AFL Round 18 – Geelong v St.Kilda: Kardinia Park – A bridge too far

By Scott Rankin

Cliché that it is, but once the grand final draws the curtain on a season, anything seems possible. For every team. So it was with some celebration that I read the 2013 draw. Geelong v. St.Kilda AT KARDINIA PARK.  In my Saints lifetime, I had sung the song and marched in with my Saints at the Junction, Glenferrie, the Lake, Arden Street, the Kennel and Princes Park, not to mention Moorabin, Waverley and the ‘G. In 1978, my since passed Dad took me to the return match that followed Big Carl, Robbie Muir and Sidey slicing, dicing and beating the ‘Baby Bombers’ to a pulp at Moorabbin. In the aftermath, amidst intense criticism of our ‘playing style’, we lost 9 of the next 11, yet rose Phoenix like to beat the Bombers at Windy Hill. And then came that epochal day in ‘93 when Nicky Winmar lifted his jumper and redefined our game’s terms of engagement….. By coincidence, I stood next to an Aboriginal family and we hugged like lost family at the end of the game. A win at Victoria Park in our last ever visit to footballing purgatory.

Sitting between me being an eyewitness to Saints glory at every one of the suburban Victorian grounds was damnable Kardinia Park. While we did win a couple there, it had proven a bridge too far for me….. On our better days at KP we clutched defeat from the jaws of victory through last minute miskicks and fumbles or the last minute heroics of a Nankervis, Hocking, Bews or similar. More commonly we got flogged by ten plus. And while hope sprang eternal, it seemed all hope had been snuffed out by AFL Corp when they intervened in my destiny determining Saints Cats games too big for such a small ground.

Yet time (and a new grandstand) offers the temptation of healing all wounds. So it was with euphoria that I received the release of the 2013 draw. A flame was lit…… Maybe it’s meant to be? Maybe I can finally tick that last box and claim the full set of suburban ground victories? Footballing karma for having suffered the indignity of immersing myself in a kitty litter tray of Cats supporters when I moved to Aireys Inlet in 2002. Footballing karma for having witnessed Matthew “it’s not really all about me’ Scarlett’s 2009 toe poke. And footballing karma for the general heartbreak that one endures as a St.Kilda supporter, where phyrric victories are gratefully grasped in the absence of little else.

The day started well enough with my son’s Anglesea Under 14s piling on the majors against Corio for their first win of the season. For a team that headed into the game with a percentage of 12.6, it’s a big result…… though, in retrospect, Harvey’s broken wrist just before half time was probably a sign that my footballing day had already peaked.

Come dusk and the KP lights have something of a ‘Close Encounters of the Geelong Kind’ glow about them, drawing in that eclectic crowd that Geelong draws. Moleskins parade alongside impossibly skinny jeans. Geelong College fresh from a day of shopping at Melbourne Central queue for donuts alongside pram pushing teens. Front teeth seem to be an optional extra for many. A wag behind me asks “Wonder how much longer that stand will be called ‘The Ford Stand’?” The many faces of struggle town united in a cause.

The Saints start well enough. Scores level at quarter time based on solid performances from youngsters like Jimmy Webster, Josh Saunders and Jack Newnes. Lenny’s busy, Jack Steven is everywhere, but Roo is out of sorts. However, a foreboding gale blows (unusually) from the north and by half time we’re a long, long way down.

Early in the last quarter, I am advised that Geelong have kicked 17 of the last 18 goals. Even as a St.Kilda supporter, that is not a stat you hear often. We have been annihilated. Jumped on. Molested. We suffer the humiliation of boys having had men run training drills around them. And at game end we’re 101 points down, having kicked just one goal since quarter time.

On the drive home, our French exchange student Elea gives the game far more flair than I recall it having when she offers her game summary….. “Sheelong are better because…., how you say…., they JOOMP.”

The Saints aren’t joomping right now. But come Sunday, I watch Footscray roll the Eagles with an indefatigable display of youth and enthusiasm inspired by the experience and wisdom of Murphy, Cooney and co.. Our kids are learning…. fast…. and our greats are inspirational. Come this October, I hope AFL Corp deems St.Kilda worthy of another visit to the Litter Tray, because this time, I swear, we’ll do the bastards!

GEELONG       4.         12.5     16.9     21.11 (137)

ST KILDA       4.1       5.1       5.5       5.6 (36)

GOALS Geelong: Hawkins 5, Motlop 4, Selwood 3, Podsiadly 2, Johnson 2, Varcoe 2, Mackie, Kelly, Vardy.

St Kilda: Riewoldt 2, Lee 2, Montagna.

 

BEST Geelong: Motlop, Selwood, Podsiadly, Hawkins, Duncan, Mackie, Vardy. St Kilda: Steven, Montagna, Dal Santo, Newnes.

 

UMPIRES Jeffery, Hay, Mitchell.

 

Official crowd: 27,200

 

Our Votes: 3 Motlop (Geel) 2 Hawkins (Geel) 1 Steven (St.K)

Comments

  1. Wonderful stuff Scott, with you all the way. I am glad Steven got a vote, he was the one shining light on a pretty bleak evening. We had one good quarter which I missed, waiting for my friend to watch it with me, and then the recording didn’t work, so I just watched the blood bath in the end. I think we will improve next year and the next and let us go back to the Cattery. Apparently, Spence is coming too….we have a lot to look forward to. Go Saints Yvette

  2. Scott, see if you can find any Youtube footage of the R1 clash @ Kardinia Park in 1971. The jome side lead at 1/4 time 5-2 to 2-4, but by the final siren the Saints had romped it in 21-25-151 to 8-9-57. Some footage of that might be therapeutic for you, or your 6 point victory there in 1988, a match when Geelong were red hot faves.

    One final point; when a side loses by 100+ points, i’m unsure how a player from that team can get a vote in the 3, 2,1.

    Glen!

  3. Cat from the Country says:

    Scott I slmost feel sorry for you and St Kilda. However I look forward to the Saints rebuilding and becomming great again.

  4. Scott Rankin says:

    Glen, I’m invoking the Jeff Dunne rule. In 1979, the Saints got done by Collingwood by 175 points at Victoria Park, and Jeff Dunne in the back pocket got one vote! Agree, it was a bit cheeky, but….. Jacky did have game high possession count!

  5. Fair enough Scott. I can’t argue with that one.

    Glen!

  6. Cat in Wagga with Wats says:

    Great piece of work Scotty. But alas this cat missed listening to the game having work commitments in the most delightful Luang Prabang. But kind of glad I did. Like ‘Cat from the Country’ I too hold a dim but perceptible flame for the Saints. To listen to the game would have been a mixture of awe and bewilderment. Your lot are endlessly fascinating, but sadly not always for the right reasons. And so too are their supporters – perhaps again for not always the right reasons! Pehraps this from Daft Punk ‘Get Lucky Lyrics’ resonates:

    We’ve come too far
    To give up who we are
    So let’s raise the bar
    And our cups to the stars

    She’s up all night to the sun
    I’m up all night to get some
    She’s up all night for good fun
    I’m up all night to get lucky

  7. Two references too many to kitty litter says it all Scott my Man.
    The Cattery is hallowed turf.
    Saints will never ‘do the bastards’ at Kardinia Park without some R.E.S.P.E.C.T!

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