Analysis Saints History Request

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Aug 17, 2017
23
71
AFL Club
West Coast
Hi All,

Please excuse the intrusion. I’m currently working on a long-form piece looking at St Kilda between 1997-2010, and was wondering if you could help me fill in some gaps in my research? I have most of the basic information but am hoping that you learned fellows of Saints BigFooty can provide the unique ‘fan’s insight’ that I’m looking for.

Any info you can provide on the below (or anything else really interesting and perhaps overlooked in Saints history in this period) would be greatly appreciated.

  • Why did Stan Alves leave as coach at the end of 1998?
  • What years would you consider the lowest and highest points in this period (1997-2010)?
  • What was the feeling prior to the ’97 GF (sorry for bringing up old wounds, but I am genuinely interested to hear what Saints fans felt about their team’s chances to win this game)?
  • Why did Grant Thomas get sacked?
Once again, sorry for the intrusion – if you feel it’s necessary, feel free to pot me for last weekend’s game!
 

kernelT

Norm Smith Medallist
Aug 15, 2010
6,207
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Yikes, here's a can of worms… strap yourself in.

Would also recommend posting or reading through some of saintsational, both coaches in particular have been discussed at considerable length.

Where is the piece going to be published?
 

El_Duderino

The Dude Abides
Jul 26, 2006
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Can I ask why particularly 1997 to 2010? It co-incides with my absolute favourite time in my life to support the saints. Since then and prior to then it hasn't been much fun.
 

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Aug 17, 2017
23
71
AFL Club
West Coast
Can I ask why particularly 1997 to 2010? It co-incides with my absolute favourite time in my life to support the saints. Since then and prior to then it hasn't been much fun.
I'm really interested in how well built the team was through this period, and how close they came to football immortality. I also think it's a club and a time that's really unexplored.
 
Aug 17, 2017
23
71
AFL Club
West Coast
Yikes, here's a can of worms… strap yourself in.

Would also recommend posting or reading through some of saintsational, both coaches in particular have been discussed at considerable length.

Where is the piece going to be published?
Thanks mate - I'll sign up to the saintsational page tonight and have a read through.
 

George

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Aug 17, 2015
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Hi All,

Please excuse the intrusion. I’m currently working on a long-form piece looking at St Kilda between 1997-2010, and was wondering if you could help me fill in some gaps in my research? I have most of the basic information but am hoping that you learned fellows of Saints BigFooty can provide the unique ‘fan’s insight’ that I’m looking for.

Any info you can provide on the below (or anything else really interesting and perhaps overlooked in Saints history in this period) would be greatly appreciated.

  • Why did Stan Alves leave as coach at the end of 1998?
  • What years would you consider the lowest and highest points in this period (1997-2010)?
  • What was the feeling prior to the ’97 GF (sorry for bringing up old wounds, but I am genuinely interested to hear what Saints fans felt about their team’s chances to win this game)?
  • Why did Grant Thomas get sacked?
Once again, sorry for the intrusion – if you feel it’s necessary, feel free to pot me for last weekend’s game!
1. I think it was a falling out with the board.
2. 1999-2002 lowest, 2003-2010 highest.
3. No idea but from what Ive heard very optimistic having pumped the reigning premiers the week before.
4. Same as Alves
 

sunny3193

Premiership Player
Sep 28, 2016
3,598
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Hi All,

Please excuse the intrusion. I’m currently working on a long-form piece looking at St Kilda between 1997-2010, and was wondering if you could help me fill in some gaps in my research? I have most of the basic information but am hoping that you learned fellows of Saints BigFooty can provide the unique ‘fan’s insight’ that I’m looking for.

Any info you can provide on the below (or anything else really interesting and perhaps overlooked in Saints history in this period) would be greatly appreciated.

