That was just a tragedy

“That was just a tragedy”.

Last year at this time I wrote about my then 6 year old son and his apparent adoption of St Kilda.  Having watched Nick Riewoldt dominate the season, in the Grand Final, and for the first time in his young footy supporter’s life, he managed to sustain his support for a team beyond a loss. I was impressed, but at the same time a little sad that he might live his life with a different emotional connection to me.

Even at the time, it seemed a portentous day.  Aside from the footy connotations, there is a growing body of literature linking both short and long term mental health outcomes to the performance of the sporting teams we attach ourselves to; and so at the moment where you choose which team that will be, to some extent you are changing your future life.

His support for the Saints has continued this year, despite seeing little of them. He doesn’t seek out their results, but whenever footy is mentioned there is only one team he wants to know about – though funnily enough he has no special interest in Riewoldt this year.

My son choosing St Kilda, I have to say as a parent, a psychologist and an Eagles supporter, was not watched without a little anxiety.  If history is anything to go by, it is a choice that brings with it more risk than reward.  The title of this piece is Aidan’s assessment of the game today.  Maybe he is getting it a little out of perspective, but for anyone who has ever supported the losing Grand Finalist, it certainly feels that way and I can understand his choice of words.

This morning we went out buying scarves and mascots; this afternoon he threw them across the room in frustration.  There was a genuine sense of angst and disappointment, and while he doesn’t yet know quite how to express it, it is no less genuine for that – and maybe more so.

The irony is that he has, in two short years, become almost the quintessential Saints fan.  In those two years he has seen the Saints play three Grand Finals, and win none.  He hasn’t known a drought, but he has known the emptiness of defeat.  The desolation of the years at the bottom of the ladder are still ahead of him (I wish I could say the same), but so far it has been the agony what might have been that has torn at his emotions.

As a St Kilda fan, he might have to get used to this.  I only hope it doesn’t hurt him too much in the years ahead.  Tonight, as I tucked him in bed, he told me with the confidence that only a seven-year-old could muster that one day the Saints would win the cup, even if it wasn’t today.  The footy lover part of me hopes he’s right; but not as much as the Dad part.


  1. John Butler says


    It’s a hard road he’s chosen, but he’ll survive.

    I grew up amongst Saints. They form their own peculiar world view, but they strangely seem to relish it.

  2. I am not sure relish is the right word,but there is something to say about the re-emergence of hope and enjoying the ride while we can. We have been a great team over the last few years, we don’t get the silverware but it’s been a great watching them play well. Drawing might help. It’s one of my therapies as a longer suffering Sainter. Be well


  3. westcoastdave says

    Thanks John and Yvette. I have no doubt he’ll survive, the question is just what sort of shape he’ll be in…

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