My Saintly brothers and sisters … in Jake, we must now trust!

It may well be the footy off-season now, but that hasn’t stopped me from contemplating how the 2016 AFL Season will unravel.

The less said about the unfortunate and complicated Jake Carlisle trade scenario the better. I plead as guilty as anyone else for automatically going down the pessimistic ‘history repeats’ path and fearing for the young footballer’s future with the mighty Saints. However, I have made a conscious decision to revise my thinking and, rather than contribute to the theories of doom and gloom perpetrated by the social media about Jake Carlisle’s actions and the incriminating video, I am choosing to veer in the opposite direction. Yes, I want to embrace our new recruit with the fervent belief that everyone possesses the ability to redeem themselves. I choose to swallow the anger, frustration and disappointment and move forward. As the Saints accomplished leader Nick Riewoldt has stated, “We have come so far as a club and we will not let this incident divert us”. Taking the champion’s lead, I choose not to bear a grudge and accept what happened, focus on the positive and have faith in Jake’s ability for redemption and look forward to him being part of the Saints future.

The relentless 24/7 cycle of scrutiny employed by the social media can, if used unwisely, have a detrimental impact on one’s well-being. The ofttimes dire consequences of ambush via cyber bullying have been well documented. I want to be involved in the same sort of positive ripple effect of the social media exemplified by Maddie Riewoldt’s Vision which has already raised phenomenal funds and is empowering the medical fraternity to find a cure for Bone Marrow Failure. Life is precious and we would be best to concentrate on sharing with one another how we can leave the planet a better place for each other, not just ourselves. I choose not to engage with old masochistic pain and am deliberately decreasing the amount of time I spend telling myself the story of what has previously gone wrong. I am actively making the choice to focus on appreciating the elite talent we have brought into the club that will profoundly deepen our talent pool at a time when many of our senior club champions will inevitably soon retire.

I think the AFL’s two match suspension is a suitable punishment for such a lapse in judgement and sends a strong message, not only to Jake but all AFL players. Specifically St Kilda Football Club has made a stand by enforcing alcohol and drug rehabilitation education and early pre-season training communicating clearly that this sort of behaviour won’t be tolerated. Just as the Chef Adam Jones (Bradley Cooper) in recent film release ‘Burnt’  has to come to terms with his demons and focus on earning the trust and respect of his team in order to attain a Michelin 3 star rating, Jake must now earn the loyalty of his St Kilda teammates, not to mention the supporters, through reliable performance both on and off the field. The former Essendon footballer is no angel, and presently does not, as Rihanna sings, ‘shine bright like a diamond’ but the fact is he is now a Saint and it is time for us to envelop him with our dyed-in-the-wool wings. Yes, he is not perfect, but he is not beyond redemption either. The question as yet remains unanswered; can we make a saint out of a sinner?

In trying to adopt a more optimistic outlook in relation to the Carlisle conundrum I recount some salient dialogue from James Cameron’s 2009 film ‘Avatar’ which aptly depicts strong themes of redemption and connectedness within a close-knit tribe.

Early on in this epic science fiction Colonel Miles Quaritch tells Jake Sully, “You are not in Kansas anymore. You are on Pandora, ladies and gentlemen. Respect that fact every second of every day … If you wish to survive, you need to cultivate a strong, mental aptitude. You got to obey the rules: Pandora rules.” Along the same vein, I can well imagine Alan Richardson saying something along the lines of, ‘You are not a Bomber anymore. You are at St Kilda Football Club, young man. Respect that fact every second of every day … If you wish to survive, you need to cultivate a strong, mental aptitude. You have to obey the rules: St Kilda Football Club rules!’

I recall Sully’s inspiring address to his adopted Na’vi tribe where he says, “The Sky People have sent us a message… that they can take whatever they want. That no one can stop them. Well, we will send them a message. You ride out as fast as the wind can carry you. You tell the other clans to come. Tell them Toruk Macto calls to them! You fly now, with me! My brothers! Sisters! And we will show the Sky People… that they cannot take whatever they want! And that this… this is our land!” The Na’vi tribe can be likened to the Saints and the Sky People are all the other 17 AFL teams. Like his namesake in ‘Avatar’, Jake needs to pay his penance and provide proof of performance before respect is earned. If he is to be one of the Saints future leaders he needs to reset his state of mind and become more responsible with his actions and accountable for the effect his influence has on his teammates and the St Kilda Football Club as a whole.

Below is my graphic illustration of the new character that I would like to imagine Carlisle adopting at his new club.

