Round 19 – St. Kilda v Fremantle: Wounded Saints Never Lost Their Halos

by Braham Dabscheck

4.40 PM Sunday 9 July

Etihad Stadium


The lucky Saints lying 13th on the ladder took on the top of the ladder team, Fremantle at Etihad Stadium. The week before, the Saints had fallen apart against the Power. How would they go against the Dockers? Things started well with Jack Lonie grubbing one through with little more than a minute of play. Then the Dockers took over. They were as smooth as silk and virtually every entry into the 50 resulted in an easy goal. The Saints were blown away. No wonder the Dockers are on top of the ladder.

The Saints got one back with Jack Steven marking near the goal square. Then disaster struck. Within a minute Daniel McKenzie was concussed in a tackle and subbed out of the game, Jack Sinclair received an accidental knee in the head in the goal square and Jack Lonie made a tackle, landed in a heap and damaged his lower leg. Barely able to stand he had a shot for goal which struggled through for a point. In addition to this, Nick Riewoldt was having an off day with his kicking; he was probably playing on two dodgy legs. Down 7 goals to 2 at the first break.

The second quarter started with only one player on the bench. Surprise, surprise the Dockers dominated the second quarter, adding another 5 goals to 4 lousy points by the Saints. Annihilation beckoned. Somehow or other the medical staff managed to work miracles and both Jack Sinclair and Jack Lonie were able to play in the second half. But things got worse on the injury front. Jack Sinclair received another knock on the head. Hugh Goddard, who seems to get better with every game – I like the way he gets in front when competing for marks – received a stray elbow to his cheek; he came back onto the field looking like a hippie from the 1970s. Then Shane Savage did something to his back/side and had trouble walking, but nonetheless played on and contributed a few nice touches. The Saints seemed to only have 16 fit players on the field for large parts of the second half. Annihilation and the rewriting of record books for the wrong reasons beckoned in the distance.

Not to be. The Saints rose to the challenge and put on a most heartening performance and won the second half 6 goals to 3. The key to the turnaround was the fit 16 started to get first use of and win contested ball. This reduced pressure on the backs and created momentum going forward. Sean Dempster, who was celebrating his 200th game, put in his usually serviceable game with 20 possessions and 7 marks. Joey Montagna and Jack Steven were outstanding in the second half and the team as a whole hassled the Dockers and stopped their rhythm.

Last year the Saints fell away at the end of games gifting opposition teams 4 or 5 goals to turn what might have been a sad defeat into a walloping. Against, the Dockers the Saints kicked the last 4 goals to turnaround a potential annihilation into an honourable defeat. This game, especially the response in the second half to the adversity of the first, is possibly a better indicator of how the Saints have improved this year than any of the wins achieved. The Saints have more than halos; they have heart.

There will probably be a few changes to the team next week. The Saints have another four games to play, all against top eight teams. The Saints look good for at least another win this year. I am not sure against who; but you have heard it here first. The team and their supporters that suffers this fate will regard the players from St. Kilda as anything but Saints.


St. Kilda:      2.4    2.8    3.9   8.11 (59)

Fremantle:   7.1   12.2   14.5   15.6 (96)



St. Kilda: Steven 2, Lonie, Sinclair, Riewoldt, Bruce, Montagna, McCartin.

Fremantle: Mayne 2, Sandilands 2, Crozier 2, Griffin 2, Hill 2, Pavlich 2, Mzungu, Pearce, Suban.



St. Kilda: Montagna, Steven, Roberton, Armitage, Gilbert.

Fremantle: Hill, Sandilands, Neale, Mundy, Ibbotson.


Umpires: Kamolins, O’Gorman, Ryan.


Crowd: 16,419.


Our Votes: Hill 3 (Fre), Sandilands 2 (Fre), Montagna 1 (St.K).


  1. Peter Fuller says

    I seem to recall that a similarly courageous rearguard action by about 15 fit Saints occurred way back (the 1930s?). It was marked by the committee determining to strike that fine shield which was a feature of the team’s jumper. I assume that it still is, although I’m uncertain if it’s survived all the modifications/alternatives/away strips/special occasion jumpers of recent times.
    Perhaps Sunday’s brave effort warrants some equivalent initiaitive.

    Thanks for the report, as I knew nothing more than the quarter by quarter scores of the game, being away from all media while it was in progress.

  2. Braham Dabscheck says

    Thanks for your kind words and you are on the money concerning a similar event way back when. It was Round 5 in 1933 in a game against North Melbourne at the Junction Oval. According to the 1996 edition of Stephen Rodgers and Ashley Browne’s Every Game Ever Played nine Saints were seriously hurt during the game. Only 16 took the field after half time; 15 finished the game. The Saints won 13.19 (97) to 11.17 (83). The Saints won the second half 6 goals to 5!! After the game the Saints started wearing their famous crest with the motto Fortius Quo Fidelius (‘Strength Through Loyalty). Not only does it help explain the dynamic between players, but also the bond that exists between supporters and the club. For the record the Saints finished 9th in 1933, with 6 wins and 12 losses. The latter is the win loss record of where the Saints are now!!

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