GONE: It’s all Over, Including the Shouting

It’s 6.30am Sunday morning and my mind is buzzing.  It’s over, finito, Sydney Swans bundled St.Kilda out of the finals with a decisive, confident win.  They did it well from the beginning, pressure, pressure, pressure and we never had it in us to respond with success.  Perhaps the year from hell finally took its toll because the boys were not themselves last night.  Not their winning selves, anyway.

They looked defeated in the first 15 minutes.  That sinking feeling had been with me all day, I couldn’t settle on anything, it was a hollow, anxious day, mostly spent preparing for the evening and getting through the normal weekend tasks as a mother and a dog owner.  Walking the dogs with my mates at the park, one Collingwood and 3 Carlton and me.  The walk was the best part of the day.  We go at a thumping pace around and around the leash-free area, always picking up a new friend (the Collingwood  supporter today) and talking about life and football.

An appointment in the morning with my daughter, a restless rest in the afternoon that wasn’t particularly restful, then the slow, steady build up of preparing my bag of goodies and a sandwich for the footy.

Meeting Amanda and Rina at the stations at 5.30, we got the train which took us to Southern Cross.  We did the trek to the opposite side of Etihad from where we sit as members, buying my footy record as we went.  Sitting at this side of the ground felt surreal in itself.

I wished they (the media) hadn’t talked about the Saints record at Etihad so often over the last few days, that we had won our last 20 Saturday night games here.  All I could think of was that was the kind of fuss they were making about the Cats at Skilled Stadium before the Swans game and then the Swans went on to belt them.

We had great seats, 3 rows back on the wing, near where our boys would come running out.  So we could see the Interview with Nathan Burke and an SEN presenter, and the boys from Channel 10 looking all orange from their make-up but spiffy in their good suits and haircuts.

Our boys looked fit and healthy and enthusiastic when they came out for a run around, and still OK when we ran on the ground through the banners.  Nothing prepared us for the ultimate bulldozing from Sydney.  Unfortunately, there have been other games where we play poor first halves but come back.  Yesterday wasn’t one of those games.

The Saints gave a terrific 4 goal third quarter and were within 8 points at the final quarter, but Sydney just stepped on the petrol and got those 4 back themselves and ran away.  Were they playing for more?  They looked steely and determined.  Come 4th quarter, we looked quiet and went back to our first half game of poor decisions and too many errors.

All the magic tricks of a few weeks ago – gone.  The moves of the back-liners to forward positions – gone.  The accurate kick to kick – gone.  That feeling that we’re going to take this game and make it ours – gone.  Super-Saints flew back down the toilet and didn’t return.

Sydney were terrific, they played a game of more accurate kicking, more accurate goaling, more determined tackling and attacking, they played with belief and hunger and it showed.

The words “annus horribilus” (meaning a horrible year) kept coming to mind.  Queen Elizabeth used to describe her “year from hell”.  It’s been 4-5 years since we’ve been bundled out of a final series in the first week.

Ross Lyon gathered the troops near our exit at the end and waited, talking to them as Sydney sung it’s song and the Swan boys thanked their fans and left the field.  I fantasied they’d (the Saints) say something to the loyal fans who were still watching and waiting around.  The boys looked sad and miserable and defeated and deflated.  After the huddle and talk, they walked off dejectedly and didn’t look back.

I fantasised that Ross was saying goodbye, he’s going to Melbourne next year.  I fantasised that he was telling them to have a break and manage their disappointment (again) and come back next year fresh and healthy.  I imagined this was the last game for Riewoldt and Goddard, and I have fantasies that Nick will retire and Goddard will go to the Greater Western Sydney and be a captain.  Maybe even Lenny Hayes, who I saw looking handsome and well, in suit behind our Section at half time, also hanging up his footy boots. The same for Gardiner. After such a successful yet ultimately unsuccessful four years, how do you pull it together and keep going, as a team and as supporters?