  • Why did Stan Alves leave as coach at the end of 1998?
  • What years would you consider the lowest and highest points in this period (1997-2010)?
  • What was the feeling prior to the ’97 GF (sorry for bringing up old wounds, but I am genuinely interested to hear what Saints fans felt about their team’s chances to win this game)?
  • Why did Grant Thomas get sacked?
Once again, sorry for the intrusion – if you feel it’s necessary, feel free to pot me for last weekend’s game!
1. No idea.
2. Highest: 09/10, Lowest: 00/02
3. Absolutely euphoric, after slamming North in the Preliminary (possibly one of my most enjoyable evenings, both the game and the after party at the Hilton) no one could believe that an interstate team would win.
4. No idea, falling out with the President maybe?
 

g_TRAIN

Near a spoon
Jun 15, 2006
841
1,397
Sydney
AFL Club
St Kilda
Hi All,

Please excuse the intrusion. I’m currently working on a long-form piece looking at St Kilda between 1997-2010, and was wondering if you could help me fill in some gaps in my research? I have most of the basic information but am hoping that you learned fellows of Saints BigFooty can provide the unique ‘fan’s insight’ that I’m looking for.

Any info you can provide on the below (or anything else really interesting and perhaps overlooked in Saints history in this period) would be greatly appreciated.

  • Why did Stan Alves leave as coach at the end of 1998?
  • What years would you consider the lowest and highest points in this period (1997-2010)?
  • What was the feeling prior to the ’97 GF (sorry for bringing up old wounds, but I am genuinely interested to hear what Saints fans felt about their team’s chances to win this game)?
  • Why did Grant Thomas get sacked?
Once again, sorry for the intrusion – if you feel it’s necessary, feel free to pot me for last weekend’s game!
  1. Apparent falling out with the board and also rumors some of the leading players were not happy with him or thought this hasn't been substantiated.
  2. The lowest were the years we were coached by Tim Watson & half a season with Malcome Blight, with 2000-2002 probably the worst. We had some forgettable defeats one that really sticks in my mind was a loss to the Hawks where we were up about 55 points at one stage.
  3. Confidence, we had won 9 in a row.
  4. Fallout with the board and his previous best friend Rod Butters
 

StCicatriz

Brownlow Medallist
Aug 3, 2016
23,313
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AFL Club
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Hi All,

Please excuse the intrusion. I’m currently working on a long-form piece looking at St Kilda between 1997-2010, and was wondering if you could help me fill in some gaps in my research? I have most of the basic information but am hoping that you learned fellows of Saints BigFooty can provide the unique ‘fan’s insight’ that I’m looking for.

Any info you can provide on the below (or anything else really interesting and perhaps overlooked in Saints history in this period) would be greatly appreciated.

  • Why did Stan Alves leave as coach at the end of 1998?
  • What years would you consider the lowest and highest points in this period (1997-2010)?
  • What was the feeling prior to the ’97 GF (sorry for bringing up old wounds, but I am genuinely interested to hear what Saints fans felt about their team’s chances to win this game)?
  • Why did Grant Thomas get sacked?
Once again, sorry for the intrusion – if you feel it’s necessary, feel free to pot me for last weekend’s game!
the board was head over heals in awe of tim watson due to his time as a player, so stan was moved on for him.

there was an interview with some people back then and they were saying the board were acting like groupies basically and just absolutely enamoured with everything watson.
 

El_Duderino

The Dude Abides
Jul 26, 2006
33,321
28,234
AFL Club
St Kilda
Hi All,

Please excuse the intrusion. I’m currently working on a long-form piece looking at St Kilda between 1997-2010, and was wondering if you could help me fill in some gaps in my research? I have most of the basic information but am hoping that you learned fellows of Saints BigFooty can provide the unique ‘fan’s insight’ that I’m looking for.

Any info you can provide on the below (or anything else really interesting and perhaps overlooked in Saints history in this period) would be greatly appreciated.

