Round 6 – Western Bulldogs v St Kilda: Saints Shame Woeful Western Bulldogs

Western Bulldogs v St Kilda Saints

Andy Tuano

I was there. It was unbelievable.

It all started at school, when I asked my good mate Josh if he wanted to go to the Dogs-Saints game. A Bulldog member, he even offered to bring a membership card for me to get into the wing, which I snapped up immediately.

So we organised a meet-up at Gate 5, but after eating a Vietnamese bread roll I was stranded outside Etihad with an hour before the meet up. No one to talk to, I turned to the AFL Playground. Boy, the Dogs supporters could not kick.

I went for a search for a massive St Kilda flag, but I couldn’t find one. After searching, I finally found Josh, and we went inside together. For the first time, I wasn’t sitting high up. I was watching the game Level 1, on the wing. It was like football heaven.

St Kilda, however, were not heaven in the first half. Despite staying in touch in the first quarter, we let the Dogs slip out to an eight goal lead at half time, with Clay Smith leaving on a stretcher at half-time.

Now, this was the turning point. You see, I had seen a documentary about the 1984 Grand Final (The Final Story) and I learnt about Kevin Sheedy’s unusual, but brilliant tactic to win the game from behind. The tactic is to put your opposition off as much as possible. Sheedy gave away up to TWENTY 15m penalties, but the Bombers came from nowhere in the last.

After seeing Clay Smith’s knee devastated, and after Liam Picken slotted a goal on the siren, I saw a huge fight break up between the two teams at half time. The Dogs looked rattled, losing concentration. I would not know how right I was.

The third quarter started naturally, with a goal for the Dogs. That would be the only, and one of just three, for the second half from the Dogs. First, Hickey (my least favourite Saint) slotted a goal from 15 out on a slight angle. Then we started kicking goals. The Saints were getting busy, running and running, tackling, applying pressure, everything a premiership side does. I said to Josh after the Hickey goal that started it (as a half-joke), “Woah! Josh! Only 8 goals! You could say it’s getting pretty interesting!”

By quarter’s end, we were just 12 points down. The Saints fans that lay scattered in the sea of red, white and blue on the wing were laughing, starting to relax. They smelt Bulldog blood, and so could I.

That smell disappeared temporarily when the Dogs kicked the first two goals of the last, and I resigned. We started playing ring a ring a rosey in the backline, and I thought the game was gone.

Then Billings, after a bad set shot, snapped one on his left. Then another goal. Then Bontempelli failed to spoil the ball across the line, and Sinclair snared one two metres out. And then… Hickey. Ahhhh Hickey. Why should he kick the one to put us in front? I doubted him, but he did. We were a point in front. A few minutes later, I see the ball reach the wing in front of me, and Riewoldt wobbles a helicopter forward. Swinging my head, I see Billings’s direct opponent slip over. At that moment, I knew we had won. And we did. Billings, with the talent of an Ablett-style play, scoops the ball and slams it through from 35. Moments later, after more ring a ring a rosey from the Saints, we pump it forward and Bruce marks it. The siren blows. I leap in excitement. Bruce misses. The Saints’ theme song begins.

Instead of going straight home I went to the Saints fan base, and watched the delighted ladies put the floggers away and go to the Saints change rooms. It was a group I felt I belonged in.

I would then talk to an old lady, who barracked for the Saints. She reiterated how we’d be good, and that we’d surprise more teams like we did to the Dogs. I asked her about ’66. She was out of town. But the spirit of St Kilda lived in her heart.

WESTERN BULLDOGS 3.3 10.3 11.6 13.9 (87)
ST KILDA 2.2 2.3 9.6 14.10 (94)

Western Bulldogs: Stringer 4, Picken 2, Goodes, Stevens, Wood, Crameri, Dahlhaus, Cordy, Honeychurch
St Kilda: Billings 4, Sinclair 2, Hickey 2, Schneider, Riewoldt, Lonie, Dunstan, Bruce, Armitage

Western Bulldogs: Picken, Stringer, Johannisen, Dickson, Macrae, Goodes Wood
St Kilda: Armitage, Billings, Steven, Schneider, Fisher, Newnes, Sinclair

Umpires: Farmer, Stephens, Schmitt

Crowd: 29,619 at Etihad Stadium

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