The Saints Round 18 victory over the Giants, coming as it did during Friday Night Footy meant they were the subject of the ‘Roaming Brian’ segment post game. Thankfully, due to Covid-19, BT was unable to take his place as the host of the segment and it was left to St Kilda Captain Jarryn Geary to get the first responses from his team mates in the dressing rooms.
The mood was understandably one of celebration as they began to comprehend that they had brought to an end the Saints nine year long finals drought. For Geary, who has played 151 games between the two finals appearances, it was especially significant.
“Yeah mate it’s been a long time and a lot of people have been here for the journey and its great for everyone to get what’s been really well deserved throughout the footy club this year,” he told Luke Hodge before taking on his role as interviewer.
Max King, who was an 11-year-old supporter of the team the last time the Saints played finals, couldn’t wipe the smile off his face. “It’s a pretty awesome feeling. Obviously it’s been a while since we’ve been there and obviously we’ve had a bit of a rough month but we know we’re up to it and we feel like we belong in the finals,” the key forward said.
Rowan Marshall, who played his 50th game against the Giants, was also unable to contain his excitement. “Over the moon,” was how he described his feelings to Geary. “Best feeling ever. I’ve never had a feeling like this before. It’s so good for the club and all the staff members and all the boys who haven’t played finals for so long.”
Tim Membrey, who will play in his first final eight years after being first drafted, was similarly excited. “Unbelievable mate,” he described the mood. “It’s been a long journey for us. We’ve played some good patches of footy and then we dropped away but I really think now we’ve built to something special. We’ve got a great bunch of boys at the club and they all want the same thing and that’s to play finals footy and we finally get to do that.”
It was a proud and pleasing moment for Brett Ratten, the man responsible for turning the team’s on-field fortunes around in 2020. “Extremely proud,” is how the coach explained his feelings. “At the start of the year you have a goal and every team wants to play finals but to tick it off, it’s part of our journey it’s not our destination, this is just one part of the puzzle. So really pleased…. So many players here haven’t even played finals, so we get to tick that one off but there is still a lot of work to do. Just a really good performance tonight.”
Dan Hannebery was a welcome addition to the Saints team against the Giants after his long injury layoff. Rowan Marshall praised his impact. “Just that experience, he’s obviously a super player and I think he really stood up tonight and showed what he is about,” he told Geary.
After 22 finals appearances with the Swans, he is no stranger to the postseason but no less excited to be heading back with the Saints. “Absolutely wrapt,” is how he described his mood. “I mean it makes all the hard work worth it. Sometimes rehab can be a bit of a grind but there was a bit of a carrot there during quarantine to get myself right and I was 50-50 to play but wrapt I played. Just awesome to get through to the finals and anything can happen from here.”
It wasn’t just the players celebrating the moment though, with the club song belted out in the rooms by all on-field and off-field staff in one of the most raucous ever renditions of Oh When The Saints go Marching In ever sung. Geary explained the significance of the moment. A lot of them are away from their families and it’s been a tough time, I know its a tough time back in Victoria but there’s been a lot of people away from their families here,” he explained. “So they have put in a lot of hard work doing multiple jobs for us players to really put on a performance every week. We are really thankful for the efforts those guys have put in.”
Former skipper, and current assistant Coach, Aaron Hamill was happy to once again be part of a St Kilda group headed for the finals. “No one is happier than you Gears, but happy to be part of it mate,” he cheekily told Geary. “Just an outstanding performance under a fair bit of pressure all week after last week. The way you boys embraced it, just fantastic. Bigger and better things now, enjoy it while we can but move on pretty quick.”
CEO Matt Finnis was happiest for the players who had worked through the hard times and would now be rewarded with a taste of finals footy. “It’s just amazing,” he told Geary, “Just so pleased for you Gears, and Timmy [Tim Membrey], and JB [Jack Billings], and all the boys who haven’t played finals yet but for all those Saints fans out there it’s been way too long. Way too long.”
The club’s fans were at the front of the mind for a number of the players. “Its just a shame that Saints fans that have had to wait so long to see us back in the finals aren’t here tonight but the fans that were here tonight would have enjoyed that,” Geary lamented. “Our membership has gone to record numbers this year and that’s unbelievable considering what’s going on, particularly back in Victoria. The support we’ve had has been enormous and like I said, I wish they could be here to enjoy this but hopefully, they are proud of what they boys have dished up.”
Brett Ratten was pleased that in making the finals the group was able to repay the patience of the fans. “So really pleased, especially for our fans,” he told Geary. “They’ve waited for so long and to make finals again is just great for our footy club.”
Tim Membrey was also thankful for the support. “We know how loyal they’ve been, I think it’s a record year for membership and we can’t do that without them guys back in Melbourne. I’m sure they would have been super proud tonight the way the boys went about it. A massive thanks to you guys back home.”
|AFL 2020: All The Goals – Round 18 v GWS.|
|AFL 2020: Magic Moments – Round 18 v GWS.|
|AFL 2020: Tough As – Round 18 v GWS.|
Geary also praised his coach and the effect he has had on the group. “As you know he’s a good man Ratts,” he told Luke Hodge. He’s fun-loving and has a bit of an edge about him and one thing he doesn’t like doing is missing out on finals. He hasn’t done it a lot throughout his career so its been a goal of his throughout the year and he’s really demanded that from us. It wouldn’t have been acceptable for us not to. He’ll be a happy man tonight.”
The skipper’s one lament on a famous night for the club, was that they had left it until the final round to secure the place. “We would have liked to have done it a bit earlier but it’s a great effort from the boys tonight,” he said.
Matt Finnis shared his skipper’s view but believed there might have been a silver lining. “We’ve done it the hard way,” he told Geary. “But maybe it just makes it feel that little more special tonight though.”
There was another reason for Geary to celebrate the victory, with the skipper likely to have faced a dilemma had they lost the match. With an Elimination Final date with the Eagles the likely punishment for defeat, it would have seen the skipper forced to choose between submitting to Western Australia’s onerous Quaratine requirements or remaining in Queensland for the birth of his child. “Yeah she is due this week so it would have been a tough conversation to have,” he explained. “I’ve got her to come all the way up here and it would have been interesting if I’d left her at the airport and she’d given birth while I was away. But that is something we don’t have to worry about now.”