And what was I feeling after the end of the game?  Relief.  Just relief that it’s all over and I can watch the rest of the finals with the dispassion of an observer.  I hope that Sydney keep going and get the ultimate prize.  They’re the only ones left I don’t mind taking the flag, but it’s not my worry and I’ll watch with interest and from a distance and wonder about next year before I return to a football-less life over the summer.  Geelong and Collingwood still look too strong and with good numbers, but it’s footy and who knows what will happen.

And quite frankly, I need the break from the heartache.  I have put “hope” and “yearning” and “dreaming” back into the St.Kilda box that will probably stay shut for a while as this group reforms and begins a different journey.  Some will stay, some will go.  The supporters will be back and we’ll see what is dished out under our banner and colours next year.

Thank  you boys, for the ride.  It’s not been an easy one but there have been moments of brilliance and moments of pleasure, and in a life that can be random and that has its own ultimate time limit, we have to enjoy the moments in the here and now.  So I will enjoy my relief and the finishing and accept the different place that footy now exists in, for a Saints supporter.  I hope the boys have a quiet, restful, non-controversial and non-difficult summer and come back cleansed and ready for what football and life, presents.  Thanks boys.

 

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. John Butler says:

    Yvette

    You, like all Saints supporters, have earned a break.

    All concerned have been through a lot.

    What lies ahead? We’ll know soon enough.

    I thought McEvoy and Steven are at least something to salvage from the year.

    And it’s all relative. In an earlier time a Saints decline would have seen them win another Spoon. Finals are at least an improvement on that.

    Cheers

  2. Watching the final quarter last night Yvette, and the ensuing huddle, I felt a deep sense of sadness for those players and the fans. I’m sure you don’t need my pity, but I do hope for the sake of the fans that they are not too long out of the action.

    Cheers

  3. David Downer says:

    Nailed it perfectly Yvette,

    The over-riding emotion is “relief” that 2011 is done is dusted. A win would have only prolonged the impending further heartache either this week or next (and more $$ ticket money to boot).

    The negative mindset from the beginning was the first sign of trouble last night. The only reason they recovered to make finals was adpating a more free-flowing attacking game. They reverted to type early last night and it set the tone. Skills and decision making were poor.

    I like the Swans and they’ve got some tall timber that might do some damage …but it’s a reasonable fait accompli who’ll be contesting the GF.

    On a side note, B.Mc Evoy played his best career game last night, yet Martin Blake couldn’t find a spot for him in The Age’s Best players, somehow finding 7 other StK players worthy of that status. What bloody game was he watching??

    Could be a very different St Kilda in 2012 – the off-season might be another dramatic one, but hopefully restricted to on-field matters this time.

    Can now sit back and watch 6 other teams have their hopes and dreams crushed instead!

    DD

  4. Dear John and Edward, thanks for the kind words. I feel very sad this morning but I’ll soon get over it. DD, fellow suffer, to all you other fellow sufferers, the blood letting has begun, who’s gone, who’s de-listed (another word for gone), can Rooey really find the energy for surgery and more heartbreak, Kosi has improved, McEvoy is a gift and we need Kosi for Maccas protection. (Let him run over all the other rucks until McEvoy is at full stregnth.) Steven is a great find, as was Siposs before injury and some of the others who got a chance to shine. Armitage has played well lately, he’s probably injured, why else sub him off. Goddard is so passionate, where’s he going to pull it from to keep going for the Saints, do you think Milne will retire or go on for another. What about Blake and Fischer, they are still needed, until we get a better structure. Very disappointed with Clarke again after some promising few weeks improvement. Again, injury or is all this between our players ears.

    I think that if Ross Lyons is wanting to stay, he could build a new list up. He can play attacking games as shown in the last few weeks, perhaps against Sydney we reverted to the old way because they thought that would be how to best hold Sydney down. Like he said, they made mistakes at Match Committee. So that’s some acknowledgement of the mistakes.

