AFL Round 14 – Richmond v St.Kilda: Dear Saints

Dear St.Kilda

 

The following is a letter from my footy mate Rina.  I know it’s not your fault that we all feel a little sucky at present, it’s just that I’d forgotten what this part felt like.  I fell in love with you again in 2006 and since then, things have been so good between us.  There’s been such happy times and such sad times, but we were there together.  I committed myself more and more to the cause, became a member, got reserve seats, never missed a game if I could help it.  I was so in love.  With the feeling of coming and watching and winning and it was wonderful.  When we lost, we sucked it up, there was always a feeling that tomorrow the world would turn and we would win again.  I think I became an addict.  I needed the fix of wins, well, at least some, but the last three years have become leaner and leaner, and as Rina says below, we have become meaner and meaner….

(Rina sent this to me after the loss against Richmond last Sunday.)

Dear Yvette,

 Well, I am now experiencing the ‘other end’ of the footy-fan spectrum to winning. Familiar territory for the long-time supporters of St Kilda but a new experience for me since I joined your footy family in the weekly pilgrimage to the games to cheer on St Kilda. We have shifted from the highs of the anticipation of another win and the joyous songs of victory on the way home to worrying about how much St Kilda might lose by this match and then scurrying away under a heavy cloud of disappointment on the way home. Conversation is laden with worry about the next week’s likely hammering… again.  What lies ahead is a long tortuous road to the bitter end of the season. Gone are the delightful moments when we leaped out of our seats to celebrate successive sweet goals leading to a certain victory. Now, when there is a win, the singing is tinged by the thought that this moment must be fully enjoyed because it could be the last time we’ll sing for the season. “Supporters” hurl abuse at the St Kilda players who are trying so hard. People are sullen and scowl, their shoulders hunched. Children are bewildered as they are hurriedly removed from the stands by moody or angry parents. I have looked beyond the miserable in our immediate vicinity to the cheering, flag-waving victors and smiled to myself remembering how it felt, all in a bid to try to draw on a little of the happy energy that brought me to this weekly event. The ear plugs that stream the commentary are no longer enough to provide a cocoon for protection from the surrounding angry yelling that imposes a thick blanket of negative energy over us all. Now, I feel that I am having to find the inner resources to deflect and avoid other people’s responses. It’s just not fun anymore!  It’s not good for my inner well being. How do team supporters go through this experience year after year and not become seriously ill? Thank goodness that the Tigers are winning after so many years of disappointment. They need a boost to their health! I get why Essendon was injecting anything they could to into their players. It wasn’t to improve performance. It was to avoid serious irreparable damage to their minds, bodies and souls. J

Perhaps I am being over sensitive because that’s what comes from being surrounded by misery most of the time on a daily basis, for years. Who wants to then spend their precious time away from misery to be replaced by… more misery. Footy used to be uplifting, energising and restorative. I am a pleasure-seeking being on weekends. I need to replenish the resources that I give away during the week. I think I need to organise a massage for myself each weekend and to take up Tai Qi. Go for walks in the park anything else but being surrounded by thousands of very unhappy people!

 Here I am at 4 am writing, consumed by anticipatory anxiety because I know that I will be creating huge disappointment when I say that the thought of going to the footy and telling you ‘I don’t want to go to the footy’ fills me with dread.

Drawing on the pearls from the Richmond supporter behind me, I guess I’m just a “soft, wuss”.

 

Xox Rina

 

Dear St.Kilda,

I wasn’t upset or disappointed my friend didn’t want to come with me anymore. I get it.  Before Rina sent me the above email, I was thinking how hard it was now going to the football, how when your team slides down in the world of AFL, so does club membership, sales of items, seats and tickets for events.  All but the most devoted and the maddest quietly slip away.  I was thinking about this, it was rumbling about my mind, while Rina was sleepless in her mind and home.  At the event celebrating long term members, I was chatting to the Membership organiser, and she said they weren’t thinking about further membership drives this year.  They were going to concentrate on next year.  Just over half way through the year, and it’s all dried up.  The positivity.  The happy thoughts of the future.

Dear St.Kilda,

It’s not you.  I went to the Doggies Vs Melbourne match on the Saturday night before our loss against Richmond.  I went with my sister Denise and her sister-in-law, Becky.  We went to see the Womens Round and the women playing hard, fast, fabulous football.  Doggies lost the under 18’s, the Womens Game and then the men’s match.  They lost all three games.  Doggie supporters know what I’m talking about here.  They know this feeling.  Their premiership was even further back than the Saints.  Teams like Melbourne and Richmond complain about long droughts, but they are teams who have had successive successes.  They have a history of winning, even if it’s a long time ago.

