Round 14 – Essendon v St Kilda: It’s raining goals, hallelujah

AFL Round 14: Essendon v St Kilda

Etihad Stadium

Sunday 5th July, 2015 1.10pm


In what has been a tough week off the field, our usual routine shifting to pay respect for the awful death of Phil Walsh. The minute’s silence before the game. The magnificent tributes have been flowing with the players and coaches standing arm in arm in the centre of the ground after the final siren for another minute’s silence. Arm in arm with the opposition that just moments before were your foe. After all is said and done, we are all linked.

In an hour and a half, the Adelaide Oval will be opened and the siren will ring out with no game on the field.

Today, travelling in alone and waiting for Scot and his sister Jenn to arrive as my guests, I contemplate what the game will feel like without the hullabaloo that usually surrounds it. The banners and the club songs, the fanfare and music. The game stripped back to the basics. Stripped back and raw with feelings and memories.

I met Jenn, and then Scot, in 2013 when Jenn happened upon my “Wonderful Obsessions” art exhibition. Jenn declared she and Scot were Saints “tragics”, and it ended up they sat as reserve members a few sections across from us. With my six-month overseas sojourn, and then the last year and a half of family preoccupation, we haven’t seen each other. Meeting Scot again on the train after the Doggies match linked us all up again.

We met outside Gate 1, me thinking that sitting next to the Saints Cheer Squad would have us the opposite ends to usual, but I forget how weird playing Essendon is. We can’t get good seats up in the 3rd Tier with the Moorabbin Wingers for the Essendon game because of their huge membership numbers, so Michael E once again rescued us all by organising a group booking in the aisle next to the Cheer Squad, behind the little sticks. So we came in the complete opposite entrance than we needed, and got a good walk with Jenn and Scot continuing to bump into old friends and acquaintances. The social butterflies and I finally bumped into Uncle Bob and Garry at the top of Aisle 23. The makeshift Moorabbin Wing. And lo and behold, in the seats in front of me, are the maestros themselves, Steve and Ben. The creators of the atmosphere, the leaders of the band. The merry inventors and pranksters of the Moorabbin Wing.

Sitting three rows back from the ground, just behind the point post, we enjoyed the quieter atmosphere and the change in pace without run-throughs. A good time for stories. Jenn’s proved a long one, except she had to change places to get a better view. Jenn tells me she and both brothers had an absent father, someone who just wasn’t there for his three kids. I normally wouldn’t put this detail in, except Jenn said because of that, when Scot, then 10 and two years older, asked her to join him and his friends at Moorabbin, it was an offer and an attention that stunned and delighted her. She can remember the feeling of being seen and included, but nothing about her first game. What blew her mind was that Scot wasn’t embarrassed to be seen with his little sister, a rarity in brothers as I can attest.

She went a few more times, and as she grew, and hormones kicked in, it was “Hel-lo Trevor Barker” and the rest of the spunky boys. It was a wonderful journey, going to the footy with her brother over the years. Her other brother is a Richmond supporter. Scot has been a member for over 37 years.

Scott remembers when he was 6 his Dad bought him a Melbourne jumper. He wore it to school a number of times and decided, “It’s not for me.” He spent a lot of time in St Kilda as a young boy – Luna Park, St Moritz and Leo’s Spaghetti Bar. He just loved the St Kilda colours and the stick figure image. No one at school barracked for the Saints. In ’78, he got involved in the Cheer Squad and made banners. He said when he was young, he wanted to be in the little league, but it was Hawthorn’s zone and even then he knew which colours he wanted to play in.

My interviewing is interrupted by the team coming out to our right, and the strangeness of the afternoon quiet. With teams lined up and arms linked, we had our pregame moment of silence.

And then it was game time.

And what a game. I had expected a close game with some chance of a win. Hmmm. It wasn’t like that at all.

The Saints were kicking to our end, and they kicked indeed. Membrey started the party after missing twice. Ben and Steve were up, and it was Steve who began the chanting, co-ordinating with the cheer squad leaders in the next aisle. Shortly after, we were up and cheering again.

