Crikey Sports today has a guest post by Crikey reader and long time Saints fanatic Kevin Rennie. This first appeared on Kevin’s blog, Labor View from Bayside.
Ever since St.Kilda was certain of a finals berth this year, I’ve had to reassure my extended family: we only have to win our last game of the year to be Premiers.
But it’s been a character building experience since attending the Saints’ 1961 first semi-final loss against Footscray. One glittering prize from five starts: 1913, 1965, 1966, 1971, 1997. Believe me, I was at the last four. St.Kilda’s score of 60 points was the same as Friday night’s but the Dogs managed 69. Ruckman Alan Morrow, titan of 1966, limped from start to finish.
In 1965 St.Kilda was clearly the stand-out of the competition. Graham Kennedy jumped the infamous Bay 13 fence before the game and planted the red, white and black flag in the centre. These days he’d face a $6000 fine. Perhaps it was an omen that Nick Riewoldt was one of the footballers who acted as pallbearers at the King’s funeral in 2005. What kind of omen will be clearer by 5pm Saturday.
Essendon buried our hopes in’65 before half-time and twelve months seemed too long to wait for an impatient 18 year old. Not long after, we had to register for National Service. That conscription lottery was one that none of us wanted to win. My ball didn’t come up so the only lines I had to stand in were the overnight queues at the G for finals tickets.
Thirty years later we camped at Rod Laver arena for tickets to the ill-fated ’97 loss to the Adelaide Crows. When Elsternwick brothel The Daily Planet was decorated in St.Kilda colours, it was another omen, every saint a superman. However, we had so many injuries in the preceding month that I couldn’t name our first ruck that day even if you offered me a free seat to this year’s judgment day as prize.
On form the ’65 team would have beaten the ’66 mob in a canter. The desperation factor that made Darrel Baldock’s men legends kicked hard again in the latest victory over Footscray.
At the last public training session on Tuesday, we stood opposite the now-bulldozed terraces of the outer where we spent many heart-wrenching hours during our dark ages. We always stayed to the end, no mean feat given the Moorabbin weather.
Saints fans have had to be stoic. We’ve snatched the proverbial cliché from the jaws of victory too often. But like another recent long shot, “Yes We CAN!”
It’s been along time carrying the flag.
P.S. Still desperately looking for a Grand Final ticket.