The brightest part of the Doggies vs Melbourne match was the pre-drinks, and there was a lone lady at our table of the Women of the West function my sister had brought us to.  I started talking to Helen, thinking she was another Bulldogs supporter and lo and behold, she was a Saints supporter whose daughter Verity works for the Doggies and organised the function.  We chatted about life and art and football and her wonderful daughter.  I have a reputation of finding things St.Kilda coloured when shopping, now I find the inner Saints at a Doggies/Melbourne game.

We watched the game and it was awful for the Bulldogs supporters but uplifting for the Demons who finally won a game, and we left 15 minutes into the last quarter when the Demons got their final goal.  Nearly home, my sister texted me that the Doggies kicked 7 goals after we left to be only losing by 3 points.  Go figure, all the excitement and best play and we missed the lot.

Dear St.Kilda,

I bought a new friend to the footy on Sunday, Sara, and she barracked for the Tiges because her son barracks for the Tigers.  Like when I took my sister, it is hard when the “other “ is happy and we are not.  I tried to find pleasure in her pleasure.  I’m not that good at it, but I had a go, as did our boys on the night.  It’s just that the other boys were better.

 

Dear St.Kilda,

I still love you deeply. Wounded and hurting, trying to find the positives to write about, I bumped into my guru of St.Kilda happiness and his lovely wife in Elsternwick.  This is Mark who always says, We have ‘66.  And so I asked my Mark, give me words that will shift the deflation of my footy spirit.  He showed us his phone saver, the scores of the ’66 Grand Final.  He said, we won this.  My orbit shifted as it always does after talking to Mark.  I had to laugh.  It really is all in the way you look at the world.

Dear St.Kilda,

I have been reading the terrific book “Strength Through Loyalty” by Russell Holmesby, it is about “Saints at Moorabbin and Beyond”.  Russell talks to so many people and has so many stories, and I have found that reading a little of this book brings me closer to what is happy about St.Kilda.  It has so much history, so many great people who have loved the team, as players, as historians, as supporters.  It has heartened me.  St.Kilda, you have a great story to tell.

And today, I went to see Georgie from the St.Kilda Museum.  I had dropped some posters of all my St.Kilda paintings that will be put into the museum, but today, I gave two prints and several posters for Georgie to take to Perth for the Perth based Saints supporters, for their raffles.  I helped her choose some items to take on the plane to place around the room where they will meet.  Georgie is another person who makes my day.  Here she is, working for us to all remember, she collects and catalogues and talks to people.  I am making sure I pass on connections to her, the stories that I write about the Saints, I will save them all and give them to a place where all the Saints memories are held.  This is sacred ground for me and mine.

Dear St.Kilda,

My uncle Bob loves you, but he’s going with his wife love on a cruise and will miss some games.  I am going away too, soon, and I will miss our last two.  Forgive us.  We need our moments.  My father loved you, my brother loves you from a distance, my daughter is 50/50 and loves me regardless.  My Mum just doesn’t have the patience to be a Sainter anymore, but she still listens in, hopeful. Rina needs light and will return when ready.  I will go with whoever still wants to come, and I will see what we can bring to the games.  I will find something to write about that gives me “Strength Through Loyalty” too.  I am St.Kilda.  I am part of the whole.  And that will have to be enough for now.

 

Yvette Wroby

3rd July 2013

 

About Yvette Wroby

Yvette Wroby writes, cartoons, paints through life and gets most pleasure when it's about football, and more specifically the Saints. Believes in following dreams and having a go.

Comments

  1. Thanks Yvette. My tactic is the re-frame. I can always find positives at our club. That first AFL goal by Brodie Murdoch which the club called, ” a perfectly weighted left-foot banana from the tight angle on the boundary.” Our captain, every week our captain! It’s all about the future but there are so many positives every week with our young guys getting games. Oh, and I stay away from FB and moaning fans.
    We’ll be right, that next flag will be so exquisite .m. Fortius Quo Fidelius.

  2. Peter_B says:

    Lovely Yvette. The Avenging Eagle and I are now ‘part of the hole’ also.
    I have found that in the down years I become more of a dispassionate observer at the football. I go; observe; try to see signs of improvement. But don’t get as intense and passionate on either the up or the down side.
    Keeps me sane(r).
    What has happened to Siposs? He doesn’t seem to be getting a game now. Is he injured or omitted? He looks a footballer and seems to have the size and skills to give Nick support up front. Looked like he just needed time to me. Does he flatter to deceive?

  3. The Wrap says:

    Oh Yvette. I so know what you’re going through.

