Bomber form irrelevant as Saints succumb again

by David Downer

As pre-match curtain raisers go, you could do worse than spending a lazy seven hours at the All Nations Hotel in Richmond.

Amongst the now familiar joie-de-vivre of the “afternoon session”, the impending federal election ensured any non-footy banter turned political in nature – the turn a touch more left than right I observed. The setting more elegantly dissected by a “prominent much-maligned Geelong almanacker” earlier in the week.

Amid the obvious topical musings, a slight door creaked ajar for “informed commentary” of the recent tele-movie Hawke. “Much maligned” in itself.

Granted, this did focus solely on the alluring magnetism of Asher Keddie. And there was clearly disenchantment her role as Blanche d’Alpuget hadn’t quite extended to the Hugh Riminton “post-match” with Hawkey himself.

Keddie charm aside, there proved a sorely neglected scene. Admittedly this may have surfaced while briefly flicking to a Family Guy repeat – Hawke’s legendary interview with the late Richard Carleton in 1983, featuring the greatest spray in Australian political media history. It included his pricelessly invective “You can sit there with your silly quizzical face…”.

Stop the tape.

That look, that silly quizzical face of Carleton, a smirk two-thirds hubris, one-third disrespect, typifies the attitude Essendon has brought to St Kilda games for the majority of the last three decades – as dictated by “chief of cheek” K.Sheedy of course. Sheeds’ preparation for Saints appointments undoubtedly concluding in said smirk while staring at whiteboard match-ups.

For traumatised St Kilda fans, this appears a true proposition even in the post-martian Knights era – where the form of either team, or coach, proves irrelevant. These days the dominance is based on “propensity for pace”. The St Kilda fear of, and need for, blistering Bomber speed culminating in recruitment of one of that brigade -with an eventual less than satisfactory outcome for all involved.

Owing to the All Nations stock-standard “just one more” catch-cry, my flushed late arrival results in missing Riewoldt’s opener.  Perhaps the first sign to flee home, or back to the All Nations – the skipper’s goal one of St Kilda’s few small mercies in the first 90 minutes of play.

Chook-lotto style allocated seating had dispatched us “up to the gods behind the sticks”. The Collo-seum does feel every bit the cold “concretey” white elephant Gulag shit-hole up here. Essendon’s all-ticketed “home dome” hospitality hardly translates to a red carpet arrival for opposing fans.

Angus Monfries, predictably, begins the torment.  Soon after, the returning Hille spoils teammate Ryder as they press forward again, the ball eventually falls to ground. As bad nights dictate, they paid a mark. He converts.

Tommy Lynch, a rare Saints debutant, seemed more “Cranbourne barrier trial 2yo” as opposed to Magic Millions contender. His opponent, the gangly colt Fletcher rubber-stamped that view.  Still all arms and legs, Fletcher continues to parade like an early season 3yo, yet in thoroughbred terms he’s of “Bomber Bill” vintage.

With both sporting locks of a Gillard hue, I thought Fletch might allow Lynchy some “ginger grace”, a “bluey breather” or some “ranga respite”. It didn’t arrive. Chin up Tommy.

The fleet-of-foot Dons confirmed St Kilda’s, or my, pre-match jitters, and lit up the now-better-yielding turf. Ryder then wreaking havoc up front. The usually tight and taut Saints defence oozing more abundantly than Julia’s mysterious party room leak.

A seven to one goal quarter time scoreline had its natural sobering effect. That All Nations joie-de-vivre seemed a long way removed.
Alarmingly, conditions deteriorated further at the break. A familiar voice resonated during the cringe-laden crowd vox-pops. It was Pete Lazer. He was rapidly proving an able Newman to my Seinfeld. Not that Wayne Knight has ever posed for a Roger David catalogue.

“Lazer!”

A fortnight ago, Lazer led the Carringbush schmaltz in black and white clobber. Tonight he was back plying this trade for his “beloved” Dons.

The very same day, another alleged “Bombre”, Rohan Connolly, presented himself in full Collingwood playing strip, revealing his shameful secret love for the Pies – not to mention those pasty white arms. Oh Rohan, the humanity.

Off -field disappointments dealt with, for now, there soon followed more of the on-field variety.  Early in the second, Bacher Houli snuffs out thoughts of a quick St Kilda response. Houli’s physical appearance alone was Andrew Lovett-esque – just to rub salt in the wound.

The Saints kept pressing forward with their undecipherable Plan A: “Kick to Nick”. Plan B appeared an equally revealing “see plan A”. In reality the scenario was more “Kick to Kick”. The ball bounced back from whence it came with return-serve regularity the Gillard-Abbot “debate” could only dream of.

And commandeering the mopping up was Michael Hurley, a Sainter enthusiast pre-draft – another salt in the wound.

Further “blessings” presented at the main break. My copy of Tony Wilson’s Making News, personally signed earlier at the All Nations by Santo, Sam and Ed’s scurrilous foreign correspondent himself, was drenched to about chapter 6. Cheapened by an errant mid-strength, in a plastic cup, during a St Kilda routing. Oh what a night.

