AFLM Round 15 – Fremantle v St Kilda: Eyes shut tight, and then not


Sunday 2nd July 2017

2.40pm Domain Stadium


Yvette Wroby


My question of the day is how to watch a game of footy when you spend a lot of time wanting to shut your eyes when your talented forwards are preparing to goal from directly in front. Gone are the days of certainty, if there ever were any. The players can do those amazing twisted body ones from impossible angles on the run. Got a few of them. But straight in front can see the ball going everywhere but straight. I imagine I developed a few new worry lines and wrinkles around the eyes as a potential goal bought all sorts of conflicted feelings – watch? – turn away? – half-look?


In my own lounge room, sharing the game via text with others, and knowing many other Saints (and every other team) were probably having the same conniptions. The commentators talk of nothing else either. If we could kick straight, they’d have to find something else to discuss.


Freo missed their first two as well as well as Sam Gilbert. My notes read… ‘can we be accurate? No.’ The two other conversations I hate listening to are about Paddy McCartin and Nick Riewoldt. They talk of an early injury to Riewoldt. He plays the whole game.  Paddy is recovering and is in good hands. Saints have time, we do not have to listen to the cacophony of noise questioning every decision about Paddy. Back off people. Mumma Bear Yvette is getting pissed.


Fremantle are pressuring well and Hayden Ballantyne kicks truly. St Kilda get the ball forward and Jack Billings misses his first for the evening after a nice mark. It is already frustrating. We are wasting good marks and passes.


Jack Carlisle and Koby Stevens are playing well, but this game is turnover central. Jade Gresham warms our heart with a good goal, and scores are level. Jack Newnes, usually pretty accurate, misses. Lackie Neale doesn’t. The famous phrase “Run Forrest, run”, comes to mind as Gresham takes off again. It is touched on the line. Unlucky Aaron Sandilands is out with a hamstring injury and you feel for the big man. Michael Walters becomes the man to watch this game as he kicks a scrubber from 50 and it goes through.  Moments later, he gets a free and he kicks perfectly. That’s how you do it boys.


Fremantle are clearing the ball better than the Saints but are untidy and error ridden, thankfully. Tim Membrey takes a three-touch mark but it goes nowhere near the goals and is rushed for a behind. Freo are fast, they are running the ball back to their forward line – I think – can we defend or will they stuff it up? Stuff up. Whew. Walter misses from another free and we are relieved they are only 16 points ahead at first break. I need a cuppa.


Jack Lonie keeps the singles going when he misses one from a Riewoldt ‘gimme’. Gresham goals from a free before Cam McCarthy misses everything. Carlisle start a melee when he whacks Ballantyne. A free to Ballantyne gets reversed as Freo get into trouble. There is spite and angst. Meanwhile, Walters is playing terrific football before a team mate misses.


Pressure. Effort. Fight. Saints move forward the Carlisle runs through, collects ball and goals. We are pushing to attack but keep missing (2) before Ballantyne, with the help of Walters, goals. Turnover city continues before Gresham and then Brennon Cox gets his first AFL goal. There is much hugging. Jack Billings snaps truly from a turnover before Cox gets his second. When Billings gets a free, he hands it off to Carlisle who goals again. Cox misses another before half time. Both teams kicking is keeping the other side in this game.


Fremantle lead by 3 points at half time, and we all take a breath.


Perhaps I need to rethink my frustration about points. At least it means we are forward and pushing to score. A point is a missed opportunity but it is still an attack. Still, I find myself half covering my eyes as they line up. Hayden Crozier probably doesn’t feel this way when he misses. Walters gets another, shoring up their lead. Dunstan and Riewoldt continue with the miss-fest. It’s frustrating, and to the players too. You can lip read a lot of swearing on the field post minor score.


While bodies are crashing and crunching in Perth, I am fed, warm and comfortable. Sinclair misses from a set shot. Stevens intercepts and Gilbert misses. Josh Bruce, who’s been everywhere on the ground including ruck and defence takes a perfect mark. Riewoldt is being bashed up again. I cover my eyes but peak through and it’s a perfect Bruce goal. It is answered almost immediately by star Docker Walters. I watch as Fyfe gets through two tacklers. No one can get through Jack Steele’s tackles though. And then he kicks a perfect goal. What a bruising game, there will be sore bodies tonight.


And then Gilbert is knocked out and stretchered off, neck in brace but thankfully comes back onto the bench to watch the rest of the game. And he didn’t even have the ball when he was thrown down by McCartney. Brutal.


Bradley Hill goals. Freo have picked up. Stevens a minor before Steele runs down and defends are certain goal. Freo are 5 points ahead at the final break and it’s anybody’s game.


Uncle Bob, Aunty Betty and Uncle Maurice are watching in a Moorabbin pub.  Gary is home glued to the TV. Rina is listening on the radio. We all text. Newnes for some odd reason handballs from a free instead of attempting a goal. Carlisle proceeds to miss. Michael Johnston has been good for Freo, as had Nat Fyfe. Steele and Stevens are tackle central. The first ten minutes of the last quarter pass by goalless, both Freo and Saints are not keeping clean possessions.


Membrey finally has the ball from a great mark and kicks truly. My eyes had been half shut. Riewoldt misses another shot that could settle us in. Freo themselves are steadying, but Ballantyne misses. Their stars are stepping up – David Mundy doesn’t quite reach the goal line. There is a struggle. The fighting is being done by inches gained. McCarthy and Fyfe almost knock each other out. Dylan Roberton defends well.


Even with me muttering ‘chewy on your boots’, Walters kicks perfectly and they are ahead by 4 points. Time is trickling down. These are the moments that count and who can make the most of them?


There is a terrific forward push by the Saints that sees a mark by Membrey which is knocked out of his hands. In the ensuing moments, Riewoldt beckons for the ball to be thrown back to him but he is being a trickster and it had been called by the umpire to go to Membrey. He is given a 50-metre free which causes debate all through the week. (Was Riewoldt a clever long-time player or a mean trickster or a bit of both). Saints are ahead, and Walter drags one back for his team. He has been magnificent this afternoon. He has carried the Dockers throughout this game. With 3 ½ minutes to player, the ball ping-pongs. Once it is in our forward, a good pass to Bruce sees him snap and Saints are now just ahead. With 20 seconds on the clock, we get it forward to Gresham who runs like Forrest again and passes to the left to an equally rampaging Bruce who runs into an empty goal square and my hands are nowhere near my face but up in the air as the siren blows and we have won. Won a close game, from behind, on the road, with a tiny margin and a ton of pride.


My hands clap as the boys sing. We all needed this. Saints are in the eight.


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.


  1. The win we had to have, Now onto the Tigers.

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