Round 14: St Kilda v Gold Coast: So many points to be made

 

Sunday 25th July

4.40 pm Etihad Stadium

 

Sunday found me at two footy matches. For several hours, I braved the cold of Peanut Farm Reserve St Kilda to watch the Reserves and then the VFLW St Kilda Sharks play their hearts out. It was so cold and windy I hid near the building, taking photos and enjoying the Sharks attacking play.

 

The rooms in my colours.

 

Funny things happen at local games, like a cowboy riding past on a sequined saddled horse. Who knows if this is a regular event.

 

Cowboys in St Kilda, nothing surprises me.

 

The St Kilda Sharks were on fire this day, the Reserves won convincingly before the Sharks VFL side finished the day with 7.18 (60) to Seaford 3.0 (18). I got to chat with my sponsored player, Brittani Bonnici, out injured, and heard that she’d be back in three weeks along with new Sharks recruit Tayla Harris and star Shark Moanna Hope.

 

Co-captain Penny Cula-Reid leads her VWFL team onto the field.

 

I didn’t last the whole game, as my other red, white and black team were playing a home game at Etihad. I caught the No 12 tram up to Southern Cross, my first time ever through the back streets of St Kilda, Middle Park, Albert Park, Port Melbourne and the city. It’s being a tourist in your own town, when you go on a different path.

 

It was freezing at Etihad too, but I was warmed up when my footy neighbours and Uncle Bob, Auntie Betty and Gary arrived and we were once again ensconced in our ‘home’ ground. With a measly 16,844 people in attendance, we watched the weirdest game in a weekend of weird and wonderful AFLM games.

 

Gold Coast Suns came in without their biggest name Gary Ablett, and other good players were missing. It was relief when they missed their first goal, and we missed one too. This was to be an indication of the game itself.  Lots of forward movement, mistakes, lots of backwards movement, mistakes.  Footy ping pong. When we kicked out second point, I said to Uncle Bob, ‘we are double their score – 2pts to 1pt.’ He knows I’m nuts.

 

It was pressure footy from both teams, and took 10 minutes before Saints finally goaled. Jack Newnes kicked perfectly. There is passing and defence and it leads to another behind. All the excitement, but none of the reward from all the good hard work, from either team. Tim Membrey gets pushed in the back while chasing a ball through the goal and a free sees him kicking around his body for Saints second.

 

When Mav Weller (8.16 for the season) readies for goal and misses, we are not surprised. David Swallow goals from our messy defence, and that lifts their team. When it goes back up the Suns end again, we are messy at passing and it’s stolen by Adam Saad. The turnovers are determining everything. Who will turn over at the right times? Peter Wright goals from good forward work and they are in front. Saad is everywhere.

 

Tim Membrey settles the Saints down when three good kicks get it into our forward cleanly and he kicks straight. Gold Coast keep the pressure on, got it down their end and goal through Darcy Macpherson. When Membrey gets it back, he misses a set shot.  We have missed 6 in the first quarter.

 

We have mixed feelings at quarter time.  We’ve kicked some good goals, and so have they.  We make mistakes, but so do they. Who is going to lift?

 

We settle in for the second quarter, and we see Jake Carlisle is playing further up the ground. He is helping in the centre. From another forward thrust, Jack Sinclair finishes good work and Saints are back in front. Mistakes keep the ball ping-ponging. Josh Bruce misses. Weller may be missing the goals but he is slamming people in tackles. Wright goals from a good mark, the lead changes yet again. More messy play but Jack Lonie kicks around the body in a small forward perfect shot. Lead changes back to the Saints. Matt Shaw answers moments later. Lead change. GC are showing pizzazz.  When they get the ball, they are attacking at full speed, but they are inaccurate too. But they just keep coming and finally, through hard work, Jarryd Lyons goals. The Suns are 9 points ahead and it’s time for a Saints comeback. Jade Gresham streams in and misses. Then he goes up for a huge leap for a little man, we are up and about.  The crowd roars in surprise and we are hoping for a goal to seal such a great mark. He misses and the crowd groans in unison, as does the commentators in my ear. Blake Acres misses after more great passes. This is spoiling our experience. It is spoiling St Kilda’s good work pressing forward. The ball is back with Tom Lynch who is right in front of goal and we all cheer as he completely sprays it.  Jarrod Watts misses. Weller shrugs three tackles, and finally Riewoldt gets a free after having been kept quiet most of the game so far. The crowd start cheering as it leaves his boot cleanly and sails through perfectly centred. I think, captains goal, even though he has handed the mantle over. Saints are one point behind.

