AFLM Round 5 – Melbourne v St Kilda: It’s time to shine

 

No-one expected this. No-one including the Saints faithful saw a 4-1 start to 2019.  We dreamed it.  We wished it. We just didn’t plan for it.

 

And Saints supporters love a surprise, especially when they are good surprises.

 

A round one win against Gold Coast Suns by one point didn’t fill us with confidence. A round two win against Essendon by 11 was great but we were keeping a lid on it. They were not teams that have shone as opposition. It was good. Round three, and we lost by 5 points in Fremantle.  It was a polished performance, and so we took the best from that and we didn’t get smashed. Ok, Saints fans, here we go.

 

Round 4, I sat with Uncle Bob, Gary and Rina and Phil, and with my drafted Hawks supporting son Yariv and his daughter, my grandchild, Sienna aged 3 at her first game of footy, draped in her Hawks scarf but sitting amid Saints members in the heart of the universe of red, white and black. The faithful. The noisy.  The believers.

 

It was a close match all through. Neck and neck. Between having Sienna on my lap and explaining live footy, to helping her eat or play games on our phones throughout the match, to pointing out the few times the players were actually on our side of the ground and she could watch the contest closely, all this and a tight game had me engaged.

 

Hawks supporters tend to stand up the back of the members section and cheer loudly to completely piss off the Saints members in front of them. That is the point to their positioning. And the Hawks have beaten the Saints convincingly over the years.

 

The one constant was the continual loss to injury of Hawks players.  Another constant was the noise from the mob behind us when the Hawks scored.

 

One after another, Hawks players limped off. Saints were strong and tough and determined. And accurate. The Hawks were ahead at half time, and at ¾ time, but we defended the hell out of them last quarter and kicked to a 5-point victory. Those Hawks standing behind us, the Saints silenced the hell out of them.

 

We sang the song. It felt great. There was an unusual feeling of buoyancy among usually grumpy Saints supporters. We floated home. We had no major injuries, and the players sang our song loudly and proudly.

 

New Saints players were making a good name for themselves. Dean Kent. Rowan Marshall. Matthew Parker. Callum Wilkie. Older (but younger Saints) stood up: Jack Lonie 3 goals, Ben Long 2, singles to Josh Bruce, Marshall, Blake Acres, Jack Newnes, Seb Ross.

 

Seb Ross was amazing, a million disposals and so good with them.  We played wonderful, tight, team footy.

 

And then there was Round 5. The trudge to MCG made more difficult with the closure of Richmond Station, but a 64 Tram from home, and a Flinders Street tram to the ‘G wasn’t as hard as expected and we were there over an hour early, playing hide and seek from the heat of the sun way up in level four of the grandest of stadiums.

 

An hour before the game we saw the whole Saints side and coaching staff come out to near the centre of the ground.  They all huddled. They were having a moment. Stuff was being said. Meaning and team-hood, collective and individuals, all coming together, and we were left to ponder what was being uttered. We just hoped it would be a good omen.

 

With Rina by my side, my footy and wonderful mate now back at matches, we were ready to see what both Melbourne and St Kilda could produce. My cousin Alfred, a Demon, was somewhere in the crowd. Other D’s friends were in the MCC second level. Saints were scattered, and the crowd looked small all game, a mere 35,558 in the end.

 

We were listening to the quirkiest call on KRock radio from Geelong.  These guys were funny. They kept calling the pocket to our left the ‘Meatloaf pocket’, and they talked of the Notre Dame was going to be rebuilt quicker than the Carlton FC (they should have held off on that one until after the Blues thumped the Dogs the next day by 50 points). Who knew? What a weird season.

 

Both teams had something to prove. Melbourne didn’t prove it. The St Kilda Football Club stood up.

 

Braydon Preuss kicked the first, but Saints Tim Membrey, Blake Acres and Dean Kent silenced the crowd convincingly. Angus Brayshaw snapped one to at least have the Demons behind by only 4 points at the first break.

 

Once again, our defending was terrific. And we kept kicking accurately. Who knew we could? Membrey again before Preuss again. Christian Petracca slotted one and I thought we were in strife. Jack Lonie snapped before Membrey got another and Jack Billings showed was he is capable of.

 

Saints 15 points ahead at half time.

 

Supporters of both sides were noisy and happy as our teams goaled. The heat had meant that Uncle Bob and Gary had moved up several times to get out of the blazing sun. At least it was beginning to set, and the coolness came with the sun’s disappearance.

 

But the Saints themselves were hot, hot, hot. They kept Melbourne to one point in the 3rd, while kicking five brilliant goals – Josh Bruce, Ben Long, Dean Kent, Kent again and Bruce for his third. Melbourne fans began streaming out. Saints fans got noisier. This was the best game ever.

 

Both sides looked truly stuffed in the last, and I think the Melbourne team would have loved to sneak off with their supporters. One of my friends texted, “Just left, too sad”.

 

Melbourne started with a bang in the last, Jake Melksham attempting to drag his team back with an early one. Matthew Parker responded. Melksham tried again. And when James Harmes hit one through, we thought there was a comeback.

 

The KRock blokes said, “if they kick this, they may hold back the large one from singing”. They didn’t hold back the large one.

 

Bruce and Billings smacked two more through and we sang from the rafters. The sound from the Saints players and supporters was utter relief, happiness, joy and was bloody noisy. The song was sung many times in the stands and spilled out onto the concourse. Saints fans floated down the stairs, onto the outer and into the warm Melbourne night, on clouds of contentment and belief. The Saints boys sang the song with emotion and passion. They were in this. And we all knew it.

 

On the tram platform, a fellow Saints traveller (and I think Footy Almanac person) recognised me. Calvin had contacted me last year.  He was a bit of a memorabilia collector, as well as an umpire for both men’s and women’s footy. He had a mind like a steel trap about sports and history and information. He’d asked me when he first contacted who my favourite ever Saints player was. I said I loved Nick Riewoldt, and Lenny Hayes was probably my favourite of this last era, but I was always going to love my first love, Carl Ditterich, who had a special place in my heart. Calvin had said, “I thought you’d say that. I have a special card of Carl and I want to make sure you get it.”

 

This twist to an end of the night was lovely and we were able to talk Saints all the way back to Swanston Street and know that we’d see each other again.

 

Rina and I floated home. A win like this has friends and relatives sending messages of congratulations.  Yoshi from Japan texted, “I’m so happy with footy”. NSW Saints fan Scot Kevin messaged me “I’m in tears. This is going to be something.” He then messaged me that “Phillip Daladikis is calling it a Passover miracle” on Twitter. I can take that too. Cousin Alfred, the Dees supporter, said “my team is just not good enough” and “no-one will part the water for us (two sad faces), so we are drowned for sure”.

 

I wish our incredible happiness wasn’t at the expense of others pain, but it is, and that’s sport and the Saints won by 40 points and a replay awaits.

 

A two-part Harry Potter play next Saturday prevents me from seeing next weeks game against Adelaide, but that replay will be waiting, and I hope my boys know I will be there in spirit.

 

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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. Hi Yvette

    Difficulty in travelling to the ‘G made you support our Saints more passionately?

    Good to hear you met Calvin again and talked about our beloved Saints with him.

    It was a great win and hope we smash Crows on Saturday while I am praying footy in Osaka (we are having a tournament).

    Thanks

    Yoshi

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