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1967 – 1989
Strength Through Loyalty
St Kilda’s story has always been one of extremes.

Through everything the club has endured, however, two constants have threaded through the years: the Saints could always pull off surprise wins, and they always possessed a superstar who could shine on even the darkest of afternoons.

Trevor Barker, Tony Lockett, Danny Frawley and Nicky Winmar were the latter-day versions of a line that stretched back to Dave McNamara and Billy Mohr, instilling hope at a time when it otherwise seemed lost.

Even when starved of team success, the faithful had their unmistakable cult heroes who kept them coming through the turnstiles.

Coming off its first premiership was an entirely new challenge.

On a sunny April day at Moorabbin in 1967, the long-awaited flag was proudly unveiled to the delight of the Saints faithful.

Wins in the first two games were a good start, but the path became rocky after that following stalwart ruckman Alan Morrow’s retirement, a pre-season injury to Brownlow medallist Ian Stewart and then the shock illness which sidelined Grand final star Ian Cooper.

St Kilda Premiership Flag Unfurling
Brownlow Hat-trick
Ian Stewart Receiving the Brownlow Medal
One of the greatest centremen to ever grace the field, Ian Stewart’s game had no flaws. Stewart was declared the outright winner of the 1965 Brownlow Medal, later sharing the honour with Noel Teasdale following the retrospective removal of the ‘tiebreaker’ in 1989.
1966 Brownlow Medalist Ian Stewart
Back-to-back Brownlow Medals also came with its own slice of history for Stewart. The Tassie great became just the seventh player to win ‘Charlie’ in a Premiership year, with only another seven going on to achieve the feat up to 2022.
Ross Smith 1967 Brownlow Medal
Allan Davis once described Ross Smith as the most courageous footballer he ever saw, and as Davis himself was no slouch in the courage department, it was high praise. By the end of his career, Smith’s trophy cabinet included Premiership, Best & Fairest, Team of the Century, captaincy and coaching honours.
Despite the missing stars, St Kilda still had plenty of starpower.

The Saints remained formidable with Carl Ditterich in career best-form, seeing the team return to finals action in 1968. Sadly, it also marked the close of Darrel Baldock’s stellar career, bring an end to the famed Baldock-Stewart combo.

Stewart eventually departed to Richmond in 1971, marking the start of ‘big-name’ trades as the football landscape began to rapidly change.

Carl Ditterich St Kilda Football Club
Saints of the '70s
Kevin Neale St Kilda Football Club
The burly utility affectionally known as ‘Cowboy’ was one of the most popular players – and characters – of his era. When he galloped out of the backline, he would leave opponents strewn in his wake. Cowboy was just as damaging up forward, booting five goals in the club’s sole Grand Final triumph.
Stuart Trott St Kilda Football Club
Stuart Trott’s first game gave no indication that he was worth the trouble St Kilda had gone to just to recruit him, but the lightly built winger proved his worth. Trott was a pro sprinter, and often the only way to stop him was by a sly fist or elbow.
Jeff Sarau St Kilda Football Club
“If you can run, you can play” was the mantra Jeff Sarau lived and played by. Although undersized compared to his rucking opponents, the lion-hearted big man made up for it through his good leap, aggression and great marking power.
Barry Breen St Kilda Football Club
Barry Breen’s heroics long extended after his match-winning point which secured St Kilda its maiden flag. Breen became the first Saint to play 300 games for the red, white and black, ending his career with 308 goals after becoming the club’s leading forward during the 1970s.
John Bonney St Kilda Football Club
It is no mean feat to break into a premiership team, but John Bonney instantly slotted into the Saints team in 1967. Tough, fast, and a classy user, Bonney possessed a twinkle-toed aptitude for skipping out of congested situations and setting himself up to create play down the field.
Glenn Elliot St Kilda Football Club
Opportunities in the middle may have been limited when Glenn Elliott arrived at St Kilda at a time where Ian Stewart and Daryl Griffiths were in their prime. But when the pair moved elsewhere, there was no way he was letting anyone else in. He honed his craft initially by playing a defensive style on opposing stars but eventually blossomed in his own right as a Best & Fairest midfielder.
Barry Lawrence St Kilda Football Club
At 22, Tasmanian Barry Lawrence was the most sought-after footballer in Australia. St Kilda hailed him upon arrival as the best forward in the land, with one cynic in the crowd muttering they’d likely play him down back. Funnily enough, Lawrence would end up becoming one of the competition’s best defenders.
George Young
George Young had the silky rhythmic skills that could swing a match in a matter of moments. Late in 1975, he became St Kilda’s full-forward in unusual circumstances. He had rung coach Jeans on the morning of the game to say he felt crook and the coach said he would just park Young in the goalsquare. A nine-goal haul was followed up with eight a week later.
A leading goalkicker, All-Australian and skipper, 'Super Douper' was a fan-favourite of the Saints during the 1970s and 1980s. The hardworking rover often paired with Jeff Sarau in the middle, giving his side a fighting edge at centre bounce.
The Swinging Seventies

The 1970s were an undeniably groovy era, and the Saints found their footballing mojo with four consecutive years of September action from 1970.

