A sorry state of affairs at St Kilda

Andrew Young Roar Pro

By Andrew Young, Andrew Young is a Roar Pro

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21 Have your say

    “Ah well.”

    I watched the football on the weekend with a St Kilda supporting friend: Matthew, the poor fella.

    And that’s how he conceded defeat while Melbourne were still in the race of Etihad Stadium, before the first bounce on Sunday.

    Can we blame him? I did. Come on, this was the game where we would really see where St Kilda were really at. Lining up against a team that started their ‘rebuild’ at the same time, at a venue that has not always been friendly to the Demons.

    Then again, maybe my long-suffering friend had a point. His beloved Saints have scored over 75 points just once this season, poor form even by the “rapidly declining standard of the game” as it stands in 2018.

    Maybe things just felt a bit off: in gorgeous Autumn sunlight in Melbourne, the roof was closed as if to shut out any hope of a St Kilda resurgence.

    Or maybe, he is just unfortunately realistic.

    Quick to dismiss his own assertions as nothing more than nervous cynicism, we both filled with hope as some sharp ball movement and quick thinking from the Saints’ raging bull Jack Steven saw a clean delivery on to the chest of Paddy McCartin. Then came the commentators’ chance to feed off the collective apprehension of a St Kilda set shot.

    They’d mused for the past half an hour in the pre-game about St Kilda’s woeful conversion in front of goal, and the contagious effect of inaccuracy. So, the fact that not just any player, but the much-hyped number one draft pick, key forward, halo-wearing would-be-St Kilda saviour would have the chance to right the wrongs with a set shot and nail down the first goal of the game was just perfect for the theatre of it all.

    Naturally, he pulled it left and the Saints had 0 goals, 1 behind.

    We laughed with a dreaded sense of déjà vu.

    Big Paddy missed another before small forward Jade Gresham was quick to pounce inside 50 and got the Saints on the board with a major soon after. There were some promising signs, the ball was being moved quickly and the Saints were looking to attack.

    Gresham then took a mark 35 out and kicked it out on the full. To quote Brian in the commentary box, it was all “an extraordinary jack off.”

    Meanwhile, Melbourne kicked into gear and started playing football reminiscent of their third quarter against the bombers. Unrivalled pressure and speed saw the Demons kick 4 quick goals, but the Saints rallied, and in the face of Melbourne’s pressure, upped their own.

    Jimmy Webster sprinted back bravely in the back pocket to affect a spoil and force the ball out of bounds, preventing a certain goal. Maybe things weren’t all bad.

    The second quarter started with another three behinds, before Tim Membry slotted a set shot, perhaps putting to bed, however briefly, memories of last week’s goal square farce. All the while, Melbourne managed another three, and St Kilda struggled their way to halftime 28 points behind.

    Tim Membrey

    (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

    Two beers down as he was at this point, Matthew’s pre-game ruminations were looking more accurate by the minute; for whatever progress St Kilda made, none of it seemed easy or free-flowing. Their play had begun to stagnate, and efforts to use the corridor for quick and attacking movement were characterised by inefficiency and errors in execution.

    Where possession was turned over, there appeared a swathe of blue jumpers, and the ball was snaffled up and shared about between them.

    Two quick goals to start the third quarter and maybe the Saints were a chance? Just enough to keep us interested, before Melbourne appropriately put a run on, enough to shut the door and see the TV turned off. Again.

    Alan Richardson describes his side as “being in a hole” at the moment. Maybe they were in a hole four years ago, one which has seemingly turned into a bottomless pit, that is both seemingly impossible to get out of, and insufferably difficult to watch them try.

    Jack Steven and Seb Ross are impressive. Their effort, passion and fervour characterise the attitude of leaders of any team – especially one that is currently hampered by inexperience. To a neutral supporter, it feels like they are having a real crack, but their problems are too many and varied to overcome.

    Their struggles in front of goal are nigh on laughable and significantly deflating. They don’t have a consistent defensive structure, which allowed Melbourne, on multiple occasions to find far too much space on the attacking side of the centre circles, and they lack flair or variation out of the middle.

    At the moment, it seems we can all but draw a line through their hopes of finals or even matching their 11-win 2017 season. Rebuild or otherwise, St Kilda are struggling to find any semblance of form at the moment, and it seems to warrant a bit more than an “ah well” from those down at Moorabbin.

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    The Crowd Says (21)

    • Roar Guru

      May 8th 2018 @ 8:04am
      Cat said | May 8th 2018 @ 8:04am | ! Report

      Saints seem quite happy to remain mediocre at best. Any other club there would be some fire and brimstone but for the Saints its just shrug the shoulders what are you gonna do? The fact that the CEO came out and said the performance is absolutely unacceptable then did nothing. In fact he backed his coach. Why? Are they that cheap they can’t even contemplate making a change? No one seems to care all that much internally at the Saints, why should anyone care about them externally?

    • Roar Guru

      May 8th 2018 @ 8:27am
      Wayne said | May 8th 2018 @ 8:27am | ! Report

      As a Saints fan, it is hard to watch what the club/team are doing.

      It honestly looks like some of the players are just going through the motions. I flew down to Melbourne for the Roos/Saints Good Friday game, and I commented the mini league was a better standard.

