Round 5 – St Kilda v Richmond: The Seven Steps to Writing Success



by John Green



I’ve been accused of taking footy too seriously. I readily admit to recording upcoming matches in the coming year’s diary and ignoring impositions that prevent me from taking my place in the stands at Richmond games. However, with only two week’s notice, I accepted an invitation to attend a work colleague’s fiftieth birthday celebration at The Sporting Globe Bar and Grill in Doncaster. It was the night that Richmond were playing St. Kilda at Marvel Stadium. Surely an indication of my self-sacrifice and nobility of spirit.


As he is something of a footy fanatic as well, I gift my Bulldog-supporting friend with A Wink From The Universe by Martin Flanagan, an outstanding tale of the Scrays’ 2016 premiership win.


I should have known from the name of the establishment. I am confronted with the sensory overload of multiple television screens in every direction broadcasting Brisbane’s clash with Penrith in the NRL, the trots from Dapto and Kilmore, some basketball and of course, St. Kilda v Richmond. As a dutiful guest I make every effort to focus on the conversation at the table. I select a Champion Bacon Cheese Burger, with an additional patty double down for $5 extra, along with a serve of beer battered steak fries. But with two party attendees who follow the Saints and a rowdy young man in a Richmond scarf sitting with his mates on the next table, I am never too removed from the action on the LCD screens.


Win, lose or draw, I’ll watch a replay of the match at home the following morning.


The evening turns out very well indeed.


I choose to record my impressions of the match by utilising The Seven Steps To Writing Success, a program taught in many schools and a sure fire model for brilliant narrative compositions.


Here are the Seven Steps:




Brainstorm ten ideas to get one good idea.


I only need a single shred of inspiration for this one – write a story about Richmond’s annihilation of St. Kilda in the match of the round! And the Saints aren’t so bad, having come off an exciting comeback win over the Eagles in their last outing.


You have to know the ending before you commence writing.




Start with a moment of change to seize the reader’s attention.


Three minutes in. A contest in the Saints’ forward zone. Short, McIntosh and Nankervis are involved in the scrimmage. Cotchin shimmies in traffic and squirts it out to Houli. The bearded one kicks quickly to the leading Riewoldt, who fends off three opponents before dishing it off to Cotchin, who has run forward to assist. The ball is transferred to Edwards, who hands it onto second-gamer Rhyan Mansell. He passes in the direction of Lynch, who gathers the spillage from the marking duel and handballs to the running Jack Graham. First major, and a foretaste of the quartz-crushing pressure exerted by the Tigers for the entire evening.




Include great tension scenes where challenges occur for the protagonist. The rising problems become increasingly intense and can be described in terms of pebble, rock and boulder.


Pebble – small problem. The Tigers register the first two goals of the game before Jayden Short uncharacteristically turns the ball over. Steele passes to Higgins and Richmond’s former team favourite scores St. Kilda’s first.


Rock – bigger problem. Fill-in ruckman Paul Hunter gathers the ball after a marking contest and pops it through for his first goal in the big time.


Boulder – relatively serious problem. Max King is awarded a free when Balta allegedly chops his arms and converts to level the scores. King marks seconds after the resumption of play and misses, but the Saints lead by a point after weathering the Tigers’ opening onslaught.


How do the characters in the story resolve the seemingly insurmountable problems? With six unanswered goals on either side of half-time.


Six of the best after Higgins boots his second to reduce the gap to four points:


  • Graham passes to Riewoldt, who steers it through the uprights.
  • Brad Hill spills a chest mark, allowing Pickett to swoop and hit the sweet spot from a range of 50 metres.
  • Aarts passes to Lambert, who lobs a handball to the unattended Lynch in the square with a few seconds remaining in the first half. He has time to gather an awkward bounce, glance at his distant pursuers and punt it through the sticks, offering a little fist pump to the cheer squad.
  • Edwards snaps truly after sharking the ball at a stoppage.
  • Riewoldt handballs to Dusty and he curls it home.
  • Jack goals after reeling in a towering mark and the lead is out to 44 points eight minutes into the third term. The persecution of the Saints is reaching its peak and there’s no coming back from a margin such as this.




Move the plot forward and bring characters to life by relating the words they actually speak to one another.


Since I was not at the game to overhear conversations on the field (as you sometimes do) or amongst fellow spectators, I rely on the Foxtel commentators at half-time.


Sarah Jones: “But now at half-time it is well and truly the Tigers. They lead by 25 points. Jonathan Brown and David King, they look in ominous touch.”


Jonathan Brown: “They do look in ominous touch. Typical Richmond game really…but on the outside Richmond is absolutely destroying them.”




Seeing is believing. Allow the reader to understand what is happening in the story by observing the behaviour of the characters.


In the third quarter, with the match well and truly gone, St. Kilda’s Hunter Clark kicks wide to the boundary. Higgins is unable to keep the ball in the field of play. The St. Kilda members behind the fence are expressionless. Ben Long looks despondent.




Cut the boring bits that fail to drive the narrative forward.


I will not write about the brief period of turnovers and ineffectual possessions after Riewoldt scores Richmond’s second six-pointer in the opening quarter. Nor will I mention the interlude in the final term when the Saints employ a series of inexplicable short passes to each other, probably in a bid to make their stats look more acceptable.




Know the ending before you start.


An eighty-six point victory, Richmond’s biggest win over St. Kilda since 1985.


The excellent ending to the saga took place at the Sporting Globe Bar and Grill on the night before I watched the replay. All of my workmates joined in the rendition of We’re From Tigerland at the end of the game. So did the boys on the next table. Even the Saints supporters sang along and Bill, who barracks for Carlton, agrees that the Tigers have the best song.



ST KILDA         3.4     4.5     6.6     7.6     (48)
    3.3     8.6     15.12     20.14     (134) 


St Kilda:
Higgins 2, Lonie 2, Hunter, King, Butler
Riewoldt 5, Lynch 3, Graham 3, Castagna 2, Rioli 2, Pickett, Edwards, Martin, Bolton, Aarts 


St Kilda: Clark, Steele, Coffield, Battle
Richmond: Edwards, Bolton, Riewoldt, Martin, Graham, Lynch, Cotchin


St Kilda: Jones (soreness) replaced in selected side by Dunstan, Marshall (foot) replaced in selected side by Hunter, Webster (groin)
Richmond: Nil


St Kilda: Long (replaced Webster)
Richmond: Ross (unused)



To read more from John, click HERE.


To return to the  home page click HERE


Our writers are independent contributors. The opinions expressed in their articles are their own. They are not the views, nor do they reflect the views, of Malarkey Publications.


Do you enjoy the Almanac concept?
And want to ensure it continues in its current form, and better? To help keep things ticking over please consider making your own contribution.


Become an Almanac (annual) member – CLICK HERE
One-off financial contribution – CLICK HERE
Regular financial contribution (monthly EFT) – CLICK HERE



Leave a Comment