St Kilda’s premiership window is all but shut

mastermind5991 Roar Guru

By mastermind5991, mastermind5991 is a Roar Guru

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    Being a St Kilda fan, it was hard to see the Saints get easily beaten up by North Melbourne last weekend.

    The 68-point loss to a team that had lost four games by less than a goal last week is vindication that the Saints’ premiership window is all but shut after so many years in contention under the masterful coaching of Ross Lyon.

    And under Scott Watters, it appears the Saints aren’t making any progress at all this season. And when you consider their three leading stars – Nick Riewoldt, Justin Koschitzke and Lenny Hayes – are all on the wrong side of 30 – it’s clear that the Saints need to rebuild to remain in contention for an elusive second flag.

    Add to that the departure of Brendon Goddard to Essendon via the free agency system and you have a side that clearly needs to rebuild.

    St Kilda are the Vera Zvonareva of the AFL – after so many years in contention following long periods of under-performance, the window is all but shut.

    The two wins they have only managed from ten rounds this season is their worst return since the dark days of the early 2000s when the club was languishing near (or at) the bottom of the ladder. At the time, the Saints appeared nothing like the team that they would eventually become.

    Historically, the Saints have been the least successful club in AFL history, with its solitary premiership in 1966 (won by one point against Collingwood) being complimented by a record 26 wooden spoons.

    In the year of its’ most recent last-place finish, in 2000, they had won wooden spoons in almost a quarter of the VFL/AFL’s existence.

    And if it hadn’t been for that bounce which eluded Stephen Milne late in the drawn grand final against Collingwood in 2010, the Saints may have had a second premiership under their belts and the Pies wouldn’t be what they are trying to achieve now, trying to equal Carlton and Essendon as the two most successful clubs in the AFL (16 premierships each).

    Many believe the drawn grand final, and the subsequent thrashing they copped in the replay, will hurt the club in the long term.

    In fact, across both the Collingwood and St Kilda squads for those two matches, the only premiership players at the time had played in the Sydney Swans’ premiership side just five years earlier.

    The Swans, like the Saints, had suffered from prolonged periods of non-success; the flag in 2005 was the battling club’s first in 72 years. It only took them another seven years to win a fifth flag, last year.

    If the 2009 and 2010 grand final losses are an indication, it won’t be until at least another five years until the Saints are back in contention again.

    By then, it’s very likely the Saints’ big three of Riewoldt, Koschitzke and Hayes will be gone, but there are already players who are starting to excite like Maister, Saad (whose game can easily be compared to the Cyril Rioli’s and Lewis Jetta’s) and Milera, who I believe are the future of this club.

    I say this because it took more than five years for Collingwood to recover from their own pair of grand final losses in 2002 and 2003. In two subsequent seasons since, the Pies finished in the bottom four, however, having picked up some of their current big stars in Thomas, Pendlebury and co. during that period, the Pies have once again become a force and haven’t missed the finals since 2005.

    Saints fans also need to remember that the rebuilding process will take a very long time, and there will be long-term pain, such as what the club is experiencing right now.

    Hawthorn experienced it in 2005 and 2006 in the years following Peter Schwab’s sacking after a horror 2004 season in which they finished second-last. In that year’s draft, they picked up Lance Franklin and Jarryd Roughead, two players who now feature prominently in their forward line. And the rest, as they say, is history.

    Now, the Hawks are a powerhouse team and their 2008 premiership was a result of years of hard work. Likewise for Sydney and Collingwood, who had to endure long premiership droughts before tasting their glories in 2005 and 2010 respectively.

    While it’s not too late for the Saints to make the finals, it appears very likely the team won’t feature in September this year. The off-season needs to be spent reviewing their playing list, turning it over if necessary and recruiting new talent in the draft.

    Unfortunately for long suffering Saints supporters, including their two most famous supporters, Shane Warne and Molly Meldrum – another premiership may not be forthcoming while both are still alive. But one would hope to finally see the Saints taste premiership glory – just when is the question.

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    The Crowd Says (19)

    • Roar Guru

      June 4th 2013 @ 12:32pm
      Graham Smith said | June 4th 2013 @ 12:32pm | ! Report

      Know where you are coming from as I am also long suffering supporter. This season is over and just ten rounds in. Takes you back to the early 2000’s. How long will this cycle take to turn?

    • June 4th 2013 @ 12:56pm
      Winston said | June 4th 2013 @ 12:56pm | ! Report

      There seem to be a few things wrong with this article. Can’t compare Kosi to Riewoldt and Hayes, but where’s Dal Santo? Can’t compare Saad with Jetta and Cyril as those two on their day are in a league of their own. Saad might end up kicking more goals than them at the end of his career, but in terms of x factor it’s daylight between them. And then of course there’s the Swans who didn’t really bottom out. They had a couple of years when they had too many old people, but all of them retired pretty quickly and in the meantime they broodeda bunch of youngsters, unlike the Saints.

      Separately, have to agree with Stewie. How good is Tom Mitchell? Is it just me or does he look a bit like Ryan O’Keefe?

      • Roar Guru

        June 4th 2013 @ 5:49pm
        mastermind5991 said | June 4th 2013 @ 5:49pm | ! Report

        Firstly, I did not mention dal Santo because he is 29 (he will be 30 next year, though).

        Secondly, Hayes and Riewoldt are the heart and soul of the Saints and I included Koschitzke because of his service to the club as well, despite the many setbacks (such as the 2006 head clash with Daniel Giansiracusa) he has suffered in his career.

        Finally, I believe Ahmed Saad will become one of the most exciting names in the AFL, and I expect him to raise his level to that of Rioli’s and Jetta’s. His ritual shot for goal is what also interests me.

    • June 4th 2013 @ 4:55pm
      Adam said | June 4th 2013 @ 4:55pm | ! Report

      They do have an exciting batch of youngsters and they havent been “that bad” this year. They haven’t been flogged into too many games and their performance against carlton was fantastic, they just have too much youth and inexperience and that is the reason why they are languishing near the bottom.

    • June 4th 2013 @ 6:39pm
      Radelaide said | June 4th 2013 @ 6:39pm | ! Report

      It shut the day Ross Lyon left.

      • Roar Pro

        June 4th 2013 @ 10:24pm
        NeeDeep said | June 4th 2013 @ 10:24pm | ! Report

        Yep – he’d done such a great job drafting wonder recruits like Jesse Smith, Dean Polo Adam Pattison and Andrew Lovett and letting Luke Ball shuffle across to Collingwood for nothing.

        Thanks for sticking by the club that was prepared to go out on a limb and give you your big chance!

        We need to stop trading away our best picks for not much return. Sam Docherty at Brisbane can’t get a run and Anthony Miles at GWS (must have stolen Sheed’s thongs or something) struggle to get a run and when they do, they are the first ones dropped on the back of a bad “team” performance. These are the sort of guys we need to target. Probably a couple of Gold Coast Clubbers coming out of contract as well!

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