Round 16 – St Kilda v Richmond: A Tale of Two Football Clubs



A tale of two football clubs


It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way – in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.


-Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities.


Yes, old Charlie Dickens clearly was a footy fan all right.  This opening passage from his influential novel could quite possibly have been penned about two football clubs rather than two cities, those clubs being Richmond and St Kilda.


These are the two yin and yang clubs of the AFL.  When one of these clubs is riding high and is challenging the other usually isn’t.  Since time immemorial the burning question for each club has always been the same.  Are they in the best of times or in the worst of times?  Sadly for both, mainly the answer to this question has been the latter.


Is Richmond the new St Kilda, or is St Kilda the new Richmond?  Are we in an epoch of belief or of incredulity?  Which club has been the most disappointing to its fans, the club that is well in its fourth consecutive decade of incompetence or the one that has only saluted once in 120 years, and is just coming off a short period of relative success, nearly winning a Grand Final?  Several of those Saints who went so close a few years ago were still running around on Saturday night.  Are the Saints going directly to Heaven, or going direct the other way?


Is St Kilda rebuilding?  How can it be, with ancient warriors like Nick Riewoldt, Leigh Montagna and Sam Gilbert still “in that number?”  Do they have everything or nothing before them?


What is Richmond up to?  How many years, exactly, into which of many five year plans are they in?  Is a Premiership window opening this year or is another one closing?  Not that it was open for all that long, if it is indeed closing!  Is this the age of Dusty, Alex Rance and Cotchin, or is it just another false dawn?  Is this the age of wisdom or the age of foolishness?


Are these two teams rising, falling, contending or merely trying hard again?


Not that the large crowd that assembled to watch this game on Saturday night was concerned with any of this. Proceedings began in a subdued fashion, the Saints opening up a two-goal lead fairly quickly.  The 2017 model Richmond has conceded the first two goals of a game quite regularly, and it has rarely been much of an issue.  The ball seemed to be bouncing into St Kilda hands more than Richmond fans would like though and the Tigers began the game looking like they had lead in their boots. When, at quarter time, the Saints led by five goals to one, warning bells were sounding.


The first fifteen minutes of the second quarter saw the Saints play what is most likely to be the most exhilarating football of the season thus far.  They slammed on goal after goal with ridiculous ease, bombing them in from long distance, running them in from point-blank range and working the angles.  Nothing could go wrong.  Even their mistakes were tidied up by team-mates and made to look like they were carefully planned and executed manoeuvres.


St Kilda’s tall forwards had a plan to break up Richmond’s defence.  The Tigers’ strength this year has been the manner in which Rance, Astbury and Grimes work together to control the air in opposition forward lines. Riewoldt of the St Kilda variety would run Rance up to the wing at every opportunity and the other two would be dragged in the opposite direction, time and again.  When Membrey knocked the brave Dylan Grimes into the changing rooms, the gig was up.  By that stage the game was over anyway.


That Membrey went on to bag five goals grates, even under extreme pressure Grimes had him covered until that point.  That he has only been suspended for two weeks also grates but, in football, as in all things, this is the season of darkness.


St Kilda’s many Jacks, Steele, Billings, Lonie and Steven were all very good.  Montagna turned the clock back five years.  So did Gilbert.  Their under-rated captain, Geary was wonderful in defence, as was Carlisle.  It is hard to find a more complete game from a team this year.


We saw on Saturday night where the Saints may be heading but what of the Tigers?  They have hardly completed a winter of despair, to suggest that is unfair.  Truth be known, they are well ahead of where even their staunchest supporters would expect them to be.  Maybe this is not yet a winter of despair but certainly, after Saturday night, it is far less comfortable than it was.


Will there be the spring of hope?

ST KILDA     5.3  14.8  19.8  21.12 (138)
RICHMOND  1.3   1.4    4.9   10.11 (71)

St Kilda:
Membrey 5, Riewoldt 3, Bruce 2, Stevens 2, Gresham 2, Montagna 2, Ross, Billings, Longer, Steven, McKenzie
Richmond: Castagna 2, Cotchin, Caddy, Grigg, Martin, Butler, Lloyd, Ellis, Riewoldt

St Kilda:
Ross, Steven,Riewoldt, Montagna, Stevens, Steele, Membrey, Sinclair, Longer
Richmond: Lambert, Grigg, Ellis, Edwards, Astbury

St Kilda
: Nil
Richmond: Grimes (concussion)

Reports: Trent Cotchin (Richmond) was reported for striking Jack Lonie (St Kilda) in the second quarter.

Umpires: Schmitt, Ryan, Mollison

Official crowd: 47,514 at Etihad Stadium


About Joe De Petro

My favourite period in history began with the Summer of Love and came to a sad end with the birth of Disco. It was from 1967 to 1975. What was not to like in those days? The Grateful Dead, Creedence, The Beach Boys, The Doors, Janis Joplin, Cat Stevens, Neil Diamond and the mighty Tigers won Premierships every other year. It was a magical time, much like the current period in history.


  1. G’day Joe,

    My Saints are still going back and forth. Your Richmond seem too. But in diffetent spans.

    The game was a fundraising one for Maddie Riewoldt so our loyal player and former skipper Nick showed efforts and his teammates followed.

    Sadly Cotchin showed impatient and got suspended. I think he needs better leadership.

    But a week later, St Kilda were defeated much by Bombers and your Richmond won comfortably against Lions. That’s the difference between two clubs.



  2. Joe De Petro says

    It’s a funny season, Yoshi. The form line of the last few weeks suggested that Brisbane would beat the Tigers by over 100 points. Brisbane beat Essendon by 8, Essendon beat Saints by 61, Saints beat Tigers by 67.

    Footy be crazy sometimes.

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