Parisian Melancholy

Round 2 StK v Rich

By David Downer

A soul-funk singer of Gen-Y disposition yet old world charm, the eclectic Paris Wells featured as this week’s AFL pre-match gift to the “loyal fans”.  A melodic reward for those of us venturing in on a Friday night, resisting the lure of Better Homes and Gardens and the much-maligned delayed telecast.

Ms Wells’ kit-out is from the Lady Gaga school of “making an impact”, albeit featuring classier threads and a PG rating. Still, she’s more likely to be found cursing in Beat magazine articles (or featuring in Andrew Fithall music reviews), than singing Worthy Is The Lamb with the Hillsong church.

Paris sports a bouffant shock of Marilyn Monroe-esque white-blonde hair, a follicular hue typical of female regulars of the St Kilda Social Club in eras past. Her kooky edginess embodying a similar vein of the male regulars. These are bohemian attributes most pundits would associate with St Kilda postcode 3182, but the exact opposite of what the current Saints football outfit characterize. The songstress would not equate with phrases such as “conservative” or “structured”.

Paris stayed on to belt out the Saints anthem. Her unique burlesque-style rendition lacked the accompanying can-can girls, but her inquisitive tone was perhaps a forerunner to the season ahead:

“Oh When The Saints …go marching in?”

She wasn’t sure. None of us Sainters really are these days. Our confidence, if such ever actually ever existed, has taken a battering. Saints fans are in unchartered territory, wallowing on the potentially unfulfilled downward curve.

Notably, P.Wells also performed the Saintly minstrel duties at the Grand Final last year – the INXS GF that is, not the other one, I’m trying to regress that particular day. Surely the lightning rod of impasse couldn’t strike twice – Paris behind the mic and another drawn match result?

With my brother’s wedding taking precedence last Friday night, it’s my first visit to the ‘G since the Grand Final (circa aforementioned Lionel Richie edition), and the Jonathan Trott benefit on day 2 of the disastrous Ashes test.  Ultimately, the grand stadium has not been kind recently.

It would actually be St Kilda’s sixth consecutive match here at “Collingwood’s home ground”. Surely some sort of club/venue record.  Conversely, this round Collingwood was playing its second consecutive match at St Kilda’s home ground. The fixture gods are clearly taking the piss early.

But for tonight it’s the Tigers. I cast back to early in 2003 and the post-match presser following Richmond’s defeat of St Kilda.  Coach Grant Thomas was widely lambasted for steadfastly declaring the Saints were, in totality, a better side than Richmond. Thirteen encounters and eight unbeaten years later, he’s probably been vindicated by now. The Tigers were about due however.

Tonight the Saints are switched on early. That or Richmond are extraordinarily bad – I think it’s the latter. Milne is everywhere – apparently a first year player has been assigned to him, Reece Conca. The Tigers have many of these “anonymous”  blokes, I could probably name only a handful watching live. These teams chock-a-block with young blokes are hard to peg – the Tigers were much easier to identify sporting messrs Daff, Laff, Chaff and Staff.

The Saints should be a cricket score in front, but conversion is poor. Milne a chief wayward suspect.

Cousin Jack lands on his head, the knees wobble, the cartoon birds are circling. I assume the Saints will win from here – but admittedly, I find it hard to be excited.

Saints fans have been trapped in this mental flux in the lead-up to 2011. How do you approach enjoying the footy after so much heartbreak – realising your team may have reached their non-flag-hoisted summit already? How can you enjoy football again with the burden of expectation, knowing that Hillary and Norgay are descending back down the mountain. There are other sherpas and mountaineers embarking on their journey to the summit, passing you by on their ascent. Young, fresh, hungry, clad in the finest Kathmandu gear and Gore-Tex. Down at base camp it’s a low draft-pick induced wilderness.

Back at sea level for now, the Tigers warm to the contest after simply hanging in. St Kilda keep answering every so often, but take the foot off the gas after doing so. Richmond summon belief and just “have a crack”.

My general footy detachment sinks to new depths in the third quarter. I see it happen.

“Lenny’s down”.


The great man, universally respected and the beloved heartbeat of the club, clutches his leg in agony.  It must be bad. His hobble in the trainers’ arms is not a hopeful hobble. It’s a grimacing “shit this is serious” hobble. Saints heads drop.

Despite the general melancholy of St Kilda fans, the contest itself is well and truly on. Players are tired, the game is opening up. As recent almanac revelations suggest, this is the lore brought forth by J.T.Harms and T.T.Wilson.

The trio of reasoned Tiger fans immediately behind me are grating however. Not their support as such, but their negativity. “They just don’t know how to win the Tiges” is the usual shtick. And admittedly, they do sound very familiar. They sound like me, to be precise. It’s annoying. Hypocrisy smacks me from all angles. But I turn around:

“C’mon you Tiges, believe. Believe!”

Deep into the last quarter Richmond slot one against all expectations of the natural order and hit the front. The reaction from behind is then more of shock:

“Oh my God. Oh my God. The Tiges. Oh my God!”.

See, I told them so.

The clock ticks to over 35 minutes, remarkably the Saints have two more chances to win it. Hmm, perhaps my newfound Tiger chums were on the money after all.

A rare Saints first gamer in Daniel Archer misses, and Milne continues his errant kicking.

Finally the siren, another stalemate eventuates. The Saints are truly deadlock-savvy.

