AFL Round 20 – St Kilda v Western Bulldogs: Memories of Love and Lenny Hayes

Lenny Hayes farewell

Perhaps Love

Perhaps love is like a resting place
A shelter from the storm
It exists to give you comfort
It is there to keep you warm
And in those times of trouble
When you are most alone
The memory of love will bring you home

Perhaps love is like a window
Perhaps an open door
It invites you to come closer
It wants to show you more
And even if you lose yourself
And don`t know what to do
The memory of love will see you through

Oh, love to some is like a cloud
To some as strong as steel
For some a way of living
For some a way to feel
And some say love is holding on
And some say letting go
And some say love is everything
And some say they don`t know

Perhaps love is like the ocean
Full of conflict, full of Pain
Like a fire when it`s cold outside
Or thunder when it rains
If I should live forever
And all my dreams come true
My memories of love will be of you

 

Songwriters: DENVER, JOHN
Perhaps Love lyrics © Chrysalis One Music

 

Braham Dabschek has given a great review of the game.  My job on the site today is to give a review of the love. In the Youtube clip above, and the transcript of the song, John Denver and Placido Domingo, sing of the kind of love that was in the world and at the stadium last night.  The words, and the harmonies, say it all.

With a smidge over 30,000 to see Lenny Hayes almost finishing his 14 year career with a St.Kilda home game, the day was dedicated to the man who just wishes all the fuss would die down.  He just wants to finish the year playing with his mates and the best footballer he has played with, Nick Riewoldt. He chose Nick because he has been there for every game in Nick’s career (or at least watched in the sidelines during his injuries.)

In the last few weeks, the “I love Lenny” t-shirts and hats abounded, the trend started when Nick and team mates wore theirs when Lenny announced his retirement.  All Saints fans across the universe knew this day would come, it still seems to have come way too quickly.  At the farewell function at the Victory Room last night, fans still yelled out, “one more year, Lenny”.

It is not to be.  In a game that dangled hope for moments of the day, Lenny played his last home game in front of an adoring crowd of both Doggies and Saints supporters.  A victory on the field would have been sweet, but the Western Bulldogs are about 18 months ahead of the Saints in development and their speed and cleverness through the midfield set them up for a ripping win.  My sister Denise and fellow Doggies were happy in victory, and the Western Bulldogs lined the St Kilda entrance in a guard of honour for Lenny.  Lenny had come over in front of the members section in Aisles 36-7 and clapped us.  And then clapped the cheer squad and more fans before leading his team back into the rooms, through the love.  Western Bulldogs and St Kilda know about the love.  It’s what has sustained both teams through their mostly dry years.  It’s the kind of love we’d show Bob Murphy or Gia when they retire.  Hopefully, not for a while yet for them either.

Throughout the afternoon, the St Kilda Football Club had advertised the Victory Room after game Lenny-fest.  Dave Downer had left the game at half time and had a big table up front for all his mates.

The game gave us memorable Lenny moments – a goal kicked from a free, a few great tackles, a competitive beast enjoying his fourth last game in the red, black and white.  He played as he always had, though slower with his years, he was as fearsome as ever.  Whenever he came near the ball, the crowd would chant ‘Lenny’.  In the moments of hope that crept in, “can we steal this” kind of hope, the energy in the crowd swelled and the players felt it too.  It wasn’t our game to win, it wasn’t ours at any point.  But the house was the house of Lenny for one more game, with adoring fans taking in the love of an otherwise bleak football 2014 year and hope for another Lenny or Rooey in the 2014 draft.

At the end of the game, I said farewell to my mates, and headed towards the Victory Room, all the way around the other side of the ground.  I never quite realised how big this room was, they had opened it up to include what felt like thousands who had stayed behind.  Some were lucky enough to reach the bar, and I found David by dumb luck.  He had seats, and I took one and was able to relax while waiting the patient hour for the boys to recover, shower and meet the fans there.  I was diverted by a young 4 ½ year old next to me, a first gamer, who happens to be the grandson of Brian Gleeson.  So in just chatting to one of Dave’s friends, I found a man whose father Matt Zurbo (another Almanacker) had interviewed and I am typing up.  Talk about funny stories.  How likely is that?  I was a true Nanna, sharing some sugarless chocky to keep the young one settled, and another fan arranged for his new St Kilda guernsey to be signed by a number of players.  We were amongst family.  Amongst loved ones.  Amongst those who were there for the very same reason, to say a loving farewell to someone who will forever be remembered as a St Kilda great.  A legend.  A wonderful bloke.  A terrific player.  A kind man.  A tough footy beast.

The crowd stood, patiently, lovingly and waited. A few Saints boys’ jumpers were auctioned, but otherwise the only activity other than general chatting was the film of Lenny, showing his career highlights, running over and over, as if to help us remember what will always be unforgettable.

As players dribbled in, they were signing jumpers and memorabilia for the fans.  And then Nick Riewoldt was interviewed by a 3AW commentator and Saints fan, and, of course, it was talk about the team, and Lenny.  They had a captive audience.  Listening to our leader, waiting for our spiritual leader.  You can feel Nick’s love of Lenny, in both phrase and presence.  It was just there, like the thousands in the room.  Palpable.

And then Lenny came onto stage to roars from the masses.  Loving roars.  Appreciative roars.  Tearful roars.  Like at the end of the game, tears welled up for me, standing there, in amazement, at the feelings stirred up by one individual’s effort in a collective team endeavour. We stood and listened to Lenny being Lenny, thanking us all, thanking the Club, asking us to support St Kilda into the future, be there for all the new young men who may come in times ahead, to love them as we did him. Talking about Dunstan and the number 7, all to be decided when his playing days finish in 3 weeks. Saying how much he loved and appreciated the Club, the fans, and the people in the room just reflected back all that love.  They talked about the footy skills of his 9 month old baby boy, you could see Saints dreaming of a father-son in the future.  Lenny said that the soft ball mostly bumped off the baby’s head, no signs yet of incredible early, precocious, footy skill development.

And then it was done.  Players and Lenny stayed to sign autographs and I headed home alone, finding myself talking to other Sainters as I walked, others who had stayed to say goodbye.  A mother and daughter who were also catching the same train back to Flinders, Ralph who lived in Gardenvale and has been a Sainter for 60 years.  Telling stories.  Admiring. Thinking and dreaming about future St Kilda success.  Marvelling at the man who is Lenny Hayes as we happily drifted back to our regular lives.  Filled with love.  For our team, Club and this particular, wonderful man.

And my heart is filled with Memories of Love.  Keep singing.  Go Saints.

 

Yvette Wroby

Monday 11th August 2014

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. cowshedend says

    Great piece Yvette.
    In an era where press conferences are called for players with, let’s just say ‘modest’ careers, Lenny Hayes ( a champion by any definition) shuns the spotlight , it is this as much as his sublime skills which endears him to fans from other clubs.
    Often the way someone leaves the game is etched in your memory as much as their playing career. James Hird’s (Farnhamesque) farewell tour which went on longer than Blue Hills, and the contrast of Fraser Gehrig, who stopped at the fence on his way off the ground and handed his boots to a kid in the crowd, no announcement no fanfare.
    In 14 years time i hope to have a similar moment to you, as i clap (3 time Premiership and 4 time Brownlow winner, 1 club player) Marcus Bontempelli from the ground.

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