Round 11 – West Coast v St Kilda: Hope for the Hopeless

West Coast v St Kilda

6:10PM, Saturday June 2

Perth Stadium



Dear Yvette and Yoshi,



I sort of have a soft spot for your Saints.  Sort of like for my exes.  A fondness that grows greater with distance (their words not mine).



St Kilda was my VFL club for 35 years from listening to the ’66 Grand Final on 3WV up to the disgraceful denouement of how the Saints moronic management treated two of the great men of football – Stan Alves and Malcolm Blight. 



For 3 years I was even an Eagles member and a Saints supporter (when push came to shove).



The Avenging Eagle loved getting into her red, black and white to go to Dockers games.  Her enemy’s enemy was my friend.



So this match report is for you – the long suffering Moorabbin faithful.



A lot of the attention has focused on your Saints 7 goals to 1 last quarter.  But you were actually pretty good all game.  It was a pretty scrappy, bruise free encounter, with none of the physical pressure that my Eagles had brought all season.  And our footskills were off all night.  Maybe a lot of Eagles checked out early for the bye.



Still St Kilda dominated the clearances all night and your midfield run and carry was outstanding.  You looked like a good footy side.  Until you needed someone to take a contested mark front or back.



Tom Hickey towelled-up Nic Nait at the centre bounces.  Pity Tom’s so big and clumsy around the ground.  Rowan Marshall is young and inexperienced, but his skill and mobility make him more the model for modern ruckman.



Up forward, Tim Membrey was outstanding with 6 goals and great mobility and contest all night.  He plays a lot like Jack Darling – leading and tackling hard around the 50.  He is a great second or third banana.  But like Jack he lacks the size or overhead capacity to be the main key forward.



I watched Paddy McCartin closely and to his credit I thought he had a real crack.  He reminds me a lot of Scott Cummings with his bulk and his strong leading.  Like big Scotty he lacks the motor and hardness to offer pressure, and make it hard for defences to run the ball out.



Handy footballer tarred with the brush of being #1 Draft pick.



Not having Jake Carlisle (deservedly) because of last week’s brain fade/cheap shot hurt you – but jeez – if he wasn’t a dill would Essendon have ever sold him?  St Kilda have bought the Sydney Harbour Bridge a dozen times in the last decade.



You have injuries to experienced players – but Nathan Brown is a plodder; Josh Bruce a gunna; and Sam Gilbert yesterday’s man.  Of your injured trades only Dylan Roberton looked like he would make a serious footballer.



I expected the Saints to be a rabble but you played good, committed, running team football all night.  The players looked like they wanted to play for each other and for Richo.  Which pleasantly surprised me, because I assumed there were morale problems from your results.  



Richo reminds me a lot of Brendan McCartney in his time as senior coach at the Bulldogs.  An outstanding person with a solid track record of developing young talent at other clubs.  Maybe both are unlucky – wrong club at the wrong time.  But my life experience suggests some of us are better as second banana loading the bullets for others with the ruthlessness to fire.  Rabbits in the spotlight when the focus is on us.



Worked out ok for the Bulldogs afterwards and the Demons picked up a quality person with a great footy brain as an Assistant Coach.



My most damning criticism of the Saints is their off field leadership and particularly their recruiting.   They have built a team of super smalls, which is hard to understand when they have known for 5 years that they needed to find replacements for St Nick.



Recruiting is hard for unsuccessful clubs in the era of free agency.  If Andrew Gaff decides to go home and take the money it will be to a team with prospects like the Demons who have clearly recruited larger and stronger bodied midfielders than Newnes, Dunstan etc etc.  Nathan Fyfe will want out of the Dockers rabble soon enough, but it will be to a big club like Hawthorn or Collingwood that have built a base as finals contenders.



Jack Steven was hard and fast and clever all night.  Membrey outstanding.  Seb Ross tireless.  Jack Sinclair quick and hard working.  Hunter Clark ran with Andrew Gaff all night, and both nullified him and will have learned a lot about what is required to become an elite midfielder.