St Kilda came agonisingly close to breaking through in the 1971 Grand Final over Hawthorn, but had victory slip away after conceding a 20-point lead at three-quarter time.

After 1973, it would take another 28 years for the club to make it back to finals football, signalling one of the most victory-starved, albeit fondly remembered, periods of Saints history.

The 1970s were unique in every sense of the word.

Fashion of the time consisted of big collars, criminally tight-fitting pants and luscious hairdos, both on and off the field.

The Saints opened a ritzy social club which would have its own distinctive traits in future years. The Social Club prospered early, but later would become bogged down in disputes with the football club which drained time and resources.

Despite the dwindling success as St Kilda’s perception as glamour boys grew, the era wasn’t devoid of both controversy and magic moments among the arid years.

1970's St Kilda Football Club
Strange Saints Moments
The Sad Story on the Sirens - Newspaper Article
Ring the
In a bizarre incident, the Moorabbin siren malfunctioned against Carlton, who scored as the timekeeper desperately rang a hand-held bell. The Saints lost by five points, and even a late season lift in form couldn’t avert a narrow miss of the finals.
St Kilda Vs Geelong 1970's
Wheels on
the bus
The Saints were forced to play hitchhikers when making the trip down the highway to play Geelong in 1975, with the team bus breaking down enroute to Kardinia Park!
Paul Callery Knocked Out
In 1976, Paul Callery was felled and fans feared the worst. His teammates took umbrage believing that Hawk Don Scott had hit the diminutive rover, sparking a turnaround that produced a 45-point, come-from-behind win. It was later revealed that Callery had actually been cleaned up by teammate Gary Colling!
Coach Tony Jewell
Wet and
Coach Tony Jewell and Football Manager Ian Stewart were often curious about how they could use Moorabbin’s sprinkler system to their advantage. One night after failing to get them working, the two turned on the hoses to “dampen” the ground in preparation of the upcoming game. The sprinklers unexpectedly came alive in the middle of the night, and when the pair came back to prevent a flood, found the Richmond cheer squad – who had been covertly sandblasting the grandstand – laying sand on the ground!
Trevor Barker: The Patron Saint

The idolised Saint with blonde locks, Hollywood looks and a penchant for spectacular marks was one of St Kilda’s favourite sons, not just for the brilliance of his football, but also for the way in which he stuck with the club through thick and thin.

After 230 games and just 60 wins amid one of the club’s most desolate eras, he never played in a final. Despite being thrown many lucrative offers to join rival clubs through his time, Barker’s loyalty never wavered.

He was one of, if not the most, devoted player to ever represent the Crest; the physical embodiment of Strength Through Loyalty.

Trevor Barker St Kilda Football Club
He was No. 1 in the faithful's hearts.

Barker’s signature action was the superb leap over a pack that held no fear of the fall to earth that followed, which captured both the hearts of Saints fans and the shutters of photographers. It is often forgotten that he was also an outstanding tackler and excelled in that part of the game.

Former St Kilda coach and Blues legend Alex Jesaulenko once said that Barker would be the only Saints player that he had coached who would have earned a place in the great Carlton teams of the time.

In a struggling side he was often called upon to fill the roles of far bigger players, but his natural gifts would have made him an even greater half-back flanker if he had been allowed to stay in that position rather than constantly plug holes elsewhere.

Trevor Barker Marks
The Best of Barks
Trevor Barker and Ken Sheldon
Due to the financial troubles of the 1980s, local players who filled in for the reserves often weren’t afforded the luxury of a club jacket. Barker felt strongly that each player to wear the colours deserved the same measure of respect, and would buy each “fill-in” a club jacket out of his own pocket. If you wore the colours, you were part of his fold.
Trevor Barker Award
In honour
of Barks
The Trevor Barker Award is one of the most distinguished honours that can be bestowed upon a Saint. St Kilda’s Best & Fairest was named in honour of the late champion following his passing in 1996, with Barker himself receiving the honour twice in 1976 and 1981.
Trevor Barker with a Jefferson Ford Car
For the club
Barker was awarded a car from club sponsor Jefferson Ford after taking out the 1981 Best & Fairest, but in true fashion, immediately donated it back to the struggling Saints to ensure all his teammates would be paid.
Barker kept the club’s flag flying on and off the field.

While St Kilda had times when it didn’t win often, he reckoned it also won matches it probably shouldn’t have.

After coaching his beloved Sandringham to Premiership success in the VFA post-retirement, Barker was on track to take over as the next coach of the red, white and black, before his heart-wrenching passing from colon cancer, aged 39.

Although his footy resume doesn’t boast as many accolades as other greats of the game, his impact and everlasting mark on St Kilda remains unrivalled.

