Playing football is a high pressure job. Everyone in the country analyses your every move, both on and off the pitch. When the season concludes, the players feel entitled to relieve much of the pressure that had built up since the start of the pre-season. But when you attempt to eliminate months of anxiety and stress in one Mad Monday, things can go awry.
The St Kilda Football Club is one that has been tainted by off-field woes during one of their greatest on-field runs in an otherwise poor history. With issues ranging from multiple criminal investigations to naked images of players spread over the internet, St Kilda’s recent years have been defined by its misdeeds.
In a year that was focused on a different club’s off-field woes, the Saints were happy to take a back seat – save for an ongoing police investigation into a now-retired player. But on a particularly mad Monday, the Saints have launched themselves straight onto the front page for all the wrong reasons.
Footy Classified recently claimed that a St Kilda player set a dwarf – hired for Mad Monday entertainment – alight in the midst of celebrations. For a team whose fan base has coped with a multiplicity of scandals that would threaten the stability of any club, this marks a new low.
The details of this scandal are still emerging, and as the outfits are claimed to be flammable, this could have simply been an unfortunate accident. However, for a club with a tumultuous recent history, this is not acceptable – accident or not.
The headlines are sure to read “Saints Set Dwarf Alight” – whether or not it was accidental might come further down the report. It is time for the Saints to get tough on their players. While Essendon’s reputation has taken a battering over the last 12 months, it is still repairable. St Kilda’s remains in tatters and it will take much longer for the Saints to repair theirs due to the sheer number of off-field calamities.
After sending off three of its stalwarts in such fitting fashion recently, St Kilda appeared to potentially be turning a corner. It appears that corner has led to yet another dead end.
The season is over, but the suffering for St Kilda appears set to continue. The fans deserve more. No matter what pressure the players have been under since pre-season, there are very few excuses for the immolation of another human being, accidental or not.
It’s time for an attitude shift down at Moorabbin. If any other club had committed such an act, there could be scope to assume an honest mistake. But for the Saints, their history demands that we view this recent revelation with scepticism. While we hope it was simply an honest mistake, the club has made too many, and it’s time for those involved to be held accountable.