AFL Final — Week 1: A Tiger fan among Saints and Pies

September is one of my favourite months of the year. Full of high quality football matches and no Richmond thrashings. Dad and I always get full use out of our AFL memberships by going to as many finals as possible. This year we’ve got off to a good start as on Saturday we were at the ‘G for Cats v Dogs game and on Sunday we were back.

Throughout the week I was looking forward to this Saints v Pies game more. Saints have been great all season but you can never discount the Pies in a final.

The other reason is because of the supporters. While usually I’d hate them, they provide great entertainment. I think these two clubs have the worst Victorian supporters. I’ve never been to a Saints-Pies match and I’ve always wondered how the two would mix.

In the spirit of the occasion, Dad and I park at Victoria Park, the old home of Collingwood. “The away team used to never be able to win a free kick on this ground,” Dad says. “It was a shocking place to watch footy from.”

We squeeze into a carriage full of Collingwood supporters. I’ve never seen them so behaved and well mannered. I still wouldn’t like to be a Saints fan in this carriage, though.

I’ve never liked Jolimont startion as much as Richmond station. It’s always so crowded with just two platforms. Still, it’s good having the exit right at the ‘G.

As the Pies run out I’ve already spotted a few colourful fans. There’s a group of Collingwood fans a few rows back with a beer in one hand and their other hand raised in the air showing off their Dane Swan-inspired tattoos.

I predict Kosi will kick the first goal. For once I’m right, as Kosi takes a nice contested mark on Leigh Brown to kick his first. The Saints will stretch the Magpies defence today.

Collingwood start to get on top. Anthony kicks Collingwood’s first and Thomas kicks a goal from a very soft free. The Pie fans start gettting noisy. They’re playing better and tackling well but can’t put it on the board. The Pies especially get into Riewoldt, whose kicking is worrying early.

In the second term the crowd erupts. Rocca takes a good mark and undisciplined play from the Saints puts him in the goalsquare. The Pie fans are starting to feel confident.

Their arrogance turns to anger as Goddard is paid a free in front of goals. Dad and I agree it’s fair but the Magpie army are having their usual Magpie whinge. They’re starting to annoy me. I can’t help but smile when Riewoldt is given a free kick. He finally converts and I start cheering, as the boos will ony get louder now.

As all good captains do, Riewoldt turns the game around. He kicks his second in the space of a minute, giving the Saints the lead. Now St Kilda’s “classier” fans start showing their support. One fan wearing a St Kilda beanie with a fine-looking goatee starts a St Kilda chant and finishes it by giving the Pie fans a not-so-pleasant gesture.

Riewoldt fittingly ends the quarter kicking a goal on the siren, increasing the Saints margin. The game’s set up for a terrific finish.

McQualter kicks off the term with a terrific goal from the boundary line. Collingwood desperately need the next goal. Riewoldt kicks the next goal. Presti doesn’t get beaten often, but he has been today.

Collingwood fall to St Kilda’s zone. The only time Cloke touches the ball is if he’s up on the wing. He’s probably had just as many kicks as Riewoldt but I know who’s been more effective for their team.

After losing Pendlebury early the Collingwood midfield has been poor. Swan has been far from his Brownlow-deserving best, Lockyer’s done nothing, Didak hasn’t had an impact on the game, and I’ve hardly noticed Davis.

Collingwood look a faint chance with goals from Thomas and Rocca but it doesn’t look promising.

During the fourth the fans provide the entertainment. Taunts fly from both supporters attacking the players. A Magpie fan yells, “What’s the matter Schneider? Didn’t the ball fall in your lap?” Another yells, “How many premeirships?” Saints fans scream things like “Kick it to Toovey!”

An angry old Colllingwood man behind me screams at every decision that doesn’t go Collingwood’s way. I don’t think the umps would have changed the result somehow.

A fight starts behind me undercover. Cops come down and everybody is out of their seat, no one in the bay is watching the footy. The Collingwood supporters with the Dane Swan tatts get involved as police reach the scene. After a brief discussion a Saints fan is ejected to a huge cheer come from the Collingwood supporters. It’s the only thing they’ve had to cheer about all game.

As Milne slots a goal, a Saints fan (who ironically looks like Milne) yells, “That’s the sealer!” Sure enough a huge pack of Collingwood supporters leave the ground, their heads down and their backpacks slung across their back. A few bays across, the St Kilda members all stand up waving them off. It’s an incredible sight and Dad and I laugh. There isn’t a better team to give it to than the Pies.

I leave the ground thinking the same as when I went in. They’re isn’t a team with supporters as loud, rude, or as hateable as Collingwood, but the Saints aren’t that far behind.

