AFLW – Pre-season: A rekindled passion for St Kilda


For a Saints fan, it’s been a rough ten-twenty-fifty plus years. We have been faithful and loving and supportive over huge periods of time with little on-field silverware but many champions who made our hearts sing.  We were the home of Plugger and Stuey Loewe, Spud Frawley and Nick Riewoldt and Lenny and Trevor Barker, Gilbert McAdam and Nicky Winmar, Doc Baldock, Barry Breen, Big Carl Ditterich and Cowboy Neale, to mention just a few.


Last year’s AFL season was the dourest in my recent memory.  It was depressing to say the least and culminated in a coaching change that has brought new spirit and cheerfulness both among the players and supporters alike.


In the background to this Saints men’s struggle, there’s been a rekindling of passion for me via the Southern Saints VFL team and now the inaugural AFLW St Kilda women’s team who have projected love, brightness, freshness and hope back on the hallowed turf of Moorabbin – and into my soul.


I have watched down at Frankston and at the Trevor Barker Oval in Sandringham as coach Peta Searle has developed a VFL women’s team who made it to the finals in their second year, with many players beginning their footy journey as a Southern Saint.  The dual Best and Fairest in the first year were both newbies to footy – they are now part of the AFLW  St Kilda leadership team.



Fan-girl Yvette and Darcy Guttridge



I have VFLW and AFLW Saints memberships, and for the first time, became a sponsor to AFLW Saint Darcy Guttridge, (formally drafted to Collingwood in 2017 where she suffered a shoulder injury preseason which set her back and meant she only played three games for Collingwood in 2019. She was taken by the Saints and now has crazy me as a fan-girl and sponsor).


On Tuesday of last week, the few sponsors that have actually taken up supporting the women’s team got to have a photo with them, and I was so the delighted child-self saying hello and introducing myself to Darcy, and saying hello to Tilly Lucas-Rodd (of St Kilda Sharks before being drafted to Carlton for the first three years) that I forgot to say hello to coach Peta Searle sitting right beside me!


The photos were at Moorabbin.  In the new RSEA Park basketball hall that is huge.  Indoor training is held here in storms or 40-degree days.  The women were excited and bubbly and clapped each sponsor who came forward, a mother and her two daughters, several blokes, and several women of my vintage (and probably a little younger).  There were team shots first with all the incredible people involved with the new team.  Then each of the player sponsors or groups of sponsors.


The photographer was fantastic, after all the formal shots there were many funny and inspired group ones, with the women/girls playing paper scissors rocks, with them turning so their numbers was visible (Darcy is number 5) and then grouping along the floor just having fun.  I was filled with joy watching them, relishing their pleasure and excitement, delighting in seeing them take centre stage at a place where I have only known men’s footy.


We were standing on hallowed ground.  My dad’s ashes are partly scattered in the middle of Moorabbin, with permission of the CEO of the time, when the place was deserted and heading to the gulag of Seaford. This is where my footy journey began in 1967.  This is where I witnessed my first games up along boundary on the wing. This is where my father, mother, brother, uncle, cousin and friend and I watched footy. This is where an ancient meaningful buildings were torn down and a Saints kingdom built to take its place.  It has AFLW and VFL women’s facilities. It has a warm welcoming atmosphere, and it feels like I’ve come home.


To see the women gather here, first as a VFL side on their first-ever practice night, which I came to witness, to seeing some of those women now wear the official jumpers of the St Kilda Football Club, well, it has left me wanting to write again.  Something that hasn’t happened for the last season and a half.  I had just dried all up.  I had nothing left to say.  I had nothing good to say.


Until this week.


On Friday night, the jumper presentation was held at the Royal Melbourne Yacht Squadron overlooking St Kilda beach.  It was meant to be on the roof, but the Club and venue hurriedly prepared the large reception area on the first floor rather than be melted or blown away by the storm that was predicted in the evening.


As a player sponsor, I had two invites to the event, and invited one of my new Pokémon buddies, 30-year-old Kiyoshi to join me.  From playing this game by myself around Caulfield Park, and then meeting others young and old, I started a messenger group of nearly 250 people.  Within this larger group, I created an inner circle of Bestest Buddies. And Kiyoshi is one of those.  A Saints man as well as a Poke-buddy. We have a lot of fun together, playing the game, walking, driving, having events or dinners together, and meeting people, a bit like footy mates, who gather and enjoy time together.


Kiyoshi and I lived up this night.  Walking into a crowded room, grabbing drinks, and then finding Darcy who ended up being a pure delight. Just 20, she has an older soul, and between the three of us we talked for almost an hour about everything. It turns out she is great mates with Shark come Pies player (and the one I sponsored at the Sharks in 2016) Brittany Bonnici. I got to meet Darcy’s family, her two older sisters, her uncle and aunty and her mum. Traralgon people.  Good people.  Her mother is the one who confirmed her old soul to me. I even had one of those photo booth photos with Darcy, (KY being shyer he disappeared before being roped in) and have the four shots with different hats and laughs with this lovely young person.





I had a photo with her against the decorated walls, and one later after the speeches and the jumper presentations.  We listened to homilies and watched family members hand their beloved girls their St Kilda jumper.  We cheered and sang THE song. In a room full of passionate players, coaches, staff, families, friends and sponsors, there was laughter and pleasure. Pride and joy. Excitement. Passion.



Peta Searle charming the crowd


Listening to our coach



Footy for Premiership points was being played at Moorabbin once again. By these pioneering women.  Footy was being played in our heartland. Our spiritual home.


Before the night was out, hanging out with Kiyoshi on the now cooler balcony, chatting away, he told me how flat he’d felt for 10 years since the lost Grand Finals.  Since the hard times after the good winning years. He told me he hadn’t felt this excited since then.


And he was going to ring the Club on Monday and sign up for AFLW membership.


And come with me to games.


He’d fallen in love with the game again.  With the Club and with the women.  With what the footy club can mean.


And my love for the game, and my people, is rekindled too.  Carn the Saints. Let the season begin.


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. I admire your dedication Yvette. Well done on the sponsorship!

    Hope the season brings some hope and some joy for this year.

    Looking forward to the womens season too, esp as the tigers are in there.


  2. Hi Yvette,

    It’s good to read your passions and supporting the mighty Saints.

    Like you I am excited to have Saint girls in the competition and can’t wait our first AFLW match against the Bulldogs on Sunday.

    Your generously is good for everyone. Good on you sponsoring Darcy.

    Let’s have hopes on the women’s side as well as men’s side.

    Go the mighty Saints!


  3. John Butler says

    Onya Yvette.

    See you Friday night..

    Carn the Blues! :)

  4. Luke Reynolds says

    Great stuff Yvette. Wonderful fan engagement by the Saints. All the best to former Pie, the well sponsored Darcy Guttridge, hope she goes well for St Kilda. Enjoy being back at the hallowed turf of Moorabbin!!

  5. Yvette Wroby says

    Thanks all. See you Friday John.

  6. Yvette love your passion for the Saints it’s also re the pure joy of women’s footy players playing for the love of the game and the fact it’s not a multi billion dollar business which adds to its appeal imo

  7. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Moorabbin works out well for me Yvette. Go Saints (when they aren’t playing Adelaide)

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