Round 8: St Kilda v West Coast Eagles: A reflection on a half-full glass

Round 8: St Kilda v West Coast Eagles

Etihad Stadium

Saturday 23rd May, 1.45pm


Come a sunny but cold Saturday afternoon, the footy siren calls me to the stadium once again. On this day, there is Uncle Bob and myself (and two of his friends who are AFL members who join us in our seats). It is another home game, another local artist who sings his version of our anthem (Mick Thomas, from “Weddings, Parties, Anything”), another day of fan experiences. Another day with a small attendance of Saints fans (23,598, of whom 8,335 were members, which I know because I am texted a thank-you by the Club while at the game) and a larger-than-expected West Coast Eagles grouping. And another loss.

When Uncle Bob and I reach the ground, I go for a walk, and make friends with two Fijian ladies in Saints gear. One of the things I’ve noticed from my travels this year is the “whiteness” of Australian Rules Football crowds. The fan base are predominately European, so when I see two laughing, happy Fijian women I have to know their story. Salaneta and Lela are friends, Lela from the Western Suburbs and Salaneta from out the Saints heartland along the Bay. Salaneta tells me she’s a Sainter because her husband said she needed to choose her own team. She and her friend sat up high in the stands, and I met her again on the train postgame and shared some footy analysis and a laugh. Salaneta comes to home games, loves chatting to supporters she’s met near where she sits and finds footy a great adventure.

As I began to write postgame, I found an unwillingness to face the “thrashing of the afternoon”. All the different thoughts and experiences need time to settle. And I watch the replay, which changes how I see the game. Different threads float through every Saints story, every Saints game.

I think about my friend in Japan, Yoshi. My daughter Rachel and I met Yoshi last November in Sapporo. Becoming instant friends through our madness for St Kilda, we have continued to communicate through Viber and email, though The Footy Almanac website and through Skype. We gave Yoshi moral support to move from Sapporo to Kyoto. A fresh start, a new job, a busier place, where this youngish man can meet more English-speaking people.

He found himself a job working for traditional Kyoto Machiya Inns. Here Yoshi’s duties range from cleaning to taking bookings, as well as trying to market and sell more visits to his inns. And welcoming and settling visitors. He explains Japanese customs and demonstrates making futons ready for sleeping. He works between the two inns and loves the challenges as each is slightly different from the other. Yoshi works long hours (8 am to 9 pm with a lunch break), such hours that have prevented him from listening, watching and writing about football this year. In his spare time now, he goes for long bike rides or gets to know people he meets.

Yoshi and I messaged each other before the game. He is trying to get more football supporters to visit the two inns, placed either side of Nijo Castle in Kyoto, with plenty of public transport, shopping, Japanese baths and food. Yoshi wears his Saints baseball cap and gets lots of comments and conversation from guests (or others out and about) which he loves. Yoshi wants everybody, of any footy colours, to come visit, accept his and his inn’s hospitality, and say g’day or konichi-wa. (For bookings, see and

All this is to say that Yoshi is putting great effort into his work. Just as our Saints did at the game on Saturday. Yoshi and the Saints just need more consistent results.

Uncle Bob’s two friends, Rod and Mayer, are Essendon supporters, and Rod said (of the ongoing saga), “I just wished it was all cleared up and in the open.” He went on to say that the players weren’t to blame, and that the program was horrible, and that he couldn’t believe that Hird would do something deliberately to put the player’s health at risk. He said if Hird is guilty of wrongdoing and it’s proved, he should go to jail.

He and Mayer go to games to just enjoy their Saturday afternoons, and occasionally watch their own team play. He said it was enjoyable to be an observer of football rather than a fan at most games.

Of St Kilda, he said, we were developing young talent who seemed to be playing for each other and that will lead to “glory”. He also remembers going to Moorabbin as an outsider and the presence of the almighty “Animal Enclosure” and the characters within it.

In the first quarter at the Dome, there were some great signs, great starts of momentum for the Saints, which, when errors occurred, quickly got turned around and became easy shots at goal for West Coast. Josh Kennedy, a huge, strong man, started it off. Then LeCras, Cripps, Callum Sinclair, Kennedy, Yeo and Hill joined in. It was a flood of bigger, fitter, more accurate footballers showing how to run through the centre, make the most of their opposition’s many errors or the resulting free kicks from getting to the ball first. In the middle of the flood, Newnes got one back for the Saints before quarter time.

After the comeback victory against the Doggies several weeks ago, you never write St Kilda off, but it was a difficult start again. You could see the great effort being given, but the skills weren’t up to scratch. Even experienced Saints were giving the Eagles a handout (or a handball or a mark or a free).

Weller grabbed an early second-quarter goal before Hill got his second. The coach must have said a few good words to the group because Josh Bruce found the ball and continued his good play and accuracy, our Jack Sinclair did likewise and Templeton added another. When Roberton smacked through the fourth in a row, the team, and the fans, were up and about, liking what they saw. Liking the feeling of another comeback. Loving the effort and now the accuracy and skill being shown.

