Shoshana is visiting from San Francisco, and in 2010, when visiting her, I wrote my first Almanac article. One hundred and twenty four articles later, it felt only fitting that I take her and her brother Zamir, to the footy and write about it. You can’t visit Melbourne in winter and not see a game live. She kept telling me she is a lucky charm. When she goes places, good things happen. So it seems.
We came with no expectations of success, though Zamir joked that we could win. It was also Uncle Bob’s last game for the season, he’s heading off to Europe before the next home game, a rare thing for him, a trip interrupting his footy season. But we had no expectations. Our magnificent man and leader Lenny Hayes had announced his retirement at the end of the year, and we have six weeks to celebrate our Love of Lenny.
We had no expectations when Dempster was concussed and motored off the ground on a stretcher, happily OK soon after. Shenton our sub, was on within moments of the start. So we had no expectations when Reiwoldt kicked the first and Murdoch the second. We were waiting for Freo to switch on. A slow start perhaps. I turned to Bob and said, we’ll take this, fully expecting the anchor to drop and shut us down. No anchor in sight, as Dunstan slotted a beauty and Stanley came of age with the fourth for the quarter. Mayne stole one back for the Dockers and we went into quarter time expecting the Dockers to get a fry from Ross Lyon and for the re-establishment of the true world order.
Stanley put his fingerprints on our new universe, slotting his second and Morabito got his first goal after years of injury. Riewoldt slotted the next two. The stadium of Saints had gone wild. We were witnessing a rebirth, a team of old and young showing us something wonderful. There were no quiet Sainters tonight, on or off the field of dreams. Sixteen thousand supporters witnessed something special. Curren joined the party followed by a Schneider from old, goal. In this unlikely goal fest, an anomaly in a Freo game, Barlow got another before Stanley stamped “future champion” on his forehead. St.Kilda went into half time 6 goals, 4 points up. Unheard of. Shock. Awe. Saintly expectation of a Docker shut down and come back. Were we really pantsing the 2nd on the ladder?
We refuelled with dinner and prepared with no great expectations of this dream continuing. We are Saints supporters. I would expect nothing less.
But the miracle continued. It was a 6-2 goal third quarter, with a strong, determined Armitage goaling the next, Pavlich followed trying to pull his team out of their shock, before Riewoldt again smashed another one, followed by Montagna and two within a minute from Ray. The scenes of happy players bathed our hearts in happiness. The purple haze had disappeared. There was no purple anywhere, not even on their jumpers. Dunstan kicked our last for the quarter before Pavlich goaled again. Third quarter found us 10 goals ahead.
Each time the Saints goaled, I got a soft elbow in the ribs and Shoshana reminding me she was lucky. NOW I believed her. Zamir and I made a plot to burn her passport and keep her here for ever. All around us, the cranky Saints of past became the happy Saints, the hopeful Saints, the future witnessing Saints. St.Kilda had won three quarters of football. Un-bloody-believable.
Freo finally came out fighting in the last, with Fyfe slotting the first before Shenton told them “no-way”. Pearce goaled and Riewoldt answered. Take that Freo. No coming back thanks. Fyfe rallied for another and Taberner finished off the night, and it was a scrappy til the last. The song was sung with gusto.
In the three months since we last won a game, I have talked of parts of games, then reduced to positive good moments of a game. Today, I saw moments of poor play in the third quarter when we made the rookie mistakes that our team had made their own this season. There were only moments, perhaps 10 minutes in the whole game, that the Saints lost focus and skill. We kicked accurately, man to man, no bombing, we kicked straight and we tackled like there was no tomorrow. Thankfully, there is a bye and the boys will recover and no one will treat us like the easy beats again this season.
Currently, Shoshana and Uncle Bob are chained to a goal post, still singing, and will not be released until our next Premiership.
St.Kilda 4.3 9.6 15.14 17.16 (118)
Fremantle 1.1 3.2 5.6 9.6 (60)
St.Kilda: Riewoldt 4, Stanley 3, Ray 2, Dunstan 2, Murdoch, Curren, Schneider, Montagna, Armitage, Shenton.
Fremantle: Pavlich 2, Fyfe 2, Mayne, Morabito, Barlow,Pearche, Taberner.
St.Kilda Riewoldt, Stanley, Hayes, Savage, Dunstan, Ray
Fremantle: Barlow, Crowley, Duffield
Umpires: Fisher, Rosebury, McIerney
Official Crowd 16, 594
Our Votes: Riewoldt, Stanley, Hayes with special mention of Savage and Shoshana.