St Kilda Season 2014 Preview: Pas ce soir, Joséphine

by Patrick O’Brien


Never let it be said that hipsters have it easy. To be sure it’s only right to pity them, what with the cruel misfortune of choosing hapless Freo as ‘their’ team, just for the sheer – get this! – irony of it! You can’t blame them, really. After all, you don’t need much more than the fingers on one hand to count back to when Freo were propping up the table. It just happened to coincide with when those purple jumpers started festering faster than beards at all the hip joints up and down Brunswick Street, just for the sheer – get this! – irony of it! Even that fella from Pavement who moved here started wearing one. But before you could pop a vintage synth in the basket of your fixie who did we see rocking up at the grannie and even being competitive for a whole three minutes? Freo, that’s who! Oh, the irony!

I should point out that, as a St Kilda supporter, I’m not judging from on high. I first started keeping an eye on St Kilda back in the mid-80s. It’s common knowledge that for many people that time was the Saints’ golden period, a veritable Belle Époque of defeats when they were not so much propping up the table as being completely squashed by it, whole lifetimes going by without the slightest souvent of September action. Hell, even making it to July was a surprise some years.

In my defence I didn’t support the Saints for the chuckle factor. I needed a team and remembered that my parents, newly hitched on Boxing Day in a humid old Indooroopilly church near where the Brisbane River creeps languidly by, had moved to St Kilda for a few years back in the black-and-white era (tele, not Pies). I simply added a strip of red to the black and white and that was that.

I quickly got used to defeat – the odd mid-90s aberration aside – and even learnt to indulge in a bit of pre-hipster ironic enjoyment. Of course, this was made easier by the happy coincidence of St Kilda being the team of choice for Melbourne’s community of viciously handsome bohemian outsiders, exiled on the other side of the Nepean, practically self-immolating with their sheer exciting danger and taut trousers.

All the low-slung guitar slingers were Sainters, of course, desperados to a fault – life’s losers forming a perfect partnership with footy’s losers. Poverty stricken poets, too. I reckon Rimbaud would have worn a Winmar guernsey given the chance, burning off a bit of absinthe in a café on Acland Street’s La Rive Gauche and wondering if the great man’s middle name really was Elvis or if the green fairy had just paid a visit. So, yeah, you just beat us by a cricket score, but our wounds are easily salved by that wonderfully visceral sense of your burning jealousy. We don’t care because – and there’s no point beating about the bush here ­– you’ll never be as cool as us. Ever.

And then the unthinkable happened: Ross Lyon.

When humans witness something truly shocking the brain can struggle to acknowledge the truth of what is happening. The signals come in as usual, but we simply cannot comprehend the evidence because it is so far outside the realm of what we think is possible. Our brains literally deny what is happening.

So it was with the soon-to-be Mr Freo. All of a sudden we were scoring more points than the opposition (or they scored less than us, if you’re a Ross-hater, wotevs). We did it one week. Then, incredibly, we did it again the week after. I was witnessing something truly shocking and denying what was happening. I felt queasy – and not just from trying to figure out what the hell a forward press is. What was this strange feeling swirling around inside what passes for my chest as we kept scoring more points than the opposition? It felt … what’s the word … good. Yes, it felt good. Genuinely good. I had to face up to the terrible fact that I now cared and I now liked winning.

Liked it? Baby, I freaken loved it! And I couldn’t get enough of the stuff!

I wanted to go to the ‘G and win a flag, stand beside that famous chap who played Chopper, grab a-hold of Dr J and go Nite Trippin’ around Fed Square with a big ol’ swag o’funky N’Awlens funeral procession jazz cuts.

I wanted to take my Sainters socks off and hang them from my ears, climb on the back of the Sandy express, and train surf one handed, separated from death by nothing more than my flimsy scarf tied loosely to whatever the end bit of a train is called.

I wanted to collapse under a carton of Coopers, smash every stimulant under the sun and annihilate every narcotic known until I was fit only to drag my debauched cadaver down Fitzroy Street letting rip with a Partridge-esque ‘dirty protest’ against those awful restaurants that arrogantly serve up sub-standard tucker at Louis XIV prices.

I wanted to set a dwarf on fi … actually, let’s not go overboard. (And just on that, isn’t it amazing how stupid professional footballers are? What part of don’t set fire to another human when your club has a really, really bad image problem don’t you get? What part of don’t invite the head of an outlaw motorcycle gang into the sheds to meet the boys is so hard for you to understand?)

Yes, I am out and proud, I can say I am who I am, and I finally feel liberated enough from the prison of my personal history to stand up in public and let the world know: I desperately want St Kilda to win the premiership this year. In the words of Michael Stipe, I need this, I NEED THIS!

And now that I’m finally living true to my ideals in proper mindfulness style, what happens? The Saints go all mid-80s on me.

Oh, the irony.

Season prediction: Somewhere below Freo.


  1. Medium Dazza says

    Great write POB and I can testify to the brain being unable to cope bit. When Lenny bagged one from 50+ and Goddard took a hanger to put us in front in the GF, I was speechless, brainless and clueless as to what to do next. Mercifully, our less-than-Saintly karma stepped in and normal transmission was resumed.
    Re 2014 prediction………it could start with a real bang – Rd 1 Melb, Rd 2 GWS; from there I think that the gulf between those two, us and the rest may accelerate the planning for a two-division competition (aaah, the gold old days of the VFA – go Oakleigh for mine, who similarly managed to lose GF’s on a regular basis). We should finish somewhere between 15th and 22nd.

  2. In a year when all of my other pro teams have either won it all or are genuine title contenders, being a Saints supporter is wonderfully liberating. Let the Hawks and Cats and Pies and Dockers fans, etc., lose sleep and endlessly dissect and rehash every move leading up to September. A few wins sprinkled over the season, a surprise here and there, a sense that we’re on the uptick? Hey, that’ll do. (Though an unexpected return to relevance would be delightful.) Besides, the absolute best thing about being a Sainter is the kinship with all the other Sainters. Cool indeed.

  3. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Great read POB fantastic passion , amusing and realistic
    Thanks Patrick

  4. Love the fresh lines.

    I think it’s officially called the end bit of the train.

  5. Rob – I have no idea what you just said. Style over substance? Or substance over style.
    Whichever – you said it with such style that I thoroughly enjoyed whatever you said.
    (P.S. It was called the ‘caboose’ in every John Wayne western that I ever saw.)

  6. mickey randall says

    Patrick- Coopers! Michael Stipe! Dr John! Pavement! Four of my favourite cultural/ refreshment sources right there. Irony aside, thank you. Great piece. Looking forward to more.

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