Harmony Sainters’ style

Love and death. Or on the hip side of the Yarra: sex and death. That would be the St Kilda side. (Of the Yarra)

Love and death. It’s the sum total of it all.

Saturday night and I am in the kitchen dealing with kids. I have been occupying them, entertaining them, playing with them, amusing them, feeding them, helping them, wiping their noses, and performing these joyous tasks in the most conspicuous way, in an effort to build enough points to get to the MCG.

At about 5.30 I think I have enough so I text C. Down. “I have enough points”.

He is going through the exact same process in Hawthorn. He rings immediately to say he has enough points as well. We have a footy plan.

It is always difficult to walk out the door to leave three screaming kids with a weary mother. I tell Theo that I have to go to work. He says, “Good Dad.”

In a twist of magnificent irony, his respect for work comes from his mother and his mother’s side of the family.

I plonk on to the train seat and somewhere along the way while I am contemplating the fact I have not had time to have one bet during the afternoon a couple get on at Clifton Hill.

They stand together. I watch for a second.

They are early-40s.

Both in St Kilda kit. Understated. Scaff only. They have thought about it.

Within seconds I know (with a certainty I rarely am privy to) that this is an E-Harmony first date.

Both are ring-less. He is tall and in designer jeans and effecting a still-in-the-game posture. She is short and blonde-ish, and has a three-kid bum, that may well have been a three-and-half-kid bum two weeks ago. She is naturally warm. He is naturally aloof.

She is much more likable.

I suspect he is a star in his workplace which may include architecture, or graphic design. No, probably law.

They have sadness in their eyes.

Both are slightly uneasy.

She is trying not to look like she’s thinking, “I’m out the door and on a date.”

He is trying to look like, “This is my seventeenth date since Tuesday.”

I am trying not to look like I am listening. My camouflage is pretty good: three kids under three and a half, and I look like I may be in a coma.

I like that they have both seen ‘St Kilda FC’ in the other’s ‘Likes’ section on E-Harmony. And that their first date is to the football.

At about Collingwood they start to establish their footy credentials, and specifically their Saints credentials. This may or may not involve a degree of protective mendacity, because she is definitely not going to mention Cowboy Neale or Darrel Baldock.

They rave about George Young and Con Gorozidis and they get talking about duffel coats and suddenly all is relaxed.

He claims to have had a jumper with Mark Scott’s number on it. Now he is testing her. He is waiting for her to go, “Aaaah. Mmmm? Nineteen.”

But she says, “Mark Scott? Who was he?”

Which makes me like her even more.

He explains that Mark Scott was a full forward when he first started going. I’m guessing he is 43.

Ice broken, they are away.

They get on well. Being Sainters I assume this means they’ll have ripped one off behind the second elm on the walk down from Jolimont station, and another on the leeward side of the Betty Cuthbert statue, and another on the ramp going up to the third level of the Great Southern Stand. (“What’s that Dad?” “Oh, just an ancient Morabbin ritual son.”) And you’ll be able to buy the video at the Saints merchandise stand on the way out.

C. Down and I take our seats. And start drinking beer. The wind makes the beer colder than when we purchased it. C. Down has the look of a man who has worked hard to rack up points. Neither of us has seen any races. So we talk about the races the week before. He tells me (without fear for his reputation) that he fell asleep on the couch during the final quarter of Geelong v Hawthorn, and woke up with four minutes to go. We are so lucky we are not in the E-Harmony game.

I think the Saints are a chance.

Geelong starts well through the young lad, Menzel, who kicks a couple of goals. The Saints look enthusiastic enough. A few weird things happen. Umpiring for one, which seems to go Geelong’s way (all night). Pods decides he’s going to crash packs and takes out Jimmy Bartel (for about 10 days). Scarlo drifts forward, marks over Ryan Gamble (whom he has beaten mentally from the time Gamble looked in the paper to see who he was playing on) and hits the post with his shot.

