AFL Round 8 – St Kilda v Carlton: Surrounded by the Blues and Funny Stories

As usual, it was the people I was surrounded with rather than the game itself that gave me any great amusement this week. Monday night’s game is an effort and the crowd of 26,708 showed that Monday night football isn’t popular with the fans. Very few kids because it’s a school day, fewer regulars because it’s a work day and once again, I was struggling to off-load my extra ticket.
Tonight my Auntie Betty was going to be our added extra along with Vince, my mate who owns the Bambra Deli not far from me. Vince and I always talk footy when I go shopping to get my delicatessen goodies and over the years we have watched both our teams dribble down in form and interest. So a St.Kilda vs Carlton game gave us the opportunity to be outside the shop and have some company. Auntie Betty ended up being sick, so once again I had a spare and couldn’t find an extra taker. I even have two Carlton supporting kids who were nowhere to be seen.
(Note to Almanackers – from here on in, I usually have one spare membership seat ticket for a Saints game. I am happy to share with any like- minded souls who just want to go and have a pleasant afternoon/evening watching the Saints and whoever their opposition is. If you are interested, please let me know via the site and we’ll organise a meet-up. The cost: being part of my Almanac article.)
Vince picked me up and we headed to my usual Malvern transport connection, parked on what proved to be a busier night and headed in. Now “doing an Yvette” has become a proper Almanac phrase, which had me quite chuffed really, so off course, I did an Yvette and began chatting to the people sitting with us on the train.
We were meeting an older guy Chris, his wife and their grandson. Chris was wearing his Saints gear, while his wife Blues gear and grandson Jon wearing a Tigers jacket with a Blues sleeveless player’s jumper underneath. He made sure I could see it, opening his jumper to let me know where his heart really rested. It will be him who looks up the Almanac website for his grandparents this week. So I had to ask about the mixed marriage, and the story got interesting. Chris told us he’d never barracked for a winning team. I commented that we always had ’66, my go to positive take on being a Sainter, but Chris’s story was the most unusual I had come across.
There was no cheer to be taken in the Saints on Premiership in 1966. It was exactly the opposite. He grew up in New South Wales, a Bathurst boy. When his family eventually shifted to Clifton Hill, a guy dating his sister took them both to a Pies game, and so we became a Pies supporter and he remained a Pies supporter until the 80’s. In 1966, he was a Pies supporter and so that memorable date for me is a misery for him. So he missed the Saints one and only. In his time supporting the Pies the team had no Premiership success. Then he moved to Moorabbin and some mates who he played squash with took him to watch the Saints, and there he has unhappily remained. Even though his wife was a Blues supporter, and his kids are Carlton, he has remained a Sainter through the terrible 80’s and 90’s and 00’s and through the ‘10’s and seems intent in staying that way. Here an adult male changed teams and stuck by those changes for no good reason that he could tell me. He just was now a Sainter.
Vince and I were fascinated by the story. I have always been a Sainter. Vince had started off a Richmond supporter and remembers at the age of 6 or so going to a Richmond vs Carlton matched and being impressed by the big bodies Peter Bosustow and Mark McClure and with Carlton winning from behind that day, they received the points and a new young supporter. So he has stuck by Carlton for most of his life, his Mum was a Blue girl and his Dad a Royboy. Even with all the misery that can encumber such supporters, it would never occur to me to swap. It is what it is. It’s like using a pokie machine (I hate them and never use them) but I imagine that you would feel pretty crap putting all your coins in and then moving away, and THEN the machine gives out. Would that be what it’s like to change teams?
Vince told me as we walked into the ground that he’d probably see heaps of Bambra Deli customers here tonight. He’d gone to a Collingwood vs Carlton match with another customer and they almost got into a blue with other customers who were pretty wild Collingwood supporters. He’d felt pretty uncomfortable at all the aggression around, between two sets of people he would normally get on fine with at the shop.
Vince said a lot of his customers were Saints supporters or Blue’s supporters and I laughed but I laughed too soon. The moment we hit my section he was saying g’day to one person and his son, and there were more throughout the night. Half a dozen contacts. Unbelievable. It was like going somewhere with the belle of the ball. He’s a popular and well known man, our Vince. A Blue Boy in the midst of hard core Saints, and he laughed throughout the night as his team shone and ours….didn’t.
The theme of the evening was laughter, some of the play, from both teams, remained a laughing point, but the effort if not skill was there, and the Carlton boys showed more of it than our St.Kilda boys. We kicked poorly so any possible opportunities were lost. We were always behind, and Vince had a great night out listening to the ever increasing cranky Saints around him become more and more aggressive as the night wore on. He was in the centre of Saints grumpiness, one happy soul amongst all the angst. At least my mate had a good night out, even if our night was disappointing.
The old boys and some of the new showed some spirit for the Saints, Riewoldt getting four and our talented young players Billings (2), Dunstan and Acres all goaling which was great to watch. The spark of Carlton was Yarran with 4. They beat us by 6 goals, a score that could have been bigger had they kicked straight too. The other weird thing was that 774 had Brendon Goddard as special commentator and I found it so difficult to listen to Brendon’s voice, a man watching his old team fading into the night. The radio and Brendon just made the commentary, as the game, harder to watch and I turned off my radio for the last quarter.
The hardest thing about Monday night footy is that there are very few footy special trains, and we waited over 30 minutes, standing with another one of Vince’s Bambra Deli mates, Phil, who we chatted with at the ground and all the way back to Malvern. Phil sits a few rows in front of me and now I have yet another face at the footy to say hello to in the future. There are no replays to be watched after this day, and all my next day’s energy went into painting at my usual class, and all the love is going into painting while I await to see what next week’s footy and life brings.

Yvette Wroby
14th May 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.

Leave a Comment