Are Saints fans still happy?

I’ve been thinking about Scott Rankin of late.

Scott penned this classic piece for the site in May after the Saints had posted wins over Carlton and Sydney with some electrifying football.

He described the win over Sydney as “exquisite chaos”. “It was EXHILIRATING football. We played with flair, speed, guile and fervour.”

You would have read it. It was one of the most read pieces in the history of the site.
It was tweeted and retweeted by Saints fans who all agreed. Lyon’s suffocating press removed the fun from football. Scott Watters and his wont to attack makes footy fun.

I’ve been thinking about Scott and those fans of late when it became apparent the Saints would miss the finals.

The Saints are good for football. They played great football under Lyon. Matches against my Cats were keenly anticipated. The 2009 Grand Final was brutal; a superb game. The Saints were the fourth-highest scoring team that year.

Watters is on record as saying they don’t have the balance right. Buckley is having the same problem at the Pies – tweaking a game plan affects the balance. He wanted his team to be less defensive too, and they are easier to score against as a result.

Watters may take his invigorated side all the way to a Grand Final in the next three years and his legion of fans would then have the best of both worlds – if that free-wheeling style can get them there.

Right now, I wonder if Scott and his fellow fans prefer a Saints side exhilarating to watch, but one that falls short more often than wins.

Do they prefer exciting mid-season shoot-outs at the expense of any September action?

I’ll be thinking this when they come up against the Cats on Friday night.

About Stephen Cooke

Cumbersome ruckman of the garden variety


  1. John Harms says

    I’m with Scott Rankin. But that is because I saw Round 1 2011. (and others)

  2. St.Kilda is one of the lesser skilled teams in the competition – a fact too often masked by the outstanding workrate of the players.

    I thought Ross Lyon’s game plan was pure genius with the proviso that it could only be implement by 100% players who were willing to give100% effort, 100% of the time – the ethos they developed under Grant Thomas. The plan itself demanded a level of fitness never before seen in AFL.Obviously the saints 2009 pre-season was dedicated to reaching this level of fitness. For this reason, the Saints had everyone’s measure – except for the most skilful team in the competition.

    In 2010 one of the many teams more skilled than the Saints- Collingwood – took the fitness requirement on board and took the Ross Lyon game plan to another level – defection of Luke Ball and Max Hudgton would have helped them immeasurably.

    Alas for the Saints, they hung in there but another opportunity went begging.

    Until mid-2011, the Lyon game plan (with a few tweaks) was still the norm. But almost everyone was fit enough to implement it, so it was skills that separated the good sides from the average ones. Whilst everyone else was buildiing up fitness, St.Kilda forgot to build up skills.

    The same problem exists under Scott Watters. Watters and Lyon combined have shown, that different game plans can work but unfortunately the St.Kilda players have shown time and time again that their skills aren’t good enought to win the crunch moments in games, and hence the crunch games in a season. Which is why the Saints have lost more winnable games than Richmond this year.

    Ultimately, I’m not fussed about style, tactics or strategies. The game is great when your team wins. It’s lousy when you lose

  3. John Harms says

    Ahmed, your point re skills was certainly evident v Collingwood in the final quarter. Numerous opportunities on fast breaks but couldn’t hit the target. Especially the kick to Harry – there were about five options inside 50 as unguarded players streamed forward from the centre.

  4. Precise summation, Ahmed. Particularly your last paragraph.

  5. Neil Belford says

    Great article – and Ahmeds last para is the meat and potatoes. The Saints fans that were going nuts about how bad Ross Lyon was after winniing a few games under Scotty Waters seemed to me to be a bit of an analogue of ‘the bloke in the pub whose wife has just walked out on him’.

    They loved Ross to bits when they were making it to grand finals – as they should, and if instead of leaving for Freo, he had been run over by a tram, he would have been elevated to (dare I say it) sainthood sometime the next day.

  6. Neil, I was wondering at the height of the Saints hysteria how far the Lyon revision would go. I didn’t think fans would go so far as to say “we would have won the grand finals if Lyon wasn’t coaching”, but some did. Can you believe that? Lyon was actually holding them back.

  7. I think Ross Lyon took the Saints as far as they could go. A bounce here, a break there and they might have won one or two Grand Finals instead of none. One premiership, and we don’t have this discussion. But it’s a taxing system, and after a while it’s tough to maintain without an ultimate reward. Plus I think most coaches, particularly demanding ones, only have a shelf life of five or so years before the players tune them out. Plus the Saints’ perpetual lack of depth meant that younger players never saw much action, which they’re paying for — and trying to rectify — now.

    So bottom line, this Saints fan appreciates all Ross Lyon did, and welcomes the changes brought by Scott Watters, because one way or another, the winning equation was about to break down — if he’d stayed, either Ross Lyon loses the full commitment, or the lack of youth — or depth, or skills — takes its toll. About the same result, maybe worse. So we’re not trading anything for anything. We are getting a more exciting brand of football for our 12-10 record, and more commitment to developing younger players. And then we’ll see.

  8. Saints fans seem to be a thoughtful, considered bunch. I quite like them.

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