It was a bone-rattling bump that left onlookers in-stadium and at home flinching in their seats, but a moment which meant much more to Ross Lyon once the initial injury concerns were allayed.

Up-and-coming youngsters Darcy Wilson and George Wardlaw’s fair collision as they both beelined for the footy in the final term of Saturday’s game was as courageous of a football act a coach could ask for, with the former - mere moments after kicking his third goal - coming off second best after being split right down the middle by his opposition counterpart.

The wind was certainly sucked out of him as trainers rushed to his aid in the ensuing seconds. But it hadn’t knocked the determination out. 


In the 42 seconds between catching his breath from the blow, picking himself back up and making his way over to the bench for a rotation, runner Tony Brown - via a message from Lyon upstairs - intercepted the young Saint just before he crossed over the interchange gate for a spell and - after a quick affirmation from Wilson - sent him back out into the action.

The moment had come and gone in less than a minute, however left a much bigger impact in Lyon’s eyes in terms of the hard-edged tenacity he wants his side to build a culture around.

“I thought it was a big contest. The doc said he was winded and actually [signalled] that he’s fine. I said ‘mate, if [he] can stay on and he’s fine to stay on, let him stay on’ because it makes a statement,” Lyon said post-game.

We’re a club that wants to build success and doesn’t want to get beaten on culture. That’s the culture we want.

- Ross Lyon

“If you can stay on and you did what I asked you to do - and it was a big effort - you’d probably want to stay on too. If he was alright to stay on, let’s not be namby-pamby and wrap him up and get him off when the kid deserved to stay on.

“What I would say is he’s a young player who’s playing pretty good football. A knock on him was about his contest, but we just see someone who competes.”

Wilson finished his afternoon with 21 disposals, eight marks and three goals to earn his maiden coaches’ votes (eight) and be one of the Saints’ most influential players at Marvel Stadium.

Last fortnight’s Rising Star wasn’t the only one to draw praise from Lyon post-game, with the senior coach applauding the 28,000-strong crowd for lining the aisles, especially in light of a rocky few weeks for both the Saints and Roos.


“The bottom line is we were 2-5 and North Melbourne were 0-7. Saturday afternoon at 4:30… to have 28,000 when predicted was 20,000, I can’t thank the Saints fans enough,” Lyon said.

“Our players were commenting after the game about that passion and sticking with us.

“I think when they see shoots like Darcy Wilson, I’d be coming to watch too.”