St Kilda AFL coach Scott Watters had no trouble getting his players up for Saturday’s last-round clash with Fremantle, in fact he was trying to calm things down.
The league’s third-bottom side didn’t have a finals spot to play for, but the Saints did have the strong desire to give an appropriate send-off for retiring trio Stephen Milne, Jason Blake and Justin Koschitzke.
Small forward Milne kicked two second-half goals and pumped his fists to the crowd in delight as the Saints scored a 71-point victory over third-placed Fremantle 16.16 (112) to 6.5 (41) at Etihad Stadium.
The accident-prone Koschitzke, true to form as Blake pointed out after the match, had some near misses and finished with four behinds while regular defender Blake went forward in the last term and kicked a goal of his own, the 38th of his 219-game career.
“We took a breath in the pre-game. There was a lot of emotion in the room,” Watters said.
“There was a lot of nervousness. Everyone was pretty edgy.
“They (trio) leave a significant vacuum at the club.
“Hopefully over time younger players emerge and fill that hole.”
Midfielders Jack Steven and Leigh Montagna had a staggering 47 disposals each while young Saints’ forward Tom Lee booted three goals in his 10th game.
“It was a bit of a fairytale. The feeling amongst the boys was incredible and I couldn’t ask for a better send-off,” said Blake, who played in St Kilda’s 2010 runners-up side with Koschitzke and Milne.
Koschitzke did kick a goal on Saturday but the decision was reversed following a video review.
“I just thought it was typical. I had a bit of a laugh,” Blake said.
“I’m glad he got the opportunity to have a few shots.”
Fremantle coach Ross Lyon, who coached the Saints for five seasons, took the opportunity to give the retiring trio a hug straight after the final siren.
“I’m part of their history so it was just nice for me to be able to acknowledge it,” Lyon said.
“It was a nice moment.”