St Kilda Friday – 123rd anniversary of the first VFL/AFL match and fighting COVID-19 threats

May 8th 2020, is the “St Kilda Friday” celebrating the 123rd anniversary of their inaugural VFL/AFL game as a foundation club. During the week, fans are asked to show the support and loyalty to the club by presenting red, white and black – wearing guernseys or clothes with tricolours, and/or hanging club scarves on the door or the car. It’s the celebration for players and fans unwavering the loyalty towards the club for generations and to recognise the importance of the memorial day. Also it’s the kickoff day fighting off the threat posed by COVID-19. The relevant new campaign also is launched on that day as well a special Facebook live stream is on. Saints legend Nick Riewoldt and current captain Jarryn Geary host the night online event with a series of great guests.


Therefore St Kilda Friday and a night with the Saints (Facebook event) were on hot topics to discuss on St Kilda fans’ and official club member Facebook pages throughout the week. Fellow Sainters post photos with their families donning red, white and black as the club asks us for the club video. Faithfullness and loyalty are shown well in these photos. This fashion continues all Friday on the We Love Saints More Facebook page as the admin of the page starts posting her red, white and black shirt in the morning. I just wait for an occasion when I get to a park holding footy and wearing the St Kilda guernsey (Saint Nick’s number 12 is on the back) demonstrating kicking the ball. Meanwhile Garry Lyon mentions radio listeners about the St Kilda Friday and urges us to purchase memberships if they can afford to do so, on SEN Breakfast.


Having already been a fan player with the guernsey, I am riding a bike for 45 minutes to get to the popular tourist attraction of Arashiyama to kick the footy after having breakfast. I really love being an early bird for empty places as well as kicking footy. It’s good to ride a bike for 12 kilometres, but I can only have a park with mostly clay and bit of grass. Also the Arashiyama Park is not large or flat. Losing arguments at Umekoji Park, I have only one option to practise footy there on my own. It’s like how the club has once lost their spiritual home of Moorabbin for a while. As having already mentioned you in another article, I want a heartland of my own footy zone and hope I can find one near Osaka in the future. Footy drills go well and I have some good set shots and kicks are well. I will need hours and hours to be like Stephen Milne or Nick Riewoldt.



Yoshi doing footy drills

Yoshi preparing to do footy drills in Arashiyama



After leaving Arashiyama, I take a diversion in order to collect the missing copy of 1989 Great Grand Final written by our great mate Tony Wilson. With an online order placed on 11 March, the book was shipped six days later and the distributor and I agreed that it would never arrive, so I got a refund. But a note was left the previous evening informing me that I got a postal package from Australia. Meanwhile, a job agency emails me looking for people urgently to work at a logistics warehouse to meet more volumes of parcels. I just ignore it because of the online event at night, but they ring me while having a shower. Calling back them and being asked if I have any plans or not, I respond to them that I have something to do. I need some works to get extra money but it’s the day to demonstrate my loyalty and support. St Kilda Friday priorities 8 May 2020.


Putting the Saints guernsey into the washing machine, I pick a St Kilda singlet until the Facebook event. The second St Kilda activity is watching the replay of the home and away match against Brisbane Lions in 2005. Fox Footy runs Big Bash match series featuring players kicking many goals. Although that replay features individual achievement (Stephen Milne’s 11 goals), it suits the celebration of the memorable day for the club as well the boys scored most points against Brisbane Bears/Lions in the club history.


The memorable match started with great centre ball works done by every player’s mate and fans’ most favourite Lenny Hayes. Aaron Hamill scored the first goal of the night and the mighty Saints booted two more unanswered goals first. Milne ran hard and swiftly to collect dropped footy and then kicked accurately. In addition to his small forward’s advantages, he also ran hard and took marks as well as kicked soccer goals. Not only the gun small forward but also other players created the huge win. Skipper Saint Nick’s four goals, chasing and leading ball hard, taking high and chest marks were spectacular and reflected on his leadership. Nick Dal Santo and Luke Ball performed well and kicked goals. Their hardworking attitudes were brilliant. Robert Harvey showed legendary covering both forward and defense lines and booted goals as well. Watching the match with a massive win creates the special day more memorable and brings me happiness, joy and more pride of supporting the great footy club.



