The True Sainters Story

Co-Founder James Bray

On the 19th of March 2010, True Sainters was officially founded, formed out of the ashes of the former official St Kilda Football Club forum, Saints Central. In its first year, True Sainters exceeded all expectations, and with 230 members and over 42,607 posts, the website continues to grow and expand. But where did True Sainters come from, and why? For the first time, the co-founders, administrators, moderators and members of True Sainters have sat down to tell the story. While to some the story may sound a little conceited, it is nonetheless an insight into the origins of a simple idea, with nothing short of humble intentions that turned into something much greater than anyone had envisioned.

“It all started in early March last year,” recalls co-founder Hallam Drury, otherwise known to True Sainters as Huzz. “I was contacted via email by James who said he was interested in starting a new St Kilda forum, and he had spoken to Shaun Curnow who loved the idea.” The reason for founding True Sainters lay in the fact that the 3 had been regular members of St Kilda’s official forum and website, Saints Central for quite some time. Unfortunatly, the Club’s focus on the website began to slip and with the lack of administration and moderation, a number of users had begun to create a very negative atmosphere at the website. Recalling the time, Co-Founder James Bray explained that “a few no-brainers came on to Saints Central and decided to get on a lot of people’s nerves with personal insults. I had had enough and talked to Shaun (Stkildathunda). I did not know him at all personally; I just knew him as one of the leading posters on Saints Central. We talked for a little bit and thought it might be a good idea to start a new website, run by the members, this is when we also got through to Huzz.” As James’ initial email to Hallam mentioned, “it’s becoming unfair for the people that are always positive to be verbally attacked. Due to these curcumstances, I have been thinking about making a new forum website for the people that are true supporters.”

“True Sainters has definitely come along way in only a year,” stipulates Shaun Curnow. “I remember the day that James contacted me asking what I thought about starting up our own Saints forum as the old Saints Central was nose diving from a great height and people were getting personally attacked. We both thought it was only a matter of time before the club shut the place down as they appeared to have deserted it.”

“We both agreed that we really didn’t have any clue about making websites but I knew that Huzz had a great deal of experience in the past so I suggested that if we were to even think about doing it that we may want to get him onboard. From that point everything kind of happened extremely quickly. We all decided from the outset that this forum had to be a strict family friendly forum and we really wanted to be different to every other Saints Forum or site. In no way did we want to compete with them, just wanted to be an alternative.”

So where did the name True Sainters come from? “The name itself I think was my idea, and it was TrueSaints.com,” explains Huzz.  “I loved it, but then changed it be ‘Sainters’ instead, as in ‘Carn the Sainters.’ James and Shaun liked it and the name stuck. It was really just inspired by the initial communication the three of us had, about a website for true supporters. So it was really something we all coined and we agreed on a name that encompassed everything we wanted the site to be about. It was short and to the point.”

At the beginning, the founders set modest expectations for the website. “We didn’t have too high expectations,” elaborates James. “We were thinking maybe we’d have a good 50 people throughout the year, and these people would mainly come from SC. It turns out that news spread, and we’ve now got 215+ members, which is a fantastic feet in one year!” Huzz also shared similar concerns for the early fate of True Sainters. “My initial concern about True Sainters was the fact that I thought were getting into a market that was already catered for,” recalls Huzz. “There were a few other forums out there, and my honest evaluation of the idea was that it was fantastic, but that ultimately we would eventually lose interest and people would gravitate back to the older forums. But to my surprise, we have never had any trouble in that regard. We are gaining new members almost every week and the forums just get busier and busier. It is fantastic.” Shaun also shared the expectations of his fellow founders: “When I we started I guess we thought we would be ecstatic if we managed to get 50 members on the site, so to have over 215 members in under a year says a lot for everyone involved, including every member as they are as big a part in the creation as us.”

Scott aka Smac101 with Saints' coach Ross Lyon

While the 3 founders played a large part in setting up the website, they eventually recruited Scott, or Smac101 as a full-time administrator. Initially Scott assisted with graphics for the website, but was quickly promoted as his resourcefulness proved unmatched. “One year on, who would have thought True Sainters would have become such a huge part of my St.Kilda life,” recalls Scott. “I became a part of True Sainters not unlike a fair few of the members, because of the invitation from ‘The Boys’. With Saints Central, which I was only a member of for a short while, slowly devouring itself, Shaun PM’d me and asked if I wanted to join a new forum, one for dedicated loyal fans, so I thought ‘that sounds like a damn fine idea.’ Shortly after joining, at member #8, I PM’d Shaun with a couple of drafts for the TS logo as I would loved to have been able to help in any way I could. It wasn’t too long after those initial days that ‘The Boys’ asked me if I wanted to become their first moderator. Understandably, I was honoured and excited to be asked so I obviously jumped at the chance. Then I got a second flattering request to become one of the admins, which of course I put all of about one seconds thought into before jumping at the chance. Since then I have enjoyed every second of designing and contributing the images, logo’s, buttons etc to the forum. Being a part of the decision making and the ongoing improvement of the site has been an unbelievable experience.”

