Round 6 – St Kilda v Western Bulldogs: Bleeding Red, White and Black



As a resident of Melbourne for thirty odd years there was a huge benefit of being a St Kilda supporter…..the train only took twenty minutes to get you home after a miserable loss.


Last night we endured a ninety minute train ride to our new home of Ballarat. That’s  seventy more minutes than usual wallowing in self-pity after what was nothing more than a debacle versus the Bulldogs at Marvel.


Patience is a virtue for us Sainters and by this morning all was forgiven and optimism towards next week’s clash is as high in anticipation as it is for blind loyalty.


One premiership in 150 years tends to do that to you. You certainly need a sense of humour and I would say after meeting fellow Sainters over the past fifty years, we all keep our expectations at the lower levels.


The club has made some woeful decisions over the years in terms of coaches and list management. If you didn’t laugh you’d cry. Not taking Bontempelli and Petracca when available in the draft? Trading players out that go on to play in premierships with other clubs? We’re the masters of all things mediocre.


Having said that, we always seem to get the rough end of the pineapple when it comes to AFL fixturing. It’s like the AFL says, “they won’t notice. They’re broke anyway. They’ll take whatever’s given to them.”


The most recent case (and we don’t want to make any excuses. Yes we do!) the Saints have played three games in eleven days, all of them away from Marvel Stadium.


It was obvious from the first minute when Rohan Marshall ‘duffed’ a thirty metre pass to young Garcia who would have run straight through centre half forward for his first goal in the AFL. Rohan was clearly leg weary already and we knew we were in for ‘one of those nights’.


Aware of the Saints physical predicament, Bulldog coach Luke Beveridge spread his players laterally as much as he could in the first quarter, stretching the Saints players. The Saints gave the Bulldogs players way too much room and as a result doubled the Saints in uncontested possessions.


I couldn’t believe how much room the Dogs boys were given and it had the desired effect of fatiguing the Saints who were quickly losing any structure.


It also makes for a boring contest and makes me long for the games in the 80s and 90s when one on one football was everything. I’m not knocking today’s players as they are amazing athletes and brave. It’s the process that I don’t like.


The congestion around stoppages and the uncontested possessions are the most annoying for me. This is a coaches game, not players. It’s now like we are waiting and hoping for a turnover so we can see a fast rebound to wake us from our slumber. It’s basketball.


Ross Lyon is one of the main instigators along with his old mentor Paul Roos when they were at Sydney. Choking the opposition then sling-shotting. It was also the Saints of 2009/10.


It’s all well and good and it requires enormous fitness and discipline to execute. If you’re not up to it, as in off by 10% you will pay the price. We were off by 30% last night and copped our right whack.


I feel a bit sorry for the footballers of today not being able to experience true one on one contests. It happens occasionally with forwards and defenders but not so much in the midfield.


It’s more about ‘shifts’, ’shapes’ and ‘patterns’. More crochet than accountability.


In the 80s and 90s, you pretty much knew who you were going to play against. You’d eye him up, compete against whatever he brought to the table and do your best to beat him.


And there were taggers. Last week Essendon put taggers on the Bulldog’s two most influential players, Liberatore and Bontempelli and shut them down which changed the face of the game. ‘Bont’ was left unattended last night and ran amok as per usual.


When I see Ross Lyon’s press conferences I’m reminded of an episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm when Larry David and friends are confronted by a rich future groom who’s wedding they’ve all been invited to.


As the future groom walks away after smugly chatting to them all, Larry says in his inimitable manner, “What you have just witnessed is a tsunami of smarm.”


Last night Ross ‘smarmly’ suggested without accusing the AFL of course, that three games in eleven days may have been a factor. Of course it was however there is no excuse for not picking up your opponent and addressing the uncontested possessions.


Our youth is what it’s all about. Windhager, Owens, Wanganeen-Milera, Wilson et all. A flag is there if we’re prepared to be patient.


At 2 and 4 and with a full seven day break, things had better improve against Port next week or we’ll….we’ll….get really, really mad….OK?  Go Saints!



