Round 23 – Richmond v St Kilda: A day for legends



Standing in a packed Melbourne pub on the corner of Flinders and Russell street, it was time for the big event to start. As people crowded around several screens scattered around the establishment, the competitors emerged from their respective tunnels, and a sense of excitement quivered around us.


The opponents…


Mayweather v. McGregor.


Having never watched a boxing match in my life, I was weirdly excited. Through my brother’s obvious obsession with him, I knew of McGregor and was tickled by his persona. Perhaps it was witnessing the occasion – a once in a lifetime event – and the less than slim chance that McGregor would knock Floyd out was what thrilled the most.


Throughout the ten rounds, I was glued to the screen, either gasping after a worthy hit or intermittently turning to my brother to ask questions and make obvious observations.


“Who won that round?”


“McGregor has a funny stance doesn’t he…”


“How old is Mayweather?”


“This is quite a tactical sport, isn’t it?”


“Why did they stop the fight…”


Which was ultimately how I learnt the difference between a KO and TKO.


But without any time to stand around and chat post-match, we had to high-speed it across the bridge to the other event, the main reason for our journey into the middle of the city that day.


My brother is a long-time Richmond supporter, myself a loyal St Kilda supporter. Watching the game together, it was going to be a battle between two siblings for the final win of the season. While I myself was clinging to a slim finals dream, it was particularly hard today as the Tigers were aiming for that top four position. Growing up alongside my brother, I knew of his frustration with Richmond’s past finals runs. A part of me wanted that success for him.


My finals hopes were dashed nonetheless, when at quarter time we checked the Essendon game on our phones. Suddenly the game became a lot less stressful for me.


But win or lose, there was only one reason I had to be at that game. A certain man by the name of Rooey. There was no way I was missing the chance of seeing him play in one final game.


Ever since I was eight years old, his blonde hair and playing skills charmed me as he became my football idol and crush all in one. For two years I would obsessively cut out St Kilda news articles and keep them in scrap books, while I still to this day wear the baggy number 12 playing jumper that I bought as a child. On my twelfth birthday, I cherished a card I received from my family with Nick plastered on the front of it and meeting him at an open training was one of the best days of my childhood. I even laminated the photo of Nick and I to the front of my math book that year. As a young teen, I imagined that we would one day marry, the ten-year age distance never an issue in my mind. I even grew a slight disdain for actress Stephanie McIntosh once I learnt they were dating.


Following his career over the years, I’ve felt like I’ve been on the journey too. I remember asking my parents why Michael and Scott targeted Riewoldt as I watched him crying on the sideline with a broken collarbone in 2004. The day we lost the 2009 Grand Final against Geelong, I was left inconsolable on the couch for nearly an hour after the game. My mother, a Geelong supporter, understandably struggled to celebrate the win. Having to endure it again the next year, as we first watched in disbelief as a draw played out, I had the opportunity to go to the rematch at the MCG a week later, only to watch as we lost by a massive 56 points. Finally, in the later part of Riewoldt’s football legacy, I flew down from Brisbane in my university break to watch the inaugural Maddie’s Match.


As Riewoldt was carried off the field in his final game, by his cousin no less (tear), the final chapter in his playing career closed, and I felt an overwhelming emotion that a major part of 17 years of my life was over.


While there is no doubt I will move on and find a new favourite player at the Saints (Hello Roberton) I find it hard to believe that there can ever be another player to mean as much to me as my childhood idol Nick Riewoldt does.


About Meg Saultry

Studying at University of Melbourne. Keen supporter of the Saints (I'm not looking forward to the day Riewoldt retires), and Womens AFL.


  1. Hi meg
    Great words and tribute to someone you’ve grown up with and admired. Some things become ingrained into your being as you grow from one stage of life to another, and a bit like a first love, those first sporting heroes of our childhood become part of us, the experience forever etched.
    And that last day, last appearance, last game for Riewoldt last Sunday was exactly how you have described it, a feeling of loss and of something ending….and I’m from the Punt Rd end of the G.
    Well done

Leave a Comment