Saints’ fall from grace reaching new lows

Samuel Ord Roar Pro

By Samuel Ord, Samuel Ord is a Roar Pro

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    Extinguished like a lipstick-stained cigarette in a filthy nightclub ashtray, St Kilda’s 2018 AFL season has well and truly been put to rest.

    St Kilda lined up against ladder-leaders Richmond on Friday night and produced a brand of football that can only be described as insipid, slipping behind 11 goals to two at half time and never looking close beyond the five minute mark of the first quarter.

    The Saints sit in 15th spot on the ladder with four wins and 12 losses and, with Brisbane throwing up competitive footy week after week, it seems likely they may slip even further down the totem pole before the final bell rings.

    With so much emotion hovering in the air as tin rattlers marched for Maddie’s Vision and the fight against bone marrow failure, the rotten taste of competitive indifference lingered around the stadium as the Tigers tore the Saints apart like cardboard cut-outs.

    It’s hard to know where to begin with this team. They failed to compete physically, the execution was missing via foot and hand and, perhaps worse of all, there seemed to be a complete failure to strategically prepare for this match.

    Richmond produced the same style of footy they have just about every week of the season to date, focusing hard on forward handball movement and then clamping down hard when on the back foot by limiting lateral movement and roasting the ball carrier.

    Rebounding from a tough loss against Greater Western Sydney, what did the Tigers discover at Etihad Stadium? Wide open paddocks of space through the middle of the ground, endless opportunity in front of goal and some of the worst tackling pressure millions of dollars in player payments can buy.

    The Saints actually managed to outscore Richmond by four points in the second half, but there was no genuine challenge or threat. A sort of plastic revolution.

    Even Aussie cricket legend Shane Warne, a life long lover of the Saints, took to Twitter and begged the Saints to offer the one thing that comes free in sport – effort.

    Earlier this season, I criticised St Kilda’s high possession-getters and questioned the actual damage inflicted by their disposals.

    The same questions lingered this time around, with Seb Ross, Jack Steele, Jack Steven, Luke Dunstan and Jarryn Geary each touching the ball more than 20 times but still managing to have no tangible impact on the result.

    Captain Geary offered up an apology while bidding farewell to the crowd during the presentation – it’s sad to see a team, once fancied as finalists, seeking penance in front of a thinning crowd.

    Perhaps the thing that bothered me the most about this encounter was that we managed to learn nothing about the premiership favourites, Richmond.

    Last round, the Tigers were taken all the way by the Giants. Playing away from home, the crowd witnessed every facet of Richmond’s game questioned under a raging fire.

    Against St Kilda, Richmond were allowed to zip, dart and dash between players without challenge, hitting up more than ten individual goal kickers and winning the match without breaking more than a silver spoonful of sweat.

    The only real question to emerge from this messy match is how much oxygen remains in the blood of senior coach Alan Richardson and his loyal cavalcade.

    The club insists that the direction is easy to see, regardless of the regression this season, and that Richardson is the man with the plan.

    On Friday night it looked like the Saints’ footballers have grown so despondent with the plan that they’ve decided to stop playing footy for large patches of time altogether.

    Good news seems rare at St Kilda these days, and every glittering ounce of it should be cherished, worshipped and preserved like a diamond.

    One such diamond has come in the form of Rowan Marshall, a tall youngster from country Victoria with hope in his eyes and a willingness to compete over and over against the best defence in the league – despite having fewer than a dozen games’ experience.

    Let’s hope the hellish ride through 2018 doesn’t have any negative impact on Marshall’s career in the long term.

    A similar nod needs to be given to Jade Gresham, racking up 24 touches, six inside 50s, booting two goals and laying five tackles. Gresham, with more than 30 goals under his belt, will have to be one of the front runners for a spot in the All-Australian forward line.

    St Kilda now face matches against Greater Western Sydney (Spotless Stadium), the Western Bulldogs (Etihad Stadium), Essendon (Etihad Stadium), Hawthorn (Etihad Stadium) and finally North Melbourne (Etihad Stadium).

    Richmond, meanwhile, are destined for what may be the most exciting contest of the home-and-away campaign – a match up with fellow top four side Collingwood at the MCG next Saturday afternoon.

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    The Crowd Says (21)

    • July 21st 2018 @ 9:51am
      Aligee said | July 21st 2018 @ 9:51am | ! Report

      Warnie has it right, total lack of effort and commitment from professionals.

      Worst flattest game i have seen for ……….