Post-match Jason Gram pricks “the bubble” and infers that blokes are still trapped in last year’s regret. If you’re talking about me too Jason, guilty as charged.

I decide to butter up at Sandringham the next day, some of the Saints kids here will surely get their chance in the next few weeks.

Phil Cleary is decked out in ABC-TV uniform of shirt, jacket and tie – and jeans and runners. Very Seinfeld, very VFL . However, there is a welcome injection of style to proceedings. Brad Miller is playing for Coburg, and his glamazon wife Pia wanders past. With minor celebrity panache, she’s looking “weekend elegant” and sporting sunglasses the size of saucepans. There is a quiet reverence as she strolls past. The men are giddy, the Coburg reserves boys are in awe. The women too.

Ross Lyon trails through shortly after, head bowed and dejected.  A pair of trakky daks complementing an unbranded violet polar fleece provides stark contrast to Pia’s entrance. His $3 hot-dog from the Zebras kiosk attracts the nose of the good-dog Cuba. I want to ask Ross about Lenny, but the look on his face reveals that morning’s season-ending verdict.

The game itself is a cracker. The Harms-Wilson hymn book is in full cry here too – the Zebras battle with a bench of two for almost the whole day. Players are out on their feet, its rollicking end-to-end stuff. With less than a minute remaining Sandringham trail by two goals. Two quick majors see the Zebs salute on the siren. It’s a stirring victory, and the Saints listed players have played a major part.

The names include Lynch, Steven, Johnson, Siposs, the Irish project Walsh, Simpkin, Alistair Smith and J.Cripps. Most of them will play for St Kilda this year. We are also awaiting the great white hope, Rhys Stanley, to come good.

It temporarily breaks me from my St Kilda ambivalence. Maybe there’s enough sherpas in the wings to stave off that rocky Saints descent.

An unashamed Wikipedia flick through the P.Wells discography to close this one out reveals a track on her last album, When It’s Time. And it’s not a question. For the younger Saints brigade, and the supporters sanity to boot, that time is probably now.

A liberal dash of that bohemian Saints spirit of yore wouldn’t go astray either.


  1. I take that this article is for “medicinal purposes” DD – prescribed by a physician of some sort. If so, I hope that it has done the trick.

    Very nicely done indeed.

    Just one point of order. You mentioned that the Richmond and StKilda players looked “tired” and the game was opening up. The word “tired” is a relic of bygone eras; of much simpler times. In future correspondence, please use the “AFL approved” vernacular, “fatigued”.

    Also, whilst I’m on my own little box of soap here, lay off the “much-maligned” caper too. Reserved.

    That is all

  2. David Downer says


    The “MM” reference was a given – it’s early use acting as patented Arma brand kindling. But I’ll run with “oft-maligned” in future …and as you suggest, “fatigued”. Luckily A.Anderson is not editing these submissions.

    And yes, the pen, er keyboard, is cleansing.


  3. John Butler says

    Any use for a reconditioned couch DD?

    Can’t help with the therapist.

  4. DD – its still early. The Saints need to get up off the canvas but its been done before. I recall a team by the name of Geelong had a very average start to the 2007 season and went on to win the GF by more points than some teams will kick this whole season.

    I love Paris………err the city that is.

  5. Andrew Fithall says

    Stick with Sandy DD. More joy there I think.
    As one who has previously been critical of pre-match noise, I like this Music Victoria initiative bringing live bands to the G. It helps that none of the bands feature Lionel Ritchie. Tomorrow night’s band is a “super-group” of Collingwood supporters including Ash Naylor. I don’t know if Ash has any football pedigree, but one bit of trivia I found out yesterday (courtesy of 3RRR) was that back in the 80s he played in a band called The Swarm with current SEN broadcaster Francis Leach. Vika Bull is also in tomorrow night’s band before she heads to Apollo Bay Music Festival – which is where I will see her. The key attraction at Apollo Bay tomorrow evening is Megan Washington. Almanackers may be aware of my infatuation. She is due on stage at 10.15. Knowing this clashed with the delayed television broadcast of Carlton v Collingwood, earlier this week I contacted channel 7 to see if they could bring their broadcast forward. Thankfully they have obliged.

  6. DD, always a pleasure to read your take on the game. You have captured the 2011 malaise of the St.Kilda supporter in a very succinct manner. I also think you have captured the frustration with the perceived risk averse attitude of R.Lyon in not playing young kids. I only hope we see two to three this week to help us get back up to that summit again.

  7. David Downer says

    Dr Dips – your optimistic medicine may prevent complete surrender to that reconditioned couch JB suggests ..but I’ll need convincing. Watching AFL360 last night, the general consensus over the Saints was a big fat question mark – yet strangely the name L.Hayes was not mentioned once.

    AF – I had assumed (and secretly hoped) another Washington reference wasn’t far away. And I see you’ve ranked your love of Washington over the love of your football team – on the night of a premiership flag unveiling no less! Kerry Stokes obviously a fan of hers also. The almanac expects, nay demands, an Apollo Bay post-mortem piece next week. Perhaps a two part series – one for M.Washington, one for the others.


  8. smokie88 says

    Dave, there is a long way to go yet!

    Andrew, what say you of rumours that a certain North fan of You Am I (and Almanacker) fame is more infatuated with M Washington than your good self ?

  9. Andrew Fithall says


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