Round 21 – St. Kilda v Sydney Swans: A game to be Proud of, a Saint centurion, a goal post that wouldn’t move, winning the tackle count and losing the game!

By Braham Dabscheck

Saturday 13 August, 7.25 PM

Etihad Stadium


Footy, and sport more generally, tends to reflect broader social trends. It rarely takes a role in being a vehicle for change. A notable exception was 17 April 1993, that day when St. Kilda’s Nicky Winmar, in a game against Collingwood at Victoria Park, lifted his playing strip and pointed to his skin and said ‘I’m black and I’m proud to be black’ after he and fellow Indigenous player Gilbert McAdam had been racially abused by Collingwood fans. On that day they did more than win a game of football.


On ‘The Marngrook Footy Show’ on Station NTIV last Thursday night, Nicky Winmar was there to promote the forthcoming match between the Saints and Swans, the first AFL Pride Game celebrating lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons. Nicky spoke with pride about his son. The game followed an initiative of the Saints, endorsed by the Swans. It might be remembered that in the 1980s there was the famous Swantits cheer squad of gay men, formed as a humorous  response to the earlier dancing Swanettes. It was good to see the two old Saints together and the respect and affection they had for each other. Gilbert, being the comedian he is, pointed out that the only reason Nicky looked younger than him was because Nicky dyed his hair.


Both sides came onto the field with rainbow colours on their socks, or in the case of the Saints also on player numbers. The 50 meter arcs also had rainbow colours as did the flags of the goal umpires. Supporters of both sides were also decked out with rainbow colours.


This was Dylan Roberton’s 100th game for the Saints. He has been a stalwart of the Saints’ backline in recent years who competes well in both the air and on the ground. He also has a touch of flair and every now and then gets forward to kick a crucial goal. He has probably had his most consistent season for the Saints this year. Well done number 17.


The game started at breakneck pace with both teams trading goals. In the first few minutes the Swans looked particularly slick. The Saints had the better of the first quarter with a great snap by Nathan Wright being the difference at quarter time. For most of the second quarter the closeness of the first quarter was repeated. Sean Dempster kicked a monster goal from outside the 50 for one of his rare goals for the Saints. It brought the house down. Things, though, started to turn at the end of the quarter and set up the dynamic for the rest of the match.


The Saints maintained pressure on the Swans in contest after contest, and won the tackle count 79 to 53. But the tackles didn’t stick. The Swans would either get in a hand ball or a short kick, and in the absence of the umpires paying frees for dropping the ball, loose balls invariably ended up with a clean possession for the Swans who ran it down the field, and especially in the second half, kicked goal after goal. Another way of saying this is that the Swans were on song; a song I didn’t want to hear!


At the main break, the Saints only trailed by 5 points. Tom Hickey, who injured his leg in the first quarter and played on in discomfort, got the first tap, Jack Newnes grabbed the ball and kicked a long bomb which looked like being a goal which would have put the Saints in front by a point. This was the pivotal moment of the game. The ball hit the goal post.


If only the goal post had have had the good sense to move the Saints would have won the game. Buddy Franklin also tried to move the same goal post in the last quarter, also to no avail, in reverberations that have been felt around the League. It was the only thing he failed to achieve during the game. Couldn’t he have been sent to the Olympics to play rugby, or run in a race, or something? The Swans dominated the second half kicking 15 goals to 4. It wasn’t so much that the Saints played poorly, it was that the Swans were just too good. They will give the flag a real shake this year. For the Saints, the dream of making the finals is over. Last year they won 6 and drew 1. This year they have won 10 with 2 to play. A year of improvement. The Tigers next week at the MCG.


Go Saints!


St. Kilda:   5.0   7.5   9.8   11.10 (76)

Sydney:       4.1   8.4   16.7   23.8 (146)



St. Kilda: McCartin 2, Acres, Armitage, Newnes, Montagna, Weller, Riewoldt, Wright, Dempster, Membrey.

Sydney: Franklin 6, Parker 3, Papley 3, Richards 3, Hannenberry, Hewett, Heeney, Kennedy, McVeigh, Jack, Naismith, Nankervis.



St.Kilda: Acres, Montagna, Riewoldt, Ross, Armitage.

Sydney: Franklin, Parker, Hannenberry, Kennedy, McVeigh.


Umpires: Fleer, Nicholls, Schmidt.


Crowd: 33,059.


Our Votes: Franklin 3 (Sydney), Parker 2 (Sydney 2), Hannenberry 1 (Sydney).


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