The Footy Almanac 2007 Round 8 – Hawthorn v St Kilda: The worst match ever?

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 Follow the season!




Hawthorn versus St Kilda

7.10pm, Saturday, May 19

Melbourne Cricket Ground



THERE WERE, IN FACT, TWO HAWTHORN-ST KILDA matches at the MCG on this occasion. In one, the Saints dominated by going long and direct, goals were scored quickly, there were one-on-one contests all over the ground and the umpiring was clear and decisive. So much for the little league.


The big league was an altogether different affair. The game sustained headlines for almost as long into the next week as a Grand Final. The received post-match wisdom is that the tactics of both coaches, but particularly of St Kilda’s Ross Lyon, caused it to be “possibly the worst match ever”. This is the sort of thing heard when sport is confused with entertainment. The game did have every football folly: fumbles, turnovers, dropped uncontested marks, inaccuracy, grubbed kicks. The lot. Thats why it was a bad game. There were more unforced errors per square metre than anybody (well, the two blokes in front of me and I) could remember. But St Kilda was still in the match until the early part of the last quarter and my boys got four points. Not a bad Saturday night, as far as I was concerned.


I had The Blonde, long-suffering but loyal, with me in a rare outing to the football. If she’s anything she’s Essendon, but basically she’s nothing insofar as footy is concerned. She prefers the theatre and investing on any animals that return a dividend at the TAB. We had started in the Long Room with a couple of grossly over-priced reds and she was ready to be entertained.


She had passed up an invitation to see a stage version of The Witches of Eastwick somewhere in the northern suburbs, the invitation promising her a night of magic. Bad choice, as it turned out – for both of us because, as is the way in these matters, I got the blame for the lack of entertainment. I was pestered with queries: Why did they keep kicking backwards? Why don’t they just kick it as far as they can? Why do they handball so much? Why are all the players inside the 50-metre arc? Is it a rule? Why doesn’t each player have an opponent? I muttered something that contained the word tactics but I don’t think she was convinced. Her mind, I could see, was starting to wander to the New England town of Eastwick… or maybe to Shepparton, or Dapto, or Albion Park… wherever these creatures do their thing on a Saturday night.


For most of my childhood, St Kilda was the only team Hawthorn could defeat without the word “upset” appearing in press reports – and vice versa. Whichever team lost these clashes was probably destined to win the wooden spoon (they have 37 between them) while the winner would claim the prized eleventh spot. The matches were usually low-scoring, characterised by a lack of skill. So this fixture was in the finest tradition of the two clubs.


On a cool and pleasant evening, the Hawks, resplendent in their autumnal colors which offend only the chromatically challenged, were close to full strength, while the Saints were fatally undermanned – no Hayes, Hudghton, Baker, Maguire, Thompson, Goddard, Hamill (but he’s never there) and four changes since the Thursday night with Jones, Gram, and Clarkes Matthew and Xavier dropping out. Amazingly for a Round 8 match, St Kilda had three debutants in David Armitage, Justin Sweeney and Brad Howard. The consequence of all this was that Lyon made defence his first option and from the start a couple of extra Saints set up camp deep in the back line. When the Hawks decided to fight like with like the scene was set for something that resembled circle work rather than a match for four points.


It is a matter of recorded history now that the half-time score was two goals apiece. The players were booed off the ground.


Hawthorn had looked the side more likely to score but they hadn’t. Nick Riewoldt was getting plenty of the ball but Campbell Brown was forcing him far afield and his possessions were generally not hurting Hawthorn. The first goal, a snap by Chance Bateman from a Shane Crawford handball, had taken 11 minutes to arrive. Aaron Fiora and Robert Campbell traded goals and Riewoldt slotted the only goal of the second quarter. Ben Dixon had his first kick in nearly six quarters of football.


Soon after the break Riewoldt’s left foot snap gave St Kilda the lead for the first time. And for the last time. Any thought of a Saints surge was expunged when Jarryd Roughead regained the lead for the Hawks, a lead they did not surrender for the rest of the evening even though it only stretched to over a goal in the dying moments of the third quarter when Roughead kicked a farcical goal. Justin Koschitzke had kicked across goal to a two on one; but the two Hawthorn players, Roughead and Clinton Young, collided, giving Armitage some chance to clear. Roughead, however, recovered first and was able to grub one across the line.


Mitchell and Crawford, despite the brave efforts of Robert Harvey, had controlled the midfield all night and continued their dominance into the last quarter, when the Hawks finally straightened up against the tiring Saints and slammed on six goals. Fraser Gehrig booted a couple of consolation goals as the Saints went down by 28 points.


Win ugly or lose attractively? It’s a no-brainer, really. If you have to be entertained, go to the theatre.


Somewhere in Preston actors were taking their final bows. We learnt later that it was an outstanding production. Very entertaining, The Blonde told me. Several times. She might come to the Grand Final. That’s for theatre-goers.



Hawthorn  2.3 2.6 4.9 10.12 (72)

St Kilda  1.2 2.4 3.5 6.8 (44)



Hawthorn: Roughead 3; Boyle 2; Bateman, Dixon, McGlynn, Franklin, Campbell.
St Kilda: Gehrig, Riewoldt 2; Fiora, Blake.



Hawthorn: Mitchell, Crawford, McGlynn, Lewis, Sewell, Croad.
St Kilda: Harvey, Gilbert, Ball.

DEBUTS:  Armitage, Howard, Sweeney (St Kilda)
UMPIRES:  Ellis, Grun, Vozzo.

OUR VOTES:  Mitchell (H) 3, Crawford (H) 2, Sewell (H) 1.

BROWNLOW:  Mitchell (H) 3, McGlynn (H) 2, Harvey (St K) 1.


CROWD:  36,063





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

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