SCG Open Training Report

St Kilda Open Training SCG

This afternoons St Kilda training session was short, sharp and shiny.

The rain held off, however the southerly wind was strong, gusting around 40kmh making the temperature feel like we were in Alaska. If I had a dollar for every time I heard someone say “It’s colder than Melbourne” I would be a rich person. The players were dressed for the conditions, rugged up in their skins and hoodies.   And tomorrows weather forecast looks much the same as today’s.

Everyone was accounted for as per team list. Farren Ray and Terry Milera were still in Melbourne having a run with Sandringham who had a win today against Bendigo. Well done Zebras. That left only one emergency in Beau Wilkes up in Sydney. The club are confident in the list and do not envisage any late withdrawals however they are keeping Farren Ray on stand-by and he will fly up Sunday morning if required.

Saints training commenced indoors and was closed to the public and fans. Luckily the indoor venue had a wall of glass so I could see they were just doing a warm up and stretches. Nothing secret!

They moved from the indoor room which looks like the indoor cricket training room, a few of the boys having a pretend run up and bowl in the nets and a laugh. Spirits were great among the group.

From here they proceeded to the ground. The awesome SCG I remember was not looking so awesome. The grassed area was good but down the end of the ground was open space and rubble where a Grandstand used to be. It looked like the aftermath of an earth tremor. And there was no rest day for the workmen. They had the cranes cranked and working throughout the afternoon while we were there.

The centre of the oval had the covers over it so the players were taken to the farthest part of the ground to do their drills and then some kicks for goals. Being so far away from us and dressed in their cold weather attire made it difficult to work out who was who. There were no incidents nor injuries nor disappointments. It was an all round uneventful session. Bravo!

It was a quick light session. They were only out there for about 30 minutes and then they made every effort to engage with all the fans at the fence. Every player was obliging to any request for autographs and photographs. They spent longer than normal with the fans as I am sure they were wary of perceptions from the previous weeks ‘news’. No-one was denied and they were all approachable and magnificent and giving of their time.

They then finished off their session back in the indoor cricket training room. Again a closed session with burly guard at the door; however thanks to the glass wall anyone could see that they were just having a chat in their groups. I watched Nick Dal Santo go through some tactics and different moves with the midfield group for about 10-15 minutes. If I knew lip reading then I could write more about this bit!!

So that was training… on the field.

Off the field was the highlight of the day.

A 10 year old St Kilda supporter added a warm vibe to the cold quiet hour by surprising fans, players and officials alike with an impromptu solo saxophone performance of “When the Saints go marching in” midway through the session.

His name is Matthew Downing and it was his first ever public performance. He has been learning and practicing for two years. He did a great job and received a big round of applause, and was asked for an encore at the end of training. His dad Rob has been a St Kilda supporter for 30 years and even although has now been based in Sydney for many years has passed the Saints love down to Matthew and his other two young sons.

Matthew will be performing outside the SCG tomorrow before the game. So look out for him Sainters and maybe toss him a coin or two for his efforts. A very polite and humble young man.

Today was also the first ever training session that Matthew has been to. His favourite player is Lenny Hayes so when training finished, I took him down to the fence to meet his hero. Lenny was more than happy to sign Matthew’s footy jumper and pose for a photo. It made his day. Good luck tomorrow Matthew, you will be great champ.

At the conclusion of training I had a chance to have a one on one chat to Nick Dal Santo and asked him a few questions about his involvement with GenYFooty with Dean and Frankie. Dean and Frankie have left this week for London and I asked Dal now that the boys were gone for the month was there any chance that he might continue on with the show without them. He said he does enjoy doing the shows and did see our tweets to keep it going over the next month, however, he says he is actually going to have a break from it as well and is looking forward to coming back to it all refreshed in a month’s time. So I’m sorry Shaun, I tried to get you the gig!! But Dal wants a rest!!

The players got on the bus and left, and then I got very lost walking in this big cold dark city.

And last of all, can’t sign off without mentioning that the AFL is celebrating ‘Women’s Round’ this weekend to acknowledge the contribution of women to the game. To all the True Sainter’s gals out there and footy land in general, Cheers to you all. My passion for this game would not be the same if I didn’t have a nice mixture of Venus and Mars to share it with.

Greetings from Sydney Town.


Go Saints.


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