The weirdest thing though is the complete lack of atmosphere at the game. It feels like first versus twelfth in the old days when St Kilda and North were always down there. Hardly a cheer as the players ran on. You can see why Collingwood is such a great club because their supporters are excited no matter what the situation. Pies are excited by their own.

It’s a Saints home game and C. Down thinks the crowd’s just under 40000. He’s out by about two dozen. Most sensible Geelong people are at home in front of the fire.

Other Geelong fans – P. Flynn for one –  have made public claims that they refuse to watch St Kilda.

The Saints are in it early, and the game is up for grabs in the second quarter. Menzel kicks a beauty with raw power and I challenge all Geelong supporters to admit they weren’t thinking of G. Ablett (senior) at that moment. (Please God)

Ling leads the way. Vardy does a few nice things.


Riewoldt doesn’t. He is outmarked, out-hassled. The footy is delivered poorly to him. He’s got defenders rushing at him from the north-east, the south-east and due west, so he looks like the centre-piece in the Mercedes badge. He fumbles and bumbles, and with that haircut looks like he should be wearing overalls and have a Confederate flag hanging off the porch.

More beers.

I get pie and sauce on my notes.

After half-time Kosi takes a mark and I am surprised because I didn’t even realise he was out there. Goddard lacks energy. The Saints win the footy, but they just keep giving it away, with terrible delivery, until Riewoldt looks like he’s just going to walk off.

The Saints crowd groan. And get more and more frustrated. The umpires don’t help them (still), especially when Pods jags a free kick in front of goal.

I write “12-fumble”, “12-mistake”, “12-dummy spit” in my notes. Riewoldt is observably disheartened.

“Riewoldt has never recovered from the Heath Shaw smother,” C. Down says.

Very astute.

To the outsider he hasn’t recovered from the summer. Surely this must be a team of disquiet. Absence of trust. Disharmony.

Yet, the Saints still have a chance. In the final quarter, when Peake slots one home and the Saints rally, they are within striking distance.

Then Vardy marks and kicks truly. Chappy seals the match.

You feel like the Cats have another gear, and that they haven’t had to use it.

There is one final moment when Menzel wins the footy on the members’ wing and drives a 55 metre pass to Podsiadly. It’s a head-turning moment. Did you see that?

On the late train going home an extended family (of Saints and Cats) sit together en route to Preston or beyond. The primary schooler stands on the seat and says, “This is a motivational speech written and authorised by me: GO SAINTS!”

I want to tell him it’s about love and death. And that the St Kilda style of love is not working.

I wander off into the night wondering where the happy E-Harmony couple are now. In an intimate bar in Fitzroy doing Lip, Sip, Sucks with Director’s Special chasers, and toasting the things which make St Kilda great.

I walk down the street. I am trying to think of how I will describe the match, and the state of the Saints. I land on an idea: the Saints look like they’re having sex after breaking up.

The lights are on at home. The kids are asleep.

The Handicapper is drinking hot Milo.


About John Harms

JTH is a writer, publisher, speaker, historian. He is publisher and contributing editor of The Footy Almanac and footyalmanac.com.au He has written many columns and features for numerous publications. His books include Confessions of a Thirteenth Man, Memoirs of a Mug Punter, Loose Men Everywhere, Play On, The Pearl: Steve Renouf's Story and Life As I Know It (with Michelle Payne). He appears on ABCTV's Offsiders. He can be contacted j.t.h@footyalmanac.com.au He is married to The Handicapper and has three kids - Theo10, Anna8, Evie7. He might not be the worst putter in the world but he's in the worst three. His ambition is to lunch for Australia.


  1. Ross Lyon looks like he’s having sex with himself.

    Menzel – he can play that kid.

  2. Mulcaster says:

    The St Kilda style of Love?

  3. Neil Belford says:

    Dont have sex with your ex Rex, it will make your life complex.