    DD, you are right in that it’s better to fail now than go further to fail spectacularly and you could almost feel the Saints feeling the same way. They knew they weren’t up to the big teams, haven’t been all year, so they proved a point by getting into the finals but had nothing left in the tank.

    After reading the “Bubble” from David Misson, a must read for any Saints supporters, and you see that to get any players up and out there for any game, what the medical, and training and psychologists have to do on a regular daily basis, to see what the Coach Ross Lyon says to the boys to get them up after such a devastating two years, it’s facinating and honest and you get to know Ross Lyon a hell of a lot better. The main player I didn’t get the sense of was Goddard, which I found interesting seeing he’s such a leader on the field.

    I am currently reading the biography of Darryl Baldock and it’s facinating as well (written by Peter Lyons) and again, we only won the ’66 because Darryl played on despite a completely wrecked knee because he (and therefore his coach) knew that only he could lift the team to where they had any chance at all. We haven’t had that level of hero since who can push past all that he had to, to snatch it from anyone. That MR Magic who learned footy skills from the age of 3 and never had a football out of his hands except when sleeping. The two books were picked up from the St.Kilda desk at Linton Street Moorabbin. Both brilliant reads.

    That’s all folks

    Yvette

  5. Footy’s out of the road,DD. See you at Caulfield for Underwood Stakes Day.

  6. Yvette – thanks for sharing your passion for your team; your attitude to life and your wonderful art with us on your ‘journey’ this year.
    I pulled on the swimmers and went to the pool with the Avenging Eagle this morning as part of our post-game and post-chardonnay recovery. Leaving there was a bloke in an Essendon tracky. “Do you reckon you’ll win” I asked him. He looked downcast and said “I hope not, my family are mad Eagles and I’ll cop it all week if we come over here to play next week, and the week after whether we win or lose”
    I thought he perfectly captured the tortured psyche of the fan perfectly, but I felt sad that his passion was not stronger. Your team is like your family, you love them to the end whether they deserve it or not.
    I remember hearing “you like someone because, you love someone despite”
    Nick looks a tortured soul to me – he wants it so badly that he has lost the spontaneity and confidence in his play and his kicking. A victim of his own enormous expectations. Seems a genuinely decent bloke. “Full many a flower is born to blush unseen, And waste its sweetness on the desert air”

  7. Joseph Walker says:

    Yvette,

    Relief was the exact same feeling I felt after that game.
    Relief that I can watch the next Grand Final as a disintrested observer, relief that we were put out of our misery quick and early and without any tension.

    Goddard may go, but GWS will have to put up a pretty good deal to get him. I have a hunch that Ross will stay, especially after reading The Bubble by David Misson, which is a great read as you say. As for last night’s game, Sydney were just too good and I look forward to next week to see if they can beat the Hawks.

    Bring on next year.

  8. Just reaching the finals was an accomplishment after the listless first few weeks, the Lenny Hayes injury, the peaks and valleys of form — sometimes in the same game. Never at any point the same team that battled to the wire in 2009 and 2010. Then the loss of Gwilt and the injury to Rooey, who hasn’t been right all year with a bum knee, a lot of self-imposed pressure and who knows what from the hamstring surgery last year.
    At their best the Saints weren’t as crisp or as determined as the previous two years, and not up to matching the top sides.
    So the future will be fascinating — still a lot of stars (they need to keep) and emerging young talent though not enough depth, which has been a problem forever, even in the glory years. I hope Ross Lyon stays, because he gets the most out of what he’s got, and not many could have salvaged the team belief from the miserable start, let alone a finals berth.
    It’s been said you’re never as good as it seems when you win or as bad as it seems when you lose. True of the Saints, I think. The path back may take a little time, and the expectations are so much greater now. But as John said, being reduced to a side in a fight for the finals isn’t the worst outcome for the near future.
    And thanks for a great year, Yvette. You’re pretty much just what I fancied a typical die-hard Saints fan would be like — and makes me glad I chose the way I did. And one never knows what 2012 will bring. Gotta keep the faith.

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