Saints fans rejoice! Our boys are home again

“They’re coming home.”

So read the headline on the AFL website last December, as it was announced the Saints had secured funding from the Victorian government to help them return to training at Moorabbin.

Five months later, the concept of St Kilda being “home” when at Moorabbin has well and truly sunken in. This much was apparent during the Saints’ Saturday training session prior to their clash with GWS the following day.

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While Joey and Fisher talked fitness with the training staff and the rest of the squad took shots on goal, the G.G. Huggins boundary was lined with Saints fans. It’s likely that many of them came from the surrounding suburbs of Cheltenham, Highett and Bentleigh. It’s indisputable that many of them were under 10 years old, and wearing the Red, White and Black with an openness and pride not seen around this club in the past few years.

Soon enough, as the players broke out the sharpies and descended on the fans, these same jumpers had signatures ending in Dunstan, Billings and Weller on them. It was satisfying to ponder a near future where these growing boys and girls idolised these names the way their older relatives had Winmar, Harvey and Hayes.

This potential for unwavering lifelong support was clearly not lost on Alan Richardson. Displaying the gentle authority of a man raising two young boys, the coach never passed up the opportunity to have a photo with the younger kids on his sideways saunter down the line of fans.

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Where normally it is a tragedy to watch Riewoldt leave a field early, today it was something of a relief. Roo now competes with Josh Bruce for attention from fans like he does from midfielders, and while the man-bunned marking machine promised he’d try his hardest to recreate that soaring speccie from Round 1 last year, the former quietly signed a few autographs before retiring to the change rooms.

Which seemed fair: Riewoldt has done St.Kilda the greatest of services as captain, single-handedly sustaining the club’s support base in the time between on-field success. He’s earned his retirement, (though knowing Roo’s dedication to the club, he’ll probably spend it turning young James into the Saint’s captain by 2030).

The Saints original relocation to Linton Street in 1965, from Junction Oval, was made during a headwind of excitement and expectation. The club had a list featuring all time greats Darrell Baldock, Ian Stewart, Carl Ditterich, Kevin Neale and Verdun Howell that year, and were expected to challenge for the premiership. They challenged, but ultimately went down to Essendon by 35 points, a defeat they’d avenge the following year with Barry Breen’s point.

That same excitement was characteristic on this Saturday. Once again, the Saints had come to Moorabbin fielding a promising list, the difference being the powers of this current playing group are on the rise rather than at their peak.

Rest assured, no-one present expected the relocation to have the same immediate effect on the club’s form – you learn a thing or two about keeping a lid on things after 27 wooden spoons and seasons like 2009-10.

Rather, the source of today’s excitement was a sense of hope, made irresistible by the performances of recent weeks. Hope that the date of the Saints’ claim to finals contention would continue to be brought forward by impressed pundits. Hope that the spirit shown last week would be retained the following day. Hope that the most recent lengthy episode of the Saints testing their supporters’ faith was finally over.

Us writers are a poetic lot, and there are few things we enjoy more than trying to find the meaning in unexciting everyday occurrences.

So when the dark clouds parted and the sun broke through over the Huggins stand, where some would have seen your average Melbourne sky of four seasons in one day, this writer saw a metaphor.

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The sun represented an end to the storm clouds that had blackened the Saints on and off the field in recent years. A farewell to the turbulence of Scott Watters’s brief reign. A farewell to the muddy thinking that governed board decisions like moving to Seaford and claiming the Saints would have a second flag by 2020. A farewell to Kim Duthie and Ricky Nixon.

It would appear the Saints are indeed home, and their family is welcoming them with open arms.

About

Melbourne-born, NSW-based footy fan, lover of the Saints, classic rock guitar and good writing on each of these topics.

Comments

  1. Yvette Wroby says:

    Hi, after the bleak game today, reading your post has put a smile on my face. Moorabbin, being home, and belief in eventual success. How very St Kilda.

    Thanks for the smile

    Yvette

  2. G’day Alex,

    Nice to read positive article about the mighty Saints! I’m glad so many kids tured up the open training at Moorabbin.

    Can I add farewells?

    A Farewell to the mess Ross Lyon left and the controversial his leaving the club.
    A Farewell to the Mad Monday incident.

    Even today’s shocking loss to GWS, we are on the right track and our second flag is just around the corner.

    Go Saints

    Yoshi

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