BLOODS, SAINTS ON PAR

South Bendigo's Adrian Crawford handballs against Sandhurst last Saturday.

South Bendigo's Adrian Crawford handballs against Sandhurst last Saturday.

RIGHT now it seems the South Bendigo and St Kilda footy clubs have more in common that just starting with the letter S.

A look back at the past decade of both clubs in their respective competitions and the position they find themselves in this year draw similar parallels.

You don’t need to go back too far for when both clubs were contending for premierships, but this year both the Saints and Bloods sit on the bottom of their ladders and with a rebuild ahead of them.

It was in 2009 and 2010 when both the Bloods and Saints played off in grand finals, but were beaten for the ultimate prize.

South Bendigo lost both Bendigo Football League grand finals to Golden Square – by 37 points in 2009 and 29 points in 2010.

For the long-suffering Saints, there was the heartbreak of losing to Geelong by two goals in 2009 when all the stats said they should have won their first flag since 1966, and then the year after the double disappointment of firstly drawing the grand final with Collingwood, and then losing by 56 points in the replay.

In 2009 both the Bloods and Saints failed to win the premiership after ending the home and away season on top of the ladder.

Even the build-ups to those grand final years between the clubs were similar. The Saints played in three losing preliminary finals between 2004 and 2008 before finally getting through to the big dance, while the Bloods’ 2009 grand final came after they had endured three preliminary final defeats in four years from 2005.

But following the pair of missed grand final opportunities for both clubs, they have gradually slipped off the pace of the elite teams over the past three years to the point now where they are at rock bottom.

The decline of South Bendigo, in particular, over the past 12 months has been extreme.

A year ago the Bloods sat on top of the ladder at the halfway mark of 2013, but since then have won just four of their past 18 games.

After such a high turnover of key players after last season, it was back to square one for the Bloods this year and starting from scratch, with their return so far one win from 10 games.

However, the Bloods’ 124-point belting from Sandhurst last Saturday (Adrian Crawford pictured) gave a timely reminder of the cyclical nature of footy and that what goes around comes around.

It was only six years ago in 2008 the Dragons were in a far worse on-field position than the Bloods to the extent that when they met in round six, South Bendigo scored 63 times in an ugly 211-point smashing of Sandhurst.

But six years on from the worst season in Sandhurst’s long history, which included eight 100-point plus hidings and a year-ending percentage of just 31.8, the Dragons have rebuilt from rock bottom and stayed the course to now be the side that tops the BFL ladder with a 10-0 record.

In the meantime, more pain will be in store for the Bloods this year – including perhaps a first wooden spoon since 1965 – but it’s challenging seasons like this for both South Bendigo and St Kilda that make it all the more rewarding when the wheel finally turns the right way again.

THE SOUTH BENDIGO-ST KILDA PARALELL

2005: South Bendigo 3rd; St Kilda 3rd.

2006: South Bendigo 3rd; St Kilda 8th.

2007: South Bendigo 3rd; St Kilda 9th.

2008: South Bendigo 4th; St Kilda 4th.

2009: South Bendigo 2nd; St Kilda 2nd.

2010: South Bendigo 2nd; St Kilda 2nd.

2011: South Bendigo 5th; St Kilda 7th.

2012: South Bendigo 5th; St Kilda 9th.

2013: South Bendigo 6th; St Kilda 16th.

2014: South Bendigo currently last; St Kilda currently last.

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