Round 3 – Collingwood v St Kilda: Saints swamped by Pies in 50 Year Anniversary of First Game at Moorabbin

by Braham Dabscheck.

7.50 PM Friday 17 April

Melbourne Cricket Ground


On 17 April 1965, St. Kilda played its first game at its new home in Moorabbin. Their opponents that day were Collingwood. This new venture by the Saints attracted a record crowd of 51,370. I was one of those in attendance. I probably stood behind the goals at the southern end. I didn’t have the cash to afford a seat in the stand. It was a close fought game. The human hyphen, the speedster, Bruce McMaster-Smith, a behemoth of a man who weighed in at 61 kg and showered in a thermometer, sealed the win with a late goal following a burst down the wing. The Saints won 8.12.60 to 8.6.54. This was a great period to be a Saint. The Saints had assembled a bevy of champion players who became a champion team with two Grand Finals in 1965 and 1966. In 1966, in another clash with Collingwood, 17 year old Barry Breen managed to skew a ball off the side of his boot to win the Saints one and only premiership by a beautiful solitary point – 10.14.74 to 10.13.73. Happy days!


On Friday night, 50 years to the day of its first game at Moorabbin, the Saints again took on the Pies. Maybe this was planned by AFL and respective Club boffins, or it was simply serendipity at work. The Saints had started the season well. There was an honourable loss to the Giants, who look like a team on the rise, and a win away against the Suns, who look like a team heading in the opposite direction. Unfortunately, Captain Nick Riewoldt was a late withdrawal due to problems with his calf; and he may miss additional games. He was replaced by Number One draft pick, the forward Paddy McCartin, who was two days shy of his nineteenth birthday.


In 2014, the Saints were slow starters invariably conceding three or more goals in the opening minutes of the first quarter. In the games with the Giants and Suns, the Saints had kicked the opening goal. Against the Pies, they started like a house on fire, scoring three goals in the first three minutes! Good times beckoned, but to no avail. The Pies got two back quickly, and while the Saints kicked another three for the quarter; being their best first quarter, score wise, for ages, they were only ahead by 1 point at the first change.


And from then on it was all Collingwood. They kicked another 15 goals to the Saints 4. From the first quarter on, the Pies had 66 50 meter entries to the Saints 25; or 77 to 42 for the match. The Saints lost the fluency and poise they had had against the Suns. Kicks and handpasses went astray, and there was little of the long kicking that had served them so well against the Suns. The latter, may be more cause than effect of the pressure applied by the Pies. The Pies midfield got on top, and it was all over red rover. In the two losses so far, our little guys get lost in traffic. The defence and big forwards and mid fielders, such as David Armitage, Jack Steven, Jack Newnes and Luke Dunstan appear accomplished. The problem seems to be of working out the right mix of the younger and smaller brigade.


Well, the Saints lost the anniversary of that first game at Moorabbin against Collingwood 50 years ago. The Saints of 1965 were a team of accomplished players on the verge of glory. The Saints of 2015 are rebuilding, similar to the team at the start of the new millennium, who worked their way into two cracks at the flag in 2009 and 2010. That is the thing about footy – or sport, more generally – in watching a game in the here and now it can invoke memories of the past, of where we were at different stages of our life; of players who provided us with inspiration and joy as they strutted their stuff with their wondrous deeds on the footy field. The Saints may be struggling now, but there is light at the end of the tunnel. They will have their time again; the mantra which sustains we supporters.


Collinwood   6.3   12.6   16.10   21.14 (140)
St. Kilda        6.2    7.4      8.6      10.6 (66)


Collingwood: Cloke 5, Elliot 4, Dwyer 2, Varcoe, Crisp, Swan, Broomhead, Gault, White, Grundy, Blair, Oxley.

St. Kilda: Bruce 2, Armitage 2, Roberton, Saad, Geary, Sinclair, Steven, Membrey.


Collingwood: Swan, Pendlebury, Elliot, Grundy, Cloke

St. Kilda: Armitage, Steven, Newnes, Roberton, Dunstan.


Umpires: Fisher, Mollison, Nicholls.

Crowd: 45,197.

Our Votes: Swan 3 (Coll), Pendlebury 2 (Coll), Armitage 1 (St. K).



  1. Neil Anderson says

    I agree that certain matches against certain opponents do conjure memories of past matches. Usually good ones. We try not to recall the losing ones.
    The exception for Bulldog supporters is playing against Adelaide. The loss in the 1997 PF is still raw after all this time and ironically, we are playing them on Sunday for another chance to get even.
    I was working at Albert Park Barracks in 1966 and 90% of my work-mates were Saint’s supporters. For the lead-up to the Grand Final and for the Monday after, I was an honorary Saint. From memory the Bulldogs would have been in the doldrums at that stage. I worked in the Army Department and saw a passing parade of footballers who were doing National Service including Stan Alves and Carl Ditterich. Alex Jesaulenko worked in the Navy Department down there as a public servant.
    I know it was a long time ago but I can remember the sheer joy of the Saint’s supporters at work on the Monday after the GF. There would have been a few sickies throughout the week as well.

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