Hair we go again for Saints fans

by Andrew Gigacz

St Kilda v West Coast. It’s over to Saint Ted’s house to watch the game. Arriving just before game time, I find the front door locked and no one inside. As I sneak into the backyard I am set upon by a big hairy dog with a leap at least as high as Kosi’s. Luckily, this is a friendly besetting and the only dangers I face are being licked to death or suffocating on dog hair.

The curtains aren’t drawn and I can see Ted’s loungeroom through the back window. With the game about to start, I realise I’m looking through a window of lost opportunity.

St Kilda supporters are no strangers to the “window of opportunity”. The journalistic pedlars of footy-speak have made that phrase the Saints’ own recently. For some teams, the premiership window seems narrow; for others it seems to stretch for years. St Kilda is one of those teams. Their window of opportunity seems to have gone on forever. It must be a very large window. With great views. One hopes for Saints fans this window has a northerly aspect, because there have been some cold and dark moments during past winters for them.

Actually, when I think about it, the view from the Saints’ window has been pretty good. From it they’ve seen Port Adelaide win their first flag, Sydney break the Swans’ 72-year drought, the Eagles pip the Swans by a point in one the great grand finals, Geelong smash a 44-year hoodoo and Hawthorn beating the odds in another classic.

As Dionne the dog continues her twin attacks of tongue and dog-hair, I reflect back on the Saints’ window. In the opinion of many, the door slammed shut on it around the end of the 2006 season. That has been proven incorrect on two fronts. First, it’s not really possible to slam a door onto a window. And second, Ross Lyon appears to have reinvented the Saints into a team built around solid defence, with a potent forward line to complement it.

My black T-shirt is now even blacker under another layer of dog fur. I think about what has changed for St Kilda over the past five years.

The last time St Kilda beat the Eagles at Docklands was in 2004. A 101-point thumping. As I brush black hair from my face, I recall the main contributors of that day. Brent Guerra, bold and bald, kicked seven. Fraser Gehrig, with almost a full head of hair, chipped in with four. Aaron Hamill, with the body of Adonis and a youthful mop atop his scalp, also kicked four.

Times have changed since then, in both the footy and hair departments. Guerra is now a happy Hawk with a wholly hirsute head. (He found his way to a flag through a different window.) Gehrig’s head has only a few wisps remaining and he’s quietly slipped from the Saints’ scene. Hamill? Well, he’s still got a full head of hair and a great body (or so I’m told). He appears to remain a fine example of the perfect manly specimen – until he tries to move. He, too, is a dearly departed Saint.

So who will kick the Saints’ goals today? And will I actually see any of them kicked? Where is Ted anyway?

Luckily, Ted answers the second and third questions by showing up at the five-minute mark. We rush in and switch on the telly to find that the first question also appears to have been answered. In a Ross Lyon masterstroke, Brendon Goddard has been cast in the role of key forward. He’s already kicked two, and is lining up for his third. He slots it and a few minutes later he gets his, and the Saints’, fourth. West Coast grab a couple back but there is already the feeling they are hanging on for dear life.

As the remaining three quarters unfold, the question of where the Saints’ goals will come from becomes increasingly rhetorical. They come from everywhere: Kosi, Goddard, Milne. Even Zac Dawson chips in. None of these Saints appear to have any issues in the hair department either. If anyone should be losing hair it is Eagles coach John Worsfold. Interestingly, Lyon is the coach who’s struggling on that score.

In the end the Saints have an incredible fifteen goalkickers, who notch up 25 between them. With the exception of Le Cras, the Eagles look impotent up forward. Daniel Kerr spends much of the second half in defence in an attempt to minimise the damage. But it’s not enough. The Saints triumph by 97 points.

The ease of the win has allowed me the time to remove most of the dog hairs from my T-shirt. As the Saints leave the ground, Ted and I both realise that the window of opportunity is as wide open as it’s ever been. And for Saints fans, the view is breathtaking: it is that of a red, white and black premiership flag.

In a few months’ time, we’ll know whether the view through that window is real or just a mirage…

Malarkey votes: Goddard (SK) 3, Jones (SK) 2, Montagna (SK) 1.

About Andrew Gigacz

Well, here we are. The Bulldogs have won a flag. What do I do now?

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