AFL Season Review – Sainters: What’s the frequency, Lenny?

What’s the frequency, Lenny?

Last week I went for a lovely walk along the beach at Shoreham, down on the Mornington Peninsula. Just up to Point Leo and back. It wasn’t easy and not just because of the cold. Mischievous myth-makers who pretend exclusivity doesn’t exist in Australia’s ‘classless society’ should spend a few hours trying to find the exclusive Shoreham sand. Whereas the rest of the country happily puts up signs that clearly communicate the location of the beach, making all visitors welcome, Shoreham differs. Hidden beneath overhanging vines, the two signs prefer to mumble under great duress, like an abominable IPA-suckled Young Liberal retreating beneath an emo fringe whinging about how political correctness forces him to accept horrible outsiders: cough cough harrumph … beach … cough hmmm … over there … mumble mumble … somewhere.

Regardless, I fought on and overcame the barriers that the elite insist on erecting wherever they go. My reward was a glorious beach and, despite being able to see my breath but not my shadow, the sort of light that Turner would have emigrated for. I urge the working classes of the world to unite and make Shoreham their very own Mecca, compulsory to visit at least once a month. Preferably with a murder of snotty nosed brats in tow – as many as the famous fecundity of their class allows – clutching those annoying portable DVD players they rudely insist on using on planes. (Yes, Virginia, there is a headphones socket.)

It soon turned into a classic southern Spring day, that odd mixture of glorious warm sunshine and torrential freezing ‘showers’. The type of day that forces your thoughts to forever shift between loving life and counting down the seconds before you’re mercifully shifted from this mortal coil and all its trials and tribulations. Naturally, my Irish genes tend towards the latter – and I’m ok with that.

As I turned around in front of the lifesaving club at Point Leo – sure, it would have been easier to just park there and go for the same walk but class war demands sacrifices of all of us – the Turneresque light was magically enhanced by the glorious arc of a late afternoon rainbow. Picture the biggest, boldest most complete rainbow you’ve ever seen. Now double it. Write an album called In Rainbows. Add a hundred. And double it again.

Not even close.

The rainbow in the bible, as we know, signifies Yahweh’s promise never again to chuck a petulant strop and flood the earth. In godless Victoria, on the other hand, the rainbow signifies that it’s just gonna keep pissing down for the foreseeable future, or at least until you retreat safely inside and the warm sun comes out again. All of which got me thinking about St Kilda’s season.

I remembered a rainbow sometime back in the mists of time, a great early win against the Bombers in … well, I can’t be sure what round really. But a win that seemed to promise our flood of defeats would never again be repeated. Instead, Yahweh chucked another petulant strop and rent us asunder, our young side’s limbs torn up and discarded all over the nation’s grounds, every other team’s supporters either doubled up in laughter or too embarrassed and polite to know where to look. It started pissing down defeats and never stopped. In the uncountable noun stakes it was ‘a St Kilda of losses’. As my mate says, ‘Stevie save us’ (Wonder, not Milne). There seems very little point in being a Saint if this is the treatment we get.

For St Kilda, it was as if the story of 2014 was being carefully crafted by Cormac McCarthy in an extremely misanthropic mood, even by his grumpy standards. (‘Essendon 2014’ being a Will Self production.) Eleven apocalyptic losses in a row, five of the buggers by more than 70 points, one even going into triple figures, a proper cricket score but during the cold time of the year. Redemption didn’t arrive until that wonderful Saturday night down at the Docklands, Round 18, when Coach Lyon and Zac Dawson turned the clock back and lead the Sainters to a stirring victory, one more for auld time’s syne.

(And yes, Sunday Age sports ed, we did notice you hit the print button with the number 12 in the losses column before that match had been played. Ruh-roh! Maybe you should employ Mike Carlton as a subbie.)

That glimmer of light on an otherwise dark, dark horizon, will it signify anything? My mate doesn’t think so. He’s pretty much abandoned going to matches after having his heart (and wallet) broken by those three grand finals, reckons he can smell losses when he goes near a ground, just like one of those dogs than can smell cancer. He says we’ve all joined Saint Lenny in coming full circle, from rock bottom to (so close as to be impossible to comprehend) top and all the way back down again. With the losses once again pissing down at the end of the season he needs a breather before investing in the team again.

But he will, probably just in time for the return to Junction Oval. What he’s wondering is: Will that circle be unbroken? Will St Kilda ever make it to Shoreham beach?

Those young kids we saw this year (42 players all up!) need to take a leaf out of Lenny’s book and, just like he so famously did when he got smashed in his first match, jump straight back up and keep going. They must borrow, to quote from Yvette Wroby on these pages, Lenny’s ‘work and life ethic, his effort, his love of the game and his love of St Kilda’.

If they do that then, yep, the Sainters will give it a good shot. And if we don’t get to the (almost) top again, the least we hope is that they play with the sort of joy you expect to get from the simple pleasure of kicking a footy around with your mates. The odd cricket score notwithstanding.

Over to you, Sainters.


  1. Thanks Patrick. Referencing REM’s Monster album is a winner for me. I saw them and the underrated Grant Lee Buffalo on the accompanying tour in 1994.

    Radiohead’s In Rainbows goes very nicely too.

    If the Saints can match this form, they’ll be fine.

  2. Patrick O'Brien says

    Thanks Mickey

    Maybe 2014 was more Around the Sun than Cormac McCarthy. Or maybe I should never be entrusted with metaphors ever again.

    Any yes, Grant Lee Buffalo were awesome.

  3. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    A few different Lennys get a mention in “It’s The End Of The World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)” – an oblique reference to “The Road”?

  4. Don’t forget the three grand finals were born out of a pretty dreadful stretch more than a decade ago. Can lightning strike twice? Look where the Power were a couple years ago. The Saints’ rebuild may not be as quick, but you gotta believe.

  5. George LILLEY says

    Let’s bring back our old theme song – “Though it’s not yet in the bag we’ve got hopes for winning the flag down by the seaside down by the sea.”

  6. Patrick O'Brien says

    I have since been reliably informed that there are in fact good and decent people at least partly inhabiting Shoreham Beach. I am happy to publicly correct the record.

  7. Yvette wrony says

    Hi Patrick, I have come to this article late… Busy painting yet another portrait of lenny and grand final game. Shoreham and future success sound wonderful. We can only dream but don’t we love dreaming. And then our club produces men like Harvey and rooey and lenny and I feel satisfied that I have been there to enjoy those champs. Thankyou for enjoying my lenny words. I am reading his autobiography and it’s interesting watching his story through his eyes . Be well yvette

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