I Don’t Like Sunday (Evenings)

North Melbourne versus St. Kilda

4.40pm, Sunday, August 15

Etihad Stadium, Melbourne

There’s something definitely wrong about Sunday night footy.  Something dissatisfying.  Footy should signal the end of the working week, not the start.  The journey to the game should be accompanied by a Friday night or Saturday arvo tingle of relief.  When spectators sit or stand, shout and applaud in the liberating embrace of a weekend’s invincibility.  Even Sunday afternoon games are a good day out.

But Sunday night games carry a heavy ‘work in the morning’ dread.  By three-quarter time, ‘Mondayitis’ is well on its ugly way and you’re thinking you should be home, ironing shirts, planning what you’ll do with your Yr.8 English class, and having an early night.

So, it’s in this sort of mood, I have made my way through wet Melbourne streets into a darkened and sparsely populated Etihad for our last home game of the season.  We’re sitting ninth – half a game and a barrel full of percentage out of the Eight.  We must win our final three games well and rely on Hawthorn to fall over in order to play in September.

When we met the Saints in round 2, we were tarred and feathered by 104 points.  Brady Rawlings had the look of a dead man ten minutes into the first quarter.  I expect a better effort tonight.

As does my new mate, the old fella I met a few rounds ago and have bumped into again tonight.  We’re leaning against the rail in my now regular spot, ground floor, on the flank.  He’s hoping for an honourable 5-6 goal loss.  One full of grit with no sign of cowering on our behalf.  He likes our young players, particularly Grima who reminds him of his own son – tough and competitive.

The old fella is relying more on his walking stick tonight.  He points to his moon boot and explains how a few months back he was minding his own business when an old dear mounted the kerb in her car and knocked him over.  His ankle is stuffed and doesn’t expect to be playing golf again soon.

The first term opens and it appears both teams would also rather be home in front of the fire.  The match has a sleepy look as if the players have played it over in their heads all weekend and now game time has finally arrived, they’re too tired to do the business.  Errors and indirect play are commonplace and the only indication of a game plan comes from the Saints who lazily apply their zone.  North are sluggish but manage to capitalise on St.Kilda turnovers and Hansen and Wright kick goals.  Milne and Hayes score for the Saints.  We lead by 7 points, but should be behind.

Ross Lyon must have slipped his players a few no-doze during the quarter-time break.  The Saints control the stoppages and then the corridor through strong running by Hayes, Goddard and the hardworking Schneider.  Peake is on the end of an attractive passage of play and goals.  Milne kicks his second and Riewoldt kicks a few.  He’s looking good.  Not a patch on the King, the old fella yells.

In contrast, North have been on the camomile tea.  As we have done all season against the better teams, we’re sitting back and allowing the Saints to dictate the pace.  The initiative and physicality we produced last week against Freo have disappeared.  We look intimidated and already beaten.  Our only goal for the quarter comes deep in time-on from Hansen who has three.  Swallow misses on the half-time siren and the old fella shakes his head in disgust and heads out for some fresh air.

Saints by 29 points.

Despite doing many things poorly in the third quarter, we manage to stay in touch.  We gift Riewoldt two goals from undisciplined acts.  He is their only goal kicker for the term and kicks four.  We miss a handful of not too difficult set shots, yet somehow manage to kick four goals through Hansen and Wright.  We trail by 30 and the old timer and I are looking for a positive effort in the final quarter.

We don’t get it.  North shrink further away from the contest and the Saints enjoy some kick to kick.  It’s pretty uninteresting stuff.  Riewoldt finishes with 7 and the final margin is 52 points.

The old fella and I distract ourselves from the last term fade-out by indulging in a bit of reminiscing.  He tells of smuggling six packs of Melbourne under his duffle coat into Arden Street so he and his mates didn’t have to drink that ‘Courage crap’.  Talk drifts to the Carey years.  Greatest ever.  Somehow we get onto that never to be spoken of day in ’98 and cheer ourselves by focussing on Ali’s pre-game lap.

We lean against the railing and watch families hurry home.  Shower, bed, school in the morning.  Well, that’s it for another season, the old fella sighs.  See ya next year, he declares.  All the best mate, I reply.  He hobbles off into the night.  .

North Melbourne               3.3  4.5    8.7    9.9    (63)

St Kilda                                 2.2  9.4  13.7  17.13 (115)

GOALS

North Melbourne: Hansen 4; Wright 3, Edwards 2.

St Kilda: Riewoldt 7; Milne, Eddy, Koschitzke 2; Hayes, Peake, Schneider, Stanley.

BEST

North Melbourne: Hansen, McIntosh, Rawlings, Wright, Greenwood.

St Kilda: Riewoldt, Gram, Hayes, Goddard, Jones, Gilbert, Schneider.

Official crowd: 23,118 at Etihad Stadium

The Jason Danilchenko Award

3 – Hansen

2 – McIntosh

1 – Rawlings

Comments

  1. John Butler says:

    Andrew

    I think that perfectly captures my feeling about Sunday evening games as well.

    They’re all about TV, not the fans.

  2. David Downer says:

    Enjoy your work Andrew…

    Concur completely with the Sunday twilight. Its an annoying mixed message beast which screams “get Foxtel, stay at home”, yet the struggling home clubs, personified by the Kangas and the awful 23k crowd, are screaming “get here, we need bums on seats”.

    And the Roos (of North Melb) have been unbelievably stiff to cop the Roo (of StK) twice at his peak this year.

    My “working week dread” kicks in about 4:34pm on Sundays incidentally.

    DD

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