    Old men like Paul Kelly and John Harms are conditioned to think of the hip side of the Yarra being the St Kilda side. That is just so nineties. Having spent a lifetime trying to avoid being cool, Harms lives close to the demographic centre of gravity of the twin thrusting arms of contemporary Melbourne hipness. Essentially you have High St Northcote/Thornbury, and Sydney Road. If you are somewhere else you are just shopping.

  4. David Downer says:

    Did our sexed-up happy couple happen to also mention Milan Faletic or Enrico Misso?
    Ironically our current #19 is suffering mentally owing to some of the general theme to which you refer.
    From my vantage point in the fwd pocket, I also sent C.Down a text when a certain full-back was cleanly dacked: “Just exposed to M.Scarlett’s pasty white backside”.  Appropriate twitter hash-tags might then have been #avertyoureyes or #notkeen

  5. Andrew Else says:

    Spot on re Coolness Central Neil

    I’m pretty sure I spotted Harmsy sitting on a milk crate in the middle of his street’s nature strip just the other week. Must’ve been exhausted from a game of hackey sack

  6. Andrew Fithall says:

    I am certainly no hipster but was in the environs of High St Thornbury on Friday night to see St Kilda supporter Tex Perkins. Now if you were suitably single and of the mind, the place to cut one out of the pack woud be a Tex Perkins show. I haven’t the data to confirm (cough cough) but I reckon a ticket to a Tex show would be cheaper, and perhaps more effective investment than e-harmony.

  7. Mark Branagan says:

    Harmsy – great job. It was a pleasure to be there on Saturday night with a surprisngly small crowd and still have to queue for about 15 minutes to get a beer in the Olympic Stand.

    I think the problem with the Saints is not love, but money. In their search for the modern football utpoia, ie a soulless unrestricted pokie machine venue, the Saints have forced their players to endure the hardships of driving all the way down the Nepean Highway to Seaford. Poor loves.

  8. John Butler says:


    Seaford is an entirely different state of mind. Especially away from the beach.

  9. Richard Naco says:

    I’m sorry, but unless it involves schoolgirls and happy snappies on You Tule, it’s just not St Kilda kinda lurrrve for me.

  10. JTH – fantasising on the lovelorn was clearly far more interesting than the game. Always interesting to speculate on the lives of strangers. They are always far more interesting than our own.
    Like past lives. People were always a princess, or a concubine, or a pirate – there are no garbage collectors or housemaids (unless they were also having it off with aristocracy – and are now the rightful heirs to money and title).
    Which brings me to an unfamiliar euphemism – “ripped one off”. I scratched my head and pondered. I guess it means what I think it means. Either I’m so old I’ve lost contact with the modern lingo for “quickie or bonk or shag” or whatever we used to use – or ‘ripped off’ is an east coast term that has not yet traversed the Nullabor.
    I just hope we hear from Vincent Tan again soon. He does the lives of the lost, lonely and lustful better than any Almanacker. I want the next episode in the love lives of the Collingwood couple with the uncontrollable smile. Come back Vincent. The Almanac needs a regular soapie to rival the Bold and the Beautiful – the Cats and the Coitus; the Pies and the Pussies; the Bonking Bombers; Debbie does Doggies
    Ah sweet bird of youth………………….

  11. DD: can I suggest #lookingintothesun ?

    JTH: E-Harmony gets a tag. Finally.

  12. I must confess to some confusion with the “ripped one off” line as well. My immediate thoughts were not helped by the ‘hipster’ theme of the post. I thought it could either be a euphemism for the quick shag, with the other possibillity being the enjoyment of a herbal cigarette. I suspect the latter would have made the game more enjoyable for a Saints fan this year despite the obvious benefits of the former. I guess it would depend on the length of the drought, E-Harmony wise.

    My far flung up-bringing is hinting that ‘ripping one off’ tends to be a more solitary pursuit, although I am prepared to stand corrected.

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