The Footy Almanac 2007 Round 15 – St Kilda v Adelaide: Perfect for a winter’s night

The first printed edition of The Footy Almanac came out in 2007, before we had a website. In the absence of a real 2020 season, we will be publishing the 2007 pieces for the first time ever on www.footyalmanac.com.au. Follow the season!

 

 

St Kilda versus Adelaide

7.40pm, Friday July 13

Telstra Dome, Melbourne

by JOHN HARMS

 

IN THE SOUTH WE ARE IN THE MIDDLE of an old-fashioned winter. Puddles and steam-breath and heavy coats and hunched shoulders to make your scarf more effective. The sort of winter that would take Frank McCourt back to his childhood.

 

Friday night and again it’s freezing outside. Damp, about to rain. Fortunately I’m inside, standing so close to the fire in the North Fitzroy Arms that my calf muscles are in grave danger of being burnt by my own jeans. Beers are going down beautifully and I start to wonder why I’m even thinking about getting the 96 to the Dome to stand on the concourse, shivering, for a match between two sides, neither very impressive.

 

So I don’t. And that gives me another hour.

 

Eventually I head home where the heating is on, a red is a corkscrew away, and all I have to do is mash the potatoes and serve the rissoles in gravy.

 

The pre-match analysis reminds me that this is actually a vital game for these clubs: the Crows trying to claim a position in the top four in a year where few teams deserve one, and St Kilda having to win every week just to make the eight. Vital, it seems, is in the eye of the beholder.

 

The teams start with far more enthusiasm than I do. But the game has that something that demands you put the form guide down and watch. It’s fast, intense footy – under the roof.

 

Neil Craig has more faith in Kris Massie than I do: he puts him on Nick Riewoldt. Justin Koschitzke is damaging around the ground. The Saints mid- fielders start well. The Saints look very sharp.

 

But just as I’m forming the view it’s the Saints’ night, Ben Hudson takes control in the way bearded ruckmen used to, and Edwards and Goodwin start gathering and distributing. The Adelaide machine clicks into gear and in a matter of a quarter I form the view that my initial view is flawed. The Crows will win this. They are too organised and, as significantly, the Saints offer little defensive pressure.

 

McLeod thinks it’s the ’97 Grand Final. He directs traffic from half back and then follows up to kick the sort of running goal that would accompany the opening titles of a documentary on the aesthetics of footy. Of sport. Of any damn thing. Just a documentary on aesthetics.

 

Matt McGuire, returning from injury, is still trying to find the rhythm of the game. Bock benefits from his exuberant clumsiness, converting one free kick, but missing the other. The Crows play confidently, and as Edwards strolls into goal, it looks like the floodgates have opened. He misses. Still, the Saints look very worried: like their season is about to finish.

 

Their resolve is replenished at quarter time. But Bock thwarts them with a goal just seconds after the break. All over. The Saints are broken.

 

Riewoldt doesn’t think so. He tries to turn things around. He fills the hole inside defensive fifty. Then he presents on the wing. Then he takes a team-lifting mark, so team-lifting it even lifts Gehrig, who takes three quick marks within range, converting twice, and hitting the post with the other.

 

Half time and now I’m really confused. The Saints have regained the lead, and with Rutten injured and unlikely to return, Hayes and Montagna on top through the middle, and Riewoldt marking everything, surely they must win.

 

The Crows persist, relying on their organisation, decision-making and skilful disposal. They absorb the Saints’ onslaught, knowing that being on terms at three-quarter time will give them heart. A McGuire 50-metre penalty costs a goal to Maric, and Riccuito sneaks one home. His team is hanging in there. As I pour another red the best analysis I can muster is that it’s anyone’s game.

 

The final quarter is tense. What has been an entertaining game of space and freedom turns into an equally entertaining game of desperation and territory. When the scrimmages are cleared Ball, Fisher and Harvey pump the footy forward. Riewoldt keeps marking it. Gehrig gets enough of it. Indeed St Kilda has the standout players, but that’s not reflected on the scoreboard.

 

Koschitzke is inspired. He takes one grab with such determination, I expect he has forced the air out of the footy. He kicks the goal. As he contests another, Riccuito’s bump knocks the air out of him. St Kilda look the winners. Another Gehrig shot hits the post. And yet when Welsh marks inside 50 his shot levels the score. It becomes one of those games where you can hear screams in the effects mike. The commentators are excited. South Australia is excited. The players look spent. They bob up in unlikely places but no-one can score until the Saints register a rushed behind. It is enough to win a game they should have won by more.

 

I am happy to be in bed and not waiting for the Epping train.

 

 

St Kilda  2.3 6.8 9.13 11.16 (82)

Adelaide  5.2 6.5 9.8 12.8 (80)

 

GOALS

St Kilda: Gehrig 4, Riewoldt, Birss, Milne 2, Koschitzke.

Adelaide: Welsh 3, Burton, Ricciuto, Bock 2, McGregor, Maric, McLeod.

 

BEST

St Kilda: Riewoldt, Hayes, Montagna, Gehrig, Harvey, S. Fisher.

Adelaide: Goodwin, McLeod, Hudson, Edwards, Reilly.

 

UMPIRES

McLaren, Ryan, Jeffery.

 

OUR VOTES

Riewoldt (St K) 3, Hayes (St K) 2, Montagna (St K) 1.

 

BROWNLOW

Hayes (St K) 3, Riewoldt (St K) 2, Harvey (St K) 1.

 

CROWD

32,210

 

 

For more Round by Round reports of the 2007 season click HERE

 

Printed copies of The Footy Almanac 2007 can be purchased here.

 

2007 Footy Almanac

About John Harms

JTH is a writer, publisher, speaker, historian. He is publisher and contributing editor of The Footy Almanac and footyalmanac.com.au. He has written columns and features for numerous publications. His books include Confessions of a Thirteenth Man, Memoirs of a Mug Punter, Loose Men Everywhere, Play On, The Pearl: Steve Renouf's Story and Life As I Know It (with Michelle Payne). He appears on ABCTV's Offsiders. He can be contacted [email protected] He is married to The Handicapper and has three kids - Theo13, Anna11, Evie9. He might not be the worst putter in the world but he's in the worst three. His ambition is to lunch for Australia.

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