Half time and ready for a break, we pondered the 12 points between the two teams. Would the Saints keep coming? Would the Eagles step it up? The answer, it came to pass, was both. Saints booted four more the next quarter while West Coast crushed us with seven. (In order: Cripps, Savage, Membrey, Kennedy, Sinclair, Shuey, Priddis, Bruce, Yeo, Kennedy, and Hill.) An 11-goal quarter, a shootout that made the Eagles’ lead shoot out as well.

The crushing continued in the last quarter, with McInnes, Weller, and Schneider starting and then the West Coast just taking it from there, with another four (Hill, Sheppard, Yeo and Cripps).

For Sainters, it felt like a beating, but on reflection, our mostly young men played on taller, bigger, and more experienced men from the West who are second on the ladder. We played some of the time without poor Sam Fisher, who hurt his hamstring again, and Webster being subbed off for concussion after an earlier reportable offence by Yeo (rubbed out for one week) which took him off the ground.

Whether we win or lose, I always wait eagerly for our coach, Alan Richardson, to share his wisdom with his members-only wrap postgame. Sometimes he does it before the press conference, sometimes afterwards, but this little moment with the coach soothes me after a loss and excites me after a win. He is calm and steady, “G’day Saints members” to begin. He talks of squandered opportunities, not starting strongly enough, how the boys let ourselves down in both aggression and physicality. Talks about the boys being strong in some stages of the match, disappointing in others. The language is positive, clear, direct, and intelligent. I feel I would play well for him. I would write well for him. He wants the players to be strong and good and show maturity. He updates us on Nick Riewoldt’s progress.

Even with our worst losses, he finds something in our team about improvement, development, moments or minutes or whole quarters that are better. I loved watching his excitement (in his quiet way) when the Saints unexpectedly beat the Dogs. Proud man indeed.

In the Herald Sun on Saturday, Alan said of Josh Bruce, “He’s a very competitive person. He doesn’t get outmarked. He has been sticking a few and he’s been kicking well and he’s very selfless.”

Alan Richardson is understated and a man of few words, but what words he uses leave no doubt in your mind about his thoughts. And they leave me looking forward to what our boys will provide for themselves, for the coach, and for us, next week in Queensland.


For any Sainters going to the game in Brisbane, there is an awesome function being planned by the Queensland Saints before the game and after practice. These lovely people throw a good shindig, so book often and early (via the Club at Seaford).

Or respond back on the site for more details from me.


About Yvette Wroby

Yvette Wroby writes, cartoons, paints through life and gets most pleasure when it's about football, and more specifically the Saints. Believes in following dreams and having a go.


  1. Mathilde de Hauteclocque says

    ‘The footy sirens calling’ … wonderful!

    Positivity is a very brave thing. Sounds like your coach is on the right track. And you clearly hold it sacred, Yvette. The French have a beautiful way of saying ‘Chin up’ or ‘Good luck.’ They simply say (apply accent) ‘Courage.’

  2. Tony Robb says

    Hi Yvette.
    Some positives for the Saints that were probably not expect pre-season unlike Carlton who have delivered doughnuts other than Patrick Cripps. Not sure whether Schneider still going around is good sign. He still contributes but at the same time is keeping a young bloke out of the side.
    Enjoy Brisvagus

  3. Matt Zurbo says

    Yvett, everything about you is glass half full or full, or even with the Saints sometimes, empty but waiting to be full! This is why you are a champion and your club is so lucky to have you.

  4. Guru Gus - Singapore says

    Interesting comment about the “whiteness” of AFL crowds. I certainly noticed in the occasional Melbourne Storm game I have been to, how many Pacific Islanders are in the crowd, and they are a vocal and passionate lot that love their sport.

    It is an exciting time to be a Saints fan – still some gaps of course, but you can see the progress, and I have absolute faith in Richo that we will be thereabouts in 2017-2020.

  5. Yvette Wroby says

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Mathilde, love the courage word. It’s what both the players and supporters need heaps of. Tony I imagine schneiderd best work is his series of schneiderman interviews with players. As JTH would day, sensational work . Matt footy and life is so random and short. May as well enjoy yourself while having a crack.

    Feel very priveldged to be going to every game and writing a book about footy and life. Learning heaps and enjoying meeting great supporters of all colours and teams!

  6. Hi Yvette,

    We were about to get score level and to take a lead, but the Eagles were good. However as Rucho mentions us, we are improving with a big hope.

    Thanks for mentioning me and featuring my workplaces. All Almanackers are welcomed to Shouan and Sanjojuku. Please email me if you are planning to visit Kyoto. I will offer you accommodation if a room is available and I can vet your tour guide.

    All the best


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