Round 14 – St Kilda v Geelong: Connections and communities

Etihad Stadium, Saturday 25th June 2016, 7.25pm

 

Uncle Bob was back from weeks away in South America, itching for a footy fix after missing three Saints wins. He’d rung me Monday, only hours after the long flight home, to organise going to a Club Information Session for the Saints on Thursday next, and to be together at Seaford to watch the Gold Coast Suns. Love his priorities. Love that he thinks of me when these things come up.

Come Saturday, Gary, Bob and I meet on Platform 3 at Caulfield Station, ready to rock and roll into our footy life. Rina would be meeting us there, with her Cats-supporting, long-time mate Phil. Apparently, Phil was a little nervous, which surprised me. At the hairdressers on Thursday, the new receptionist Haylee said she and her boyfriend, and three Saints friends, were also going. Haylee, also a Cats supporter, was nervous, too. Which was weird, because I thought the top-of-the-ladder Cats would beat us, even with more effort from our boys.

It was with open expectations that we headed to the ground. Bob stopped off at the DFO to grab something to eat, while Gary and I went to our seats. I saw Hilary sitting up the back of our section and went to say g’day (Hilary lives in the same retirement village as my late mother). Hilary introduced me to Kathryn, sitting a few rows in front. Hilary had told me previously that Kathryn brings Margaret and Peter (Peter is legally blind) and Hilary to the home games of the mighty Saints. I wanted Kathryn’s story.

Many moons back, Kathryn joined the St Kilda Social Club at Waverley and would sit up on the third level in front of the commentary boxes. She came to the footy on her own and felt safe up there. Her neighbours at the footy were Margaret and Peter, and she got to know them and their friends who sat in the row behind. They began to buy their seats together. The friends in the seats behind used to help Margaret get Peter to the footy, and often if they went Kathryn would save four seats next to her so they could remain together. They did this for each other, becoming a small community amongst the bigger Saints community.

When the Saints moved to Docklands, Margaret arranged reserve seats to see if they’d like it, and having tasted great seats, they made it a permanent commitment. Kathryn bought her mother along for the first game, her Mum being a Cats supporter. Though Margaret and Peter could get cheap train tickets, it proved better for all that they come by car. Kathryn drove, and Margaret and Peter paid for disabled parking downstairs. And so they settled in six rows behind our mob.

Kathryn explains that the Docklands had an open night before the first Saints home and away games, and so she came to check out the seats and the traffic and parking. It was here she met Hilary, who sat behind. Over the years, as Hilary’s footy people dropped off, Kathryn offered to pick Hilary up, too.

So here’s the thing: Kathryn drove from Dandenong (now from Frankston) to Caulfield (for Margaret and Peter) then to Elsternwick for Hilary, and comes to the ground, and then takes them all back again. It often adds three hours to her footy afternoon or evening. On Saturday, she’d left home at 4.30 pm and would likely get home after midnight.

Kathryn later said, “I like the company. My husband is a Pom and not interested, but he did watch the last 5 minutes of the game.”

I am in awe of this micro-family unit that has been created and imagine so many of them all over the ground for every team. People who become connected and form their own communities, and in doing so, help each other be part of a greater organisation and entertainment.

Kathryn is a true Saint and a true angel and a very generous woman.

With all this in mind, we settled down to see what our team could produce. Others have written about the structure of the game. To me, it was about the experience.

Paddy McCartin took a spectacular, unlikely mark and kicked truly. Nathan Wright kicked his first-ever goal off the ground. Tom Hawkins got one from a free, before Wright did the unlikely and gets another. Close to quarter time, Geelong, now spooked, kicked out of defence and out of bounds, Jack Newnes took the free kick and surprised everybody with a perfect slot through the middle. Now that’s a way to start a game of footy for the Saints people and to confirm all the anxiety of the Cats supporters I have talked to.

The Saints were playing frantic football, attacking player and the ball, and the Cats were a little freaked. Nick Riewoldt was playing defence, midfield and forward. He was everywhere. Jack Steven was everywhere. Seb Ross was everywhere.