Yoshi watching footy re

Yoshi watching the replay in Saints singlet


Food shopping is done after the great 2005 game and I check social media at 5 pm. Having already seen St Kilda’s new campaign, Saints Pledge, I have no idea what it means. Then my Facebook friend shares the link to pledge and I visit the site. I am asked what I want to do with my membership and indeed chose to remain a club member. Unfortunately I cannot afford to take more actions towards the club other than keeping the membership, but I stay faithful and loyal with strong support towards the beloved Saints. Then afterwards it is time to fill my stomach with cold noodles before watching the live stream of a Night with Saints.


Accelerating my special emotion, getting back the number 12 Saints guernsey for the online event and to honour my hero Rooey, I am waiting to get it started, but it doesn’t start even at 6.01 pm my time. Finally the live stream is on and I see two great co-hosts, Saint Nick and Jarryn. It’s a wonderful moment when former and current captains host a video event and I think it’s the first time to witness. At the beginning, Rooey and Geary have catch up chats talking about current players and what is going on with them. Jarryn is staying home looking after his kids as his wife is working at home, while Nick is doing home schooling. Also Nick conducting video Auskick programs is the topic to chat about. Before welcoming guest speakers, a new campaign video is played and fans with different generations and past and current players appearing. Club CEO Matt Finnis is the first guest speaker of the show talking about the circumstances of financial and staff members including players and coaches. Finnis encourages supporters to pledge the Saints at the end of the interview. Meanwhile Jarryn gets a dinner delivery for Nick from Deliveroo.


Secondly, everyone’s favourite Lenny Hayes joins them from his home in Sydney via a video chat. They talk about Lenny’s playing career, friendships and his family time. He talks about memorable time training at Moorabbin, playing Grand Finals and relationships with teammates. Also winning the night premiership in 2004 and holding the cup with then coach Grant Thomas is included in conversations. Answering Geary’s question, Lenny admits one of his sons wears the Giants gear as he is playing for a junior club nicknamed Giants; however he reveals that his sons are gifted Saints jumpers from Luke Dunstan at Christmas. His retirement announcement is on the chat showing how he is loved by his teammates and coaches and also fans. Nick points to a photo of Jack Newnes crying at the announcement. Lenny having bonds with Saints is awesome and Jarryn lures Lenny to come back to Moorabbin on some separate occasions during the interview. I believe his loyalty stays with the Saints and everyone is waiting for his return to the club wearing red, white and black again.


The next guest is an international passionate supporter and actor, Eric Bana. They talk about Bana attending St Kilda games at their heartland of Moorabbin. He has been showing his passions and loyalty towards the club. Losses of Grand Finals in 2009 and 2010 are heartbreaking for the celebrity.


Lastly St Kilda AFLW co-captain Rhiannon Watt joins Rooey after Geary finishes his co-hosting. Watt has been a St Kilda supporter since her childhood and achieves her dream playing for her beloved Saints. She chats about her memories at Moorabbin and how women players are coping with the crisis. The life long Saints supporting player hopes to play on for another few years. It is good to have an AFLW player in the special online event and her demonstrated passions and loyalty towards the club for decades.


I have a great opportunity to get closer to the club by watching the video on Facebook and really hope the coronavirus crisis ends in the near future so that fans can attend games that we love. As having already mentioned above, I pledge the membership with faith and loyalty, and hope I can go to a game next year at Marvel Stadium and swear I am cheering my boys hard with strong passions.


Actually the celebration continues on Saturday. Fifth anniversary marks on the huge comeback win over the Western Bulldogs after trailling by 55 points. Also at night, I join a Zoom chat hosted by the Singapore Wombats AFL club whose guest speakers are Clare Fitzpatrick (St Kilda AFLW) and Aisling McCarthy (Western Bulldogs AFLW).





Our writers are independent contributors. The opinions expressed in their articles are their own. They are not the views, nor do they reflect the views, of Malarkey Publications.


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About Yoshihiro Imagawa

Love, passion and pride are seen on the footy that is the biggest part of my life. 1. St Kilda Club member: I am a passionate and crazy Sainter. Just hope we will win the second flag soon, especially after Dogs and Tigers having ended long premiership draughts. 2. The Osaka Dingoes Player and Public Relations Officer: Player number 44 that I chose to honour Stephen Milne with my wish being like a small forward like him. Lenny Hayes' hardworking attitudes are adopted on my trainings and practices. Nick Riewoldt's great plays are in my player audiobook too. 3. Writing: Here on the Almanac and also on the World Footy News. My skills utilise on great footy websites.

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