  • Why did Stan Alves leave as coach at the end of 1998?
  • What years would you consider the lowest and highest points in this period (1997-2010)?
  • What was the feeling prior to the ’97 GF (sorry for bringing up old wounds, but I am genuinely interested to hear what Saints fans felt about their team’s chances to win this game)?
  • Why did Grant Thomas get sacked?
Once again, sorry for the intrusion – if you feel it’s necessary, feel free to pot me for last weekend’s game!
1 - Alves was sacked after we made our second straight finals series and having made the GF the year before - why I don't know? Maybe he had issues with the board or something As George said above me.
2 - The lowest year in terms of morale was 2000-2002 - we won about ten or eleven games over this stretch.
We started 99 extremely well - we were the first team to beat West Coast that year (round 7) and one of only a handful to beat Essendon (round 8) then had a stellar comeback from 27 points down at half time against Geelong at the cattery (these margins were a bit more of a big deal back then) in round 10 we were third on the ladder with a 7-3 record. The losses had come in the first three odd numbered rounds and were all interstate. AFter that though things went a bit pear shaped - we were beaten by Sydney who were pretty good at the time but the big shock was the following week - we lead a lowly Hawthorn by 63 points early in the second term before they kicked ten goals in the third to get right back in the game and run over us by 13 points - at the time, it was the biggest comeback in VFL/AFL history.
This loss sparked a dramatic collapse - we lost to eventual wooden spooner Collingwood next round and lost all but three of how last ten matches of the season to finish with a disappointing 10-12 record.
2000 was even worse - we only won two games and after a draw in round 3 only tasted our first victory in round 11 against Port Adelaide.
2001 we signed Malcolm Blight and was expected to be breaking our drought which was ironic considering he coached the team that broke our heart in 1997 - he lasted just 15 games although he was responsible for getting Gehrig and Hamill to the club. Anyway we ended up getting pumped in virtually every game in 01 and 02. Late 02 we actually had some closer margins like one point to the cats, seven points to the swans, 18 pts to demons, etc whereas late in 02 we were thumped in almost every game while trying to work out the kinks with a new caretaker coach.
3. I was only 13 at the time but I remember being excited about being in the grand final yet a little complacent as it was sort of my fifth or sixth year following the club. I don’t think at the time the occasion had really hit me. When Adelaide won the prelim I was initially disappointed as I wanted it to be a saints/bulldogs grand final. But my dad reminded me it was better because we were probably more likely to beat Adelaide.

4. I’m firmly convinced that to this day, had the media not put FAR too much pressure on GT as coach of a young side on the rise (even before we mention injuries) that it wouldn’t have been the disaster it was. GT didn’t shy away from having his feelings known and was happy to share an opinion even if it was an unpopular one. Yes there was turmoil with the president and board but the media didn’t help.
 

NarklesHelmet

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Sep 17, 2010
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Hi All,

Please excuse the intrusion. I’m currently working on a long-form piece looking at St Kilda between 1997-2010, and was wondering if you could help me fill in some gaps in my research? I have most of the basic information but am hoping that you learned fellows of Saints BigFooty can provide the unique ‘fan’s insight’ that I’m looking for.

Any info you can provide on the below (or anything else really interesting and perhaps overlooked in Saints history in this period) would be greatly appreciated.

  • Why did Stan Alves leave as coach at the end of 1998?
  • What years would you consider the lowest and highest points in this period (1997-2010)?
  • What was the feeling prior to the ’97 GF (sorry for bringing up old wounds, but I am genuinely interested to hear what Saints fans felt about their team’s chances to win this game)?
  • Why did Grant Thomas get sacked?
Once again, sorry for the intrusion – if you feel it’s necessary, feel free to pot me for last weekend’s game!
Hi mate, here's an answer to your questions below. It's a bit lengthy and doesn't have specific rounds as it's done by memory but hope it helps :) (you can look up rounds if you want to make it more precise).


