Round 23 – St Kilda v Brisbane: Guiding Lights

Guiding lights of human beings come in many forms.  This day was full of lights.

 

Pipers lead the March Photo Yvette Wroby

Pipers lead the March Photo Yvette Wroby

There was a call out on Facebook through the “Moorabbin Wing” group of supporters, to join the Members March.  First started four years ago by the late Tom Grogan (he passed away early this season), the march was a way of showing “solidarity and support to our mighty Sainters.” Tom, a passionate Sainter and Volunteer with his wife Wendy Grogan, had the dream that in Members Round, the fans would unite and show their love of the St Kilda Football Club. In the first year, 2013, there was even a Saints Train from Frankston, and Uncle Bob, Gary and I actually caught it without knowing all the added history. There have been two marches since. Last years clashed with another event so went uncelebrated. Wendy Rode and Michael Egan helped organise this year’s event, and the group met where the footbridge intersected with the NAB Bank.  Collected were a piper and drummer from the Moorabbin City Pipe Band, members of the Cheer Squad, The Angels and Saints Pride. And Gary and I.  There were flags and banners, and good cheer.  This group assembled at 12 and began to circle the stadium, singing “Oh when the Saints” all the way around. The pipe and drums were magnificent, and I don’t know how the piper kept up with the pace and the airflow to keep playing our song, over and over. They just set off (going the wrong directions but Wendy R reckons that was Tom Grogan playing tricks and having a laugh from up high.) It didn’t matter which direction, we were all happy to follow the enthusiastic musicians and flag bearers. Others photographed and videoed as the group marched. It had smiles on the faces of the marchers and those who stopped and watched the growing (probably around 250) and singing group pass. On top of that, the magnificent, warm, sunny winters day seemed to be smiling down on us too. I was hobbling a bit, using my Saints painted walking stick to keep my balance.

 

Saints Members March

Saints Members March

The March ended at Gate 3 with another rousing chorus of the St Kilda theme song and much cheering and good will, before everyone dispersed to get ready for the game.

 

I’d also got a text from the Club, saying my attendance this year deserved a gift.  Picking it up, I found I was given a Rooey 300 white cap and a 140 pin in a big red, white and black box.  Like a lucky dip, I think each had something different in it. Another thank you from the Club for attendance.

 

This continued the good spirits that had been created at the big Thank You Members BBQ the day before.  At the Captains run at Moorabbin, thousands turned out to buy the stock at reduced prices (everything MUST go, including the remaining buildings), eat yummy sausages, and see the players do a light work out before coming along the fence line to sign autograph for over an hour.  Some were there even longer.

 

I’d hobbled to this event too, walking from Uncle Bob’s house in Bentleigh East with Bob, Gary, Danielle and Luke. Luke was wearing all the gear his Nanna Yvette had bought him over the last two years.  He is especially attached to the St Kilda Ninja turtle t-shirt.  He’d bought his ball for kick to kick too.  Gary is terrific with kids, and it was a sight to see Gary, followed by Luke, then Bob, all walking the back streets of Moorabbin, while Danielle kindly accompanied me.  The feel of walking to Moorabbin, soon to be redeveloped, was wonderful.

 

While Danielle bought gear at the Saints Shop, Luke, Bob, Gary and I went out in front of the Huggins Stand (soon to be demolished) and found seats, and hot dogs.  Matt Finnis and his son were serving.  They stayed there for almost two hours, feeding the queues of Members and being a good sports.

 

I kept seated and watched the boys practice then autograph, while Luke and Danielle got his ball signed by most of the players.  He is such a Saints boy.  And this day of sunshine saw Luke, Danielle and Gary kick the ball for almost an hour.  They were all having the time of their lives.

 

So it had been a terrific two days so far and the game hadn’t even started. Joining me was my friend Marianne, who has so excited to be at a game again, and just soaked up the atmosphere and the sunny afternoon with the roof of Etihad open.

 

The first two quick goals to the Lions through Mathieson and Zorko pulled us up a little.  OK, there was some fight in these Lions we weren’t expecting, and they kept it up all afternoon. Luckily, the Saints switched on with Wright, Lonie (with a great shepherd from Riewoldt) and Newnes (Riewoldt roved to pass it to Newnes) settling the Saints down.  That was more like was we were expecting.  Dawson evened it up again. Lonie wasn’t finished (later Rina said he was playing like Adam Schneider) and Bruce kicked truly as well.  Leading by 2 goals at quarter time, we settled in.

 

And so did the Saints. We came marching in all afternoon. Geary, our defender, goaled. Keays for Brisbane.  Membrey for the Saints with handy help from Roberton who played a dynamic game.  Two running beasts.  A slugfest.  A shoot out. The fans from both Clubs were loving it. Bam. Walker. Pow – it became the Nick Riewoldt show, Nick Riewoldt three-quarters, the Nick Riewoldt love fest. He marks and kicks like the champion he is.  He gets the next two. Bell reminds us there is another team. Bruce brings back the attention with a flying mark before Riewoldt gets another. It is a half time where St Kilda lead by almost 30 points. The only man having a bit of a crap day was Weller, who was off his game today.  Nothing was going right.  Everyone else was having a corker.

 

We are in awe of our Captain. We are loving all the goal kicking.  The energy. The passion of the crowd.

