Round 20 – Carlton v St Kilda: From Tokyo-Kobe-Tokyo with love.

Visiting my eldest Rachel in Japan has been a blast: of entertainment, reunion and heat. It is now a year since she arrived to study at Temple University, and a year of A’s has been a great reward for her hard work, not just of school but of searching for a flat, moving in, and continuing working harder than ever before. I have met some of her friends at a farewell for one, who is leaving for San Francisco to finish off studies at home with her Mum. For Rachel, Japan is home. A place she wants to live forever.

Together, we made a huge batch of chicken soup to last her for a year (at least – I will not visit in summer again being a weeny when it comes to heat and humidity.) We have eaten well, walked heaps while she hunted Pokémon (and I have even been allowed the responsibility to hold the phone and catch a few of the wily things with some trepidation) and shopped a little.

I have been to her University. I have walked back to my hotel at night, comforted by all the others walking around the area. I made a new friend Sachi, a lovely women who could see that my first day of independent train travel had me staying on a train which was going to do a U-turn. She kindly led me off the train onto the opposite side of the platform to wait for the correct connection. I’d already gone the complete wrong direction to start off and worked that one out, so this was a god send now I was heading, on a red, white and black line, to where I needed to meet my daughter. Sachi and I had dinner already, and will meet again before I leave to have my daughter help us work out the technologies to keep in touch. Gotta love the younger generation (or anybody who isn’t afraid of technology.)

Yvette and Sachi

Yvette and Sachi

I appreciate the technology because it has allowed me to watch the Saints lose to North, and then, the win against the Blues.

And then there was the Shinkansen (fast train) trip to Kobe, with me stopping off at Osaka to watch the footy with my friend and our Japanese Almanac correspondent, Yoshi. Meeting me at Osaka, he had the very hot day perfectly planned: staying at the station in the cool shopping area under the station, we found a good, yummy restaurant for lunch and the first two quarters of the game. He’d already set up his tablet and phone to receive Wi-Fi available in the area, and after a superb lunch of cold soba noodles and tempura, we watched the Saints come marching in.


Yoshi and his iPad

Yoshi and his iPad

In an otherwise quiet environment, I found Yoshi a fun and noisy footy partner, we hi-fived every time the Saints scored a great goal, which turned out to be often. Dressed in his Saints gear, he was the perfect gentleman, making sure everything I needed was bought to us. Cool drinks. Hot tea. And passion. His iPad and the Wi-Fi in the Namba Walk area didn’t let us down.

What an opening first quarter: Weller, (several Saints misses which meant we were attacking), Touhy for the Blues, then Membrey, Armitage, and Billings. I taught Yoshi “Chewy on your boot” and it worked, several times. Magic powers. We enjoyed that quarter deeply.

And it only got better from there. Wright started off very quickly, before Membrey rubbed it in. Armfield and another Blues player snatched two back, Acres got reported and the game got tougher. Billings goals and it seems that Carlton has picked up their pressure. We were drinking plenty of tea and water. Yoshi’s deep voice rang out with excitement or disappointment. There are lots of misses, but then Bruce, Newnes and Membrey assured that the Saints were up by 30 at the main break.

And we were ready for the next part of the day, a quick taxi to the Coolabah Bar, in the American Village at Namba. It wasn’t far from the station, but the heat was unbearable for me, and in a short time we were the only customers ensconced in the bar, now watching footy on a big screen. The young worker and Yoshi did their magic getting the streaming up of the game. I bought a beer for Yoshi and got myself a whisky, straight, and got ready for the second half.

We were surrounded by Aussie and New Zealand memorabilia in this tiny bar. The owner is a North Supporter, and he had North stickers on the corner of a great Bob Marley framed picture. There was the Hakka all printed out on a flag, and rugby jumpers on the wall. The young man had a Boston Red Sox cap on, and the other TV’s had Japanese baseball on the screens. We chatted Red Sox and local baseball before the afternoon was out.

It was good to relax with Yoshi. His uniqueness and interests have found a home with the Almanac, with the Sports bar, and with International travellers he meets at events. He is a man in the wrong country, as was my daughter before she moved to Japan. Between quarters we talked of life. When the game was on, we were super focused.

