Round 19- St Kilda v Fremantle: And on the 36,163rd day, the Saints played Freo

Rhees Jess Macauley

Jess Macaulay turned 99 years old on Wednesday. My partner’s Gran is still going strong, she still has that mischievous twinkle in her eye, she’s still quick with a joke and she still loves the Saints.

Jess lives by herself in a neat Wonthaggi flat with an immaculate garden. She still drives – mostly down to the shops for groceries not at night and not when it’s raining.

Last Sunday, her 36,163rd day on Earth, Jess would have poured herself a whisky before sitting down to watch her beloved Saints take on the Dockers.

She started following the Saints through Fred, her husband of more than 50 years. A talented footballer, Fred grew up St Kilda but his job as a commercial salesman meant that he couldn’t commit to training. He and Jess lived most of their life in Yarram where they ran a store. Fred served as President of the Alberton Football League.

Jess and Fred were at the MGC to for the Saints only Premiership back in 1966. They drank champagne with friends and watched from the Members. Jess says that while Fred had a few too many and barely made out the gate, it was a magnificent day.

Fred passed away more the fifteen years ago leaving Jess to watch the Saints by herself. Of the current players, Nick Riewoldt is her favourite, she wouldn’t mind if he left his boots under her bed she says.

Jess reckons St Kilda have found themselves a good man in Alan Richardson. She thinks under his watch that the club is on track to deliver that much yearned for second flag within five years.

Jess enjoyed their recent wins over the Bombers and Melbourne but wishes they wouldn’t wait until the final quarter before taking the game on. If she were coach she would tell the boys to start their runs a little earlier. And so it was on Sunday. Other than a Jack Lonie goal in the first two minutes it was one-way Docker traffic for the first three quarters.

Jess’s man Riewoldt ran and ran as usual but was wayward. Montagna, Steven and Dempster tried hard but Freo’s big-men Sandilands, Pavlich and Jonathon Griffin were dominant. Twelve goals to two Freo’s way saw the game over at half time.

The Saints started to get their game going after the long break but couldn’t seem to translate it into scoreboard pressure.

Riewoldt registered his first major early in the last to put a smile on Jess’s face. Goals to Steven and Bruce followed and the Saints were coming home with a wet sail. When McCartin and Montagna chimed in, Jess’s boys finished strongly. Five goals to one in the final quarter gave weight to her earlier comment.

Each week Jess cuts the AFL ladder out of The Sun and pins it on the fridge underneath a St Kilda magnet. She’s watched the Saint’s fortunes improve over the course of the year. Here’s hoping that this time next year, at the time of her centenary, that Jess’s Saints have continued that upward trajectory and her theory on their premiership prospects holds true.

About Rees Quilford

Communications stooge. PhD student. Occasional scribbler. Football watcher. Underwater Hockey tragic.


  1. Superb portrait of Jess, imagine the changes she would have seen to the game in that time….from rules, gear,crowds grounds, and all the rest.

  2. Thanks Kate, glad you enjoyed it. Jess is a dynamo, she has witnessed so much change and has some amazing stories to tell.

  3. Kate Mathies (Longstaff) says

    Love this Rees. I knocked on jess’s door when I was home last to say hello but couldn’t catch her. She was so lovely to my nana when pop died, visiting her and dragging her along to her many social outings. A remarkable lady!

  4. Hey Kate, she is a hard lady to catch, still maintains a hectic social calendar.

  5. Kirsten Perrin says

    Thanks for the great read Rees, Jess sounds like a brilliant lady! My Aunty is staunch Saints, although a long way off 99, and I can see her cutting out the ladder and sticking it on the fridge a la Jess style. Hope she has a tiny bit of love for us purple people too. Best of luck for the rest of the season!

  6. This is terrific Rees. Have you got a photo?

  7. Hey Kirsten, don’t think Jess has an unhappy bone in her body. There would be no ill will towards the Dockers.

  8. Hey John, have one from her birthday. See Will also email it.

  9. Peter Fuller says

    Wonderful story, Rees, what a trouper Jess is!
    It’s grand to think of how much football and club allegiance has meant to so many people over long lives.
    Anyone who has stuck with the Saints over the decades deserves some success. I can only hope that Jess’ confidence in Alan Richardsonand the contemporary Saints will be rewarded.

  10. Yvette Wroby says

    Hi Rees we are blessed to have the story of Jess and you are blessed to have Jess . Thanks for sharing

  11. Very true Yvette, it’s a pleasure spending time with her.

Leave a Comment