The AFL wouldn’t be the same without them.

St Kilda 1.2 6.4 9.7 12.8 (80)
Collingwood 2.4 4.6 6.8 7.10 (52)

GOALS

St Kilda Riewoldt 5, McQualter 2, Koschitzke 2, Schneider, Goddard, Milne.
Collingwood Rocca 2, Thomas 2, Anthony, Davis, Medhurst.

BEST
St Kilda Riewodlt, Hayes, Fisher, Gilbert, Goddard.
Collingwood Shaw, Maxwell, Johnso.

Comments

  1. Well Michael from reading this I have learned that you wouldn’t like going to the footy with me!
    I really don’t understand how people criticize Collingwood supporters as ‘whingers’,
    when you’d think it perfectly natural to speak out if you feel a wrong decision has been made against your team.
    It’s not our fault that we Collingwood supporters are loud; we can’t help it that we have big personalities. As loud as people say I am in general when im at the footy it’s 100 times worse. At one point my cousin moved 5 seats away from me because I was ‘embarrassing’ him.
    I mean I can’t help that I get too emotionally involved with the game!
    Tell me:
    What could I (personally) possibly do to stop the stereotypeness of Collingwood supporters? To make it more pleasurable for others to sit near us at the footy?
    I also have to say that I think people criticize us so because we are in fact an army and people get intimidated.
    For evidence just go on YouTube and type in:
    Collingwood army marching from Lexus center to the MCG.
    Tell you that you are NOT so very scared of this great CULT!!!!!
    MWAHAHAHHAHAHHAHAHHAHA!!!! (evil laugh)
    “WE ARE THE MAGPIES!!!”- BE VERY, VERY AFRAID

    Danni

  2. Michael Allan says:

    There’s nothing wrong with speaking out at a bad decision Dani, Collingwood seem to think every decision against them is a bad one though, that annoys me.

    You couldn’t stop the sterotypes, they’re too drunk to listen to you.

    Collingwood are definately an army, but wait till Richmond get back in the 8. We’ll be matching it with you.

    Do you have new found respect for Riewoldt Dani? He basically turned the game for St Kilda by himself.

  3. As a leader for his side, sure i mean he was almost like Moses leading the Israelites through the desert in a way.
    BUT to LIKE him, thats not going to happen hes hurt me too much.

  4. Michael

    Love the description of the fans. I had a similar comedy experience at the St Kilda – Collingwood semi final last year.

    One of my favourite sayings is “the reason we have stereotypes is because they’re true”, and this is especially the case when it comes to Collingwood fans. Even in the civilised confines of the AFL Members, I can honestly say there’s a unique neanderthal feel whenever Collingwood’s playing that you don’t get with any other club – even Carlton.

    I enjoyed the Saints beating them last year because they had a wild enough bunch of fans to have the foolhardy courage to get stuck into the Magpies, but did it with enough clever humour to get away with it.

    It doesn;t sound like it was a great game on Sunday but at least the fans are still delivering the goods.

  5. Lucas Garth says:

    I’ll stick up for Pie fans and Danielle, when the game is tough and you get a 11-4 free kick count early I think it’s rubbish, and I will continue to say so.

    When your opponents get 5 goals from free kicks, with at least a few debatable (and not replicated when similar incidents happened at the other end), I’ll say so.

    I agree – unlike the truly one-eyed Magpie fans – that we didn’t deserve to win, that we were beaten by a better side, and even with umpiring that was partial to the Pies, the Saints probably still would have found a way to win.

    But don’t let me stop my and my fellow Pie fans’ critique of the umpiring. It’s a national sport, and judging by the fact that the Pies receive 2 less (or 15%) free kicks than the next lowest score; and have a differential in the bottom 2 with our opponents this week, I think we do have a point.

    What’s more with a team like ours with players geared around winning contested footy, we should be protected more.

    I’ve always had a rough rule of thumb, a free kick is worth about 2 points for all the momentum it costs you, etc. So if you’re 5 frees down, the umps have for whatever reason cost you about 10 points, no more.

    Even ONE free kick more in the H&A would have had us in 3rd position.

    Stuff the umps they can go jump in the lake.

  6. Michael Allan says:

    Stainless I would’nt call the AFL members civilised. We have heaps of people in our section who would not be tolerated in the MCC. I’ve seen plenty of fights in my short time but I guess that’s what you get when you mix the fans. When your a neutral supporter it’s a good place to be.

    Lucas I agree it was a little frustrating at the start but by Saints were clearly the better team and in the fourth Collingwood supporters had more to worry about than the umpires.

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