When two sides meet the year after playing in a Grand Final, it’s always jarring to hear some misguided reporters describing it as a “Grand Final replay”.

There is no adequate revenge for what happens on that last Saturday in September.

Still, there is a level of happiness when it does occur, tinged with the inevitable “What If?” questions.

On a bleak Waverley Sunday in 1998, the Saints rolled their 1997 foe Adelaide. Significantly, two men whose Grand Final lead-ups had been clouded by personal family matters were the commanding figures at Waverley.

Stewart Loewe dominated the match with 25 possessions and 10 marks in wet conditions, while Nicky Winmar had 24 possessions and constantly set up attacking moves from across half-back.

Loewe stood out like a beacon in the bleak conditions. He was simply too strong for Ian Downsborough when at centre half-forward and beat his nemesis from the Grand Final, David Pittman, when swung into the ruck later in the match.

Buckets was brilliant at Waverley Park against the Crows. Photo: AFL Photos.

St Kilda coach Stan Alves even switched Loewe to defence in the last quarter when the howling wind gave Adelaide the advantage, and he subsequently repelled three attacks in the opening five minutes of the term.

The Saints never eased the pressure and it was only a couple of spluttering pieces of action that kept Adelaide even remotely in the hunt. Robert Harvey cast aside the rib protector he had been wearing in recent weeks and was in peak form.

Peter Everitt dominated as a ruckman and a forward and it was inevitable that Saint fans pondered how much influence he would have had in the Grand Final.

First gamer Brett Knowles looked like a real mud-runner and Maxie Hudghton played a watertight game on the backline. Rocket Keogh applied a bone-rattling bump to Bickley and was inexplicably penalised, then even more amazingly, dragged.

After the game St Kilda coach Stan Alves was full of praise for his team leaders, saying they had laid the foundations for the victory with their exemplary work ethic.

He said that Harvey, Loewe and Winmar were three people “who suffered a fair bit out of the Grand Final” and that their example in the first quarter was outstanding.

St Kilda constantly kept the ball alive and forced it forward which enabled it to kick five goals to one into the wind throughout the match — a telling factor.

Stan Alves addresses the Saints at the break. Photo: AFL Photos.

Adelaide managed just two shots at goal in the third quarter and its only first quarter goal came in the opening minute after a high tackle on Clay Sampson.

Harvey kicked a crucial goal less than a minute before half-time and instead of going into the long break within seven points, the Crows trailed by 13 points and lost momentum.

Adelaide coach Malcolm Blight said the final three minutes of the second term and another three minutes in the third quarter when Gavin Mitchell booted two goals, cost the Crows the match.

That day saw young Brett Knowles play the first of his 43 games, notching an impressive 18 disposals. 

“It was wet and being my first game I was pretty excited. All I remember was that I spent most of the first half on the bench," he said.

"I came on just before half-time. One thing I vividly remember from after the game was being in a fair bit of pain in the showers after the game because both heels were bleeding badly from blisters. I hadn’t worn the boots at training, but it was so wet I had to wear them that game.

"Probably the intensity of the game was more than I was used to.”

The conditions were tailor-made for the teenager.

Brett Knowles played 43 games for St Kilda between 1998-2001. Photo: AFL Photos.

“The wet weather suited me. I grew up in Gippsland and had lots of junior games and the early part  of my senior career, in the country as a teenager in the wet conditions. I wasn’t overly quick. I think I had a lot of my better games in the wet.

"I grew up in Churchill and played footy at Morwell and Yinnar which are either side of Churchill.”

He says that the idea of St Kilda getting some type of revenge wasn’t a big factor in the build-up to the game

But I was probably more consumed by it being my first game. It was probably mentioned that we couldn’t get Grand Final day back, but we could go out and do something about the current day.

- Brett Knowles

“I’m sure the boys that had played in the Grand Final would have had the incentive to do well. And it was a massive difference having Spida in the team.”

These day, Knowles is assistant deputy principal at Blackfriars Primary School in Adelaide where he has lived with his wife and three children for the past 12 years.

While every player has a sharp memory of his debut game, Knowles was part of a day that was out of the ordinary.

ST KILDA   4.7  6.7  9.10  12.10 (82)
ADELAIDE   1.2  4.6  4.8  8.12 (60)

Heatley 2, Burke 2, Everitt 2, Mitchell 2, Harvey, Loewe, Sierakowski

Loewe, Harvey, Winmar, A. Thompson, Burke, Hudghton, Knowles

B Austinn Jones Max Hudghton Steven Sziller
HB David Sierakowski Darryl Wakelin Shane Wakelin
C Nicky Winmar Andrew Thompson Justin Peckett
HF Barry Hall Stewart Loewe Rod Keogh
F Gavin Mitchell Jason Heatley Tony Brown
R Peter Everitt Nathan Burke  
RR Robert Harvey    
INT Brett Knowles Luke Beveridge Jayson Daniels
  Matthew Young