AFL Round 11 – St Kilda v Collingwood: Gathering storm

“People are not mysterious because they never shut up!”
Steve Toltz, A Fraction of the Whole.

Didn’t go to this game. Docklands. They’re going to have to schedule some kind of large scale burlesque circus act featuring bicycles and poles and mirrors and golden syrup dumplings before I’ll set foot in that place again. What a venue.

This game held little appeal. The prospect of pre- and post-match audio assault held little appeal. I’m not sure if they do Kiss-cam at half-time at the Docklands, but I didn’t really want to find out. And the unfolding confusion of the season’s scheduling means I’m without bearing. Adrift at sea without a compass.

Sydney whoop Geelong on a Thursday night and they’re premiership favourites? What about Port? What about Hawthorn? Didn’t GWS defeat Sydney? Didn’t Collingwood? Do they have a game in hand now? Does anyone? This near-constant playing of matches and the near-constant reporting of matches rapidly reaches a flaming crescendo of noise, before rapidly collapsing in on itself (again). And a new pyre is built the next day, to a new game. Now. Now. Now. Today. Friday. Perhaps there is less time to reflect on the competition, now, and our place in it. Maybe less room for consideration; for the mysterious. Instead we’re into instant gratification. It’s the twitter-fication of footy; of a whole footy season.

The buds get into pyjamas during the pre-game palava.
“Dad, has it started yet, Dad?”
“Oooh, look bud; there’s Scotty Pendlebury.”
“Dad is his name Scotty or Scott?”
“Dad why does it say St-K-F-C?”
And then they carry on with dances and tickles and clothes and hair filling the loungeroom for the first quarter. Inside the first 10 seconds, we see S Sidebottom launch thoughtlessly and with protruding elbow into the side of a St-K-F-C cranium. He should go for that.
The game starts poorly, without atmosphere or gravitas. It looks a training drill. Collingwood slips behind and I’m momentarily thinking that we could fluff this.
But then the second tier of Collingwood midfielders click into stride. It’s the height of poor form to rely on injuries as an excuse for performance, of course, but I’m well aware tonight of absences. L Ball and N Brown. D Swan and B Grundy. Others. St Kilda are missing plenty, too. That’s life.

Tonight this game is won on the work of a wandering band of colourful black and white warriors. It’s the gypsy troupe again to the fore, though with (some) different membership. Tonight, dancing and cavorting, we have some of the usual suspects: D Beams, A Fasolo, S Pendlebury, J Elliott, S Sidebottom.
But they are notably enjoined by new young musical runners: J Thomas, M Williams, P Seedsman, T Langdon. A young ruck division of J Witts and J White beats away.
While down back J Frost from the rookie list (via Ormond) continues his apprenticeship apace. Up forward T Cloke works as hard as ever and this week is rewarded on the scoreboard. Too much is made of his low score returns. He consistently does a crucial job for the team. (Likewise D Swan, but then people love to write off those two). The sense tonight is of a gathering black and white storm.

It must be galling for N Riewoldt and L Hayes to consider their imminent futures. Long recognized as loyal, brave and noble athletes of the highest class, their team tonight was badly beaten. For the Saints, I’m not sure what comes next.

For the Magpies, players returning from injury mean that midfield places are tight. The troupe looks well managed and well engaged with their lot. Brilliant to see footage of D Swan in the outer wearing beanie and quixotic expression. He’s always said he doesn’t watch footy. Yet he tonight he took his medicine. Well played, him.

ST KILDA             3.2   6.2     8.5     8.6 (54)
COLLINGWOOD 7.2   10.5   14.8   21.14 (140)
St Kilda: N Riewoldt 3 A Siposs F Ray J Steven L Dunstan T Milera.
Collingwood: T Cloke 5 A Fasolo 4 J Elliott 4 J Thomas 3 J White 2 D Beams J Blair J Witts.
St Kilda: Newnes, Hayes
Collingwood: Beams, Thomas, Pendlebury, Fasolo, Elliott, Cloke
Umpires: Chris Donlon, Matt Stevic, Jason Armstrong.
Official Crowd: 34,855 at Etihad Stadium.

About David Wilson

David Wilson is a writer, editor, flood forecaster and former school teacher. He writes under the name “E.regnans” at The Footy Almanac and has stories in several books. One of his stories was judged as a finalist in the Tasmanian Writers’ Prize 2021. He shares the care of two daughters and a dog, Pip. He finds playing the guitar a little tricky, but seems to have found a kindred instrument with the ukulele. Favourite tree: Eucalyptus regnans.


  1. Its Friday night. And like Pavlov’s dogs I start to slobber about 5.30 over here in Perth, even though I know it will likely be another Catso Collapso from the wounded young Saints.
    Maybe Dennis will say something witty to justify my time. But by the first break I’ve had enough, and I utter words rarely heard early on a Friday evening in our house.
    “You can watch the recording of today’s Bold and Beautiful,” I tell the Avenging Eagle. And I gaze blankly at Ridge (Mk 2) and Brooke(Mk 1) as they consider the wreckage of Marriage(Mk 6) and contemplate separation(Mk 7). Steele Sidebottom must have a future on B&B – at least he wouldn’t have to change his name like the other “actors”.
    How have I come to this? How has AFL come to this (I am leading an editorial campaign to no longer allow AFL to be shorthanded as ‘footy’).
    Footy is religion. AFL is packaging.
    Well played ER. I am opening a new 12 Step Group called AFL Anonymous. We meet at local suburban grounds to confess that we are reclaiming our power.

  2. E.regnans says

    Cheers PB,
    Good call. Popped down to the local amateurs this afternoon. North Old Boys /St Pat’s College v Melbourne High School Old Boys.
    Kids and dogs and a BBQ and ladies’ day events.

  3. Skip of Skipton says

    ‘Better Homes and Gardens’ into ‘Escape to the Country’ again last night.

  4. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Jack Frost was a day away from being drafted by the Dogs in 2010. He’s a good story.

    Hope he remembers to give Kurt Tippett one for me.

  5. Luke Reynolds says

    David, totally with you on Docklands. There’s much not to like about that venue. I couldn’t make it to the game for different reasons but rarely venture there these days. Very happy for Cloke last night , and great to have Seedsman back.

  6. Malcolm Ashwood says

    The pies showed common sense to rest players and displayed again they have some depth which is vital at the business end of the season . ( I am another person who prefers the local amateur league level ) Thanks OBP

  7. e.r,
    I am with you all the way on Colonial/Telstra/Etihad/Docklands…I just loathe the place.
    Which is unfortunate given the number of matches North Melbourne plays there each season.
    I did not watch the game on Friday night as I find I am increasingly less likely to watch matches in which I have no emotional investment. I am defintely disengaging much more often these days. The same went for the Dreamtime match last night.
    NOBs far too good for MHSOB?
    Good to catch up last Friday.

  8. E.regnans says

    G’day Smokie.
    Yep you were spot on. I’ll put some observations down.
    NOBSPC 26.15.171
    MHSOB 9.10.64
    Hope you enjoyed your day at Prahran Assumption.
    I see it was called “match of the round” in the Record.
    adios, e.r.

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