Round 18 – Western Bulldogs v St Kilda: Analyze this

I’ve been to Australia three times, and I love the place and the people, but there are some things I can’t figure out:


** Where’s your applesauce? Back in the States, we have original, unsweetened, chunky, super chunky, organic, cinnamon, raspberry, strawberry, etc., etc. Here the best I could find were a couple of kiddy squeeze tubes. Maybe it’s to clear shelves for new varieties of Vegemite?


** TV listings. I guess they’re just goals or estimates. 9:30 becomes 9:40. Or 10:20 becomes 10:35. Or 10:10. How did you ever set a VCR before program signals?


** The fondness for hyper-dramatic footy announcers, where every goal is a game-changer, every mistake is an embarrassment, and every play has a hero and a goat. I was weaned on Rex Hunt’s breathless radio calls before the TV stream got better and I could switch over. I would listen to Dennis Cometti read the telephone directory. But he’s the exception. (I was delighted that the insufferable Brian Taylor was nowhere near the Saints-Bulldogs game Saturday night.)


** How the Saints went from wooden-spoon contenders to finals hopefuls (albeit a long shot this season) by mining other teams’ rosters for talent. Tim Membrey was delisted by Sydney and has 34 goals this season. Mav Weller was dropped by Gold Coast and has both scored 21 goals and become a team leader. Josh Bruce was acquired from GWS as a defender but moved to forward and scored 29 goals this season (and 50 last). Ruckman Tom Hickey came in a trade from Gold Coast. Shane Savage, a key defender, came from Hawthorn for Ben McAvoy, who has been ably replaced by Hickey.


The return to respectability is maybe a year or so early, but it’s fueled by belief in Richo’s system – push, push, push upfield in transition, swarm the ballcarrier and constantly harass on defense. Seven wins from the last nine games after a 2-6 start, including wins over Geelong and now the Bulldogs, who pounded the still-developing Saints by 57 points in Round 2.


What a difference. The Saints trailed early Saturday night, but the tide turned twice — with five goals bracketing the long break to turn a 12-point deficit into a 19-point lead. Then, after the obligatory comeback to tie the score, the precocious Jade Gresham kicked a goal from a tight angle to put the Saints ahead to stay. (He was also the hero with a dodging, severe-angle score to fuel the late comeback against Geelong. Hard to grasp that he won’t turn 19 until Aug. 24; he plays already five or more years older.)


Like against the Cats, the Saints were able to absorb a comeback and still finish on top. Tough to know what will happen Saturday night, but the Saints erased a 26-point fourth-quarter deficit against the Roos last time out, losing by seven. The winning behind came after a ticky-tack ruck violation; six points were tacked on after the final siren.


** How it can take longer to fly home from Seattle than from Melbourne. We spent a numbing 27 hours in the Denver airport Wednesday and Thursday caught up in the Southwest Airlines computer mess and escaped only by flying to Indianapolis, 120 miles from home, and renting a car at 2:30 a.m. Friday for the two-hour drive back. Final score: Melbourne-Louisville 28 hours, Seattle-Louisville 40. So I didn’t catch the 5:25 a.m. Saints-Bulldogs start live. I don’t think my hours are straight yet.


No travel worries for the Saints, who won’t leave Melbourne for the rest of the home-and-away season, and positively love Etihad, where they’ve won seven straight (since the North Melbourne loss). It’ll be Boomer’s record 427th game; he’s been playing so long that Gresham’s dad was his teammate with the Northern Knights, and remains in contact. Boomer, in fact, has been sort of a mentor to our young lad, who clearly has absorbed the lessons — as his teammates have embraced Richo’s vision.


** How 9-8 can feel like 13-4. But maybe three years in the footy wilderness will do that to you!


WESTERN BULLDOGS       4.2       6.4       9.6       9.6       60

ST KILDA                                3.3       7.4     10.5     11.9       75



Western Bulldogs: Bontempelli 3, Dickson 2, Smith, Redpath, Suckling, Jong

St Kilda: Riewoldt 4, Membrey 2, Weller, Armitage, Steven, Gresham, Wright



Western Bulldogs: Bontempelli, Hunter, Macrae, M. Boyd, Jong

St Kilda: Steven, Riewoldt, Weller, Hickey, Dempster, Geary


UMPIRES: Chamberlain, Harris, Mollison

VOTES: Steven (StK) 3, Riewoldt (StK) 2, Bontempelli (WB) 1

CROWD: 26,532 at Etihad Stadium

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About Glenn Brownstein

I'm a red, white and blue supporter of the red, white and black who became a footy fan through ESPN telecasts in the 1980s and a buddy who founded the American version of the game. Yup, I chose the Saints, but I'd like to think they chose me, too.


  1. Hi Glenn,

    Your piece of writing is so interesting.

    We are lucky to have Membery, Weller and Hickey. I think they are blossoming under Richo. He is a great coach. These young blokes wouldn’t be at St Kilda under Ross Lyon. Then Richo is much better than Lyon, in my opinion.

    As for time keeping on TV, I think it’s due to relaxing cultures. In 2000s I think some bus stops in Australia had no timetable. It happened in New Zealand where I have lived for four years.

    I believe we will win over Kangaroos tomorrow night.

    Go Saints!


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