    I went to the Richmond game with a St Kilda mate. He had his two Red White & Black faced daughters with him – six & four. He’s a friend of my Hawthorn barracking son. The last time we went together it was him who was tapping me gently on the head with the rolled up Footy Record as the Saints converted yet another Tiger turnover.

    You’ll have to stick it out Lass, otherwise there’ll be no one in the Animal Cage. No one to weave the banner. No one to lament. No one to hope & pray.

  4. Neil Anderson says:

    For one glorious moment reading your letters I thought you may have been ready to really jump over to the dark side…and follow the Doggies! Then I realized it was more an empathy thing and you would never desert your true love. All you need is a break to regroup and like me, check out the recruiting and who’s available for next year.
    Supporters of the top-four teams have no idea what we go through year after year as we hang in there looking for that second premiership. It’s an exclusive club and I enjoyed our annual general meeting at the Almanac book-launch last year. Just you, your family and me.
    I feel a bit like a marathon runner who has ‘hit the wall’ a few times but now I’ve got a second wind and I’m sort of cruising. I’m just happy that my team is surviving in this eighteen-team competition, where top recruits go to new northern clubs and we have to play in places like Darwin to balance the books.
    Writing a report on that Melbourne/ Doggies match that you attended gave me a chance to remember our great year of 1954 and the past champions. You had just as many champion players and people involved in 1966 which should sustain you if ever you worry about present day players being abused and things are looking grim.
    I look forward to catching up again later this year and we can have a good yak about 1966 and all that when I worked in Albert Park surrounded by St Kilda supporters and all that joy on Barry Breen Day.

  5. Beautiiful Yvette

  6. Thank you fellow footy travelers….I do try and find something positive and Brodies first goal was great. I loved Nick Riewoldt in the centre and in defense, and I hope that that didn’t cause the injury he now has. I LOVE Roberton, he is wonderful. I LOVE Lenny and he comes back this week. Jacks Stevens is now so good he’s being tagged, and that quietened him down a lot. He’s been wonderful for the Saints.
    I find that when I am feeling vulnerable from life in general, footy gets to me a little more, when I am feeling more positive, I can find the positives. Regarding Siposs, he has talent but I wonder at his discipline and perhaps he’s not doing all he needs to to grow in strength and skill. Sometimes you can have stars that never do the hard grind.

    I look forward to seeing you all again and thanks for the lovely words. It’s my therapy, good or bad. Writing about the game helps me process what has happened and sharing it is a bonus.

    See you all at Brian Matthews, he wrote a brilliant book on St.Kilda that is worth reading too.

    Happy Fan-dom

    Yvette

  7. Lou, what is FB?

    Yvette

  8. Neil Anderson says:

    Yvette, just thinking about you finding writing as good therapy reminded me how that works for me as well. Not only via the Almanac which I discovered last year, but during the off season which includes when the Bulldogs hopes are being dashed. It’s been a big off-season lately which has given me plenty of time to write plays and enter competitions.
    Now this has provided me with a nice segue and a blatant plug for a play that is being performed at the 1812 Theatre in Upper Ferntree Gully. My play is one of ten short plays as part of a festival and I will be attending tomorrow night.
    So if any knackers live in that area who won’t be watching Geelong versus Hawthorn and want to see some other comedy and drama on speed ( each play is only ten to fifteen minutes long) they can ring Jan Langford on 9758 6940.
    Last night a couple of ex-Home and Away stars attended so unfortunately I can’t use that as a hook for tomorrow.

  9. Guru Gus - Singapore says:

    Yvette – no doubt you remember the grim and dark days of 1975 to 1990 – 16 long years littered with too many wooden spoons. But there were always bright spots – we had Barks, and Joffa, and Big Carl & Sidey in’78 causing havoc against the Bombers, and of course the magnificent Plugger, who from memory played his first game in ’83. We made the finals in ’91, first time for a while, and then got all the way to the Grandie in ’97, and another one we let slip. Then we had a pretty rapid decline – remember Max Hudgton literally sobbing after a Bulldogs loss in 2001, and the years to 2003 were pretty ordinary. But by 2004, we were one kick away from another GF appearance. Across the next 8 years we mised the finals once. So it has been a wonderful run, and if only that kick from Lenny had bounced the right way for Milney in 2010. Point is, it goes in cycles – I was too young to remember ’66, but we will be back. And surely, sooner or later, we will win that second elusive cup. Hang in there.

  10. Hi, Yvette,
    You as much as anyone knows being a Sainter is so much more than wins or losses. This time was always coming, and their window of opportunity will open again, perhaps when it’s least expected.

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