      The lack of basic skills is a worry. That’s not something that can be a quick fix, and another few seasons at the bottom may risk crippling the club permanently as free agents will leave, and only twilight players will come in. Or we will have to pay well overs to attract anyone.

      • Roar Pro

        May 8th 2018 @ 8:36am
        Andrew Young said | May 8th 2018 @ 8:36am | ! Report

        Wayne, thanks for your reply. That Good Friday game was the lowest of the low. The skills were almost non-existent. Generally, I feel like there is some promise there, but at times the effort wanes for too long in periods of games, and this makes it hard to put out a competitive performance. Hopefully things can turn around for St Kilda sooner rather than later.

    • Roar Guru

      May 8th 2018 @ 11:12am
      Paul Dawson said | May 8th 2018 @ 11:12am | ! Report

      St Kilda have all the problems of Brisbane (huge debt, last choice for free agents) but without the advantage of geographic immunity

      They’re in deep trouble long term. I thought Sam Fisher nailed it in his interview the other day – a lot of their high draft picks just haven’t developed or come along. And I maintain – that this will keep on happening, so long as clubs keep throwing a bunch of kids into the mix with no seasoned, or elite mentors. If you have your high end draft picks surrounded by a bunch of aging jobbers then you should not be surprised at all when they turn out to be jobbers themselves.

      • Roar Guru

        May 8th 2018 @ 1:54pm
        Peter the Scribe said | May 8th 2018 @ 1:54pm | ! Report

        and yet Paul, Carlton are doing exactly the same and you seem to think the Blues are doing it the right way? People talk about how the Pies should have won multiple flags since 2010 but forget how good the Saints were in 2009-2010. I know it is just a snapshot in The Roar, but any Saints articles also don’t attract many comments at all which is a sign of giving up.

        • Roar Guru

          May 8th 2018 @ 2:50pm
          Paul Dawson said | May 8th 2018 @ 2:50pm | ! Report

          I think the Blues are undertaking best established practice in the way they are trying to build and develop their list these past few years to try and put things back together. I do think they need to recruit some mature aged players at the end of this season though. I also think the Blues come in for relentless and boring criticism on these pages so naturally I’m on the side of wit and originality in usually defending them against these turgid rants

          Just because Saints fans aren’t here doesn’t mean they don’t exist. There’s just not as many of them as other clubs in Melbourne. There’s a few people on here reckon the Hawks will gobble them up in coming decades and I’m inclined to agree.

          • May 8th 2018 @ 6:25pm
            Mattyb said | May 8th 2018 @ 6:25pm | ! Report

            I find the relentless enthusiasm towards the blues,especially during the preseason months boring personally,especially when it’s followed by yet more sorrowful seasons year after year,but I find it easy to ignore some of these ongoingly outrageous claims of glory.
            On the other hand,critiscism of that tragic club is always met with enthusiasm,never simply ignored. I would have thought boring comments would easily be simply ignored,it seems a really simple concept. Pity does have a place,but eventually excuses run out.

            I’m one of those of the belief the Saints will be swallowed whole by the Hawks and believe the Hawks have already put the wheels in motion and have begun rolling in.
            Carlton have a chance with the next rebuild if they can find a few players during this one for survival,I see very little future for StKilda. While this is undoubtably unfortunate,I find the game far more important than individual clubs,especially underperforming ones that offer little towards future growth.

            • May 10th 2018 @ 8:34am
              Kane said | May 10th 2018 @ 8:34am | ! Report

              People are finding you, the ghost or who ever else you are masquerading as easy to ignore too matty as you may have noticed.

              • May 10th 2018 @ 8:58am
                Mattyb said | May 10th 2018 @ 8:58am | ! Report

                Now dry your eyes,and turn your head away.

          • May 8th 2018 @ 7:13pm
            Loser said | May 8th 2018 @ 7:13pm | ! Report

            They’ll get shipped off to tassie first.. when that fails the hawks will gobble them up

    • May 8th 2018 @ 1:00pm
      Mattyb said | May 8th 2018 @ 1:00pm | ! Report

      A well written piece Andrew.
      As someone with a sense of historical interest,as well as an interest in the future of our game,I simply do not see any future for StKilda in a national competition unfortunately.
      I think their AFL history is slightly better overall than its VFL history,but that’s not saying much. The only thing keeping StKilda in this comp is the VFL centric nature of it.
      Performances are ongoingly poor,crowds disappointing and their financial situation less than ideal. A much better restructured VFL competition would be a much better home for the Saints and the game long term. The league needs to concentrate on expansion and there are a number of old VFL clubs that continue to underperform in many areas,holding the game back from its full potential.

    • May 8th 2018 @ 1:03pm
      Bozza said | May 8th 2018 @ 1:03pm | ! Report

      Good piece.

      Hard to believe that two seasons ago this team missed the finals by percentage.

      There are some very hard decisions that need to be made over the next few months because something has gone horribly wrong when not that long ago it seemed to be going very right.

      • Roar Guru

        May 8th 2018 @ 2:27pm
        Cat said | May 8th 2018 @ 2:27pm | ! Report

        Two seasons ago was just the last gasp effort from the almost champions. No Saint Nick no Saints.

    • May 8th 2018 @ 4:11pm
      David Rayner said | May 8th 2018 @ 4:11pm | ! Report

      Well crafted. Agreed. Sigh.

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