  • Why did Stan Alves leave as coach at the end of 1998?
This is a pretty interesting one. If, when Stan Alves was being interviewed after he had just received coach of the year in 1997 and Robert Harvey had just gotten the Brownlow, you would have told Saints fans a year later he would have been gone, they would have laughed you out of the room.
To understand why he was no longer the coach, you need to dig into 1998 more.
It was a strange old year 1998. Besides a nearly 100 point loss in round 2 to the Bombers, we started getting on a roll after the first month of footy. This culminated in a 100 point win against Sydney at the SCG coming into winter - unheard of at the time. Sydney barely lost at home, but by 100 points? That win stamped us as one of the favourites to win the flag.

The next big event that confirmed us as flag favourites was a game dubbed the "June Grand Final" on a Saturday between us and the Western Bulldogs. Both teams were flying, but the Dogs had beaten us in 1997 out at Waverley the year before. This was seen as Grand Final preview and the Saints won this game and became outright favourites for the flag.

Then came the turning point for the year, a sunny Saturday afternoon game at home at Waverley against the Kangaroos. We had made Waverley a fortress at the time. We'd beaten the Roos in the prelim the year before so we started favourites for this with good reason. Boy did we get a spanking. Led by Wayne Carey, North absolutely smashed the Saints. This loss turned our season and was the beginning of the end for Stan Alves.

We started losing confidence, dropping games we had never dropped before.

The next big event that sealed our fate was a Sunday afternoon game at the MCG against Carlton, a game I like to call the Winmar meltdown game. Carlton decided to tag Nicky with Anthony Franchina. He got under Nicky's skin and, sadly, we all saw Nicky lash out, give away 50s, get dragged etc. We also lost the game.

We limped into the finals and were never a chance. To illustrate how far we had fallen in just a few months, we were drawn to play Sydney at the SCG in the first week of the finals and, just a matter of months after thrashing them at the same venue by 100 points, we lost in a tight game.

We then played the Demons at the G in a knock-out semi and were never in the game. And that was it for Stan.

Why? It was unusual that we could go from the highs of the "June Grand Final" to this in just a matter of months. But this is St Kilda we are talking about here and, as much as I love the club like a family member, we have a unique ability to blame coaches for everything. But there were whispers that he was driving the players too hard and his temper was a bit out of control. You'd see often when they did close-ups on the coaches box, he'd be yelling etc. In essence, reading between the lines, we were told he had "lost the playing group".

From coach of the year in 1997 to being out of a job a year later..... Only at St Kilda

  • What years would you consider the lowest and highest points in this period (1997-2010)?
Start with lowest. For me, to go from 97-98 to going into a death spiral and bottoming out with A LOT of the same players in 2000 was something completely unacceptable. I don't think I've ever been more disappointed in the club as when Tim Watson took a good bunch of players and had us bottom of the ladder in 2000. So 2000 was our low point, no doubt about it. It still frustrates me to think such a good list of players could underperform like that.

Highest was just the feeling I had at various times in 1997-98 and 2004/5 and 09/10 that we were the best team in the comp and were finally going to win the flag. People misunderstand the Saints; as fans in the AFL era we have had some top-line teams and some fantastic times following our team week-in-week-out. In each of those years I've mentioned above, we've spent so many weeks as the best team in it, had fantastic wins (too numerous to mention), and a feeling that "this was our year".

We've just been let down in September.

  • What was the feeling prior to the ’97 GF (sorry for bringing up old wounds, but I am genuinely interested to hear what Saints fans felt about their team’s chances to win this game)?
Honestly? I was pretty sure we'd win: like 80%. I was 19 at the time and took a year off playing footy and went to every game in Melbourne. We got on a serious roll, we'd won something like 12 on end coming into the granny. We finished top of the ladder. It felt like we would find a way to win pretty much any match.

I vividly remember listening to the Bulldogs vs Crows prelim the day after we'd won through to the Granny against North the night before and, when the Dogs choked and the Crows won it, saying to my mate "we've got this Grand Final now". The main reason was that, even though the Crows had beaten us in Adelaide that year, we'd got on our roll since, and playing an interstate team in Melbourne just felt like a game we'd win for sure. We steam-rolled the Roos the week before and it felt like Adelaide would be an easier task than that.