 

We eat.  We talk. We are merry.  It is the last game for the Saints. People are still queuing up for merchandise, as the Saints Locker will be online for the next year.

 

We are expectant come third quarter.  But no-one expected what was to come. Wright started the games, and was answered by Merrett.  The Brisbane Lions were not capitulating.  Steven goals from a free. Lonie follows on. Hanley inserts himself. And King Nick gets another from terrific work from Acres from the centre. That goal took all of 8.5 seconds.  His fourth. Rich goals. Another defender Gilbert goals after two 50 meter frees. Nick again.

 

Sainters are happy with a 35-point lead. We feel confident.  We can see great changes that have happened and all the planets are aligning. There is much chatter on the radio about the race for the wooden spoon – if Brisbane keep goaling, they are off the bottom.  This is a topic of conversation for the whole last quarter (on both radio and TV.)

 

From a quick pass from the centre, debutant Brandon White kicks from outside 50 for his first AFL score and is mobbed by the whole Saints side. What a kick. What a moment.  What a start to a career.  He’d been handy around the defence and middle, but this was unbelievably good. Mathieson keeps his team in it, before Saint Nick does it again from an Armitage pass. Membrey then Bruce remind us they are still rocking. Geary gets a knee in the back and is in trouble. Nick. Bam. (17 uncontested marks on the lead.) The crowd are going wild.  That’s his 7th. Josh Walker brings back the Lions with 2. And Nick yet again with another two.  He has 9, can he pass his career best of 9 and get 10? Zorko spoils the party, and Nick shows he IS human by missing and scoring a point before Mathieson and Rockliff both goal. Time is running out.  There is chanting: Riewoldt, Riewoldt, Riewoldt. The crowd have been witness to magic this afternoon.  Brisbane Lions have much to look forward to (especially come Monday when they sack their coach).  We have much to remember.  In David Armitage’s 150th game, the ball is passed to him for the final goal of the day and Nick is all in favour of David enjoying the goal fest too.  He is SO the captain of this Club.  What will 2017 bring? He is still our best key forward. He spent the last half of the game up forward instead of his usual run back and forward.  He was unbelievable and we felt honoured to be there to watch his, and the whole teams, effort.

 

The siren rang out and we sang, a lot, and celebrated, a lot. The boys helped with the farewelling of Merritt for Brisbane Lions (even if he did get reported) and it was over.  We watched as many went to have a kick on the ground, Gary rueing that he didn’t bring his ball.  But I couldn’t have kicked anyway.

 

We waited for the Club song to be out there, the boys singing joyously, and Marianne and Bob departed.  Gary and I partied on, joining a packed Social Club as Jade Gresham, Hugh Goddard and Nick Coughlan were interviewed, raffles were sold, auctions were had, celebrations continued.

 

We were so wound up and joyous, we decided to eat at the Caulfield Racecourse and watched the end of the Hawthorn v Collingwood match. The staff, many of them Hawks, were nervous as the lead swung back and forward.  It took the experienced crew of Hawthorn old boys to get that point and keep it. Then we watched the dour game that saw the Dockers stand up against a flattened Bulldogs team, meaning the Dogs would be back in WA in two weeks’ time for the Elimination Final.

 

It’s been some year of life and footy.  Losing Mum at the beginning of the year, editing my book with Glenn Brownstein and a visit from Glenn and wife Debbie from the States, clearing out Mum’s house and mine, renovations, making room for guests and babysitting weekly, visiting my daughter Rachel in Japan and watching a game with Yoshi. Such a big year.  It’s a year that has seen injuries for the Saints and all Clubs.  A year full of the banned players including our new recruit Jake Carlisle. And most exciting of all, a league of women AFL players.  St Kilda missed out on the first round of teams, but nevertheless, I am so excited to be seeing this long needed step into the future for women’s footy. I’ve been to see Luke at Auskick. I ran out of energy to see St Kilda Sharks or the Melbourne Masters this year or even Sandringham.  But there’s always next year.

 

It’s been a good year, bar my Mum. I am grateful for my sporting life for keeping me busy and diverted in the best possible way (along with my little ones). And for those of my footy family, extended family, Almanac family.  The families who have been my companions in these last two years.

 

You have all been MY guiding lights.

 

 

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.

Comments

  1. Hi Yvette,

    I’m glad to hear that you enjoyed the game as well as joining the March and having BBQ.

    The game was great with Riewoldt. It was one of his biggest match. I’m sad that he stepped down from captaining, but his decision came from thinking about the club, like he helped Armo kicking a goal in the match.

    Thanks for giving us positive description of guiding lights. I’m happy to be mentioned in your article and thanks for providing me bright lights all the time. I need to light up you more!

    I look forward to the 2017 season. Go the mighty Saints!

    Yoshi

  2. Peter Fuller says:

    Yvette,
    I’m very late catching up with your match report, but I wanted to tell you of my “Yvette moment” a few days ago. I’m in the USA at present, and during dinner in Las Vegas, our waiter revealed that he had lived in Berwick and played American Football there in the 1990s. However he also affirmed his love of the Saints. I told him about the Almanac and specifically about you, Glenn, Yoshi and Braham. While I don’t expect anything will come of it if Earnest (correct spelling) makes contact that will be the reason. An emotional encounter in a place far from home.

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