Round 5 – St Kilda v Essendon: Holding My Breath in an Honourable Loss

AFL Round 5: St Kilda vs Essendon
Ethiad Stadium
Sunday 3rd April 2015 3.20pm

“Holding my breath in an Honourable Loss”

Yvette Wroby


Losses have been on my mind lately. It is 33 years since my father died, it is now several years since we lost my sister Denise’s husband Jon to cancer, almost a year since my Uncle Garry died at least of a decent age and life. And the Club (and his family and friends) lost Kenny Whiffin in January 2015 too.

It is a traditional to burn a candle, for Yiskeit, or remembrance, on the yearly date and it helps to feel the presence of these people, in memory, at least.

So Jon and his Bulldog family were close to my heart in the season of surprises, with the Western Bulldogs now sitting third on the ladder, after some fabulous, magical and mighty wins. Even more so in my thoughts for with our two teams due to meet next week. (This kind of expected loss I can handle; my current motto is that they have waited longer, their team is more forged together, and we’ll get one AFTER the Doggies rather than knocking each other off in Preliminaries).

And then, to compound my awareness of bereavement, though on a minor and frivolous scale compared to the above, the Essendon Cheer Squad (are signs sanctioned by the Club as they are at the Saints?) prodded one of St Kilda’s losses, with the banner reading,

“We’re sure the Saints

Will give it a crack,

But by the end, they’ll be crying,

‘We want Goddard back.’ ”

Glass houses came to mind when I read this. With the three years the Essendon Football Club just went through, what pain and suffering their fans and players and staff were subjected to, with the whole thing finishing not with “innocence” but with “insufficient evidence”, you’d think they’d have learned a little something about compassion, humility, and tender spots. And not prodding bears.

St Kilda people love Brendon Goddard. He sweated blood for the red, white and black, and he was so sad at leaving that he cried from the emotion of playing and defeating his friends. He is still close to all his Saints mates. It is not his friends and his previous employers who feel ill will. He is a Saints legend.

There will always be those who complain about Club people who leave, saying Goddard did it for money or Ross Lyon was only thinking of himself. Last time I heard, it was a free country where people could make decisions for their and their family’s future, and if they didn’t look after themselves, who would? We don’t know the intimate details of why these changes happened, but it has suited St Kilda too. Goddard didn’t get the reward he needed at the Saints, but it has allowed us to develop a new young team and have money in the kitty to buy some more experience once we get closer to the light of possible success. The same goes for all the boys who have shifted clubs or been delisted. The Club has to do what is right for the Club, and the boys have to do what is right for themselves. Sometimes the two match. Many times it doesn’t.

It doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt to see Nick Dal Santo in North colours, or Ben McEvoy hold up a Premiership Cup with his new Hawthorn teammates. It is the nature of the beast that we all come to enjoy.

On this last Saturday, Saints fans came to the ground expecting a thumping at the hands of a more experienced Essendon team. We all came separately, my cousin Gary, Uncle Bob, and my guests for this week. On the train, I chatted with Ian, a 75-year-old fan who started going to Moorabbin in 1966 at the age of 27. Just because. And what a year to start being a Saints supporter. He wonders if he’ll ever see another Cup. He just gave up his reserve seat recently; being a pensioner means some things need to be cut.

At the ground, after finding some of my Travelling Saints friends and giving them new glasses that I painted in our team colours, I finally met up with my guests for the game: Jonathan from Queensland, his mate Roger, and Roger’s son Nat (an Essendon supporter, given the choice by his Saints father). These three have just flown over from Launceston, where during the week they’d seen Lenny Hayes and Stephen Milne play for the Penguins, Lenny kicking 3 and Stephen kicking 7. They got to chat with these two other retired Saints legends. And then came to see what a Saints game in Melbourne had to offer.

Together, we all saw the banner, had our own reactions, and perhaps the Saints players saw it too, because they came out ready for one almighty crack. The crowd was up and about, as were the players. In a scrappy, hard-fought, error-ridden first quarter, the teams exchanged scores: Carlisle, Bruce, Carlisle, Zaharakis and Dunstan. If we’d have kicked accurately, we could have been so far ahead. So many close calls, all day really. The two points difference at the first quarter, with the Bombers in front, was to be an omen.

Saints had a better second quarter, with Billings, Bruce and then Bruce again before Stevens goaled making the Saints fans sit up and notice and make a heap of noise, BEFORE the annoying screen told us to, and the Essendon fans go very quiet indeed. Suddenly, we’d kicked four in a row, four good goals, and exciting goals. But the Bombers are nothing if not persistent. We were pounded back and it was the Saints’ turn to be silenced when Gleeson, Ambrose and Goddard struck back. Come half time, Saints were only one measly point ahead.

