Round 2 – St. Kilda v Western Bulldogs: Dogs Reign On St. Nick’s Parade

By Braham Dabscheck

7.25 PM Saturday 2 April

Etihad Stadium


I was one of many Saints who traveled to Wellington, New Zealand for the ANZAC Day clash against the Swans in 2013.

Being a Sydney based Saint who left the tranquility of Melbourne for a job 40 years ago, I thought I would treat myself to being part of the parade for the first ever overseas game played for premiership points. The Saints were competitive, but ended up losing by less than 3 goals.

The Friday after the game, Saints supporters were invited to attend the Basin Reserve, one of the grounds were Test Matches are played, to meet up with players. I have a view that we, especially older folk, should respect the privacy of players. I can understand why kids want to talk to players and obtain their autographs; but given what they already give us on the field of play shouldn’t we give them time and space to be themselves.

However, I broke this rule and found myself wanting to relive my childhood. I arrived at the Basin Reserve early, found a few oldies like myself to chat to (When did you start supporting the team? Who are your favorite players? Have you recovered from the Grand Final losses? Answer; NO, none of us had!) and found some footies to have a kick and, despite perfectly executing left foot drop kicks over 10 yards, reminded myself why I ended up writing about the game rather than playing it.

There were not that many fans present when the players arrived. I spied Nick Riewoldt, had a brief chat about the game and asked him to sign the white strip on my St. Kilda jumper. I have not and will never wash that jumper. I wished him well and spent the next hour or so talking to other Saint fans and kicking the ball around. I didn’t ask any other players for their signature and had a chat with Sean Dempster and congratulated him on his selection in the All Australian team the year before.

As I wiled away time I noticed that there seemed to be a never ending long queue in front of Nick Riewoldt. Sainters were after a signature, a photo and a chance to say a few words. It was as if other members of the team where there to make up the numbers. Nick signed away and chatted with good humour.

Last night he played his 300th game for the Saints.

I was at that game at the Sydney Cricket Ground in 2004 when he took his ‘kamikaze’ mark. Watching it again it seems that he did something impossible; hurtling himself from behind the ball and marking it parallel to the ground and landing on his back. I also saw him kick 9 against the Demons at the Melbourne Cricket Ground in that same year when the Saints lost by almost 10 goals. Twice, he came close to winning a premiership. Last year he experienced the tragedy of the death of his sister Maddie. While we fans spend a lot of time watching players we never really know anything about who they are. I hope that Nick, and for that matter all the players of all teams, has a happy and productive life once he calls it a day.

The question is where does Nick Riewoldt fit in the pantheon of legendary St. Kilda players?

I saw Darrel Baldock’s first game against Collingwood in 1962 at Victoria Park which the Saints won by 25 points; winning at Victoria park being a rare event. I saw most of Baldock’s games in the period in which St. Kilda finally won its premiership. He was the most exciting and spectacular player I ever saw. Clips of his play illustrate how quick he was and I remember the hammering he received from opponents in an effort to slow him down. Robert Harvey was a tireless player who dominated games. And then there was Tony Lockett, the AFL’s leading goal kicker (1360), who kicked 898 for the Saints. The fundamental point is that there is not one cast for legendary players; they are all champions in different ways. Maybe I favor Darrel Baldock because I saw him in my youth; the stars of yesteryear always seem to burn brighter.

But if the truth be known, it is so difficult to distinguish between the champions that make us gasp in wonder.

Now to the game. The Bulldogs were just too good. The Saints fought hard but lacked the skills and pace of the Doggies. The only quarter in which the Saints were more or less dominant, the second, they conceded four goals from skill errors, and missed four goals which they should have got. Nick Riewoldt was the best player for the Saints. He had 14 marks, kicked 2 goals and could have had 2 more. Unlike last week, the Saints struggled to kick goals; they mucked up two sitters, and most of the goals conceded were from bad turnovers. The Dogs only kicked two from classy play. The Doggies look like they could give it a real tilt this year. The Saints still have a long way to go; and when they get there Nick Riewoldt will have the status as a St. Kilda and AFL Legend. Well done Nick.


St. Kilda 1.1  3.5  4.5  5.6 (36)

Western Bulldogs  3.6  7.6  9.13  13.15 (93)



St. Kilda: Riewoldt 2, Newnes, Lonie, Bruce.

Western Bulldogs: Boyd 3, Stringer 2, Picken 2, Liberatore, McLean, Johannisen, Wallis, Hunter, Daniel.



St. Kilda: Riewoldt, Steven, Montagna, Newnes, Savage.

Western Bulldogs: Johannisen, Hunter, Picken, Adams, Murphy.


Umpires: Hay, Hosking, McInerney.


Crowd: 37,353.


Our Votes: Johannisen 3 (Bulldogs), Hunter 2 (Bulldogs), Picken 1 (Bulldogs).

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