      Disgrace, patrons should rightly seek a refund, there should be no hiding from it.

    • Roar Guru

      July 21st 2018 @ 10:05am
      Paul Dawson said | July 21st 2018 @ 10:05am | ! Report

      Can someone explain to me what is the point of St Kilda continuing to exist?

      What on earth does this football club offer the competition that a team situated in say Tasmania, or a 16 team competition does not?

      Why are we continuing to insist that we have to have TEN teams in Victoria and we keep weakening the quality of the competition through being forced to spread the already thin talent across no-hoper sides like the Saints?

      • July 21st 2018 @ 10:24am
        Ditto said | July 21st 2018 @ 10:24am | ! Report

        Teams like St Kilda should never have been included in a national competion in the first place, the fact that they are is testament to Victorian ego.

      • July 21st 2018 @ 10:42am
        Pope Paul VII said | July 21st 2018 @ 10:42am | ! Report

        Perilously close to going back to back in 2009 & 10. Probably would have if Ross the Wrong Boss had been interested in kicking goals or been less predictable and employed a broader range of goalkickers.

        Footy is cyclical. No one is up all the time.

        Melbourne is the centre of AFL support, even if the AFL themselves wish a couple of teams and their supporters would just go away.

        • Roar Guru

          July 21st 2018 @ 12:41pm
          Cat said | July 21st 2018 @ 12:41pm | ! Report

          A solitary flag in 145 years of existence, along with 27 wooden spoons (more than the 2nd and third worst combined) points to an irrelevant club that has missed more ‘cycles’ than they ever succeeded in. One only has to look at the number of comments any Saints article on this site generates to see no one actually care about them. The club aspires to be mediocre, its handful of supporters accept mediocrity and everyone else is just apathetic towards them. No one hates the ‘Aints and no one feels sorry for them, they are just so … mehhh.

      • July 21st 2018 @ 10:44am
        Ben said | July 21st 2018 @ 10:44am | ! Report

        Jeez Paul if you have something on your chest spit it out. Which other sides like the Saints are no-hoper. I suppose Carlton is a given? Gone. Gold Coast? Not one of the 10 Melbourne teams but certainly offer nothing to the competition. Gone. Similarly Brisbane, a dud for years. Gone. Fremantle? Maybe on the edge eh! Get rid of these 5 teams and maybe it opens up for a team situated in Tassie.
        Saints aren’t the first and won’t be the last, team to fold under the Tiger’s pressure and support play.

        • Roar Guru

          July 21st 2018 @ 10:51am
          Paul Dawson said | July 21st 2018 @ 10:51am | ! Report

          Yer holiness, if Melbourne had say 8 teams, do you not think it would still be the centre of AFL support

          Ben – read my articles mate. One of the main reasons afl is such a poor spectacle atm is because the talent is spread too thin – I see the reasons for brisbane, gold coast and freo being so bad in recent years precisely because there is such a huge market for player transfers in melbourne, with 60% of spots on an afl list available there

          Combine that with high salary floors, player veto over trades and dearth of elite talent and it’s easy to see why I as an interstate fan would be so vociferous in saying get rid of some teams in melbourne – saints don’t do anything the hawks couldn’t do better on that side of town

          If you can’t see why teams in WA and QLD deserve different treatment to Victorian sides you really are a muppet

          • July 21st 2018 @ 11:19am
            Pope Paul VII said | July 21st 2018 @ 11:19am | ! Report

            Mea Culpa Paully D, the AFL would probably like 2 Melbourne teams to go away and their ex supporters to follow someone else.

            Anyway I live in NSW and I think Melbourne is Rome and Mecca combined. It’s not life and death, it’s much more important than that.

          • July 21st 2018 @ 12:33pm
            IAP said | July 21st 2018 @ 12:33pm | ! Report

            The talent is spread thin because the AFL brought in 2 extra teams that no-one wanted nor do they care about. This isn’t St Kilda’s fault, and it’s certainly not reason for booting them from the competition because they’ve had a down year. If we were to use that criteria Brisbane would have been gone a decade ago.

            • Roar Guru

              July 21st 2018 @ 4:42pm
              Paul Dawson said | July 21st 2018 @ 4:42pm | ! Report

              So you’d have kept going with 10 teams in Victoria and 6 teams in the 5 other states and still called it the afl

              • July 22nd 2018 @ 7:38am
                IAP said | July 22nd 2018 @ 7:38am | ! Report

                I’d still call it the VFL.