We were a little in shock. Rina quietly said, “They’ll come back. They always do.”

We were surprised at the Saints style of play. It was astoundingly good.

Shane Kersten began the next quarter, and we thought, here we go. But we go wild as Darren Minchington slotted one, Josh Bruce joined the party after he got a free and Minchington sneaked another as the Saints pushed forward. The pressure the Saints were putting the Cats under is unbelievable. The Cats struck back through Tom Lonergan before Minchington did it again. Holy moly. Patrick Dangerfield pulled one back as we went into the break and pondered the four-goal lead.

I thought of John Harms and wondered if he was here. Last year he and Peter Flynn sat with us and the game was a draw. Rina repeated the mantra. It’s early days, and we can’t relax until the final siren.

So the universe felt more normal when after half time Lincoln McCarthy, Tom Hawkins and McCarthy again closed the gap quickly. Tim Membrey pulled one back followed by Newnes again. All our goaling was coming from the young brigade. That was a good sign. Daniel Menzel kicked a goal from a Riewoldt mistake, and McCarthy goaled again. Hmm. This was more like expectations. The Cats had their claws out now as Jordan Murdoch goaled from a free and for the first time, Geelong are ahead by 2 points. But the Saints young guns aren’t finished with this quarter as Mav Weller kicked two, leaving the Saints now 11 points ahead. (Savage missed one).

I didn’t even think about the health of the elderly at the ground. My chest was hurting from all the excitement, the cheering and the tension. Steven Motlop caused heartburn for Geelong supporters when his casual shot on goal went astray. Hawkins didn’t miss, but Motlop again stuffed up a pass, which we were pretty happy about. Mark Blicavs goaled, then Motlop redeemed himself somewhat by his own goal. The Cats were in front by two scores. There were only minutes left in the game, and for the first time in ages, the Saints were still coming. There were no toes being curled up in defeat. The pressure of the Saints and good passing got it forward again, and Jade Gresham earned himself nominations for Goal of the Year and Rising Star by cleverly sidestepping a defender to bend one around to goal. We went wild. We were screaming support. From a Rhys Stanley spray which missed everything, Riewoldt marked, passed to Bruce, to Ross to Blake Acres. It was being contested in the Saints forward when Steven did what he does best and soccered the ball off the ground to goal, putting St Kilda 3 points up.

St Kilda went defensive, and a good mark by Riewoldt in the backline held us steady and when that siren blew, the crowd of Saints supports and players alike, were hugging and laughing and singing and celebrating. We were remembering the happy times and good years. We were celebrating what happens when all the development clicks together.

We were the talk of the town, the lowly Saints beat the top-of-the-ladder Geelong in the game of the season and the upset of the year. Even the wacky train mixups going home could not dent the smiles on our faces and the warmth in our hearts. Phil was goodhearted and probably thought, “told you so.”

Welcome back Uncle Bob. It’s been a good few weeks (bar Adelaide).

Everybody is talking St Kilda. At Tai Chi on Sunday morning I take my Saints flag, and the five Saints supporters take a photo and hug and laugh. I get congratulations at the park on my daily walks and one of the trainers from Kaiser’s gym excitedly talks footy and the Saints’ win. I have my trainer tell me that in a group exercise to reinforce the staff’s knowledge of the clientele, she has her hand up immediately when the question is, “who is the craziest football supporter at the gym?” (And I have only been going there two months.)

Finally, I see Haylee again at my next appointment and she says, “Told you I had reason to be worried.”

Thanks St Kilda. It’s been a good week.

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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. Guru Gus - Singapore says:

    Great article as usual, Yvette.

    Doesn’t it make your week when the Saints win?

    And especially against this mob!

  2. Rulebook says:

    Yvette love your passion,Tom Lynch nickname is the connector it really should be Yvette

  3. Been waiting for this Yvette, and well done your blokes. I hope they keep it up, except when you play us of course. I’m particularly happy to see Membrey in the mix.

    Nice story about the little family in the big family.

    And crazy? Like a fox!

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