Over confidence? In hindsight, maybe. The big thing was our ruck situation. In hindsight, Spider Everritt being injured in the final against Brisbane was massive, as well as our back-up Lazar Vidovic having done a knee; this meant we were undermanned in the ruck. Nicky Winmar had a personal tragedy on the eve of the game and we found out Stewie Loewe did as well... so we had some bad luck. But I still feel we should have had enough to beat the Crows, even sitting here all these years later and that loss hurt like hell.
  • Why did Grant Thomas get sacked?
Grant Thomas was quite a divisive figure amongst our supporters at the time so some may disagree but this is my take.

If you look at what I wrote above about the year 2000, what happened after that terribly disappointing year was that in 2001, we went out and threw 1,000,000 bucks at Malcolm Blight. At the time, this was actually a popular move for our fans: we felt it was a bold move that could pay off and after the Watson nightmare, we wanted a quick fix.

In typical Saints fashion, this quick fix faltered during the 2001 season and Blight was sacked, only to be replaced by Grant Thomas.

This is important to remember as Saints fans, starved of success, felt let down from the start to go from a multiple Premiership coach in Blight to Grant Thomas who had coached Premierships at a lower level at Warrnambool but failed in the amateurs at Old Xavs.

Thomas then oversaw us bottoming out. Again, a lot of us were still feeling let down by the Watson years: to bottom out again was hard to stomach.

Thomas also had some unusual ways of coaching and describing football that rubbed a few up the wrong way. Talking about KPIs, "training services" etc. basically a lot of corporate jargon.

The thing was, we stuck fat with Thomas, reaped the benefits of good drafts and some recruiting, and had some good years from 2003-onward playing very attacking football. Even his critics no doubt enjoyed those years. But, we ultimately fell short when it mattered. And, without going too much into it, for critics of Thomas, there was always a nagging feeling that a better tactician or someone who managed injuries better would have meant we won the premiership. He had a bit of bad luck as well as the game changed in 2005: the defensive coaching of Roos was the kryptonite to one like Thomas (you saw that in the prelim in 2005 when we went is as favourites).

An early exit from the 2006 finals finally spelled the end of Thomas. The Thomas sceptics won out and went with a younger, more tactical coach from a more defensive system in Ross Lyon. It's hard to argue that we made the wrong call considering how close we were to winning in 2009/10, but Grant Thomas still has his fans when you talk to St Kilda supporters as, like him or hate him, we played some brilliant footy under him.
 

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Present Not Past

Brownlow Medallist
Oct 3, 2010
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2009 was the greatest season of all time for the Saints.
Each week I kept expecting them to get beaten but they always found a way to win.
That’s what the team was like, full of confidence.
That game against Geelong round 14? Two undefeated teams battling it out. Was beautiful to watch.
The Saints found a way to win that as well. They had the belief to win.
Shocking to watch the Saints team play last night.
 

StFly

Space to Rent
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Early teens in 97-98, so just from readings and what I recall of gossip on that end, since Alves actually wrote a bio in '08: sacked coach: Rising from the Ashes in Life and football (also: Beyond, depends on version).

  • Why did Stan Alves leave as coach at the end of 1998?
Prefacing: I was 7 and in a change room with the visiting Fitzroy & North teams, then listening to people chat to then Essendon coach, Kevin Sheedy. Not name dropping as I never really chatted to them myself outside of asking for signatures and potting around, but you also don't forget meeting such people so candidly where you've seen them without clothing on to drive home "they are just people, doing a job"...

With any "sacking" there's many reasons, what most seemed to lead towards was that Stan basically had no idea about that future plan, and since we were all "we just made a GF, we're in another finals series, we want that success train!" a core reason seemed to be that Stan had just, lost the acumen that made him a winning coach.

As with most things, many reasons, such as Stan also being relatively quick to pot blokes and cartoon steam from ears for example, but a few seemed to think it was end of the road tactically for him.