Once the forum was set up, emails were initially sent out to the members that the 3 founders were most familiar with, knowing that their respect for others would create a great atmosphere at the website. However, word quickly spread and many more members began joining the site. The founders decided to finally provide a public link, and from then on, the membership swelled. With the eventual shut-down of Saints Central, the majority of members on that site that were happy to abide by the stricter rules of True Sainters found their way to the site.

“I didn’t find True Sainters, True Sainters found me,” remembers SaintBob, a big Steven Baker fan. “I was invited to join the site by Shaun on the 21st March 2010 and I was so glad when I was told a new friendlier site was being formed. Saints Central was going down hill fast at the time and I didn’t hesitate when I was asked to join, I became the 10th person to become a member. I really didn’t know what to expect from the site at the time but I was really excited to be a part of it in it’s infancy. As it started to gradually grow and with some familiar names bobbing up by the day, you could see that it was going to be a friendly, well-mannered and looked-after site. It really is a pleasure to be a part of, we really have some genuine nice people on here.” Bob is also an avid photographer, and his personal shots from games and open training have been a very welcome feature of the site. “I’m in to Sports Photography and I enjoy sharing some of my photo’s with everyone whilst at the same time making some kind of contribution to the site. It’s also great to meet some of the people you interact with in person, it’s fantastic to be able to talk to them face to face.”

Long-time member Prem finds the regularity of the updates on the forum very helpful, “I enjoy, being able to hear about all the Saints news, most likely before I would have otherwise.”

“I had a look and it seemed to have all the good people from Saints Central on it,” recalls member O&G, True Sainters’ resident and much-loved comedian. “Since I’m about as loyal as Luke Ball, I jumped ship to the new site, just like a rat leaving a sinking ship. Saints Central folded not long after this. Apparently they were so upset about losing me, they couldn’t go on anymore.”

Other members have found the site far more recently, nearly a year on from its more exclusive beginnings. “I found the site, believe it or not, through a friend’s Facebook. I saw the link and what it involved and thought,`wow this looks interesting,'” comments one of the site’s newest members, Saint-9. “There was a link for the site about the margin tipping comp. I clicked on that to enter and was amazed by the all other stuff I found on the site and immediately joined up.”  Saint-9 has since become a regular community member on True Sainters and has been a welcome addition to an already enthusiastic membership group. “I really enjoy reading the indepth articles about the club and players, the fact that they delve into each particular season of that players career and his season stats is something I love. The forum as well is becoming a favourite,chatting all things saints with a great bunch of people. Also, the video section is amazing. It’s always great to catch up on previous replays or delving back down memory lane, it’s definitely a favourite.”

The website has also been a haven for Saints supporters that live overseas or interstate, and has been particular use to those supporters who travel, making it a home-away-from-home. In addition, 3 of the 4 administrators live outside Victoria. “The forum and chat are a real godsend to me as I am at the wrong end of the country up here in Queensland,” explains Scott, “where apparently the only team in the AFL is the Lions and I’m pretty sure they only played for a few years as nobody talks about them anymore. So to get to talk to anybody about the Saints was near impossible until TS came along. Now I don’t bother going anywhere else, I have met some unbelievably nice people here and im sure we will continue to be friends for many more years.”

Co-founders Huzz and Stkildathunda along with moderator Sahan

The fantastic atmosphere at the site is something the founders remain proud of. “From the outset, we wanted it to be a family-friendly website,” explains Huzz. “We wanted people to be able to share their thoughts without being attacked and harassed. And that goes for the readers too. Nobody likes to read arguments on a website, especially ones that end up becoming quite vicious, which was the case in the end at Saints Central. We have no problem with people disagreeing and we don’t force positivity to the extreme. 2010 saw its fair share of drama and a Grand Final loss, which we all commented on and vented our frustrations and heart breaks. But the difference we wanted to have was a respect and reverence for each other. We all disagree from time to time, but the attitudes of the members towards each other has been fantastic. So if I am proud of anything, it has been the ability to maintain that standard, which has really required little effort. There have been one or two trouble makers, but 99% of all the users form a great community.”

SaintBob has been one of the many members to benefit from the atmosphere at True Sainters. “I enjoy the fact that unlike other sites, regardless of whether there are disagreements or not, most posters, if not all, can voice their opinion without getting their heads bitten off. Obviously we all share a mutual great passion for everything St Kilda and that’s what pleases me most. Before I joined I was told by Shaun that he was going to “recruit” some of the better posters from SC to start this new site, and that he did……and did it well!!!

