Round 14 – St Kilda v Geelong: Sport! What is it good for? Absolutely nothing! Good God!

With apologies to Edwin Starr.


What is sport good for? Absolutely nothing? Well, yes and no.


A good friend of mine, Jill, travelled to the Docklands on Saturday night to, in her words, watch the Saints get smashed. Jill, one of the most placid people I have ever met, is a lifelong Saints supporter but for a variety of reasons this was the only match she could make this year. Her expectations were low.


Her mood was low, too. Jill has been struggling recently. The truth is she’s been struggling her whole life – that’s who she is – it’s just that recently the weight has been heavier, the fog thicker, the effort tougher and, worryingly, it’s becoming harder for her to justify the eternal struggle.


I got a text from her just before the match, pretty long for a text, a lot of thoughts bouncing around: how cold the Melbourne nights have turned this week; predicting getting smashed by the Cats; a report on her week, which included breaking things at home; wondering why giving the turps a rest hasn’t helped.


“That’s not me,” she said, referring to the violent destruction.


No, that’s not her. Being vulnerable is, though. Yet acknowledging that vulnerability, accepting the moment and addressing it, instead of masking it with Monday night bottles of red, was hurting. Jill’s husband is scared. I don’t blame him. He feels powerless against the force inside her, the force that will always be inside her.


Half-time and the Saints are up by 24, not even their biggest lead of the match. A stirring win beckons, the much spoken about potential coming good. Smiles all around the stadium mixed with incredulous looks as the Saints faithful turn to each other and laughingly wonder just what the hell’s going on out there.


Jill texted me again.


“Typical Saints. Getting a big lead which they’ll blow in the second half.”


To be fair, I had to agree. It’s the hope that gets ya, ya know? Of course they’re gonna blow it!


And right on cue, here come the Cats! Boom, boom, boom! That’s just what they do; they hunt you down, as if it’s a game (!). Let’s see how much lead we can give you before we catch you and nick the points. Geelong always retake the lead. They always keep it.


Richo has spoken a few times this year about letting teams above them off the hook. He said the next time the Saints were in that type of position they needed to pause, acknowledge the situation and accept they’re good enough to win. Back yourself, in other words.


Still, you’re not meant to beat Geelong after they’ve hunted you down and retaken the lead, not with six minutes to go. It’s just a rule, a force that can’t be stopped.


Jill sent me another text on her way home after the game. She’d sat alone all match, happy enough to do so, and was proud of the way she’d stopped drinking after two beers.


“Clarity hurts,” she admitted.


She spoke of the forces bouncing around the world at the moment. A big energy has been unleashed and it’s mostly dark. She reckons Boris Johnson played with fire, fuelling and exploiting the bad ju ju for his own greed and lust for power, and now the fire is out of control. Jill saw Johnson speaking after the referendum and saw fear in his eyes and heard terror in his voice. She’s good at spotting that sort of stuff.


“Bit late now, Boris, you buffoon.”


Then she got to the footy.


“They never gave up, the Saints! Never! Gresham!”


I could feel the smile in the words.


Jill and her husband got through a tough week last week, probably the toughest they’ve gone through. They’ll have more bad times – acknowledge, accept, address – but hopefully nothing like what they just went through. They deserve a break.


It would be trite to say that winning a footy match offers solace in dark times. Sport is good for absolutely nothing, after all. Yet there was something beautiful about the timing of Saturday night’s win, how it came exactly when Jill was reaching out to try and touch those first tiny feelings of warmth and hope again. Perhaps it’s something magical – or as prosaic as a burst of endorphins causing a mood boost when it’s most needed. Maybe it’s good for something, after all.


It’s our right as supporters to expect the worst, to know as a fact that we’re going to lose, hours before kick off, and then when we win to say it was in the bag all along.


“I had a feeling they’d do it tonight!”


I smiled.


Our Votes: Jill 3 (St. Kilda), Ross 2 (St. Kilda), Riewoldt 1 (St. Kilda).




  1. Brilliant.

  2. G’day Patrick,

    I had been worried of being smashed by Cats after watching a one-side match between Doggies and Cats. Selwood and Dangerfield were doing too good against the Bulldogs.

    Then I thought one of our players would tag Dangerwood. But instead St Kilda boys just did their routines (showing attacking footy). Sticking the positive brought us a big win, I think.

    Then I hope Jill learns how to be strong and keep positive from the win.

    I’m joining the tipping with my mate and his family. Even it seems hard for the Sains to win, I always tip St Kilda because I love Saints and don’t want to turn the back from our boys.

    Go Saints!!


  3. Lovely. Go saints. Go well Jill and Patrick, beautiful writing and thoughts about your struggling friend.

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