ST KILDA                     1.0    4.3    5.7   9.10 (64)
WESTERN BULLDOGS     7.1    12.4    17.6   19.10 (124)


St Kilda: Membrey 3, Caminiti, Jones, Garcia, Wilson, Owens, Sharman
Western Bulldogs: Naughton 6, Weightman 3, Bontempelli 3, Darcy, Dale, Treloar, West, English, Gallagher, Macrae


St Kilda: Windhager, Wanganeen-Milera, Steele, Garcia
Western Bulldogs: Naughton, Treloar, Dale, Weightman, Macrae, Johannisen


St Kilda: Butler (right hamstring)
Western Bulldogs: Nil


St Kilda: Dan Butler (replaced Zak Jones in the third quarter)
Western Bulldogs: Ryley Sanders (replaced Laitham Vandermeer in the third quarter)


Crowd: 26,719 at Marvel Stadium



You read more from Ian Wilson Here.


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About Ian Wilson

Former army aircraft mechanic, sales manager, VFA footballer and coach. Now mental health worker and blogger. Lifelong St Kilda FC tragic and father to 2 x girls.


  1. Stan the Man says

    ### 26719 attendace to FIRST home game of year at Marvel is not good !! we gave up home game v Coll Spuds game…. NOW is time to get out there and support them.
    Man of Steele and S Ross need support in midfield.
    Marshall will collapse if he doesnt get some help soon..
    Play the guy from SA to help him in ruck

  2. I have been patient for 58 years since 1966. My patience ran out a long time ago. No more excuses for St Kilda. If the Western Bulldogs can win a flag in 2016 after a 62 year drought from 1954 in 2016 and only one Grand Final before that in 1961, why can’t St Kilda win a flag? Likewise, Melbourne won a flag after a 57 year drought from 1964 to premiership success in 2021 and only 1 Grand Final in between in 2000. The Mighty Saints have been waiting 58 years and unfortunately still counting, since their last flag. Of course, it took them 69 years in the VFL to win their 1st flag.

    Yes, it’s the best young talent I have seen at the club since Riewoldt, Koschitzke, Dal Santo, Goddard and Montagna were all drafted within a few years of each other and Lenny Hayes was still young at the time. But, back then, really good players like Gehrig and Hamill were also recruited to the club. Ryder, Jones, Howard, Hill, Butler and Crouch are the top ups from other clubs but all are getting near the end now, except possibly Howard, but he’s not getting a game at the moment after injury, but probably will now. Unfortunately, Hannebery was too injury prone. At least, Hill is playing well under his former coach at Fremantle, Ross Lyon.

    I know they are looking but St Kilda really needs to get more midfield class to be a premiership contender in the coming years, as well as players who consistently are better kicks for goal and better field kickers, with less turnovers.

    St Kilda blew a huge chance in 1971 when 20 points up at three quarter time in the 1971 Grand Final. The Mighty Saints were terrible in the 1997 Grand Final, when they were hot favourites to win the flag, after being 12 points up at half time.

    2009 was unforgivable. They should have won that Grand Final, but we’re so inaccurate in kicking for goal, as well as leading by 7 points at three quarter time. The 2010 Drawn Grand Final, the Saints were the underdogs but ended up as their closest Grand Final since 1966. If only the ball had bounced right for Milney.

    The less said about last night’s match, the better. St Kilda could have easily won all 5 matches before last night.

    I sincerely hope the Mighty Saints win their 2nd flag in our lifetimes. St Kilda, don’t hope, don’t think, do! Carn The Mighty Saints!

  3. Ian Wilson says

    Thanks gents. Stan I totally agree about the ruck. Marshall should be a ruck rover who pushes forward. He’s a warrior but he’ll be cooked before we see his best.

  4. Agree with Stan that Jack Hayes should now be played to help Marshall in the ruck. I would rest Marshall for the following week against North Melbourne, but not against Port Adelaide.

