Round 1 – St Kilda v Gold Coast: Power to the players


Marvel Stadium

Sunday 24th March 2019 1.10pm



The weekend start to my men’s barracking was distracted somewhat by the wonderful action around women’s footy and the Tayla Harris story: the reprint of the original post, the viral support the image received in reaction to the outrageous original trolling, and the surprising footy results no-one saw coming.  Geelong held goal-less til 4th quarter by a superior Adelaide team and Carlton thumping Fremantle to be in the AFLW Grand Final in Adelaide.


Moreover, I Tweeted out a message to the faithful in women’s footy asking where people were going to gather to watch it, and lo and behold, between Kate O’Halloran and Susan Alberti, it’s now being screened live at Fed Square. When I worried about the weather, they (Fed Square) assured me there’s only 40% chance of rain and there are plenty of large umbrellas around. Sister Denise and I are heading there on Sunday with our folding chairs and brollies, and I hope that many more will trek there and join the fun (and make the public viewing worthwhile for all.)


People power and player power were in full force in the AFLW this week.


The first game of the men’s season for the Saints felt quiet in the face of all this. Uncle Bob, Auntie Betty and Garry all had a function on, leaving Rina and I to spread out, on a balmy day with the roof open, and a small crowd to be had.


We’d spotted two Gold Coast supporters on the way in, and the announcer on the walk way, when he saw the second, said “The Gold Coast crowd has grown 50%”.


It is plain weird having warm weather at the footy, I felt that all through the three AFLW seasons. Having had a lunch at the pub nearby, Rina and I settled in to see what the boys could produce.


What a strange game. I can only hope that rust and first game jitters were responsible for some of the terrible football on display.


And yet it was a high scoring game. Go figure.  After a few thrusts forward with no success, Ben Long snapped a sneaky first goal and we were off. Peter Wright answered, then Alex Sexton, both Gold Coast. When Anthony Miles, their team mate got their third, quickly, Saints fans shifted a little uncomfortably in our hard seats. Wright got his second before St Kilda finally got the ball back through Tim Membrey. Our relief was short lived. Chris Burgess smacked another through. Membrey then newby Matthew Parker settled the home fans down. And Parker was made to feel very welcome indeed.


There were so many skill errors and missed opportunities, though each team were accurate with the scoring.


The commentators on the radio were funny. Their descriptions of the stuff-ups kept us amused.


Jack Sinclair started the second quarter and evened the score, and it was tit for tat after that. David Swallow. Parker for the Saints again. Josh Bruce slotting one through from a free, and Jack Lonie as sneaky one to put the Saints in front by a little. Sexton was having a ripper of a game for Gold Coast and slotted through his second, and Bruce got a huge cheer at his second too. The Gold Coast cheer squad of 20 or so, looked very golden and were noisy when their team was scoring. The stadium was rather empty so both sides could be heard when their team had a moment of success.


We were ahead by 13 at half time.  Rina and I were back at the footy at last. Having cared intensively for her mother until her death last year, Rina had no space or time for footy over the last few years. To have her back, to spend time with my mate, was a blessing.  We watch in our own particular ways, with our radio’s plugged into our ears for all we missed in the comings and goings on the ground in front of us.


Gold Coast were level within minutes of the 3rd with quick goals to Ben Ainsworth and Sextons’ 3rd.  Jade Gresham, quiet to this point, announced himself. Jack Steele followed, and we had some space again before Sexton got his fourth. Bruce pulled Saints forward once again and the margin was 12 points at the last margin.


It was the last quarter that really killed Saints supporters. It was all Gold Coast. Swallow snapped two and it was tied, it took ages and plenty of behinds before another new face Dean Kent kicked truly for Saints only major for the quarter.  Will Power from GC got the Saints fans chewing their nails until the last moments. Saints kicked a behind to at least win the game, and their experienced players defended and kept the ball away from an eager-beaver-improved Gold Coast Suns.


As the siren sounded, Saints sang…but not so enthusiastically.  We almost lost the first game of the season, to the Gold Coast Suns who showed class and maturity. We missed our backline. We missed all our injured players. But we scrapped it out.


After the game I heard Jack Newnes talking about how the Saints players belted out the tune in the room, and had a great sense of achievement at having pulled our in front of a close one. He said the players were relieved. The win meant a lot to them. Pulling together as a team, and holding on, was new for the boys.  It isn’t just the coaches under pressure.  The players have also suffered the loss of Paddy McCartin, again concussed. Of Jake Carlisle, likely out for the year. Of Nathan Brown, suspended for this match. Of Dan Hannebery, our sparkling old/new recruit, who unsurprisingly, had body problems. Of lovely Dylan Roberton, out for the season. Jack Bytel, out for the season. Max King, our highest draft pick, is still 12 weeks away with his knee. Oscar Clavarino – six weeks with an ankle. Doulton Langlands, Rookie, 1-2 with hamstring, as is Billy Longer.


Yet walking away from the ground, I have never seen such deflated Saints supporters after a win.  Many, like us, were shaking our heads, worried about playing better opposition. Thankfully, there were no injuries though a question remained after a late bump by Ben Long.


We had to remind ourselves of the old adage, a win is a win. First game, done and dusted. And thankfully, Essendon had a shocker and gave us hope for next week. Both teams will have something to prove, and plenty of room for improvement. Men’s footy is back.


Now for the AFLW Grand Final, in the snappy cold Melbourne Sunday, at Federation Square.



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About Yvette Wroby

Yvette Wroby writes, cartoons, paints through life and gets most pleasure when it's about football, and more specifically the Saints. Believes in following dreams and having a go.


  1. Good day Yvette .

    Did i correctly hear your CHF from the late 1970’s Gary Sidebottom died? If so that’s sad news.

    It would be good if your team could be inspired by him and win this arvo against Essendon.


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