AFL Round 3 – GWS Giants v St.Kilda: The Giants are a bowl of soup

Saint Aidan

 By David and Aidan Bruce

In 2009 my now 10-year old son Aidan was sufficiently impressed with Nick Riewoldt’s season to take up the potentially hazardous pastime of supporting the Saints.  After seeing them play in three grand finals in the first two years he supported them, for a very St Kilda-like no flags, it hasn’t escaped his notice that they’re not going to get that far this year.  Nonetheless, he is now Saint Aido to my WestCoastDave, and Father and Son footy trips are now a great part of our winters.

When we saw one of GWS’s Canberra games was against the Saints, we snapped up tickets with another father-and-son combo we know, and Aidan headed straight off to search through his Saints paraphernalia for a suitable outfit.

Manuka is a satisfying ground to watch sport at.  Unlike your typical modern concrete coliseum-style ground, Manuka gives you the sense that you are just sitting around an oval watching some other blokes play sport.  It’s flat, not high.   Watching footy there reminds me of the first grounds I remember – Alberton in Adelaide and Bassendean Oval in Perth.  I decided to test my socio-historical analysis with Aidan.

WestCoastDave: “So do you like watching footy at Manuka?”

Saint Aido: “Sure.  It’s a great oval for my team to play at!”

WCD: “How come?”

SA: “Well, it’s a lot closer to where we live than Melbourne is”.

Sometimes seeing things through the eyes of a kid can cut through a lot of unnecessary complexity.

Saturday afternoon in Canberra is beautiful, but stopping for a couple of beers and apple juices on the way to the ground, Aidan is looking decidedly antsy.  Richard is a Collingwood supporter, so his judgement is always going to be somewhat questionable, but he tells me (when Aidan is distracted) that “he has a feeling” and has tipped GWS.  Suspecting that Aidan has a fair sense of what supporting St Kilda has in store for him, I ask him what he’s expecting.

WCD: “Feeling confident?”

Saint Aido: “Kind of.  I think St Kilda will probably win by at least a goal.”

Optimistic little guy today.

We wander into the ground and try to decipher what parts of the ground our tickets get us into, but ultimately give up and just grab some seats on the boundary on the 50m arc at the southern end.  Given the way the tickets use a different code to the actual ground seating, no-one else is going to be able to argue with us anyway.

The first few minutes are instructive.  St Kilda are dominant, their bigger players in particular are just too big, with McEvoy having a noticeable impact.  All of the Saints players look 10% bigger, faster and stronger than their opponents, and that pretty quickly translates into 2.1 to 0.0 – and then into 5.4 to 0.0 at quarter time.

WCD: “Feeling better now?”

Saint Aido: “A little bit.”

WCD: “Only a little bit? Why do you think St Kilda are winning?”

SA: “They’re getting into space more.  They’re taller and stuff.”

Simple analysis, but pretty spot on.  His expectations haven’t been greatly improved by the first quarter shellacking though, his prediction of the winning margin only grudgingly blowing out to “a goal and a bit”.

The second quarter is more of the same, except that GWS at least get on the scoreboard.  There is a distinct men versus boys feel to it, but the margin is only at 37 points at half time.  Richard claims that GWS are doing just enough to keep his hopes up.

WCD: “Really?”

Richard: “No.”

It is also becoming apparent to me that Canberra crowds are not very good at sledging footballers.  Their comments are mostly at Giants players, and refer to a variety of arcane contractual conditions like salaries and contract lengths – but there is none of the smooth, instinctive vitriol of your hardened AFL fan.  As the lead edges out towards 10 goals I start to think about who is playing well.  Working on the assumption that Aidan probably knows, I ask him.

WCD: “Who are the best players for St Kilda?”

SA [without hesitation]: “32. 12. 17. The ruck guy.”, and then “7. 20. 26. 14. 4… 11.”

The last he adds as Montagna gets a free, so it’s possible he was just reeling off the numbers he could see.  On the other hand, he’s probably right.  At three quarter time, and 51 points up he has to be feeling ok now?

SA: “When we are 5 goals up with three minutes to play – then I’ll think we will win.”