Then the chanting started (to the tune of Jesus Christ, Superstar…): “Rie-woldt, super-star, how many goals have you kicked so far.” My pen was madly scribbling, this was gold.

In front of us were ex-Saints, Gwilt in defence and Goddard moving around the field. The boys in front booed Goddard, and when Jenn pulled them up, he said that Goddard moved for money and Gwilt had no choice. For the rest of the game, anytime Goddard was near, out came Ben’s $5 note and he waved it saying, “Here you are, Goddard.” Sainters have long memory for perceived “sinners”.

There was some movement for Essendon with a good goal to Hooker, and Heppell worked hard all game. Gilbert this week was great at marks AND kicking. Riewoldt was often up the other end in defence, but he needn’t have bothered. The ball was continually in the Saints forward line, right in front of us.

It became a full on attack: Newnes, Bruce from a great pass from Gilbert, and Bruce again.

When Bruce kicked truly, the choirmasters chanted (to the tune of Hey Jude):

“Na na na nan-na na na, nan-na na na, Hey Bruce” (twice).

We were pretty happy with the quarter time scoreboard: Essendon 1.0.6 v St Kilda 5.3.33. This is NOT what we expected. Each time we goaled, Steve and Ben stood up, encouraging us all to join in. Their job just got easier and easier.

Come second quarter, Essendon seemed spooked. They’d lost confidence, and when they started to kick backwards in defence, we knew how good that was for us. Gwilt got the ball but was bullied out of it, and it was another major to Bruce. Cooney settled his side with a better Bomber buildup and result. But our team was in a mood. A great, magnificent mood. The next four goals were by Sinclair (back on our list, praise be the gods), Lonie and two unbelievable Montagna shots. What great work and follow up by Montagna, he seems so much fitter. The boys chanted “Ooh, aah, Mont-ag-na” while thumbing their chests.

Newnes gives away a free kick to the ever-reliable Heppell, and Daniher stole the ball from Fisher after finding himself under pressure. Heppell  smacked another one through with 48 seconds to go. We thought it was a comeback, and that after half time, there would be a tougher match on our hands.

I chatted to Ben. He is a Saint supporter through his late grandfather, and they spent many years at the footy together, even going early on to Waverly to watch the reserves and the seniors. In 2001, Ben met Steve up on the third tier on Aisle 35, the Robert Harvey section. They kept in touch, and a partnership was formed. Steve works as a phone counsellor for the Drugs and Alcohol Services and had a Sunday shift. The pay made it worth missing the amazing second half. He had to take throat lozenges before half time to make sure his voice lasted the night.

(I did get to offer my song writing services to them both, having written some songs in the past, and changed words for others. I was up for the challenge of finding a few more chants for the Moorabbin Wingers to share.)

The boys told me of Hickey’s tune (sung to Oh Micky), “Oh Hickey you’re so fine, You’re so fine you blow my mind, hey Hickey, hey Hickey.”

They’re looking to make the lyrics to “Jolene” about Jack Billings. (I gave it a crack at home later.)

“JB, JB, JB Jay Bee,
Please be a Saint forever, be our man.

JB, JB, JB Jay Bee,

Please be a Saint forever, you’re our man.”

And then heaven returned after half time. Not the crunch we thought we’d get from Essendon, but the flow of goals towards us. Jimmy Webster started the fun, Nick Riewoldt and then Shane Savage from over 50 out. The singing began now. There may not have been singing before and after the game, but there was definitely singing now. Hooker got his second, and every time Essendon goaled you could see that flicker of hope go around to the 35,000 in the stadium. Our 3,000 have been there, done that.

Weller goaled, leading into space and having a great mark: “Weller, Weller, Weller, tell me more tell me more…” from Grease. Then Bruce goals his forth, to the love chant, “Bruuuuuuuuuuuuce”. The Saints’ pressure continues. Huge pressure, even so far ahead. Then Weller with another wonderful gift, and more singing, “Weller, Weller, Weller…..” And Armitage flexes his lovely muscles, goaling, before Hubbard goals just before third quarter.