  • What years would you consider the lowest and highest points in this period (1997-2010)?
2005 lowest for me. I don't mind us in down years figuring out what's going on as you don't go from the then commission involving creditors to your very existence on the back of everything beign rosy in a club and great decisions made. we've always been a slow club to get with the program or miss massive pieces of puzzles just because. But '05 gave the view that screw us was the norm from that commission and where I formed the view that we win a GF when the game is a bastard representation of itself where those in charge have lost the complete plot. You had multiple instances of we would poke and prod and "something" would pop out to fine, degrade, impact or otherwise the club from head office, and it stunk like hell whilst you got slapped like a b*tch weekly.

99 close second since I loved Waverley and mid year we said farewell to both that, and the next 7 years.

'09 for best for obvious reasons, but also because I consider '05 to be my lowest season due to "something stinks in footy" '09 with it's bullshit that happenbed around it left a sour taste that we were robbed by bureaucratic nonsense but it was otherwise the definition of we can actually be a well drilled and organised club, the likes of which the AFL shudders to see.
  • What was the feeling prior to the ’97 GF (sorry for bringing up old wounds, but I am genuinely interested to hear what Saints fans felt about their team’s chances to win this game)?
I was overjoyed that we had beaten North, that perceived "barrier" of the prelim was smashed despite those we lost along the way and I was just happy that we had a chance at it, but I also viewed the Crows as not exactly a club of champions, but a club with money, so I had trepidation. I learned through the 90's that "oh hey, the Eagles are doing well, oh hey, Brissie got that boost from the Roy carcass, oh hey, here's another club with monetary backing in a GF and boy am I worried but boy am I happy that we still might". At half time, I was more happy than worried and by the end I was in tears and tearing things off walls that I spent the previous day putting up.
  • Why did Grant Thomas get sacked?
One word for mine; Ego.

After the Watson into Blight into Thomas in relatively quick succession, clubs largely get the coaches they deserve and rarely the ones that they need for that next step, and my view is we initially got both with GT, but towards the ending that we got, the red flags of "taking a bit here", "talking a bit there", "doing this just because I feel like it" exposed that were a poorly run club in need of a revolution. That then happened for the same reason Watters got sacked later; they both said "I know better than club, I'm doing this" and they actually followed though with it, then the club went "yeah, pack those bags mate" and they did.

We had both since whilst he wasn't great tactically, he had balls and how to use them, as well as how to empower the young people who would be the ones winning the games. What was failing was the support around it, by and large. As time went on though, that confidence to plug those gaps or take that onus and go "follow me boys" turned into "I'm right, everyone else is wrong" very quickly.

Also didn't help that the pres was on coke at the time, and they had a friendship spat press conference but, you know, ego loves mates when they're useful, as does substance abuse.

Just my 2c, could be well off, likely am.
 

gringo2011

Premium Gold
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  • Why did Stan Alves leave as coach at the end of 1998? There was a player who suggested that Alves became really angry as well ( I won't say who told me that because it was told in confidence). He'd lost his son around this time and was possibly dealing with a lot outside of footy and it may have been some of the players resented his demeanour and approached the club about it. We also lost a few good players after 97, I think that's when Joel Smith and Jamie Shanahan had walked and Peter Everett and Barry Hall were having a lot of off field issues with excessive drinking and getting assault charges. The wheels were falling off and as we have always done we backed players over the coach and sharpened the knives.

  • What years would you consider the lowest and highest points in this period (1997-2010)?
  • The low for me was the huge embarrassment of sacking Blight and the heat that we copped in the media after it looked like we'd finally stopped humiliating ourselves. Sacking Watson again looked amateur....plenty actually you could name the few good years in those year easier.

  • What was the feeling prior to the ’97 GF (sorry for bringing up old wounds, but I am genuinely interested to hear what Saints fans felt about their team’s chances to win this game)?
  • Elated, after beating North we looked like it might be our time. Adelaide weren't even considered a major threat.

