WITH the Saints heading towards a grand final appearance, it is timely to look back on St Kilda’s first premiership in 1966.
Who could forget that special day in September -— actually Yom Kippur -— when St Kilda defeated Collingwood by one point. There was some of the most fervent praying ever heard in shul!
Those St Kilda fans who hadn’t “tempted fate” and gone to the MCG got minute-by-minute updates from radios in the front of the shuls.
I know because I was one of the “runners” (at the St Kilda and Elwood Talmud Torah) carrying the latest where I whispered the scores to a few worshippers who spread the word, even to the women sitting separately.
Many of those who barracked for other teams, such as Carlton, “prayed” (and how they did) for the Saints.
The game see-sawed as one side took the lead and the other side came back. It was a heart rendering tussle. I recall my father telling a Saint’s fan, who suffered from severe heart trouble, to take it easy. After all, it was just a game. What was he saying, just a game! Oy Vey!
“I should have gone to the game, I will regret it, I am now,” said one Saints faithful. “It’s almost a sin not to have gone. God would forgive me.”
Another wondered aloud: “Which side is God on?”. I nodded. “We will find out with whomever wins, won’t we? Surely he must be on the Saints side.”
I gather that wives were sending messages to their husbands not to get too excited, remain calm and just pray a little harder. Did I hear worshippers humming When The Saints Come Marching In, even whispering it in Yiddish and Hebrew.
There were a few Magpie fans there but they kept rather silent, drowned out or, dare one say on Yom Kippur, even threatened to be quiet.
It was when 18-year-old Barry Breen kicked a goal — a very uncertain goal — that St Kilda’s hopes were really raised. The grand final was within grasp and the excitement reached fever pitch. Where was the time keeper? Surely the siren should have rung by now? What were they waiting for?
St Kilda held on and won by a point — a single kick. There was rejoicing as word went around the shul. In some shuls the rabbi interrupted the service to merely announce, with a little smile, “They won.”
Some looked upwards as though thanking the good Lord for his intervention. No matter what, many prayers had been answered on that day.
No doubt, many Saints fans are already praying that their team will make it into the grand final and win another flag.