      • July 21st 2018 @ 2:06pm
        me too said | July 21st 2018 @ 2:06pm | ! Report

        That no hoper team recently played in two of the greatest ever grand finals. They are one of just five teams to be foundation clubs of the vfa and vfl. A great competition includes those clubs with the history of survival against the odds. This was in a time that there were no salary caps, very biased recruiting zones, and premierships were dominated by the big clubs. Since the afl began st kilda have made three grand finals and countless finals series.
        They have been forced into paying off etihad and suffered losses for over a decade as a result.
        For a supporter of a new club which did nothing until assisted like buggery by the afl and gifted the history and players of a victorian club to achieve brief success, and sole occupancy of a large city, yet still have far less support than the likes of the saints, is surely a joke.
        As for dilution of talent – that became an issue when the afl created two more artificial clubs in qld and nsw, neither of which have shown they can build a sustainable support base. I could ask they cull brisbane, gws, and the suns and you would definitely see a better and much wealthier competition, but what sort of supporter calls for clubs to be killed off, let alone one with 150 years of history, of supporters, members, players, and families invested emotionally and financially over all those years, weaving the tapestry of one of the stories that makes this game so great.

        • Roar Guru

          July 21st 2018 @ 4:46pm
          Paul Dawson said | July 21st 2018 @ 4:46pm | ! Report

          St Kilda ain’t exactly the bayeux tapestry they’re more like a used chux

          Qld teams wouldn’t be so dreadful if we didn’t have players constantly leaving to go back to Victoria or home states. Less spots for players to leave means more incentive to stay and tough it out

          Nothing against the saints as such, I just want 1-2 teams gone from Victoria and they are perennially the worst and least supported team of the lot.

          • July 21st 2018 @ 7:13pm
            me too said | July 21st 2018 @ 7:13pm | ! Report

            so you want another club to die so your club might have a chance of being competitive?
            you have been gifted the benefits of an academy and to make it long term will be expcted to develop your own talent from the third most populous state, shared by just two teams.
            Have you stopped to think that if the number of melbourne teams dropped then the gao between the lions and the rest will grow even larger? it most certainly would.
            as for saints being the worst supported or least successful – no they aren’t. they are more supported than north or the dogs, and three interstate teams. And for success, as stated above, in the afl era they have been more than competitive, and but for the bounce of the ball, could have had back to back flags entering this decade.

            • Roar Guru

              July 22nd 2018 @ 12:06pm
              Paul Dawson said | July 22nd 2018 @ 12:06pm | ! Report

              I just want less concentration of the teams in Melbourne. Routinely players of talent turn down coming to our club because of the large numbers of spots and spare cap space available in Melbourne

              The academy is not a gift. We didn’t ask for a second afl side in qld and the second side has necessitated an academy to fill the gulf between available spots and available talent. The use of a word like gift implies you think it’s an unfair advantage as opposed to a necessity. You can be assured if qld teams ever start doing well or win a flag the vfl will move against the academy

              The gap would grow larger – no it wouldn’t. Not once players were redistributed. Saints have huge debt a whole larder of wooden spoons and no geographic uniqueness. North could also go but they have been far more watchable than the saints ever were this decade

        • July 21st 2018 @ 5:53pm
          Ditto said | July 21st 2018 @ 5:53pm | ! Report

          St Kilda don’t necessarily need to be killed off, but should play VFL not AFL.

    • July 21st 2018 @ 10:09am
      1DER said | July 21st 2018 @ 10:09am | ! Report

      Only watched the first half. So many handballs to team mates under pressure and generally in a worst position during the first quarter. What was wrong kicking the ball forward into the front half from stoppages.

    • Roar Rookie

      July 21st 2018 @ 11:41am
      Mattician6x6 said | July 21st 2018 @ 11:41am | ! Report

      Was a game only tigers fans could’ve enjoyed.

      • July 21st 2018 @ 11:53am
        Slane said | July 21st 2018 @ 11:53am | ! Report

        I was dissapointed that we took the foot off the gas. Not the end if the world, but great teams don’t do that.

      • Roar Guru

        July 21st 2018 @ 12:43pm
        Cat said | July 21st 2018 @ 12:43pm | ! Report

        And with a paltry crowd of 36k even Richmond fans couldn’t get themselves up for the long away trip to Etihad.

    • July 21st 2018 @ 5:45pm
      Tom Hunt said | July 21st 2018 @ 5:45pm | ! Report

      Samuel

      It’s worst of all NOT worse of all…

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