Round 6 – Hawthorn v St Kilda: For Jess winning is the best medicine

I’ve written previously about centenarian Jess Macaulay and her beloved Saints. Unfortunately, it’s been a rough time for Jess recently. She woke last week to the realisation that she’d suffered a minor stoke, one in a series as it turns out, but all now noticeable as the last one affected her speech.

Jess’s has always been the life of the party. She’s a jack of all trades, prankster, great-grandmother, volunteer, card shark, devoted wife, seafood connoisseur, dancer, business women, storyteller, mother, grandmother, and passionate Saints supporter. While her mobility has reduced with age, her wit is still razor sharp. This has made her communication difficulties hard to reconcile.

As always, Jess chooses to look on the bright side. She’s still smiling, still mobile. She’s still living by herself, cooking for herself, reading The Sun daily, and knitting. Still the same strong independent woman. It is just that, for the time being, she is having some difficulty finding the right words.

Considering her recent health issues, the prospect of watching her beloved St Kilda go around against an old foe in Hawthorn in the Saturday afternoon sun, offered a welcome distraction.

Any time spent with Jess is entertaining but she has always been an astute football judge. A keen understanding of the tactics of the modern game – zones, forward presses, etc. – combined with the insight of having witnessed the evolution of the game over a hundred years, provides a unique perspective. She also has that wry long-suffering humour of the Saints fan.

Thankfully for Jess, there was no hint of St Kilda suffering on this day. Instead, she was provided with another glimpse of the promising future that lays ahead of this playing group. She also witnessed another much-deserved milestone, 700 goals for her man, Nick Riewoldt. Until recently, he was the player she would most like to leave his boots under her bed. Following a call on her 100th birthday and a long chat at an off-season function in Wonthaggi, that mantle has been passed to Josh Bruce.

Both Jess’s favourites had good days. Bruce kicked three and Riewoldt four – and her recent health issues certainly haven’t robbed her of her cheek. Her cutting wit was on display during Fox Footy’s halftime commentary. Nick Del Santo was reviewing the Saint’s 22-point lead when Jess suggested that the best contribution he’d made to the cause was his move to North Melbourne. He was one of Jess’s favourites until that point. But not once he left. She has no time for club hoppers.

Her one-eyed loyalty was rewarded with a St Kilda goal within a minute after the resumption of play.

St Kilda’s prospects continued to improve with Riewoldt and Montagna both prominent. Jess mentioned she was surprised to read they might play on next year but hopes they do. “Still need their experience” she says.

Jess was still nervous midway through what was shaping as a great quarter for the Saints, they had kicked four in a row but she’s seen too many leads blown. “They’ve got to finish it off” was all she said. Another three goals prior to the final change had her chuckling.

She was happy enough with how things were playing out to have a little kip at three quarter time and contented enough to laugh when her man Bruce hit the post uncontested from 2m out.

Jess’s stoke may have made finding words more difficult but it certainly hasn’t diminished her passion. She was especially glad to see her Saints prevail over those “over confident Hawks”, even more so as she plays cards with an ardent Hawthorn fan.

A 75-point clinic by her beloved Saints was just the medicine Jess needed. So much so, the volume was turned up, she stood and sang along with the post-game celebrations.


About Rees Quilford

Communications stooge. PhD student. Occasional scribbler. Football watcher. Underwater Hockey tragic.


  1. Braham Dabscheck says

    A nice piece Rees. Pass on my best to Jess and good luck with your research. Go Saints! A great win last night.

  2. Thanks for the note Braham, will pass on your regards. She was pretty chuffed about last night. Too excited to sleep afterwards apparently.

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