Round 7 – St Kilda v Greater Western Sydney: A Lesson in Perspective

Like most kids, I cried a lot when I was young. But only in very specific situations.

When things didn’t go my way I wouldn’t whinge or throw tantrums. If another kid knocked me I wouldn’t wail melodramatically like an in-training soccer player.

But if the Saints lost it, so did I.

My mum and many of her friends were also Sainters, but when they called her after each loss it wasn’t to air their grievances about Reiwoldt’s kicking, Kosi’s patchy form or the umpires. It was to ask the same question each time: “Oh god, how’s Alex?” The answer, more often than not, was “In his room, head buried in his pillow.”

I realised I was being immature, especially during matches against teams I expected big losses against, where I’d try to leave after they kicked their first goal. But still I found it impossible to suppress the feeling the whole world was ending every time I watched my side get defeated.

The tears eventually dried up as I entered adolescence, but the feeling stayed. A feeling of mild nausea with every turnover or goal conceded, and a little voice in my head saying “Don’t switch it on, run away, there’s only despair for you here,” ahead of every match the Saints weren’t favorites for.

I didn’t hear that little voice this week.

On Wednesday, the bean counters at Fairfax announced they were cutting the number of writers in its Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane newsrooms by 125.

The blow was made all the more bitter by the stunning lack of tact – the email sent to the journos came on World Press Freedom day – and that the CEO recently received a share bonus equivalent to one twelfth of the money Fairfax is looking to save through the job cuts.

I was mortified. I’m not directly affected by this decision, but I have close friends who are. They’re people who want to make the world a better place with their skills, and I boiled at the thought that they’ll probably be denied the opportunity come next week.

Then I thought of the more experienced journalists – the people who first made me want to write, who have shaped me into what I am today – being undervalued, and felt sad that their brilliant minds might not be allowed to filter the noise of the world into something accessible for much longer.

Then I realized the other consequences of these cuts: It’s about to be open slather for the malevolent in this world, with no one there to check their power. One by one, the problems making me gloomy piled up, and I completely forgot to let “The Saints will probably lose on Friday” bother me.

When I did remember, on the day, it was with a sense of guilt. All those years of red eyes and week-long mood slumps, all over something so trivial!

The moral couldn’t have been clearer: If your footy side’s form is what’s worrying you most in life, you don’t have it all that bad.

By the time the ball was bounced, I was more prepared than ever for the Saints to lose. Josh Bruce could miss 50 goals from one metre out, Sam Gilbert could turn the ball over with every disposal, we could give up 20 goals in the latest of our trademark last-quarter fadeouts… I wouldn’t care, now I realized where an AFL loss sat in the grand scheme of things.

And then the universe proved it has a keen sense of irony. We won.

Post-match, Triple M’s Wayne Schwass tweeted that with this game, the Saints had shown they were growing up. By then, I felt I had too.

About Alex Darling

Melbourne-born, Horsham-based footy fan. Lover of the Saints, classic rock guitar and good writing on each of these topics.


  1. Yvette Wroby says

    Well said Alex, very sad day for journalists and those that love reading their words. They help us process the mass of noise. Thank you for putting your thoughts about perspective in too. Good win by the Saints which has to be backed up this week.

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