Dream Over?

Sydney and St.Kilda: two teams infamous for their slow style of football, and boring – at times frustrating – game plan. The flood, stoppage football and backwards kicking, were what most would have been expecting out of this game. Both though, found themselves playing a ‘mini-final’ in round 22 at ANZ stadium. For St.Kilda, a win would guarantee a finals berth and make amends for their horrendous start to the season. But for Sydney, well, a loss could mean their season is over.

Sunday afternoon, a glorious day in Melbourne, but not so in Sydney. The wet weather interstate was a concern as I was not sure which team, and its game plan, this would benefit most. The game was interstate, so I ensured that I had cancelled everything and was on the couch by 1 pm, ready to support my beloved Saints for the 1.10pm kick-off. With the knowledge of how important this game was, the nerves began to kick in, as I hoped that my team would get up, and yet again, have another shot at winning the premiership.

Listening to all the pre-game match ups, tactics and possible line ups, the Saints were already dealt a blow with number one key-defender Zac Dawson and the in-form Justin Koschitzke withdrawing due to a bout of gastro. Kick off, what I thrive on, week in, week out; watching the team I love, playing the sport I love, had arrived.

Within minutes, Sydney opened the scoring through Rhyce Shaw, exactly the start I knew we could not afford. I turned to my mum, also a Saints supporter, without exchanging words; we both just gave each other that look, a look that implied we were both unimpressed. In what was a slow start to the game for both sides, St.Kilda regrouped and seemed to have the quarter being played in their terms. A goal to young gun David Armitage brought the Saints back within one point. The Saints’ two ‘big guns’, Nick Riewoldt and Brendon Goddard, also steadied with a goal each to run out the quarter which gave the saints a handy 10 point lead at the first break.

The second term was mainly dominated by the Swans, who could have sewn the game up by half time, however their inaccurate kicking kept St.Kilda in the game. The wet conditions made it difficult for both sides; each team had players slip over and struggle to get clear possession of the ball. An absolute howler by the goal umpire saw the Swans denied a goal; the Saints capitalised and it gave them a thirteen point lead. Boring, slow football, both a trademark of St.Kilda and Sydney, was definitely on display in this term. Ryan O’Keefe finally snapped Sydney’s sequence of ten consecutive behinds with a goal midway through the term to keep this contested game alive. Despite Sydney’s domination but failure to capitalise, and St. Kilda’s efforts to make the most of their limited opportunities, the margin was still 10 points at the main break, in the Saints favour. This game was turning out to be like a murder mystery: one in which I could barely wait to read the final pages to see all be revealed. In this case, it would be the final term which would reveal who would be victorious.

Halftime, I was hungry, but too lazy to cook, so I ordered a pizza for delivery, and to my delight, it arrived just before the commencement of the third term. I took my seat once again, stuffing my face with the pizza. Mum, frustrated by the errors of the Saints, could not bear to watch any longer. I was beginning to feel the frustration as well, at the edge of my seat, ready to throw my pizza at the television. The third term was much the same as what had transpired earlier: slow, but Sydney were clawing their way back into the game, and what was becoming a fascinating story – their inaccurate kicking – kept the Saints in the game. The third term ended and the Saints still held the lead by seven points at the final break.

I had polished off my pizza, downed a glass of coke, and I was ready to watch the Saints go marching in, a sight I had not seen as much as I would have liked this year. The first twelve minutes of the final term saw the Swans kick three unanswered goals, giving them the lead for the first time since the first quarter. At this stage, frustrated, I could barely watch on. It was now becoming quite clear that the Saints were gone, but I still remained hopeful. But as nobody does it better than the Swans, they  just drained down the clock. A miss to Milne and two misses to Riewoldt, one sitter from directly in front, and one that ended up out on the full just about sealed St. Kilda’s fate and gave them no hope of winning, and thus cementing that finals birth. One goal two behinds for the Saints to four goals six behinds in the final term was more than enough for the Swans to run away with the game, fifteen point victors.

Watching the Saints walk off the ground, reality had sunk in. I knew that we had two big games coming up, but win or lose, after today’s performance I was certain that come September, even if we were to play finals, we would struggle to go deep into the campaign and challenge the best. So I suggest that Ross Lyon and the team regroup, and figure out how they can return bigger and better next year as a genuine contender.

Comments

  1. John Butler says

    Welcome aboard Trent.

    I presume you’re a little happier about life this week. :)

  2. Trent Dimitriou says

    Thank-you John, it’s great to be here!

    And yes, I was a lot happier with the effort against North Melbourne.

Leave a Comment

*