 

More good defensive work and good passes find Riewoldt again who kicks around his body and gets St Kilda back in the lead. We are chanting and enjoying this moment.  A leader is a leader whatever his title. Leigh Montagna gets a free and 50 meters and Jack Billings takes full advantage of the pass and goals. We are up and about. We are disappointed when Koby Stevens misses another easy get.

 

That kind of sums up the game so far. Some exciting play followed by disappointing play.  Up and down. Round and round.

 

I walk the full round of the stadium to stretch and ponder footy on a late Sunday afternoon.  We have an interstate team with perhaps 200 supporters here, and only 16,844 in total for the game. It is winter and cold, and there will be less balls to dodge when we have a kick to kick.  This here Nanna will be out on the field after the game to see if she can remember how.

 

I am saddened by yesterday’s news about another concussion to Paddy McCartin, and if he were my son I’d drag him away from footy. Six concussions for a young man before he’s 22.  He at least needs the rest of the year to recover.  He won’t think so, you don’t when you’re young. I contemplate some removalists who had come to my house the day before, and seeing all my Saint stuff around, one said his brother in law was an ex Saints player. I asked how his body is, and he said, somewhat surprised, completely stuffed. That’s what every ex player has said to me when I have asked. That’s what I told the removalist.  Players live with aching bodies their whole lives, but if their brains take a battering, their lives will never be their own.

 

I am in this kind of mood when third quarter begins and two of the worst quarters of footy I have watched is presented to me. The joy of winning is blemished by the misses on goal.  Bruce takes a great mark, and seems to have no confidence as he misses everything. Moments later he is skilful again with a mark and a pass.  These guys are a puzzle. Good passes to a more reliable Newnes, kicks perfectly and our lead increases. Weller misses after such good pressure work. Deflation. Wright hits the post. Relief. Sean Lemmens misses. Acres attempt doesn’t reach the goal line, Gresham misses everything, Gold Coast score a minor, Lemmons another minor.  The cold is seeping into our bones as there is all this back and forward and sharing of inaccuracy. There’s been 20 minutes of play and only one Saints goal. Stoppages. Tackles. Handballs. Kicks. Frees. Ruck contests. Back and forth. And then suddenly, Gilbert gets a quick kick accurately to Sinclair to Gresham who kicks to goal square where Weller and Acres try to mark, and Weller kicks a tumbling ball through for a goal.  All that wasted time, and then in a moment, all is good. Weller is redeemed for all the misses. Moments later, Bruce sprays another one from directly in front. There is disappointment that we haven’t taken this game away from the Suns. I am surprised at good bursts from both teams and Suns through Lemmens finishes off the quarter with a goal.

 

We shake our heads at the frustrating quarter. ‘Winning ugly’ comes to mind.  There is certainly playing ugly. Tough. Never say die. Effort. Attack. The Saints get it forward to Riewoldt who gets his third. Our spirits lift. Can we keep it going? Again, Suns play well and get it forward to Brayden Fiorini and Suns are back in it.  We just can’t close that door and lock the bloody thing. Callum Ah Chee has been terrific all game and stops a Saints forward push. Then he turns it over before we do the same. Frustrating footy, Billings misses another attack. Roberton gets run down, a rarity. Ah Chee and Lemmens are full of attack, before Riewoldt gets chased down from a certain goal. Jarrod Witts finally settles the Suns down with a good mark and goal.

 

Deep breathes and Alex Sexton misses. Twelve points the difference. And then Saint are off, Membrey passes to Bruce and finally goals – he can do it on a dime but not when planned. Lonie misses from around the body close to goal. More attacks and Riewoldt misses everything. The ball and game pings back to the Suns forward but brave Saints boys bring it back and it’s suddenly being passed to Carlisle who goals.  In 2015, when I wrote ‘Siren’s Call’, Jake Carlisle kicked at least 5 goals against us in a game. I have a theory that the Saints have recruited players from other clubs who have had our number.  The Saints fans are pretty happy now, we are 25 points ahead and starting to believe we can lock this away.  This is confirmed when Luke Dunstan gives the Saints and the game it’s last goal. There are more points to both teams which sum up the afternoon.

 

There were so many points kicked in a winning Sharks game earlier, and 19 for the Saints here (12 for the Suns).  If only 10 of these had been accurate, we would have a great percentage boost to add to the sudden thrust of St Kilda into the top eight.

 

When the siren goes, we hug goodbye before Gary and I head onto the ground to kick. I have forgotten everything, but at least mark a few from Gary’s good kicking. We travel home with seats on a train, and I feed Gary soup to replenish his energy. It was hard work as a supporter with a game like this. We’ll take the hard work and effort of the Saints, trust that they’ll work on their goal kicking and confidence, and watch our boys on the TV next week as they travel to play Freo next week.

 

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.

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