There’s little doubt that most observers of AFL football consider St Kilda to be the biggest disappointment of 2018.
St Kilda have suffered two major injury blows as their AFL season of great expectation plunges further into disaster.
Under-siege coach Alan Richardson has confirmed that key forward Paddy McCartin will be out for at least one or two weeks after he suffered whiplash in Sunday’s loss to Melbourne.
Fellow forward Ben Long, one of their few shining lights in the opening seven rounds, will also miss up to 10 weeks with a bone fracture in his right foot.
Losing McCartin and Long is particularly damaging for the Saints because the forward line is one of their biggest problems.
They are the league’s lowest-scoring team and they were cursed by inaccuracy again against the Demons.
After several encouraging weeks, McCartin was plagued by misfortune in Sunday’s loss.
First he had an episode with his diabetes early in the game, then he was forced from the field after an accidental head clash with Demons defender Neville Jetta.
McCartin was cleared of another concussion, but he suffered whiplash in another incident after halftime and did not play out the match.
“I reckon Paddy will probably miss a little bit of footy – I’m not sure how much,” Richardson told AFL360.
“I’m hoping it’s only a week or two.
“He hasn’t pulled up as well as we would have liked … he had a bit going on during the day, Paddy.”
Long also pulled up sore from Sunday and was diagnosed with a fractured metatarsal in his right foot.
The round-five Rising Star nominee will be sidelined until well after the bye.
St Kilda started this season rightly aiming for a top-eight return, but they are third-last with only a win and a draw.
Goalkicking is a glaring problem, but worryingly Richardson also conceded that they were below-par in areas other than execution against Melbourne.
“Anyone can look at the way we’re playing at the minute and challenge our method, given that we’re not executing it the way that we know we can,” he said.
“Now, they were a much better team than us … it wasn’t about execution.
“There’s been a bit of a lag in many facets of our play, whether that be our offence or our defence.”
Richardson has a calm, measured public persona and he was asked if he was becoming as angry as Saints fans.
He noted his furious reaction when a crucial free kick was denied the Saints at the end of the round-five draw with GWS.
“Two weeks ago, I looked like a raving lunatic,” he said.
“Getting emotional and carrying on like a pork chop doesn’t do much for the moment.
“My job is to come up solutions and clearly I haven’t done that yet.”
The Saints’ slump is having a massive impact on their attendance.
They are averaging crowds of only 22,936, well down on last year’s 34,601.