Remembrance of things past – sort of: 1966 and all that!

 

 

By Braham Dabscheck

 

Peter Clark’s accounts of the progress of the Saints in 1966 when it experienced premiership success brings back fond memories of a wonderful time in my life. I was a seventeen year old High School student completing what was then called the Matriculation (the equivalent of year 12). I enjoyed studying and learning and had a passion for sport which has not diminished over the years. I played football and cricket and followed the Mighty Saints. I was so good at sport that I was forced to write about it.

 

I organised my life around study, playing and watching sport. Putting school to one side, my week was organised around watching Footy Teams on Thursday night with Lou Richards and Jack Dyer, one of the greatest comedy acts of all time (I am sure Bob Davis muscled in on the action later) and reading the papers the next day to see the predictions of footy experts. I played footy for the school on Saturday morning with a first bounce at 9 AM and 20 minute quarters with no time on. We won the school premiership that year. I would then head off to watch Saints games; all of them at Moorabbin and several away. In 1966 the Saints didn’t play Essendon or Footscray away. These are away grounds that I never visited. And I cannot remember attending games at Geelong, Fitzroy or North Melbourne.

 

I usually arrived at games at around noon, travelling by train. I would watch the reserves as well as the first team. Focusing on my attendance at Moorabbin, I usually stood behind the goals at the Southern end. I didn’t attend games with friends – most of my friends barracked for other teams which provided us with endless chances to put each other down – and regulars that I met or saw at games. I simply focused on the game and wallowed in my own anxieties. After the game I would head down Nepean Highway to my home in East Brighton. On the way I would buy a litre of vanilla ice cream which I would work my way through watching footy replays. Looking back two things strike me. First, I have trouble believing that I could have been fit enough to play a game of footy, stand for up to five hours behind the goals and then walk several miles home. Second, no wonder I have spent most of my life dieting. Sunday morning was spent watching World of Sport and Monday accounts of games in the papers.

 

Reading Peter Clark’s accounts of games has not jolted my memory. Nor has examining statistical summaries of how the Saints fared in 1966 in Every Game Ever Played. I can of course remember the Grand Final if for no other reason than I have watched it so many times on replay. I cannot, for example, remember the second Semi Final when the Saints lost to Collingwood by 10 points 15.6.96 to 12.14.86. I cannot even remember if I attended the game. It has simply been lost from my memory bank. I can only remember three other games that the Saints played in 1966.

 

The first was the Round 10 clash at Victoria Park where the Saints were thrashed by the Pies 17.15.117 to 6.9.45. I was in the back pocket area near a stand at the Railway end surrounded by Pies’ supporters. The Saints kicked an early goal in the last quarter and I yelled out (something to the effect of) ‘watch out Pies here we come’ which was greeted by laughter.

 

The second was the Round 18 match against Hawthorn at Moorabbin. The Hawks had a poor year only winning five games for the season. This was a game that the Saints had to win; if they lost they would have dropped out of finals’ contention; if they won the would have had the double chance, which, as it turned out, proved to be the key to Grand Final success. Captain and star player Darrel Baldock was injured. The Saints brains’ trust decided to select him as a reserve. The Saints were ahead by two goals at half time and then fell apart in the third quarter. The Hawks were all over them and I had that sinking feeling that they were going to lose and what had the portents of being a great year would be wasted. Alan Jeans brought on Baldock who kicked a goal and turned the tide. Despite my fears the Saints held on to win by 10 points 14.9.93 to 13.5.83. I honestly thought the Saints were lucky to win.

 

The third was the Preliminary Final against Essendon where the Saints dominated from go to whoa winning by 42 points 15.4.94 to 7.10.52. The win is more meritorious for the Saints’ straight kicking in a game played in appalling wet conditions.

 

Then, of course, there was the Grand Final with Barry Breen’s miskick that secured the famous one-point victory 10.14.74 to 10.13.73.

 

Well, I finished my days at school and went on to study at Monash University. I met up with some Colombo Plan students who played soccer. Given a realisation that my playing skills were limited I decided to switch to soccer on the basis that it might be good fun to try another sport. My skills at soccer were such that I played in every position including goalkeeper. I now played soccer on Saturday afternoons and stopped watching the Saints play live; though I religiously watched replays. And then I moved to Sydney for work reasons and became a footy refugee.

 

1966, what a wonderful year; the Saints were Premiers and I had the rest of my life before me. Please Saints, win another one soon; I don’t have that much time left.

 

Read Peter Clark’s 1966 and all that HERE.

 

 

Read more of Braham Dabscheck’s St Kilda writing, women’s footy writing, book reviews and his thoughts on player unions HERE.

 

 

Our writers are independent contributors. The opinions expressed in their articles are their own. They are not the views, nor do they reflect the views, of Malarkey Publications.

 

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Comments

  1. Good stuff Braham. It seems that year the Saints had problems with the Pies until that fateful September afternoon. In the days of yore when rivalries were traditional, not created, what better feeling than beating the Pies by a point: in the grand final.

    That margin, the losing side, brings back a match Collingwood lost at Kardinia Park in 1972. The Pies had a big first half lead, the home side fought back. At the death with scores level Ken Newland went back for a shot from close in. He missed, the siren rang, Geelong by a point.

    I’ve been enjoying Peter Clark’s series, this article of yours adds to the interest.

    Glen!

  2. Peter Clark says

    Loved reading your memories of St. Kilda’s ‘66 season Braham. It is funny how some things stick in the mind and can be retrieved as crystal clear recollections while other events at the same time just never register with us again. As a country boy who did not get to the city much at all, World of Sport on a Sunday was a weekly taste of the game I devoured with delight. I do hope the Saints can help you realise your wish. They have been unlucky once or twice.

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