Still we wait for Essendon to come and play, but they are broken, really depressed, and understandably so. It is a total flogging and we are leading by 11 goals. In the third quarter, from somewhere behind me, a ball being returned to the ground, I got a knock to the head. Thankfully, I was wearing a good, thick warm hat. It was the only crappy thing that happened all night.

The last quarter was truly magnificent. There was talk of the first to 100 usually wins. We were on the way. We were marching home. We were singing “Oh When the Saints…” over and over again.

Schneider goals to start the final marching in. “Schneiderman, Scheiderman, do whatever spiders can…”

We were having so much fun. Riewoldt yet again with his third. “Oh happy days, (oh happy days).” This song wasn’t sung out loud; this is just what we were all experiencing. Indescribably happy Saints supporters who haven’t been this up and about since the grand march of 19 wins in a row in 2009. All around me, we are grinning ear to ear. I am getting happy texts from Rina and Denise. Uncle Bob and Garry smiling beside me. No one can believe how this game is going.

Then it was Luke Dunstan’s turn. (I know what I’ll sing next time: to the tune of “The Look”, “We’ve got the Luke, We’ve got the Luke, What in the world can fans like us shout out, we’ll do anything for you and sing it out, la la la we got the Luke”.)

We were just playing with them now. Having some fun. Taking revenge for who knows what. Perhaps it is because it was Essendon spoiled our mojo in 2009. Or maybe it was because we have not played this well, this consistently, over four quarters, forever.

Hooker gets Essendon’s last for the night. But the Saints aren’t finished. David Armitage continues his magnificent night, followed by a stolen goal from Sinclair. Magically stolen from the centre bounce, and he kicks it straight through the empty square. Riewoldt gets another through from the goal line, an amazing mark and kick around goal. That’s his 4th. Then “Bruuuuuuuccccccceeeee” gets his fifth and last. As it turns out, Membrey bookends the night having the first goal and the last of the game.

All the singing and celebrating happened throughout the game, and the moment the siren went, we remembered again the sombre events of early Friday morning. Those left — and there were quite a few — waited while the players first shook hands, and then gathered in the centre, arm in arm with their coaches, and stopped all the nonsense for a minute to reflect.

Going home, we floated. Still grinning. All determined to watch replays again and again.

My Twitter feed was going nuts with comments, replays and celebrations. I put up a picture of my Footy Record scoring methods, showing all the numbers on the St Kilda side. We were running out of room.

Come Tuesday, I get a phone call from Danielle, telling me that my fake grandson Luke actually watched the game with friends, really engaged. Luke kept saying, “St Kilda got it again, Mummy, they got it again.” In the breaks, he would go kick the ball around with his cousins, saying, “I kicked it like the players, Mummy, I hand-passed it like the players.” He was so excited. At 4 he has seen his first major victory of his team, the team Nanna Yvette signed him up for at the beginning of the season. He was at the first match with Nanna first round, and now he saw the kind of game that puts you in love with your team forever. The sort of game that shows promise and future. The sort of game which brings you a new fan for life.

Come Wednesday, I heard back from Steve with his and the Moorabbin Wings’ full story. It’s so brilliant I’ve included it in full. All good stories need a home, and it has found one here:

“I was in utero when St Kilda won the Premiership. Clearly I was spiritually infused with the bliss of that time because I have loved the mighty Saints ever since I was old enough to remember.

“I have to thank our neighbour Mrs Bull, who I can’t remember at all, for christening me a Sainter. She badgered my pregnant Mum, saying ‘If he doesn’t barrack for St Kilda, he’s not going to be a good neighbour.’

