Some things in footy can’t be measured by stats

Some things in footy can’t be measured by stats.

Emotions are one of them. Sometimes we can control them, put a lid on them, hide them, disguise them or show them openly.

We learn from them and they impact our lives re-actively and pro-actively.

This is an insight into my emotions / observations / experiences at Saints training sessions over the past couple of weeks.

Nick Dal Santo is a happy man, he is a giving man. Out of all the players at training he is the one who gave the most to the fans. Watching him brings me joy.

He goes out of his way to pose for photos, give autographs, have conversations with kids, grannies, ferals, everyone. He treats everybody the same, he shows no ego.

He is respectful and professional, consistently.

Enter BJ Goddard.

He presented as an angry, grumpy frustrated man. Last week at training (Gold Coast) while the rest of the team were up and about and had a spring in their step, he was just simply pissed off.

He didn’t like his boots so took them off right in front of the 200 odd fans who had gathered for their once a year opportunity, and threw them down in disgust on the sidelines right where the trainers were congregated.

At the end of that session when he ran off the ground, he realised he had left the said boots on the sidelines and instead of walking 10 metres to gather them up, he yelled at a trainer to get them for him, again in front of the fans.

This week at training (Adelaide) the same angry man returned. While waiting for each other to arrive on the track at training, the players have a handball game and a laugh together. BJ doesn’t.

He has the same serious face. The looks are of a man with a lot on his mind. At the end of the training session, one of the trainers made a compliment on a good goal he kicked during the session, and BJ grunted at him and made a snappy comment with the same grumpy face.

His frustration frustrates me. I wanted to shake him and snap him out of it.

Nick Riewoldt – there was a big difference between the two training sessions.

At Gold Coast training, our captain was ‘normal Nick’. He was first out on the track, moving well, leading well, kicking goals, there was a great vibe around the place.

So many little kids continually yell out his name. They all love him. They don’t call him Nick or Roo, they call him again and again by his full name.

He acknowledges them, high 5s them, chats to them, poses umpteen times for photos with them, signs footballs, signs guernseys, he genuinely enjoys the interaction.

He was engaging with the fans so long that one of the trainers had to blow a loud whistle to let him know that it was time to go. He was the last one to leave the track. First on, last off. He made me feel proud.

Fast forward one week to Adelaide training. It started off as ‘normal Nick’. He ran on the track with the same high 5s to the kids at the fence, joined in the handball game while waiting for all the players to emerge and had a laugh or two.

Then, while participating in the scratch match something changed. He went to the sidelines away from the bay of about 50 fans, ignoring all their screams of ‘Nick Riewoldt, Nick Riewoldt’. That was out of character. This is where I started to feel anxious. Something was wrong.

He was right in front of me, and he was talking to a couple of trainers. It was obvious something was troubling him with his left knee. He was touching it in different areas and discussing with the trainers. He then went down the race with them, right past the same kids yelling his name continually, ignored them all as if they weren’t even there.

He had a look of something much more important and serious on his face.

The training session continued minus our captain. At first I don’t think any of the players noticed, they were all too busy focussing and perfecting their game, and to be honest I don’t think the few onlooking fans were switched on to what was happening either. Most of them were kids.

Nick was gone for what seemed like an eternity. I was scared, impatient and worried all at the same time. As the training session was finishing up and players were leaving the track, he emerged.

The kids were yelling out to him again, their little hands positioned for a high 5 and they got nothing, and once again he walked right on past them as if they weren’t there and I knew from looking at him that my St Kilda heart was about to break. And he looked a broken man.

He had a dot of fresh blood on his knee from an obvious injection and in that moment he crossed paths with the other players who were walking off the track, it was then that they clicked as well.

Uh oh, something’s not right with Nick.

The kids were oblivious to the situation and still screaming for him to acknowledge them, and one of the trainers yelled at them all to be quiet and let him be. Silence!

The vibe of the whole session was changed. Nick went for a jog to the other side of the ground by himself with all trainers eyes on him in anticipation, collective breaths held.

At this stage I needed a level head. In my hands I had a pen, a note book, a camera, a mobile phone and trying to use all simultaneously.

The kids really had no idea what was going on, their little minds were quickly distracted by the other players giving them a high 5 and an autograph as they went down the race. Normal training was over.

But Nick was now down the south end of the ground on his lonesome having a few kicks for goal. Scott Watters and the trainers were all near the dugout, watching him from a distance, and waiting for a miracle that wasn’t going to happen.

Nick came back after a few minutes. He was slowly jogging and he looked like the saddest, disappointed man in the land. To his credit as shattered as he was, he managed to give a high 5 to a couple of the little kids who were still waiting for their hero at the race.

And then he was gone.

Emotions engulf us all, we cannot avoid them, and they all impact us somehow, positive and negative.

Last night Dal Santo had a great game, BJ had an indifferent game, Scott Watters played Riewoldt for a reason and Riewoldt never gave up.

In all instances, emotions would have impacted their actions, we can’t measure how much, but they impact results and are just as important as the hard ball gets and the tackle counts.

This time we didn’t win. And so another emotion kicks in.

But one day when it’s meant to be, and all the collective St Kilda souls and emotions are perfectly aligned like ducks in a row we will all share together the best emotion of all, Premiership Elation.

And until then, a mixture of emotions will always be within us, the goal is to not avoid them, but to understand them and learn from them and manage the chaos they create. It’s what makes the footy world go round after all.

Go Saints!

Written by True Sainters member, Jules Anderson (True Blue)

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3 Comments on “Some things in footy can’t be measured by stats”

  1. Dean 16/06/2012 at 1:40 pm #

    Great article

  2. james 16/06/2012 at 2:17 pm #

    Thanks Jules – great read and I know exactly how you feel.

  3. Phil 16/06/2012 at 10:49 pm #

    Fantastic insights from you Jules. Great article.

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