Nick Riewoldt is retiring, however he might properly have needed to play on and couldn’t. It occurs right here and there in footy, the place the mind is stronger than the late-30s physique, however was that the case with Riewoldt?
Riewoldt has left fairly a number of reminiscences even for non-Saints followers like me, particularly throughout the Ross Lyon flip of the decade when the Saints introduced the press and squeezed their opponents into oblivion.
As an athletic, disciplined captain of St Kilda, he each personified the gritty fashion and had the talent that his teammates lacked to rise above it.
I’ve admired him and hated him. I definitely assume the recreation is dropping one thing with out him, greater than the loss of most different gamers.
I don’t consider we should always glorify the previous at the expense of the current, however I had hoped Riewoldt would proceed endlessly and ever. I needed him to defy time, and age, and in 2016 it appeared he was doing that.
He was persevering with to play helpful and typically impressed soccer lengthy after his mates had all fallen away, surrounded by a unique bunch of youngsters. While the world modified, Riewoldt was rising above the physics of the physique’s put on, and offering a dwelling hyperlink to occasions already forgotten, like the final Civil War veteran.
I see Riewoldt as the final of his sort, a Mr. St Kilda that’s not attainable in the free company age. Lenny Hayes and Brendan Goddard each performed a superhuman 2010 grand ultimate, and have been St Kilda for a day. But Goddard left and Hayes didn’t final so long as Riewoldt.
Riewoldt, as captain and a key ahead, was additionally the figurehead, the illustration of a membership in a means solely maybe seen with Wayne Carey and E.J. Whitten. You might have a dialog about the equally retiring Luke Hodge, however Hodge was surrounded by others like him so didn’t stand out as a lot.
Riewoldt’s pressured retirement goes again to complete questions on what’s a membership? This is just not on St Kilda, as a result of this phenomenon is common now – Brent Harvey ought to have performed till Kingdom Come.
But, if Riewoldt is expendable – and we requested ourselves this final yr with Sam Mitchell – then a membership is not about historical past, id, deep feelings and fraught love. A membership is only a revolving door of the subsequent expertise, who will come and probably in a number of years will depart. Riewoldt ought to have been an exception.
By default, the abiding reminiscences of St Kilda this century are from easily-obtained grand last DVD’s. Neither went Riewoldt’s approach.
The first grand remaining towards Geelong was a monsoonal, darkish day that induced the ball to slide by means of Riewoldt’s often positive grasp and annulled him, which given his superlative different two finals in 2009 towards Collingwood and the Bulldogs – virtually definitely value St Kilda the premiership.
Apart from the climate, St Kilda beat themselves, they blew it. The most you’ll be able to say about Geelong, extra a impartial entity that day, is that they a minimum of completed the higher.
With the Cats closing quick, an remoted St Kilda break at 67-65 noticed the Premiership wobble and topple on a Milne centre into the goalsquare and 43 years distilled into one second over whether or not Riewoldt’s palms might shut round a pigskin and maintain it. An eight-point lead on a fumbling day would have been St Kilda’s premiership. But Geelong’s defenders arrived and crashed his arms.
Riewoldt talked about throwing his soiled boots in the nook of his house in dejection that night time and instantly leaving Australia to get all of it out of his head. Then he got here house, noticed the boots in the very same place, and all of it got here flooding again.
A yr later was a kind of redemption for staff and participant, regardless that St Kilda weren’t capable of win. St Kilda, on Hayes’ and Goddard’s again, wrung each potential ounce of their restricted potential to arrange a six-point lead towards a far superior staff in Collingwood.
This time, the solar was ablaze and in contrast to the rain of 09, it was St Kilda’s personal enjoying fashion that for the second time turned the grand ultimate right into a fumbling, congested scrap.
Riewoldt wasn’t big on this recreation both, however was inspirational right here and there. Was it solely coincidence that of the 36 gamers camped round the ball, it was he who picked up the ball and despatched it tumbling miraculously in the direction of objective, the place the final bounce once more deceived St Kilda and Maxwell smothered on the line? Or was it greatness?
There have been two minutes left and Collingwood’s vaunted full-ground press have been defending a one-point lead. How might St Kilda get the ball down? Riewoldt. He flew throughout the pack and took an unimaginable mark. He booted it, Hayes booted it, Milne missed it and the recreation was tied.
All Western Bulldogs supporters like myself are filthy about the 2009 St Kilda-Bulldogs preliminary ultimate, however the 2016 Premiership is of course, a balm for us that Riewoldt will sadly by no means obtain as a participant.
The Bulldogs sweated a 4 objectives to 3 halftime lead towards one of the single biggest one-year groups in AFL historical past. An whole half of gut-busting effort was all worn out by an umpire who watched Brian Lake carry out the typical pre-bounce bumping and gave Riewoldt a free kick for it in entrance of aim, and not using a third-quarter bounce.
I’m unsure whether or not in charge Riewoldt for the injustice or not. He went down simply sufficient. Then at the finish he rubbed it in with the two final, match-winning objectives with St Kilda’s nearly solely two assaults of the final quarter. I’m choking alone bile, as The Simpsons would say.
A couple of years later I noticed Riewoldt stand over one of our fallen defenders, lording it over him with the Bulldogs down and out as a group in 2012, and I momentarily hated his guts. He had a gamesmanship in him that was once more revealed solely a month in the past when he faked the 50-metre penalty that gained the recreation towards Fremantle.
I keep in mind Nick Riewoldt as a younger man, enjoyable and good and emotional. I keep in mind watching The Footy Show they usually requested him what type of duties have been concerned with being an AFL footballer. “Make my bed, clean my room,” he replied, laughing.
During Round 1, 2005, the dying juggernaut of Brisbane had one final hurrah, defeating the superior Saints whereas Mal Michael and the Scotts repeatedly bumped him off the ball on his injured shoulder. Riewoldt was sitting on the bench after that and in tears.
Men drink and struggle! But today there are moments and articles about AFL footballers crying all the time. Maybe Riewoldt was the one who started to make it a suitable follow for males.
There was a way that night time that it was a setback, however that St Kilda and Riewoldt have been nonetheless at the starting of a journey and issues have been optimistic.
Twelve years later, that journey is now over.