    This is my St Kilda team to play Port Adelaide on Friday night:

    B: Bonner, Howard, Wilkie
    HB: Sinclair, Battle, Wanganden-Milera
    C: Hill, Ross, Byrnes
    HF: Owens, King, Phillipou
    F: Higgins, Membrey, Caminiti
    R: Marshall, Steele, Windhager
    Interchange: Stocker, Hayes, Wilson, Collard
    Sub: Garcia
    Emergencies: Sharman, Jones, Cordy, Schoenmakers

    In: King, Howard, Hayes, Collard
    Out: Butler(injured), Sharman, Jones, Cordy

    If the whole St Kilda list was available, (even if it never is), my current best St Kilda team would be:

    B: Webster, Howard, Wilkie
    HB: Sinclair, Battle, Wanganeen-Milera
    C: Hill, Crouch, Wood
    HF: Henry, King, Owens
    F: Higgins, Membrey, Caminiti
    R: Marshall, Steele, Windhager
    Interchange: Ross, Phillipou, Wilson, Dow
    Sub: Butler
    Emergencies: Bonner, Stocker, Hayes, Cordy, Hunter-Clark

  5. Patrick O’Brien says

    Before Ross tries to shift the blame onto anyone else he should try and justify why our goal kicking is still abysmal and why his new ‘attacking’ approach still averages less than 70 points a game.

    God bless you, Ian. Travelling from Ballarat for this!

  6. Patrick, the goal kicking unfortunately has been abysmal for a very long time, at least under Ratten, as well as the 2009 Grand Final, if you want to go that far back.

    Max King in particular has been a poor kick for goal. His goal kicking had improved when he came back in the 2nd half of last year, but has regressed. Nick Riewoldt and Stewart Loewe as centre half forwards were also poor kicks for goal too but improved later in their careers.

    I think you’re being too harsh on Ross Lyon. He is a far better coach than Ratten, where there were many heavy defeats under Ratten at the end, before he was sacked. So far, the Western Bulldogs has been the only heavy defeat this year under Lyon and last year, Adelaide in Adelaide was the main heavy defeat.

    I don’t know who’s in charge of St Kilda’s goal kicking. It used to be Ben Dixon and perhaps Jarryd Roughead in the past but that didn’t help. It’s certainly not the responsibility of Ross Lyon. At training during the week, the players aren’t encouraged to practice kicking for goal. Of course, you can’t kick goals anyway if the ball is derived poorly into the forward line, as well as the midfielders not clearing the ball from the middle or getting it done there enough.

    Just as importantly, who’s in charge of St Kilda’s centre clearances and general field kicking and can they fix it? For many years now, the better teams simply have far less turnovers and more centre clearances than St Kilda.

    I think Ross Lyon is a brilliant coach. What St Kilda achieved last year just to make the eight with all their injuries to their best players for significant periods was saintsational, considering many other teams have stronger lists last year and this year.

    Hopefully. 3 games in 11 days, although I don’t like excuses, was a contributing factor for the thrashing to the Bulldogs.

    Don’t forget that Ross Lyon was nearly a 2 time premiership coach with St Kilda, even if our list was better back then. He coached Fremantle to a Grand Final, with not a brilliant list.

    As far as the scoring is concerned, it’s pretty difficult too average more than 70 points a game when St Kilda continually get soundly beaten at centre clearances. Their defence is on the back foot constantly when this happens. The only time St Kilda won the centre clearances this year was against Collingwood, which was the main reason they won that match.
    Membrey at least is a good kick for goal. Caminiti and Sharman are normally accurate kicks for goal if they can deliver the ball well to them. At the moment, Sherman’s not even getting the ball, so I would drop him for Jack Hayes, who can also support Marshall in the ruck. Another big problem too, is the last kick into the forward line. The forwards need to lead better too.

    The only way St Kilda can get more centre clearances is if Crouch and Dow get into the team soon after their injuries. Sinclair if played in the middle more can help in that regard but his run is needed in the backline. I really hope that St Kilda can get a very good centre clearance player at the end of the season. The more, the better.

    Hopefully, St Kilda will really respond this week. It won’t be easy as Port Adelaide has a great centre clearance midfield. Hopefully, Lyon and his assistant coaches have studied what Collingwood did to Port Adelaide to completely turn the match around last Saturday and try to get St Kilda to emulate that. Easier said than done, I know.

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