Let the flag dream go, Saints

Written By Unknown on Kamis, 04 April 2013 | 12.50

Nick Riewoldt with the premiership cup. Picture: Michael Dodge Source: Herald Sun

IN THIS week's installment of his weekly column, Please Explain, Glenn McFarlane asks the tough questions of the Saints.

Dear St Kilda,

You're stiff. Very stiff.

But for the bounce of a ball in 2010, or an audacious toe-poke in 2009, you might have a second premiership cup sitting in the trophy cabinet at Seaford.

The fact is you haven't and, barring a miracle, won't with this group of players. And while that's cruel for the likes of Nick Riewoldt and Lenny Hayes who deserve a flag, it's the cold, hard reality.

It seems more certain than ever that your premiership window has slammed shut. The only way to prise it open again is to be bold, daring and invest in the national draft.

You had the chance to start that last year, but went with the present instead of the future.

In a sense, that's understandable given your record with drafting over a long period.

As revealed in Champion Data's AFL Prospectus, of the 24 players you drafted, elevated or traded in from 2008-2010, only five remain. None has yet made a telling impact.

Is Macca right? Leave a comment below

We know Ross Lyon coached for the moment, and it almost won you that elusive cup.

He failed to trade out any high-profile players when they had currency – Justin Koschitzke must have been an option several years ago – and followed the Sydney model of chasing experience over youth.

Justin Koschitzke kicks at goal. Picture: Klein Michael Source: Herald Sun

Scott Watters has to learn to coach for the future and you - the club - need to back him and highly-rated head of football Chris Pelchen to make this happen.

Short to medium-term pain might equate to long-term gain.

We're still surprised by what you did last year when you got your hands on picks 12 and 13 in last year's draft then jettisoned them during the trade period.

Fair enough on Tom Hickey. He is 22 and a promising young ruckman. But with Ben McEvoy locked in for the best part of the next decade, and with your young midfield stocks almost bare, maybe snaring one of the best young onballers in the land might have been a better option with pick 13.

It's harder to fathom why you traded pick 12 for Tom Lee, who kicked 60 goals in the WAFL last year. While the worry is the quality of your young midfielders, you seemingly have an endless supply of forwards.

And here is a damning fact for the future.

You have the second oldest playing list in the competition - at an average age of 24.54 years - and the fifth most experienced - averaging 77.08 games.

The best players in your side are in the twilight in their careers.

St Kilda players on the ground after the 2011 Grand Final draw. Picture: David Caird Source: Herald Sun

There are some young guys coming through - Jack Steven, Arryn Siposs, Jack Newnes, Seb Ross, Rhys Stanley, Sam Dunell, and perhaps Tom Ledger.

But it is time to seriously plan for the long haul. That doesn't mean you won't win quite a number of games this year – you will. But a premiership? It isn't going to happen.

If it comes to a 50-50 decision at the selection table between a kid and an older player, go with the kid.

The focus needs to be on identifying - and drafting - the best youngsters available in November, not trading out any first-round picks you might get.

Better to punt on kids and chase a flag in 2018 than wallow for an extended period in the bottom half of the ladder with a delusion that a premiership remains within reach with this group.

Yours Sincerely,
Glenn McFarlane


It's good to hear how well you trained in the lead-up to last week's game against Port. Just imagine how bad things could have been if you had trained poorly.

Jeff, you've apologised, but surely now it's time to channel your predecessor Ian Dicker and quietly and constructively assist the football club that you profess to love.

Hey Macca, great win last week, but can you please do us a favour? Play Adam Cooney and Tom Young at opposite ends this week. We couldn't tell the difference between them last week and neither could Haylea Cooney.

It's OK to call Ben McEvoy "Big Boy McEvoy" a few times. But when it is ad nauseum, it's annoying.

Former Hawthorn president Jeff Kennett says the Adelaide Crows should not be taking part in next week's AFL draft. Picture: David Caird. Source: Herald Sun


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