Round 19 – St Kilda v Fremantle : From Lilliput with love.

I am not sure how it happened, but my little bloke has turned out to be a ‘Sainter’. I have warned him of the miserable time ahead, but he won’t be swayed. I can’t claim to be too disappointed. I have always had a soft spot for them. Despite some recent success for my own confused alliances I don’t think I have ever barracked harder than during the first big dance of 2010.

To get to see the big league live is complicated for my clan. There is no short trip on the #16 tram. We require a long trek through the heart of Gippsland. It’s the same story each time. We plan like Rommel but execute like the Griswold’s. My wife provided the highlight. An English rose with many fine qualities, she can however be scathing of the antipodean way. To find her caught short on the freeway and forced to liquid fertilise by the Chadstone off-ramp is a moment we treasure.

Once settled we head to Etihad. The walk is an early Father’s day treat. Hand in hand with my little bloke, the possibilities endless before us. He’s only previous live view of the Saints was the Essendon slaughter. He thinks that’s the norm. He knows the ladder positions but pays them no respect. I try to provide some voice of reason, but who am I to douse the flames of the innocent?

“Imagine if we smashed them?”, “Are you sure Saint Nick is playing?”, “Will they let the Bruce out?”, ‘‘It’s a shame about Nat Fyfe but it will help us”. The stream of his conscious thought bubbles strongly all the way to the stadium.

We head up stairs and find a seat on the rails. The song is sung with gusto and when Lonie dribbles the first goal through I look into the eyes of a true believer. The next hour is sobering. Freo are polished by hand and foot and slice through the Saints with ease. We watch Sandilands in awe. From above I imagine I am in Jonathon Swift’s mind, with Lilliput spread out below me. As the margin nears ten goals I wonder about the etiquette of playing the protector. This could scar. I sneak some glances sideways expecting tears but thankfully find just unrealistic optimism.

“Remember what we did to the Dogs?”, “If we start to kick straight we can win”. He even has an ear open to the noise around him. “If the Dufus umpire did his job properly we would be miles ahead”.

The Saints are brave after half time. They look sore, and drive in reverse too often but hang in the game and avert the possible blowout. Their mids are honest but the disposal lacks polish. Up forward Nick needs help. Down back they need a general. I hope they go forward next year but have concerns for my little bloke. Freo cruise. Every so often they flex a bicep and charge forward. Hill provides class and Mundy, Neale and Pierce provide grunt. For mine however the doubts remain. Fyfe and McPharlin need to regain full health quickly. Three goals in a half won’t beat the Hawks in October.

We depart from the ground as we walked to it. Hands entwined and talking footy. My little Sainter is doing the Maths. A one win one loss pattern has been established. It doesn’t matter who is next, he has locked it in as a triumph. He tells me he will probably play for them when he is older. I hold his hand tightly, living my dream already.

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