We all needed that half-hour break to collect ourselves. We don’t need the big bouncing red ball to amuse us (though the shooting of t-shirts at least gives us a chance at some goodies). I didn’t even bother with the inflatable noise sticks today. All this “fan experience” stuff is unnecessary. It’s over the top. I love the effort and the noise we make, us supporters, when the game is good and tight and tense. There was no one in the stadium that wasn’t glued to their seats, watching the lead swap over and over again.

Jonathon is a regular social butterfly, chatting with friends here in Melbourne and people he has met in Wellington and Brisbane. A part of the Queensland Saints, he was part of previous stories and will be part of future ones. A big, happy bloke, and appreciative of his great wife who has accepted his long absence from before the Anzac Day games, and lover of his two big sons, and the fabulous time they had together in New Zealand. Roger uses this trip to be with his elderly Mum in Kew, and that’s where they were headed postgame. I love that he gave his children the choice of teams; after all, why should they be long-term sufferers too? Nat took off his Essendon jumper to sit with us Saints, and the close game gave us all conniptions. Who knew how it would end.

Come the third quarter, it was another goal shoot out. “Bruuuuuccccceeeee” rang out as Josh started the quarter off with a wonderful goal, but it was balanced by Carlisle doing the same, he was the magical man for the Bombers. Ambrose and Billings followed, goal for goal keeping us sweating. My heart was actually hurting. The tension was greater than anything I have experienced for years.

Carlisle crushed us again, before Jack Lonie showed his skill in front of goals, twice. Saints are five points ahead at the final break, and the game could go either way. There were brilliant skills, and lousy shots, and misses and mistakes and chances and magic. This game was a slugfest.

In the last quarter, it continues. Zaharakis, then Bruce. And then two terrible misses from Schneider, so easily gotten and the result, well, places some salt into the wounds. Especially Adam’s wounds. He was so distressed. It was worse when Colyer drove home a perfect goal to seal the game for Essendon. What a game, tension, tension, tension and then it was over. Our boys are shattered, but they should be proud.

It is an honourable loss from young men who played with zest and fire and passion, against another group who did likewise. As I said goodbye to my guests, and Gary and I watched the kick to kick, we decided that at next week’s game, we would join the masses in something Gary hasn’t done since the ’80s and ’90s. I will bring the ball and we’ll practice as Paddy taught me. Kick to kick. The real improvement in fan experience.



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. Neil Anderson says

    What a long and passionate journey the Saints and Bulldogs supporters are on.
    Just before I did my tips, I noticed the overall games between the two Clubs won and lost.
    Head to head : Bulldogs 72, Saints 73, Drawn 3. You can’t get much more even with wins and losses than that for those two teams desperate for a second flag.
    Whether it is the Bulldogs as first-time favorites this year and we aren’t quite used to it, or the Saints looking good last week, I still can’t pick the Bulldogs with absolute certainty.
    Despite the overall record between the two, I am still haunted by the Prelims of just a few years ago. Plus the fact that our nemesis Nick Riewoldt decides to make his comeback against the Dogs.
    It is very generous of you to be happy enough if the Bulldogs got their second flag first. We do need to stop beating each other at the prelim level and ideally start winning flags alternately instead.

  2. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Thanks as always Yvette.

    I’m afraid you might be out of luck with the kick-to-kick; it is only on for certain games, as below:


    Sunday, 12th April
    Essendon vs Hawthorn 3.20pm

    Sunday, 3rd May
    Melbourne vs Fremantle 1.10pm

    Sunday, 17th May
    Richmond vs Collingwood 3.20pm

    Sunday, 24th May
    Melbourne vs Western Bulldogs 3.20pm

    Sunday, 31st May
    Collingwood vs North Melbourne 3.20pm

    Sunday, 14th June
    Collingwood vs GWS Giants 1.10pm

    Sunday, 9th August
    Melbourne vs North Melbourne 1.10pm

    Sunday, 16th August
    Richmond vs Gold Coast Suns 1.10pm

    Sunday, 23rd August
    Carlton vs Melbourne 3.20pm


    Sunday, 5th April
    St Kilda vs GWS Giants 1.10pm

    Sunday, 12th April
    North Melbourne vs Brisbane Lions 4.40pm

    Sunday, 26th April
    Western Bulldogs vs Adelaide Crows 4.40pm

    Sunday, 3rd May
    St Kilda vs Essendon 3.20pm

    Sunday, 10th May
    Carlton vs Brisbane Lions 3.20pm

    Sunday, 17th May
    Western Bulldogs vs Fremantle 1.10pm

    Sunday, 24th May
    Essendon vs Brisbane Lions 1.10pm

  3. Yes, that seems to be the afl schedule…. a certain chocolate brand are offering the chance to win a kick to kick session Yvette….on June 27th, saints v bulldogs and then again in july.


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