The 25/12 free kick count was ridiculous and the Saints got none of the marginal frees paid to the Eagles.  The umpires seemed to pay a lot of ‘technical’ high tackle/over the shoulder frees for incidental contact to both sides. Protect the head by all means, but umpires seem to get sucked into rewarding players who lead/duck with their head/shrug their shoulders.  The only certainty is that we will also get murdered by the umps when we play away at interstate cauldrons.  Ear plugs please for the persons in lime.



Things are never as bad as they seem, or as good as they seem.  But the off-field leadership at the Saints need to get a lot smarter and more ruthless if the club is to rise out of mediocrity.  Find an extroverted coach; some extroverted follow-me on field leaders; and 2 good key position players – the current Saints would be 8th not 16th.



For my Eagles – Shannon Hurn was BOG (again).  Scott Lycett and Tom Barrass had solid games.  Josh Kennedy had his best game of the season.  Liam Duggan and Brad Sheppard ran and rebounded.



Most of the rest looked like they needed a holiday.  The bye has come at a good time.  Lewis Jetta plays like he needs a long holiday – at East Perth.



10-1 at the break is beyond my wildest dreams.  My worst case scenario is 5-6 for the rest of the season, with plenty of scope for upside.  Top 4 certainly and top 2 with all home finals probably.  



In an even season we are at the head of the pack for good reason, but injuries to key players could pull any club back to the field.  Our best side is still a work in progress.  Venables and Ryan looked outstanding young prospects at the start of the year.  Waterman and Ah Chee’s field kicking is a worry, but bringing the others in trades out size for speed.  Who makes way for Shuey (and maybe Masten)?  And who grabs the defensive quarterback role that Jetta has squandered? Good problems to have.



Worryingly the Avenging Eagle and I have booked flights to Melbourne for Grand Final week.  Our recent record is that we have our best years when I am sure we are no hope and go overseas.



I have contacted Mr Wrap and offered to share the bill at the Almanac Lunch reprising our 2 hour Waldorf and Statler standup routine.  Mr Harms is unenthusiastic.  His heart is with the Cats, but his pocket wants Tigers again.



Go Eagles.



WEST COAST      5.0   10.1   15.3   16.5 (101)
ST KILDA            2.1    5.3    7.3      14.4 (88)


West Coast: Kennedy 6, LeCras 2, Cripps 2, Naitanui 2, Rioli, Waterman, Sheed, Gaff

St Kilda: Membrey 6, Gresham 2, Newnes 2, McCartin, Lonie, Weller, Sinclair


West Coast: Hurn, Kennedy, Lycett, Barrass, Duggan, Sheed, Sheppard

St Kilda: Steven, Membrey, Sinclair, Ross, Clark


Attendance: 54,188


My Votes: Shannon Hurn (WC) 3; Jack Steven (St K) 2; Tim Membrey (St K) 1



  1. Losing Darling didn’t help. Having Jetta at the back reduces the effect of the good work that Hurn,McGovern and Shephard bring each week.Where was Redden? Yeo? On that tropical beach?
    Perth Stadium is a fast ground and the Saints small brigade stayed fast.
    Waterman and Rioli are a great young pair, went through recovery last year and with Ryan due to return,maybe the small forward set-up will keep things ticking through the wet slog of winter

  2. Howdy PB

    Round 23 of 2016 was nightmarish on the Friday night when the Crows left Adelaide Oval to the Eagles but I was most impressed by Barass on that occasion. He seems to be tracking reasonably.

    We may need to forfeit the match against West Coast at the end of June.

  3. Phillip Dimitriadis says

    Here I was thinking you were a sinner before you became a Saint. 10-1 ? Take it end enjoy PB.

  4. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    If we forfeit Mickey, can I get a refund on the three tickets that I’ve bought (plus flights)?

  5. We may need you in a forward pocket Swish.

  6. Good morning PB,

    Thank you for your great match report for us. You wrote positively on the mighty Saints. Even we have been on the tough path, I keep faith to the footy club.

    I really wished we had been comparative from the season’s start. Young players are doing well and I hope they keep doing and never stop blossoming. I want to see Membrey kicking goals and goals!

    The Western Bulldogs let McCartney go and hired Luke Beverage who is a premiership coach. Bevo had done a good job, but sadly his side is struggling now. Believing Richo having good communications with players, I want him to stay at his job and unlikely to McCartney to become a premiership coach. I admire him coaching on the bench these days.

    Go the Saints!


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