Hickey gets the first goal moments after the beginning of the quarter, just after the commentators, searching for content, suggested Carlton really need to get moving now. Saints were the ones moving. Josh Bruce gets the next, and then shows some ‘nous’ when the ball goes almost through the point post but he keeps it inside enough to pass it through to Roberton who runs through and goals. The Saints are backing each other up. They are tackling like demons. Carlton are so spooked they can’t get consistent play. Yoshi and I chant “Chewy” and Armfield misses.

Yoshi is impressed with my small packet of Saints tissues, and I grab him one. I tell him that they are sometimes on sale in Melbourne, and when family or friends see it, they grab one for me.

Captain wonderful, Riewoldt, scores and we are 65 ahead and enjoying every point of it. Finally, Cripps and Touey score for the Blues, one from our bad habit of kicking backwards and around. It’s OK when it is done with purpose, but sometimes, we just lose concentration and then lose the ball. It cost us, thankfully, we were enough ahead. Cripps scores again from a free (which we also dominated) and we are almost 8 goals ahead for the final quarter.

The whisky was lovely, and Yoshi was enjoying the company and the beer. “Saints are queuing up to kick a goal” says Eddie McGuire. Membrey gets another before we are saddened to see Dunstan get hurt in a tackle and be taken off, his shoulder obviously hurt badly. Then we blitz the Blues: Bruce again, getting back some of his confidence, Acres before Gibbs grabs one. A Blues mistake costs them as Membrey grabs a dropped Blues mark and just swings around and scores. Bruce gets another as Yoshi wonders if this is the biggest margin we’ve had all year.

Richardson comes down to the bench and is talking to a distraught Dunstan. Dempster defends before Walker has his last kick of his career in a terrible game for the Blues. He has played 13 seasons with the Blues, 202 games and kicked 84 goals. None today. He leaves the ground emotional, after being chaired off between the line of Saints and Blues players, and all fans clapping and thanking him.

We enjoy the boys singing the Saints song and I tell Yoshi that it is Jack Steven who has taken over the role of screaming out the words for the boys to follow. We keep relaxing and watch a little of the next game and talk. I think of Uncle Bob and Gary and all my fellow Saints enjoying the game at the MCG. I think of the boys playing well on a ground they have little experience of. I think of the next game, the Pride Game between Saints v Swans at Etihad next week and what a momentous AFL game, and world game, it will be.

Yoshi gets me back to a train and I manage to shoot past my station because my Google maps was slow in picking up my place in the universe, and taxi to meet Rachel instead of walk as was the original plan. I am gladdened to hear that Yoshi remembered there was an International party that night and went out to that, making his day a good one all round.

For me, a rest and a walk to the harbour followed that night a ferris wheel ride followed by a fishy dinner. It was a great day and it’s been a great trip and it was wonderful to share the footy in person with my friend and then be a tourist again.

Before heading back to Tokyo two days later, we head up a small mountain by cable car to see Herb Gardens, walk down in the great muggy heat and eat Kobe beef specially cooked for us. We are filled with the joy of travelling and being together.

Come next Saturday, Rachel and I will watch St Kilda challenge Sydney Swans and hope the Saints can produce a little more magic.

About Yvette Wroby

Yvette Wroby writes, cartoons, paints through life and gets most pleasure when it's about football, and more specifically the Saints. Believes in following dreams and having a go.


  1. Peter Schumacher says

    What a report, blending the personal with the international, sharing the game with Yoshi, this has to be some of the best writing in the Almanac this year. A great read.

  2. Earl O'Neill says

    Almanackers’ hands across the water. Great read Yvette.

  3. HI Yvette,

    Thanks for everything on Sunday. It was great to meet up with you and watch footy together, wasn’t it?

    Our Saints played well and scored goals and goals. I think watching together boost power for our boys. I realise how we are passionate of Saints.

    As we talked, I would love to go to Melbourne next year to watch footy. I hope we will gain power again so that our boys will win hugely like the Sunday match.

    I hope we will win over Swans tomorrow night, and you to enjoy seeing Tokyo.

    Go Saints!


  4. Patrick O'Brien says

    Great writing, Yvette. You must be sad that your daughter is overseas but proud of her nonetheless.

    And here’s hoping Yoshi can make it over next season. Not sure the G will be big enough to hold all the Almanacers who’d turn up to join in the celebrations. Hai!


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