  • Why did Grant Thomas get sacked?
Butterss wanted his money back that he'd loaned GT who thought it was a gift. Basically petty in fighting amongst ex friends
 
Aug 17, 2017
23
71
AFL Club
West Coast
Thanks for the help everyone.

I just have one more question. Does anyone know what the family tragedy was that Stewart Loewe suffered in the lead up to the 1997 grand final? I recognise that family tragedies can be very private affairs, so I am not looking for an 'all the juicy details' type response, just the headlines will be fine.

Cheers
 

StCicatriz

Brownlow Medallist
Aug 3, 2016
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Thanks for the help everyone.

I just have one more question. Does anyone know what the family tragedy was that Stewart Loewe suffered in the lead up to the 1997 grand final? I recognise that family tragedies can be very private affairs, so I am not looking for an 'all the juicy details' type response, just the headlines will be fine.

Cheers
i think his sister had committed suicide from memory?
 

El_Duderino

The Dude Abides
Jul 26, 2006
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Thanks for the help everyone.

I just have one more question. Does anyone know what the family tragedy was that Stewart Loewe suffered in the lead up to the 1997 grand final? I recognise that family tragedies can be very private affairs, so I am not looking for an 'all the juicy details' type response, just the headlines will be fine.

Cheers
Not sure about Loewe - I thought it was Winmar’s father. But maybe it was both.
 

The Jack

Club Legend
Aug 24, 2013
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I believe Loewe’s sister died in the week leading up to the GF and Nicky’s dad died the day before the GF. Really sad and obviously didn’t help our cause. Both players were well down in the GF. Stewie was huge the week before against North.
 
Aug 17, 2017
23
71
AFL Club
West Coast
i think his sister had committed suicide from memory?
Man, I can't imagine the mental toughness it must take to even just get out of bed after a tragedy like that, let alone play in a grand final (of all matches!) The top three goal scorers for your team out injured (either physically or emotionally) prior to the game - its pretty amazing took Adelaide as deep as they did.
 
Aug 17, 2017
23
71
AFL Club
West Coast
I believe Loewe’s sister died in the week leading up to the GF and Nicky’s dad died the day before the GF. Really sad and obviously didn’t help our cause. Both players were well down in the GF. Stewie was huge the week before against North.
I don't remember much of Stewart Loewe, but from what I've heard from my dad and others (and seen from clips on youtube etc.) he was a force of nature when he got going.
 

StCicatriz

Brownlow Medallist
Aug 3, 2016
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Man, I can't imagine the mental toughness it must take to even just get out of bed after a tragedy like that, let alone play in a grand final (of all matches!) The top three goal scorers for your team out injured (either physically or emotionally) prior to the game - its pretty amazing took Adelaide as deep as they did.
couldn't agree more... i don't know how they did it. i would have been an emotional mess.
 

Saintbloke

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Apr 26, 2015
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Been around a long while following the Saints. We have had over the years a tail wagging the dog situation at Moorabbin which has kept the club from going forward. Alves got the chop due to a couple of high profile payers sooking to the board after being told to their face that their efforts were..a bit suss...same for Watters.
Nothing was lower than in the '80s- it was rock bottom. 1997-2010 was far superior, although some years not great...though this season is getting that no hope vibe.
The '97 GF had me worried pre game as we lost big strong players through injury, plus Stan was slow to react to Blight's radical changes on match day.
There was a power and cultural struggle going on that saw GT gone. For all the issues in the background, he and Butters were probably the best thing that happened to the club for decades -they brought people back to games, gained us respect and gave us great hope.
 

austinnn

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  • Why did Stan Alves leave as coach at the end of 1998?
  • What years would you consider the lowest and highest points in this period (1997-2010)?
  • What was the feeling prior to the ’97 GF?
  • Why did Grant Thomas get sacked?
    What was the Loewe family tragedy on the eve of GF97?
I loved Stan. 97 was the first year I followed the footy properly, and he was untouchable that year. I remember the feeling being that we had a great team at that time and having been outsmarted by his ex teammate and close friend Blighty in the 97GF and then letting the wheels fall of in the last half of the following year was a sign that we would never fulfil our destiny with a coach who was so tactically limited.