He’s even better at this St Kilda supporting lark than I thought he was!  When GWS get the margin down to 44 points at the 9 minute mark he concedes that St Kilda can’t win now.  Its only after an urgent toilet break and Milne goaling at the 21 minute mark to push the margin back over 60 points that he accepts they’re safe.  My view is he’s about 100 minutes of playing time late in drawing that conclusion, but I guess it is different when you’re emotionally involved.

In the spirit of seeing things through clear-sighted eyes of kids, I’ll leave the final match summary to the young boy next to me.  After three-and-a-half quarters of politely optimistic encouragement for the Giants, he finally turned to his dad.

Boy: “Ohhhhh.  The Giants are a bowl of soup.”

I’m not sure exactly what he meant, but it was heartfelt and seemed oddly appropriate.


ST KILDA                                        5.4   10.8     15.12   21.14 (140)
GREATER WESTERN SYDNEY     0.0    5.1       8.3      10.8 (68)

St Kilda: Armitage 4, Saad 3, Milne 3, Riewoldt 3, Milera 2, Maister 2, Steven, Lee, Montagna, Gilbert
Greater Western Sydney: Treloar 2, Brogan 2, Smith 2, Giles 2, Patton, Cameron

St Kilda:
Armitage, Milera, Riewoldt, Roberton, McEvoy
Greater Western Sydney: Ward, Brogan, Giles

Umpires: Fila, Burgess, Chamberlain

Official crowd: 11,092 at Manuka Oval


Our Votes: Armitage (3), Milera (2), McEvoy (1)



  1. Stephen Cooke says

    Dave, I will be using the phrase “bowl of soup” for future matches and only wish I’d known of the term last night when I was watching the Cats and the Blues.

  2. Great report Aidan and Dave. A word of warning to Aidan. The first VFL Grand Final I heard live was the 1966 Saints one point win over the hated Magpies (I was a South Australian but I was well schooled to hate all Magpies teams who were instinctively ‘dirty mongrels’).
    I blame my melancholic pessimistic nature and most of my life problems on the decision to support the Saints.
    I move to Perth in 1997 and have been in Eagles member therapy since 2002. I am much happier now. Can I have those 35 years back please?
    Aidan – the Giants are closer to home and will give you joy before those doomed Sainters. Repent.

  3. Great story. And Aidan, never listen to Peter_B – traitors and pessimists can never be trusted to give good advice!

  4. Dear Aiden and Dave, brilliant match report. Following St.Kilda builds your character, you have to have stregnth and resilience and humour. Not bad characteristics for life. It’s a lovely way to spend the afternoon, dad and son enjoying a day of emerging young men.


  5. westcoastdave says

    Cookie, the more I think about the ‘bowl of soup’ comment, the more I wish I’d asked him what it meant to him, but also the more opportunities to use it in daily life occur to me…

  6. westcoastdave says

    Jim and Yvette, I think Aidan is pretty much set on his pathway, that happened once he was able to get to the end of the 09 GF when he managed to stay on St Kilda all the way to the end, despite the loss. I guess it’ll be interesting to watch over the next few years and how his character suits supporting the Saints!

    Glad the therapy has been working Peter – would have been a bit too intense if you’d arrived 10 years earlier!

  7. Stephanie Holt says

    Lovely report, and a most circumspect young Sainter you’re raising there. Good to see the rebuilding phase in the stands is coming along well.

  8. Critical analysis of the bowl of soup is dependent on the bowl of soup being described in more detail. Is it a broth, cream of, or chunky style?

    Broth implying watered down, thin and less than satisfying. Cream of carrying the idea of blending together ingredients only to create something less than the sum of it’s parts. And chunky implying that the ingredients are there but somewhat haphazardly alighned.

    All work.

    Good to see St. Aidan has already nailed a strong sense of Saints stoicism.

  9. Surely if there’s one generation of St.Kilda fans that should expect to win most home and away games it is one that joined the club as recently as ’09. The cynicism of those around him must have rubbed off.

    Could the ‘bowl of soup’ reference have anything to do with the dishes standing in the meal order? Soup is an entree; it’s a tease. It shows promising signs but it doesn’t have the depth or substance to demand ‘main course’ status.

  10. westcoastdave says

    I think the ‘bowl of soup’ analogy can be over-analysed. Pretty much any and all of the available metaphors has a ring of authenticity to them – but I think it was more of an holistic impression than intended to specifically convey any individual aspect of it. [And it causes me a great deal of stress in trying to avoid making puns about croutons…].

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