“My parents are immigrants from Germany. My dad only nominally supported the Saints when I was young. It is not widely known that many Germans support the Saints due to the colours – the same as the old German unity tri-colour flag. It is ironic because St Kilda had to change our colours during the world wars because they clashed with this same German flag. I am proud of my German heritage and follow my Oma’s team Schalke in the Bundesliga.

“I can remember being 5 years old and running home from kicking the footy with the neighbours’ kids to get the scores on the news. When I discovered the football was on the radio at age 6, my Saturday afternoons were spent glued to the voice of Harry Beitzel or Jack Dyer. ‘3KZ is Football.’

“At 13 I was allowed to go to the footy by myself. By about 16 I was going every week. I bought my first membership in 1984 and stood on the ground-level terraces at Moorabbin on the Wing. I loved the chanting. It was the most exhilarating time of the week standing on those terraces, even though the Saints were being thrashed constantly. The first wing at Moorabbin inspired the current one.

“I was devastated when we left Moorabbin. I cried at the last game against Fitzroy in 1992. Of course I followed the team to Waverley, but it was cold and barren and I was pleased when we moved to Docklands.

“Tim Watson is a blip in our history, but he gave me the idea for the Moorabbin Wing. At a Club info session before the first-ever game at Docklands he told supporters he wanted the whole city side of the stadium bathed in red, white and black.

“I sat on level 3 on the city side wing from the beginning of the Docklands era. The team were struggling on field and there were not many other Sainters up there at the time. Then during the second season something amazing happened. A young teenager called Ben sat in the row in front of me at a match. We were both going sick trying to rev up the handful of Saints fans around us. Ben switched seats to the vacant one next to mine and a ‘bromance’ was born. He has been one of my best mates on and off the field since. My partner calls him my ‘footy boyfriend’. We now also support Melbourne City together in the A-league.

“Ben shared the same vision. At that first meeting he said something like ‘wouldn’t it be great if this whole area was full of Sainters.’ That moment was the conception of what became the Moorabbin Wing. We met several times over the summer of 2001/02 to plan our moves.

“First we wrote to the Club with our idea and got a lukewarm response from then-CEO Brian Waldron. At least he bothered to reply. We said, ‘Stuff this, we’ll do it ourselves.’

“The next step was an early version of crowdfunding. We posted our idea on the Saintsational Fan Forum, opened a ‘Moorabbin Wing’ bank account and within weeks solicited donations of nearly $500. We printed off flyers calling for Saints fans to head to aisle 35 on level 3, a convenient number as it was both the physical centre of the Wing and the number of our hero, Robert Harvey.

“We stood on the cold, windswept footbridge before games for many weeks and handed out the flyers. We appealed for distribution help on Saintsational. That is how we met Michael Egan and a couple of other Wing regulars. Michael is an organisational genius. He became the Chief of the Wing; Ben and I became the Shamans.

“Soon the Wing was huge as the team climbed the ladder. Ben and I revved up the crowd and made up songs for the players. We both love soccer and are inspired by the crowds in Europe.

“As Club membership and attendance declined following the end of the last on-field era, the Wing too has ebbed, but we are on this for the long haul and it will rise again. I fully accept that I am addicted and that my blood runs red, white and black. Football is an escape. Watching a game is like meditation. It is the modern religion. It is very Pentecostal. It is mysterious. I even believe there is a footy god, and I occasional speak to it. St Kilda have the soul of its birth suburb. We are diverse, passionate, ruled by primal instinct, artistic, progressive, and tolerant, even leaning towards bohemian. The Moorabbin Wing clearly reflects this archetype.

“I actually work as an addiction counsellor. It is a very St Kilda profession, and indeed we are the most supported club in my workplace, with about 5 or 6 other Sainters as colleagues. Occasionally they will come and sit on the Wing. St Kilda permeates my life. Perhaps it will lead to my death. What a way to go.”

What a story, what an afternoon, and what a week in footy. GWS is calling, and a road trip is on for next weekend. Now off to watch the replay again.


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. Patrick O'Brien says

    Five days later and I’m checking the score each day just to make sure this actually happened.

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