Jake Carlisle copy

Jake ‘Avatar’ Carlisle starring in St Kilda Football Club (2016)

It’s most appropriate that as I write this I have just received my 2016 St Kilda Football Club membership package with promotional material emblazoned with the positioning statement Be a Saints member – 2016′: ‘Keep Believing’ and ‘Start Belonging’. My message to Jake is that it’s time to wake up and stand up as a future leader of your new tribe. In other words, pay your dues, and fully integrate as a responsible, reliable and results-oriented Saints player.

I conclude with one of my customary odes dedicated to Jake Carlisle whose first accolade earned is that he has become the eleventh player on St Kilda Football’s Club’s list whose Christian name starts with a ‘J’!

Jake, your heart must now be in Saints town
Sung to the tune of ‘Ghost Town’ from ‘The Original High’ album (2015) by Adam Lambert

Cried last night in my dreams
Thinking of repeats
In our sacred Saints town
I want to believe
In Jake… and know he is keen
That Saints haven’t sold out

Sure none of the Saints
Will lock up the gates
Jake will be able to enter
Hoping he’ll play plenty of games
We’ll call out his name
Will there be an answer?

And now Jake, your heart must be in Saints town
Your heart’s now in Saints town
Your heart’s now in Saints town
Your heart’s now in Saints town

Woke last night from my dreams
All the cogs of the machines
Are being connected
Time to throw caution to the wind
Call out to Saints friends
To not feel disaffected

Now, Jake must be earning our trust
After he has been bust
By social media vampires
His playing days
With Bombers are dead
Now put those days to bed
Don’t be fodder for satire

And now Jake, your heart must be in Saints town
Your heart’s now in Saints town
Your heart’s now in Saints town
Your heart’s now in Saints town

Now all the scandal has unfurled
Stop the mud-slinging
Let’s give Jake a go
Not drag him down
We need a champ in our team to keep us winning

Jake, your heart’s now in Saints town
Your heart’s now in Saints town
Oh, your heart’s now in Saints town
(Jake, your heart)
Your heart’s now in Saints town
Your heart’s now in Saints town

About Jennifer Muirden

Jennifer Muirden has been a keen St Kilda supporter since 1978 and fondly remembers her childhood Saturdays spent at Linton Street, Moorabbin. In her lifetime she hopes to experience the Saints second Premiership.


  1. Yvette Wroby says

    Well said Jenn, I felt again downhearted like Yoshi at the latest, but you are correct. This is his chance to change and be a better person and be a better Saints. Well said.


  2. From a bomber supporter I say good luck with that. If (and it’s a big if) you happen to get it right, the upside is massive. Don’t even contemplate any alternative scenario….

  3. Everyone deserves a fresh start. Love the positive nature of this bit of work Jenn. You have it in you Jake. Just dont show it by kicking 10 goals against the bombers in 2016..pick on Hawthorn

  4. Very well written, Jen, highlighted by your unique ability to incorporate analogous movies and music quotes and lyrics into your analysis. You have a prodigious talent, not to mention a memory like a steel trap. Being still firmly rooted into the 20th century (or 19th as many of my friends argue), I’d never heard of Adam Lambert and Ghost Town until now, but aspects of the YouTube video certainly caught my eye.
    I hope the Saints give Jake Carlisle a fair-dinkum chance and that he repays them tenfold, particularly against the Bombers (as per Robb’s post). As far as I know, it wasn’t proved that Jake was snorting an illicit substance – instead, he was just being a very silly boy for giving that impression. Not sure of the stats, but I believe a smaller percentage of AFL footballers “infringe” than the general populace, but that doesn’t excuse Jake’s foolishness
    Perhaps Richo can get “Cowboy” Neale to lay down the law if Jake slip’s up. As an aside, I love the picture of Cowboy leaning against the goal post in Rex Hunt and Graeme Bond’s book “The Fat Lady Sings – 40 Years in Footy”.

  5. Robyn Wootton says

    Beautifully expressed and illustrated, both musically and artistically, Jen. My initial response was the same as yours but I believe that the Saints now have an attitude that will demand accountability from all “Belonging” to the club. Let’s hope that Jake “Starts Belonging” too. Look forward to 2016!

