With the return of Ross Lyon to St Kilda appearing imminent, it is timely to look back on the nature of his departure and what could be achieved by bringing him back to the fold in 2023.
Lyon stung the Saints after the 2011 season, departing to accept a contract with the Fremantle Dockers. He built the Saints up as a contender, traded away their future to feed the present, giving his team every chance to take home the flag. And when the present team fell short of the ultimate prize, he left them for a younger, fancier, purpler version. The Saints were a team without a top 20 pick in the 2009, 2010, 2011, or 2012 drafts, leaving them short of top-end talent as the Lyon era ended, before finally slotting back into the mix with pick three in 2013 (Jack Billings).
St Kilda knows what happens if the club fails to live up to the expectations of Ross Lyon. They know what they’ll have to give up in order to satisfy him. They have lived it and they have had a long healing process to recover from the sting they felt so keenly when things fell flat. Are they ready for a return trip with The Boss?
People are spouting that we may see a new, friendlier version of Lyon this time around. Believe that at your own peril. This man is one who knows what he wants and knows how to get it. Any friendliness ends the moment a result doesn’t go his way. You know what you’re getting, even if you don’t want to admit it.
In a way, it reminds me of the fable of the frog and the scorpion.
Stranded on a riverbank, with the waters rising, a scorpion pleaded to a nearby frog.
“Please, take me across the river.”
The frog looked at the scorpion and said “No, I know what will happen. The last time you asked me for something, you tried to sting me as I helped you. I will allow you onto my back, we’ll be making our way across the river, you’ll sting me, and I will die.”
“Why would I do that?” asked the scorpion. “You’re helping me. I would be in your debt. Besides, if I sting you and you die, I’ll drown too.”
The frog considered the scorpion’s words and agreed, thinking that having a powerful ally would be of benefit at some point. Besides, it made no sense for the scorpion to kill him.
“Okay, hop on,” said the frog.
The frog swam across the river with the scorpion balanced on his back. The water raged as the current pulled the frog this way and that, but he persevered and fought his way halfway across. He was doing it – they were going to make it!
It was then that he felt a sharp pain in his back. The frog looked up to see the scorpion’s tail whip back. His legs went into paralysis and he knew his time was up.
“Why…?” asked the frog, looking up at the scorpion as they both started to sink
The scorpion looked the frog in the eye.
“Dear frog… I am a scorpion. It’s my nature.”
Will the Saints end up sinking to the bottom of the river after Lyon jumps back on? They have been bitten before and though lessons have been learnt, the waters are rising again. A union has been proposed.
There is no middle ground with Ross The Boss. In the words of the immortal Ricky Bobby, if you’re not first, you’re last. Lyon is not in this to be a nice guy and coach a middling team. He has waited for the right opportunity with the right list. He withdrew from the race at several clubs – they were not what he wanted, yet St Kilda… they seem to be something he can see himself shaping into a contender. He is in this to win it all. He will not accept anything less.
Could this be the move that takes the Saints back to a place they have only visited once before? Or will they feel the sting of loss once again – one way or another? Let’s explore.
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