Round 5 – St Kilda v GWS: It takes a village

Saturday April 28th, 1.45 pm

Etihad Stadium

It takes a village. I needed my drafted daughter Danielle and her son Luke to look after my drafted granddaughter Sienna, so Nanna could make it to the game. I needed daughter Mimi to take over from Danielle for a couple of hours until I got home.  It was a weekend of buck’s parties and kitchen teas. Nanna was on call and Sienna would be with me for over 36 hours in the end. When Danielle and Luke arrived, I hit the tram system and made my way to the stadium.

I arrived 2 minutes before the beginning of the game. Seated next to Uncle Bob and Gary, the stands around us felt empty. The village at the footy was sparse – due to an afternoon game, or perhaps poor performances from the last three weeks, or people were working or playing sports themselves. There seemed so many people like me, walking the paths to the stadium late.  I assumed that the place would be fuller. I also thought we might get flogged.

I love the moment before the first ball bounce.  It’s all possible.  Anything could happen. We are waiting, expectant, open to possibilities.  Ready. And then it’s on.

The Saints played hard and defensive and it was a tackle jungle out on the field. Most surprising, first quarter Saints were only 3 points behind.  Goals to Gresham, Cameron, Griffen and newbie Saint Hunter Clark had both teams almost level. We even stuffed the ball use up equally. The crowd, small as it was, were vocal and noisy with every umpire decision that was questionable. And some that weren’t.

The second quarter was unexpected.  Had we kicked straight, we would be 5 goals ahead.  As it was, we led by 5 points at half time. Griffen had opened the scoring. After an errant kick which should never have missed, Paddy McCartin came of age, kicking the next two and changing forever the conversation about his abilities. He became our forward presence. He became the young man to hang our hope, dreams and expectations on. Billings missed a couple from gettable angles and it shot his confidence in his own abilities.  He shot ours too.  What is happening in front of goal? Is it the pressure, is it the new goal kicking coach confusing these men? Luke Dunstan goaled from an angle and surprised us all. Three goals to the Saints and the fans found voice. Jeremy Cameron scored the last for the second quarter and we were content.

Being ahead at half time was not expected.  It was not part of any prediction or conversation. In a scrappy game, we were in it up to our necks and we were satisfied with that.  With such distractions, we didn’t think of our ordinary, every day worries or responsibilities. We were free to dream. We were free to enjoy an afternoon together.

The goodwill and dreaming came under siege in the third quarter, when GWS had a run of goals through Deledio, Greene and Shiel.  It was up to Jack Steven to speed into our forward and kick one truly. We missed 4 other opportunities, and they missed six.  They could have been thrashing us at this point. We considered ourselves lucky to be only 9 points behind.

The last quarter and GWS’s Jonathan Patten led his side further ahead. After missing two shots in front of goal, Jack Billings did the impossible with a ridiculous kick that went through truly.  You are left wondering how feats like this are managed and straight kicking through the goals on set shots have become the bogey man of footy forwards. Brett Deledio got his second and GWS pulled away again. But the Saints weren’t done. Maverick Weller slotted another difficult goal, Ben Long bought us all to our feet screaming and urging him and he ran towards goal. Paddy once again goaled.  The village of fans were roaring, we sounded like 80,000. The noise in the vacuum, the noise in the empty stand, throbbed as we urged our team on.  We were level and the ball and play was coming back our scoring end.  I’d put my radio away and knew there were only minutes to go. There was a pass too high and Jake Carlisle, having swung from defence to forward with little success up to now, couldn’t complete the mark. The Saints crowd, already roaring, urging our team on in the last quarter, howled at the umpires’ lack of playing the free kick that would have enabled Jake to have a shot at goal.

Jakes comments post game said it all.  I should have marked the ball, he said. The siren blew, and the deflating drawn end of the game was upon us. Yet I was so happy.  I expected a flogging.  I hoped for a win. But these two teams deserved to draw in this match, with equal parts good and bad play from both, two points seemed fair in the end.

With such a small crowd, and an afternoon train timetable, the getaway was magnificent, and we were soon back at Caulfield where Uncle Bob dropped me home. Nanna was back on deck. There was dinner and bathing and bed time to be had. The day had come full circle.  The two villages did their bit. The extended family helped with childcare, and the footy family willed our team on to almost victory.

In post-game interviews and messages from the Saints, we were told that we fans were well and truly heard by the players and coaches. The noise gave our team wings.

All the villages had done well this afternoon and day, and the Saints spoiled the day for top of the ladder GWS.



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. Hi Yvette,

    It’s a good piece to read. Villages are all good, aren’t they?

    I was playing my own footy whist our Saints were in actions. I wished all the best to our boys. My village had a good atmosphere to enjoy our footy and other Saint diehards who play footy for the Tokyo Goannas.

    We Sainters have small communities but they are strong and fans have loyalty and faithfulness. We are livinh in villages to support the mighty Saints.

    I admire what Danielle, Luke and Mimi have done while you were at the game.

    Let’s have good hopes for the great footy club.



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