Playing in the AFL’s third pride game, Sydney Swans were the ones walking away from the game feeling proud after a comprehensive 71-point victory at the EtihadÂ Stadium. The game, held to combatÂ homophobia and transphobia in sport, has been a huge success in the previous two seasons, and we were treated to another memorable clash as the Swans continued their winning run and recorded their highest score and biggest win of the year. St Kilda, meanwhile, showed just why they’ve only claimed one win this season.
A nine-goals-to-one first-quarter stormÂ set up the 19.12 (126) to 7.13 (55) thumpingÂ in front of 27,569 fans in the now annual pride game. Josh Kennedy and Isaac HeeneyÂ were the real stars of the show, collecting 31 and 27 possessions respectively, with Lance Franklin doing his part in front of goal, finishing with four to his name. For St Kilda, only Seb Ross really stood up to be counted, with Alan Richardson ensuring his 100th game in charge will live long in his memory, albeit not for the right reasons, with the head coach not holding back after watching his side produce such a lacklustre performance.
Sydney,Â who are 11/2 with the latest AFLÂ betting, were ruthless in the first quarter and cruised throughout the rest of the game, highlighting the huge gulf between the two teams. With just one win to their name, St Kilda never looked like getting anything out of the game, falling to their 10th loss of the season from their opening 12 outings. With all hopes of reaching the finals dashed, the club will need to try and ensure this sort of season doesn’t happen again.
The move follows the AFLâ€™s staging of anÂ annual pride game at Etihad Stadium, with both St Kilda and the Swans getting involved before and during theÂ round 12 game. Both clubs have been widely praised for their public support for the inclusion of LGBTI communities in football and everywhere else in Australia, and it was fitting the two teams met in this season’s pride game. While there were someÂ commentators who criticised Etihad Stadiumâ€™s decision to scrap traditional men’sÂ and women’sÂ gendered toilets for the occasion, citing the potential of an issue in a ground serving alcohol.
The pride game was first launched by the Saints in 2016. Last year, Sydney also officially launched their Clubâ€™s Diversity Action Plan -Â a joint initiative put together by the club’s board members, staff, players, and community leaders, focusing on disability empowerment, LGBTIQÂ pride, multicultural inclusion, and the advancement of women. The match saw players wear rainbow socks and guernseys, with the EtihadÂ Stadium also comingÂ alive with plenty of rainbow lights and banners. The hope is now that other clubs in the league host their own pride games.
On the pitch, though, it wasn’t a day of celebration for the Saints, who have a lot to do if they want to be more competitive next season. The consistent Swans, meanwhile, continue to prove themselves to be one of the best teams in the league.