AFL Round 22 – St.Kilda v Gold Coast: The end of the end is only the beginning for the Saints.

For the Saints, this match against the Suns was meant to be another condemning death knell; just one more cruel reminder of the premiership window that they missed, just one more reminder that it could hardly be further than where they were at now. The quickly improving Suns, zipping and shining and flashing, would completely outplay the rusted dinosaurs who used to be contenders. To be honest, I expected this too. Or, at least, I couldn’t be bothered giving much more deep thought to it with my Tigers booked to play finals and an ugly, messy season reaching its ugliest, messiest stage: James Hird going down with his sinking ship as all of its rats swam for safety. For the Suns, this match ended up being a new and unpleasant experience: a win that they were expected to easily take and didn’t, exposing flaws in their development. Speaking from the endless fathoms of the Wallace era, I can honestly say that it will do them good.
I arose on Sunday morning with a pretty full day planned. 8.10: Catch train in to Southern Cross. 9.30: Attend VCE French Exam Preparation Lecture. 12.30: Catch tram to La Trobe University to attend Open Day. 2.30: Attend Journalism lecture. 3.30: Attend Media & Communications Lecture. 4.30: Catch train home from Macleod. Such is Year 12: thirteen years of school boils down to two years of VCE, which boils down to six exams.
After the French lecture, I ambled around Collins Street with Connor and Kat, a couple of mates from my French class, as we poked our noses in Dymocks and Treats From Home, an English trinkets store which Connor, who hails from the Mother Country, enthusiastically explored for Fox Mints and other ridiculously sweet things. Kat and I then track down the 86 Tram which clanks and trundles its way into Bundoora where we meet Mikey, who has been waiting for us at La Trobe for an hour.
“What kept you?”
“The lecture went late.”
Mikey smirks with his smug Mafioso smile. There’s nothing I can say and there’s nothing he has to say; he’s doing VCE Chinese, which not only looks far better on a résumé than French does but has NO end of year exam.
By the time Mikey and I had left (Kat had gotten a lift with her Dad), we had established that La Trobe warranted serious consideration for our enrolment. Mikey is taking a gap year through Europe next year for six months and will consequentially be deferring his studies until 2015, but we both want to study journalism. On the way home, I kept one eye on the starting Saints v Suns match and the other on the Richmond v Giants game, in which the latter became the first team since death throes Fitzroy to lose by more than 100 points to the Tigers.
The Saints, supposedly easy to beat when faced by an opposition who moves the ball as quickly as the Suns, dominated this game after quarter time. Leigh Montagna looked as quick as he ever had, while Nick Riewoldt hauled down marks after huffing, busting runs and sank three goals, looking like the world-beating warrior that he once was, a warrior that he may never truly be again.
However, for all the halcyon days’ brilliance of Montagna and Riewoldt, this match came to be about Stephen Milne. Milne, who is the greatest forward pocket of the last decade, officially announced his retirement after the Saints’ victory over the Suns, in which he reminded all watching of his mercurial skill and footy smarts.
Milne has played the most hateful, thankless role in footy for thirteen years: the small forward. And he’s been seriously good at it. When he is at his absolute best, his balance, speed and timing as he sweeps across the front of jostling packs to steal an open ball and sling through goals from quick snaps makes him look as if he has an extra second to work with. He is hated and loved in equal measure, and his off-field actions may result in his skill being forgotten in future years. But this afternoon Milne kicked four. His last was almost slammed into the Etihad roof thanks to a brilliant Tom Curren shepherd.
Furthermore, Justin Koschitzke announced his retirement. I have held no admiration for Kosi throughout his career – he was as raw and dopey in his tenth season as he was as a debutant and never fulfilled his potential. Nonetheless, I felt sympathy for him, and his exit from St Kilda alongside Milne marks the beginning of a rebuild for St Kilda. They can stop worrying about keeping their fingertips in past glories and begin to look forward.
For the Suns, the eight goal loss in a dead rubber match means more than it should. Ablett was well held by Clint Jones and their supply into the forward fifty dried up. Ablett, as magnificent as he is, is pushing thirty and the club needs to keep developing players like Hall, Talia and Dixon in order to ensure that they continue to improve on the God-forbidden day that he retires. On the other hand, the Suns can mark 2013 as the season in which they officially arrived as a hard-to-beat team. Ablett will run away with his second Brownlow, Jaeger O’Meara with the Rising Star Medal and all those pieces are coming together.
The match ends just after I step off the train to the bleak, cloudy afternoon that all winter Sundays become. The St Kilda-Coodabeen-Golden-Era ended and the rain started to fall.


St Kilda          3.2      9.5      12.9   17.14.116
Gold Coast    3.3      6.5      9.6      10.10.70
Best – (StK) Riewoldt, Milne, Montagna, Dempster, Dal Santo, Jones.
– (GC) Bennell, O’Meara, Stanley, Prestia.
Goals – (StK) Milne (4), Riewoldt (4), Montagna (3), Ledger, Schneider, Steven,
Hickey, Geary, Dal Santo.
– (GC) Sumner (3), O’Meara (2), Dixon (2), Thompson, Hall, Prestia.

BROWNLOW VOTES 3-N. Riewoldt (StK) 2-S. Milne (StK) 1-L. Montagna (StK)

About Callum O'Connor

Here's to feelin' good all the time.


  1. Yvette Wroby says

    Dear Callum, great coverage of the match, and it was a surprise win for us Sainters. Your journalism career will be great, you write a good yarn. Good luck with your exams. LIfe after Year 12 is so different. Go Tigers. Go Saints


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