“There is nothing about the site that I don’t like…..I love it all. I like the fact that if you need some advice with something, regardless of what it is……there is always someone willing to talk to you and help you out. I personally have learnt a lot from people over the last 12 months and I am entirely grateful to all who have helped me along the way!!!”

Shaun has been extremely creative and generous in running  True Sainters and has shaped it into a very interactive and fun-filled website, taking it upon himself to organise many of the competitions and prizes, including working closely with St Kilda Football Club to obtain official merchandise for the 2010 Footy Tipping Competition. True Sainters began expanding very early on in its history, developing footy tipping, dream team and winning margin competitions. Last but certainly not least was the True Sainters Player of the Year Award, which was voted on by all members, and eventual winner Lenny Hayes was rewarded with a trophy. Lenny kindly gave us a signed guernsey in return as thanks for our support over 2010. In addition, True Sainters has been able to incorporate plenty of new-media technologies into their community, with Facebook, YouTube and Twitter all heavily embedded into the site. Player biographies, match reviews and many other articles have also been published via WordPress, with significant contributions made by members like Dean Andrews in producing well-written pieces on the club. “At around the time I joined TS, Prem posted a poll asking who St Kilda’s most influential player would be during the time that captain Nick Riewoldt was injured,” elaborates Dean. “My response was Brendon Goddard due to his sublime skills and his freakish versatility allowing him to be very damaging whether playing in defence, the midfield or the forward line. I decided to prepare a feature article on Goddard detailing his career from draft day to the present, I made this post on 20 April 2010. I realised that in one of the forums the TS members gave votes on a 3,2,1 basis after each St Kilda match to determine the player of the round. At the end of the season the votes would be tallied to determine the True Sainters Player of the Year. I thought I could contribute to the site by writing a weekly feature article using a similar format to the Goddard article. The votes given each weeks by the True Sainters members would determine which player was the subject of that Rounds feature article.”

Lenny Hayes signed this jumper for True Sainters after winning the 2010 TS Player of the Year Award

“I think what makes me proud to be apart of this site,” explains Shaun, “is the fact that we went out on a limb to create something that basically no other forum/site has offered before and to succeed with it and to now see that others are sort of realising that the bar has been lifted and are putting plans in place to implement some of our ideas that you require in this day and age.”

With the forum software recently being upgraded, a player sponsorship of future star Jamie Cripps, and many more competitions and events, the future continues to look promising for the humble forum, and it is anyone’s guess as to where True Sainters goes from here.

But there are a few ideas going around. “I’d like us to all have computer chips embedded in our heads so we can talk to each other telepathically,” insists our resident joker, O&G. “This would help people like myself who type badly.”

SaintLeigh, taking the question a little more seriously, is not too fussed about changes, so long as it remains true to itself: “the way the site has developed over the past 12 months it could be anything, but if nothing else it will a great archive of the pain, joy and feeling of StKilda supporters, a daily diary of all things StKFC.”

The administrators of the site hope to continue to see the community grow. “I hope it will be able to grow even further than what it already has, and we’re able to keep up all the competitions in which we run, in which are greatly supported by the supporters and members of the website,” says James.

Scott also hopes that the site can remain the way it is, and if it should expand, so be it. “I honestly had no idea on those initial days and weeks that True Sainters would become the fantastic success that it has and I have no doubt in my mind that it will continue to grow and become the ‘go to’ place for dedicated Sainters. I’m not fussed whether we ever get to a thousand members or not as long as it stays the friendly, fun and positive forum that it does so well. I would like to sincerely thank Shaun, Huzz and James for all their efforts from the initial idea to one year on. I honestly couldn’t think of a nicer bunch of guys to have teamed up with.”

“The future of True Sainters looks extremely healthy I believe and I think there is plenty of room to improve and really stamp ourselves as your Family Friendly Forum Alternative,” Shaun concludes. “With more feature articles and match previews & reviews written weekly, free competitions that all members are able to a part of and win awesome prizes, and our continued support of the St Kilda Football Club through our player sponsorship, there certainly are exciting times ahead.”

True Sainters is proudly sponsored by

Bladerunner Property Services

Too Serious

You can also help to keep True Sainters running through donations. A lot of time and money goes into the site, and we are strictly run as a non-profit community. However, there are costs involved with hosting the forum. If you’d like to help lessen the financial burdon on the administrators, you can donate by going to http://truesainters.yolasite.com/

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One Comment on “The True Sainters Story”

  1. http://www.sylvainpagedepute.org 06/06/2013 at 8:41 pm #

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