  6. This issue depends a lot on the prism you look at it through. Saints fan, footy fan or the wider social context. I happen to look at it through the lens of working with a lot of young people with their minds and lives destroyed by what some consider “recreational” drugs. I don’t for a moment think that Jake is yet in that category. He has the structures and purpose of professional sport to protect him for the next 5+ years. After that what? The same dismal future that Ben, Mainy and Daniel created for themselves after West Coast?
    I guess what I am saying is that this issue is a lot bigger than Jake and the Saints. I think that the AFL, St Kilda and Jake have largely dealt with it appropriately. I would be optimistic, but by no means certain, about his long term future. I would have preferred a 6 week initial suspension, when he was clearly snorting cocaine or similar. Not so much for his benefit, but to send a cultural signal that this is not a harmless recreational off-season “bit of fun”.
    When we minimise the consequences and risk, and “hope” things get better we sometimes end up with Cy and Phil Walsh. We can’t predict who and when. But roll the dice enough times.

  7. Hi Jen,

    I am a passionate St Kilda supporter and renewed the membership on Friday afternoon.

    Unfortunately I admit that often I am sensitive on negative issues and overreact. My passionate of supporting the mighty Saints and values led me to get angry when I heard the news on Friday evening and then overreacted. Just hearing what David Schwarz and Mark Allen said, I made a quick conclusion.

    Sane as you, I want the mighty Saints to win the second flag. Indeed winning the premiership is important but the path to the top for both positive and negative is important for the club themselves and supporting the team. I try to get rid of bad things.

    After reading your article, I have read an article on AFL App Nick Riewoldt and Leigh Montagna commenting on the Carlisle issues. The veteran Saints try to do the best for him and the club. I trust our champions.

    What I want is seeing better shape in playing footy and not seeing negative news any more. To be honest I didn’t have positive image of St Kilda Footy Club when I started following the sport in 2011 because of schoolgirl scandal and Ross Lyon’s departure. But the plan to play in Wellington made me a passionate St Kilda supporter. I do trust the club and believe Alan Richardson will deliver the flag for us. I belong to the Saints. I believe we will be better in 2016. I want Carlisle to play good footy to bring us more wins.

    It is hard for me to trust someone who does bad things, but I will try to trust him slightly day by day, even it is tough. I hope we can say it was right to pick him eventually.

    Go the Saints!


  8. Fantastic read Jen, There are a few teams that need some of the rough love and strong leadership you ascribe to. I hope Lleyton can work some sort of behavioral makeover on some of our Davis Cup Players for example.

    I love that byline ‘Keep Believing’ and ‘Start Belonging’ . It says a lot.
    Perhaps there should be a series of your Avatars!!

  9. Jennifer Muirden says

    Thank you, everyone, for your constructive and kind feedback regarding my latest post which was actually reasonably tough for me to write given the conflicting voices whirring around my head.

    Budge, as a Bombers fan I can fully appreciate the reasons for your cynical, yet possibly realistic outlook regarding Jake Carlisle’s prospects. Robb, I had to chuckle at your desire for Saint Jake to bag 10 goals against the Hawks aka ‘the invincibles’.

    Peter B, please be assured that I fully appreciate that this issue is a lot bigger than Jake and the Saints, and by no means am I undermining the severity of the issues surrounding the scourge of drugs. The addiction battles of Cousins, Chick and Mainwaring post-football has been shattering not only to themselves but even more so to their loved ones who while not ‘under the spell’, and thus have insight, feel hopelessly helpless on the sidelines. The aftermath of Cy Walsh’s devastating irreversible action perpetrated against his own father continues to haunt me. My heart goes out to his mother whose every waking moment must no doubt be consumed with grieving the loss of both her beloved life partner but also the stable and strong son she once knew.

    Fitzroy Pete, that’s glowing praise indeed. I am enthusiastic about exposing people to new music and am pleased that you bothered to listen to the lyrics and take a look at the video clip of Adam Lambert’s original song. Loved the Cowboy reference and can assure you that I would love to bring the 1966 Premiership player back into the fold!!!

    Robbo, I would be more than happy to create a series of Avatars. In fact, if you reveal the AFL team that you follow I am happy to create a mockup design of an Avatar specifically in your beloved team’s colours as a starting point!

    Robyn, Yvette and Yoshi so glad you will all once again belong to the ever increasing band of supporters who battle an addiction known as the Saints sickness for which the only cure is a break in the drought with a long overdue second Premiership win. GO SAINTS!!!

  10. Hi Jen,

    Well said. Really enjoyed this.
    I too would be conflicted had J Carlisle been acquired by the Kangas.

    It will be fascinating to watch his journey with the Saints.

  11. If Saint Jake was destined to do something really stupid, better before the fact than after. Two or three years from now, we’ll maybe have a better sense of who we have. I would say that I have a good feeling for the team as a whole in the immediate aftermath of the incident. And that 50 years as a Boston Red Sox fan (see 1966-2003) prepared me well for the Saints…

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