After the break, a frustrated Frenchman fifty has Monfries snuffing out the “early scoreboard pressure” threat from the Saints. He needn’t have worried.

The status quo continued for long periods.

The Bombers kept peppering. The Saints kept having those serves, and more precisely, soft backhand lobs, returned with ease by Hurley, Hooker and Fletcher.  A trio of names with a Real Estate agency feel to it.

Hardingham kicks two and the Bombers are out by an amazing 58 points. The home side seemed more adept at nailing shots from forty-plus than close range. A couple of very late St Kilda replies restored some trivial semblance of scoreboard pride – but the air was pungently thick with the obvious: “how bad is this?”

The last stanza finally presents an early Saints clearance, a bronx-cheer worthy feat in itself tonight. Schneider on the end and goaling within seconds.  Just what the doctor ordered, but greeted with “about bloody time” groans. Maybe they could finally turn the screws the other way, the younger Bombers might falter under the strain.

Jay Neagle, a bloke looking a little touch-and-go on the skinfolds, has other ideas. He slots an effortless check-side from the boundary. His casual reaction as though he pulls this off every week, or “for the ladies” at least.

This heralded the launch of “junk time”. The Saints played with freedom and flair, by now “meaningless flair”, but flair all the same. In the NFL, “junk time” stats are not counted. Here was another stat not worth recording – I was leaving early for the second time in three weeks. Not “you’re a weak bastard” early, but just enough time to escape that final Dome stairwell as the first of the “Up! Up!” chorus-line churned out to Bomber delight. I wondered if Lazer or Connolly joined in.

As per the many unanswered questions on the campaign hustings, more queries now abound for the Saints. Sunday’s no-excuses home clash with Port will reveal more.

In many ways it’s been a remarkable year for St Kilda. For all the controversies, recruitment backfires, tabloid beat-ups and prolonged Riewoldt absence, it would be a shame should it now all fall apart at the seams.  Too many of the Saints faithful have waited too long, and gone heartbreakingly too close, to fall short of another genuine crack at the ultimate.

Like the passionless spin-doctoring BS of the election campaign thus far, the Saints, as per the major parties, have to make a stand. An oft-heard quote in Hawke perhaps best demonstrates the sentiment amongst the punters…

“Get bloody fair-dinkum!”

Comments

  1. Interesting that our intrepid author seems to have at least half an eye focused on the Spring Carnival already. Beautiful work getting the FBT much-favoured Bomber Bill in there. As I was immersed in the report of the afternoon and evening’s events (beer spillage and all), I wondered if there was some strange inverse relationship between the closeness of the game and the need for bladder strategising. It appears that the strategy can be significantly more laissez-faire when the result is not at stake. Very nice work again!!!

    That is all
    Arma

  2. DD – all the talk is Pies and Cats. Could suit the Saints very well if they can recapture their zip. I’m certainly not writing them off. At least they won’t have to face the Bombers in September.

  3. David Downer says:

    Thanks Arma. The ole’ “Bomber Bill” nugget is an easy score in an Essendon game. And despite camping “up in the gods”, landing on the end-row seat allows “bladder stragetising” to be less canny. No need for the usual mid-quarter routine of “Sorry, excuse me, ooh me again, sorry, would you mind?, thanks, sorry”.

    Dips – I hope you’re right …but the Saints mojo seems a long way removed from what the Pies and Cats are dishing up at the moment. StK has, on paper, the easiest run home of the contenders, no excuses from here.

    DD

  4. Andrew Fithall says:

    Almanac lunches and Friday night games have already become a theme for you David. I note that in August, unless you are heading to the airport for a flight to Adelaide, bladder strategising won’t be required. By the way, that “just one more” is not an All Nations cry, nor an Almanac slogan – it is the sole property of one P Flynn. And like the song of the siren, it should be resisted. On the subject of the All Nations, Mick Molloy was a guest of Dave Graney and Elizabeth McCarthy on their Tuesday Triple R show Banana Lounge Broadcasting. Mr Molloy doesn’t have a mobile phone. He did say that people trying to track him down are now starting to ring the house phone of the All Nations.

    The video of the Wheeler Centre evening with Tony Wilson and Tony Martin that we attended can be found at http://wheelercentre.com/videos/video/a-night-of-two-tones/

  5. David Downer says:

    Thanks Andrew,

    Mr Molloy, as expected, did surface for a couple of hours last Friday. The “just one more” exponent you referred to noted Mick did have a gig in his hometown Kyenton that night – we pondered whether the commitment would be kept as he settled into a groove at his local …and if “just one more” exponent should conveniently catch a ride back with him.

    Ghastly business the “Making News” book soaking …I could accept the drenching more humbly, if say as a result of Tony spilling red wine with pen in hand – which almost occured …but at the hands of a plastic mid-strength, from the row behind, and a late teen Bomber – ouch.

    DD

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