It's worth noting that he didn't have a great relationship with most of the board and was a no-bull emotional man who couldn't play politics so the knives weren't far from his back. The poster who talked about the board's obsession with Tim Watson was spot on: IIRC, he was actually penciled in to get the saints head coach gig before Stan got it in 94, but he ended up backtracking on his retirement as a player at Essendin.

In 98, we heard that he was finally ready for a gig and Stan had already tried it his way and been found wanting tactically, whereas Watson was this young, charismatic fresh alternative who could talk articulately about tactics and had come from a winning culture (vomit). I'm almost glad that we went through 99 as a hard lesson to the idiots on the Saints board at the time.

Which brings me to question 2. You can't really go past the Watson/Blight era for sheer inadequacy: it was so common for the media to refer to us as the hapless Saints, I thought the AFL must have relocated us to a place called Hapless. We did draft Lenny, Baker and Milney in 99, but we also brought in a couple of Collingwood droogs Francis and Monkhorst, Ronald McDonald's uncoordinated younger brother Tony Delaney and we let Matty Lappin, Joel Smith and the great Nicky Winmar simply walk out the door. We played some gutless, brainless football in those years, and unfortunately I was in the crowd for many of those games.

A close second though would be the first couple of years of the Thomas era. The media ridiculed him - no one more that the flatulent turd Patrick Smith who repeatedly taunted him in his articles in The Australian with the nickname "Cornflakes" - after GT's once-best mate and St Kilda president Rod Butterss stated in an interview that GT ate pressure for breakfast.

We were widely ridiculed for lacking professionalism after GT (as football director) sacked his predecessor and jumped into in the role, making himself the 4th Saints head coach in 3 years. When we lost away to Geelong by 144 points in rd 4, 2002 there was nowhere to hide. IIRC, the cover of the Herald Sun Sports Supplement featured a big picture of GT and the headline "How do you spell schizenhausen?" It's seared into my memory even now - I can find no record of it on Google but I remember it clear as day! It was hard going into work each Monday when your team had embarrassed themselves as that had so often in recent history back then.

It was a dark time, but buds were forming, and two years later we had what many consider to be the club's strongest ever list and were knocked out of the finals by the eventual premiers (starting a trend).

Best time - for me it's 04-05. We didn't make it to the GFs but we had an amazing list with a great blend of ages, types. Gehrig and Dal Santo, Riewoldt and S Powell, Milne and Harvey, Hayes and Blake, Hamill and Hudgeton, Ball and Clarke, Koschitzke and Montagna etc. We played exiting football and yet were not nailed on to win each time which made it all the more exciting. I certainly appreciate how strong we were in 09/10 but 04 was the first time since I got into footy that I'd watched us climb from the bottom to the top and it really felt like we would just keep climbing.

Q3: going into the 97GF we were rightful favourites. I think Adelaide finished H&A 5th and we were minor premier. The big worry was whether their star forward Tony Modra would regain fitness in time and play, and him not making it gave us confidence. Certainly no one was worried about Shane Ellen. I don't even think Jarman or McCloud scared us that much, it was all about how they would stop us. Ah well.

Q4: not sure, but pretty similar to the Alves situation: many people felt that Thomo's tactical naivety was holding us back, his relationship with Butterss soured dramatically and he was supposed to be a bit of a control freak, managing player contracts and all that stuff, maybe once again we got scared we were going down the wrong road with a coach with zero previous AFL coaching experience.

Q5: I heard his sister got breast cancer, never heard the suicide thing before this thread. Must have been truly painful though whatever it was. Nicky's dad was in the news that week; on death's door, he was holding on to watch his son win the ultimate prize. Sadly, fate had other plans.
 
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