Round 6 – Western Bulldogs v St Kilda: The Anti-miracle

I’m not calling this one the disaster it very much appears to be. The Doggies did just win in Sydney, after all, and the whole point of growing up is to be granted the ability to see beyond what’s directly in front of us.

Still, this was a difficult experience for those of us swimming in the euphoria of the last two matches. It was very similar to the strange loss against Port Adelaide in 1997 in the midst of otherwise beating all and sundry that month. The unavoidable fact is that we lost this match when up 55 points in the third quarter and still 25 up in the fourth against a team that no one had particularly rated beforehand. They may start to now, bit by bit. That 55 number makes this defeat one for the history books – the fifth-greatest comeback ever. To reverse this entire paragraph: St Kilda WON it down 55 points.

The Corporate Avenue that has now deservedly swallowed the entrance to the corporate Etihad Stadium appeared to swell with more bodies than usual. 30,000 people came to this match, great by both of our standards. Were they woodwork Doggies like me, or were they extra Saints who sniffed a revival against Essendon last week?

Nick Riewoldt was back for St Kilda. He’s someone I much like as a person but hugely dislike as a St Kilda player, a bastard who sneered at us when we were down in a game in 2012, to say nothing of the dive in the Preliminary Final. He unconventionally led all the way to St Kilda’s back pocket at the start of this game and showed ring rust by putting it out on the full.

More worryingly, so did our man Tom Boyd. He took two terrific marks in our front 20 in the first ten minutes and unbelievably missed both shots. His confidence was sucked after that, and St Kilda would then double and triple-team him. He could not impose himself at all afterwards, and our forward line disappeared in the second half. I hope he’s able to shrug this one off.

Things otherwise appeared swimmingly in the first half. It was disputed exclusively in our front half. Brett Goodes played a game that may have saved his career, and Jason Johannisen showed all sorts of verve, dash and handball smarts working the ball along the wing. Our goals were scored more from constant pressure than from anything systematic, but who can argue with a 64-15 halftime lead?

The last goal was after the siren in contentious circumstances. Our boy Clay Smith, back from multiple previous knee tragedies, hurt his knee twice today, the first time jarring it on the edge of the suable Etihad turf and the second one a personal cataclysm as the ball flew over his head on the halftime siren. Picken took the mark down low, the siren went and Smith was driven off the ground while everyone waited. I suspect something under the belt occurred in that time (some words towards Smith?), because as soon as Picken kicked truly the entire Bulldog team charged in and started a brawl. It was a breathtaking sight that reminded me of a flock of birds all streaming forward.

After halftime Stringer drilled a beautiful angled shot from 50. And then the innocuous St Kilda comeback began. Murph, who has hardly put a foot wrong all season and has all of Melbourne gushing (I called him semi-orgasmic two weeks ago), began the match by running around his marker from a kick-out. He tried it again now and was caught, in front of goal.

Thinking of the scores then, I can’t believe this all actually happened, it’s just hit me as I write this. We didn’t get the ball up again until the second half of the quarter. When we did, St Kilda took us out with smart counterattacks. St Kilda did to us what we did in the second quarter, keeping the ball in their front 50 for minutes on end through pressure. Their disposal was never that great but they were killing us in the ruck, Billy Longer slaughtering Ayce Cordy, and consequently in the midfield. David Armitage had 30 first half possessions in a team losing by 50 points. He ended up with 45 in total.

So at three-quarter time we had to re-win a game that had already been won. Two goals in the first two minutes of the final quarter seemed to do it. The vibe was still tense though – I was surprised to look up after six or seven minutes and see us with an 85-60 lead. But St Kilda then killed us right to the end, chipping away at the lead. It was at the 15-minute mark with us up by 11 and one of our few attacks repelled, that I understood St Kilda was going to win.

The hero was a 19-year old Saint wearing number 15 named Jack Billings. He scored three goals in a Koutoufides-like last quarter, four overall. I could see his young smirking face on the TV as I walked away. In real life I also saw the Saints hugging as one in bliss and our boys also in a group nearby, more staggered and discussing what the hell had just happened.

This match was supposed to be about a young team giving their fans hope. It turned out to be exactly that.


May 9, 2015 at Etihad Stadium

St Kilda  2.2  2.3  9.6  14.10 (94)

Western Bulldogs     3.3  10.4  11.6   13.9 (87)



St Kilda: Billings 4, Sinclair, Hickey 2, Schneider, Riewoldt, Lonie, Dunstan, Bruce, Armitage

Western Bulldogs: Stringer 4, Picken 2, Goodes, Stevens, Wood, Crameri, Dahlhaus, Cordy, Honeychurch.



3 Billings 2 Armitage 1 Fisher

About Marty Gleason

As a toddler-ish Footscray fan at Western Oval in the 1980s, I collected rocks while Mick Malthouse climbed a ladder to sit in the coach's box on top of a pole. I think about those four games in 2016 every day.


  1. What a shocking game! What a roller coaster felt event. After being in euphoria, the doggies have to accept defeat. I guess the lesson here is that confidence will bring you out to win things in life, whether it’s sports or other things that matter. Lessons learned: anti-miracle for one team became miracle for the other team.

  2. Yvette Wroby says

    thanks for the great write up. You could hear the sounds of heartbreak for dogs after the siren. But take heart. Your boys played some wonderful football and so did ours. Again our two teams seem to mirror development. And mirror spirit and pizzazz. A few less errant kicks and without injuries which seemed to have effected your players emotionally, it could have gone your way. Btw the brawl was not about your injured young man but something said to nick by stringer I think. I saw Joey montagna go and console your man on the stretcher. It will be and interesting few years ahead for both teams

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