked more like newspaper as a result of the names being printed in colour on white, as opposed to a white on solid colour.

Not sure how they arrived at where exactly which names would go where on the jumper. Some names are repeated (although not necessarily with the same names around them), and some higher-profiler players are often lumped together. For instance, on the top line of the black hoop immediately under the club logo reads the top 10 players for games played: Robert Harvey, Nathan Burke, Stewart Loewe, Barry Breen, Gary Colling, Lenny Hayes, Stephen Milne, Kevin Neale, Justin Peckett and Danny Frawley; second line in that hoop reads Nick Dal Santo, Ross Smith, Max Hudghton, Trevor Barker, Nicky Winmar, Jeff Sarau, Austinn Jones, Geoff Cunningham, Andrew Thompson, Harry Lever and Jason Blake; and the third reads Brian Mynott, Brendon Goddard, Carl Ditterich, Steven Baker, Wells Eicke, Bill Mohr, Justin Koschitzke, David Grant, Leigh Montagna, Tony Lockett and Sam Fisher. It’s amazing to think of these names on the same jumper as Trojan Darveniza, Emery Staines and Justin Sweeney.

Wayne Thornborrow – the four-goal hero in the six-goal loss to the Hawks at Waverley in Round 4 of 1995 – shares the honour with Jody Arnol of having his name immediately above the St Kilda emblem.

Widely recognisable names on the jumper include Mick Malthouse, Keith Miller, Simon O’Donnell, Ross Oakley, Lindsay Fox and, of course, Roy Cazaly.

Fortunately the ISC template changes don’t compromise the design too much, with the new stitching on the shoulder panels and the collar barely noticeable. Overall, I’d take this as a permanent jumper in a heartbeat, although as I said that won’t happen. Definitely one of my all-time favourite St Kilda jumpers.

In This Round…Grand Final

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 this week’s In This Round, we’ll take a look at all six Grand Finals that the St Kilda Football Club has made since the first VFL season in 1897 – keep in mind before this, the Saints weren’t ever close to being crowned champions since their establishment in 1873; this year’s Grand Final marks just the seventh time St Kilda has made in a Grand Final since establishment 137 years ago.

1913 – Fitzroy vs St Kilda
Fitzroy 3.6, 4.8, 5.11, 7.14 (56)
St Kilda 0.1, 0.5, 1.10, 5.13 (43)
Crowd: 59,479, Saturday, September 27, 2.50pm

St Kilda had defeated Fitzroy in the Final a week earlier, but as minor premiers the Lions had the right to challenge. The Saints had brilliantly led by Roy Cazaly and George Morrissey up forward in the Final, with both kicking three goals. At three quarter-time of the Grand Final, however, the Saints had a paltry 1.10 on the board, and were down by a seemingly terminal 25 points. Unexpectedly, the final term yielded a thrilling finish, as a then-record crowd watched Morrissey’s two goals bring the Saints to within a single point. Silly mistakes cost them, however, and a free kick deep in attack resulted in a goal to Fitzroy at the other end. Another Lions goal on the siren saw the margin out to 13 points, and St Kilda were left to rue a horrid start and missed opportunities late in the game for another 53 years.

1965 – St Kilda vs Essendon
St Kilda 1.6, 4.8, 5.11, 9.16 (70)
Essendon 2.7, 5.10, 10.18, 14.21 (105)
Crowd: 104,846 at the MCG, Saturday, September 25, 2.50pm

Essendon would take out its second premiership in four years, coming from fourth spot to topple the favourites St Kilda. The Saints had finished on top of the ladder for the first time in their 98-year history, and progressed to the big one via the direct route after defeating Collingwood by one point in the Second Semi-Final. Essendon, under the legendary John Coleman, comprehensively defeated all comers in September, with St Kilda’s players and coaching staff heavily distracted by the pre-game build up giving the successful Essendon club an advantage in the Grand Final. So many at Moorabbin – with no previous experience of the week – had their focus shifted from what they had to do on the Saturday by organising flights, tickets and accommodation from friends and family. Trailing throughout, and with ruckman Alan Morrow suffering an early knee injury, the Saints had their hopes dashed in the third term as the Bombers kicked 5.8 to 1.3 to take a 37-point lead into the final change.

1966 – Collingwood vs St Kilda
Collingwood 2.1, 5.7, 7.11, 10.13 (73)
St Kilda 2.5, 5.6, 8.9, 10.14 (74)
Crowd: 101,655 at the MCG, Saturday, September 24, 2.50pm

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In This Round…Preliminary Final – Red-hot Saints through to their first Grand Final in 26 years

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.

This week, we again go back to 1997 for a memorable night for all St Kilda fans.

1997 2nd Preliminary Final – St Kilda vs North Melbourne
St Kilda 6.3, 9.6, 13.12, 15.14 (104)
North Melbourne 4.0, 8.2, 8.4, 11.7 (73)
Crowd: 77,531 at the MCG, Friday, September 19, 7.45pm

In between winning a Qualifying Final and their memorable Preliminary Final a fortnight later, the Saints had the honour of coach Stan Alves given the 1997 Coach of the Year award, after taking the struggling club on an amazing run that saw them win 15 of their past 18 games.

The Preliminary Final against North Melbourne saw the minor premiers aiming to create a new club winning streak record of nine, and more importantly, get the club into its first Grand Final since the disappointment of 1971.

Although they had finished seventh after the home and away season, the Kangaroos had knocked off second-placed Geelong in the first week of the finals (all this in the days of McIntyre Final Eight system) and earned a home Semi Final against fifth-placed West Coast, who had lost comfortably to Adelaide the week before. Although the Eagles led by as much as 32 points during the third quarter, North turned the game on its head and fought their way back to a gutsy 13-point win.

St Kilda had taken the easy route, with a week off after accounting for eighth-placed Brisbane in the First Qualifying Final, but still met some cynicism from the footballing public heading into the game against North. St Kilda had little finals experience, whilst the Kangaroos had a number of players that were members of not just their premiership team from the previous season, but also the team that made Preliminary Finals in 1994 and 1995.

Starting the way he finished in the Qualifying Final, Stewart Loewe continued his imposing role across the ground in Peter Everitt’s absence. A mark in the goalsquare going back with the flight of the ball brought the pro-St Kilda crowd to their feet, and helped ease any nerves that the Saints might be overwhelmed by the occasion.

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