Trevor Barker Headshot
Looking at him on the ground it was almost like seeing a polar bear in the Sahara, or a lion in the Arctic – he just stood out.
Luke Beveridge
Allan Jeans' retirement in 1976 closed the book on the Saints' golden era.

St Kilda gathered strength in 1978 and under new coach Mike Patterson had a barnstorming start, spearheaded by a ruck set-up featuring the combative Carl Ditterich and Jeff Sarau and the talented West Australian Garry Sidebottom.

After a famous, bruising game against Essendon, the Bombers’ president labelled the Saints as “animals… nothing short of it”. Three Saints were reported in the physical encounter at Moorabbin, which saw Bombers Merv Neagle and Terry Cahill taken to hospital with concussion

The team gathered momentum late in the year, beating eventual Grand Finalists North and Hawthorn, but narrowly missed a finals berth.

Animals, The Saints are Nothing Less - Newspaper Article
Even when playing teams much higher on the ladder, they could still produce miracles.

In Round 1 1979, the eventual wooden spooner Saints knocked off the reigning premiers, Hawthorn.

But debts were mounting and signs about a long-term future – coupled with poor on-field results – were ominous. Trucking magnate Lindsay Fox took over the presidency and in 1984 initiated a controversial scheme of arrangement to help pull the club away from financial catastrophe.

It was hard for players and coaches to accept, but there is no doubt the plan ultimately saved the club.

The heartache of the previous decade carried into the 1980s.

Five wooden spoons within six years (1983-1986, 1988) and a revolving door of coaches failed to produce a significant turnaround, seeing the Saints remain in the bottom-three for eight consecutive years.

St Kilda set the notorious record for the most points scored against in a season (3052) in 1982, and in 1985 had three consecutive 100-point losses to open the season.

Moorabbin’s reputation as a fortress was even under threat in 1985. Only a last-minute goal by Gary Odgers was enough to seal a shock win over the third-placed Footscray and avoid completing the only winless season at the Saints’ spiritual home.

Gary Odgers St Kilda Football Club
There were moments to savour, however.

Barry Breen became the first Saint to play 300 games, countless cult heroes graced the turf, while Jeff Fehring’s 86-metre goal at Moorabbin in 1981 was pure gold.

Fehring launched the unfathomable monster from beyond the centre circle in a burst of anger after being reported. It is still remembered as one of the most marvellous pieces of magic to come from the hallowed turf.

But it wasn’t the poor on-field performances, substantial defeats, increasing collection of wooden spoons, rapidly increasing debt or even the risk of folding that defined the club in the eyes of the St Kilda faithful. Instead, it was the Saints greats who cut through the seemingly endless darkness.

Jeff Fehring Goal
Heroes of Moorabbin
Tony Lockett - St Kilda Hall of Fame Inductee 2003, Elevated in 2010
Arguably the greatest Saint to ever pull on the guernsey, leviathan full forward Tony Lockett was unlike anything else the game had ever seen. Booting 898 goals while in red, white and black, 'Plugger' inspired and intimidated friend and foe alike across his entertaining and unmatched career.
Danny 'Spud' Frawley Handballing For The St Kilda Football Club
Taking the reins as captain from the great Trevor Barker comes with its own immense pressure, but Danny Frawley lived up to all that and more. Skippering the club from 1987 until his retirement in 1995, the beloved full-back led the Saints back from the brink, with his heart, courage and passion a constant for all to see.
Nicky Winmar St Kilda Football Club
A gifted footballer whose natural skills covered the full range of the champion's repertoire, proud Noongar man Nicky Winmar was one of the Saints’ very best. A superb kick with the capacity to soar for huge marks from only a couple of steps, his combination with Tony Lockett was one of the game’s most formidable combinations.
Geoff 'Joffa' Cunningham
Geoff ‘Joffa’ Cunningham played with a buccaneering style that endeared him to Saints fans in the often-grim 1980s. While he never played in the finals, Cunningham’s efforts at the highest level for the Victorian state team showed that he could stand tall in elite company.
Greg Burns St Kilda Football Club
For a man who craved a laid-back lifestyle off the field, Greg Burns played football with a ruthlessness that was awesome. Not only was he a supremely tough individual, he was blessed with perfect ball-winning skills that made him one of the competition’s best centremen of the 1980s.
Fox's administration was determined to build the club’s strength.

As was his style, Fox pushed the envelope on numerous fronts, even taking the VFL to court in seeking a clearance from Sydney for Silvio Foschini in 1983.

The next day after winning the case, St Kilda played another Swan, Paul Morwood, without a clearance as Fox declared that the “rules were now out the window”. The decision resulted in laws being re-written and the introduction of the draft.

With all the attention on Morwood and Foschini’s debuts, very few failed to take in one 17-year-old Tony Lockett registering his first game on the same day.

There was only one Tony Lockett.

The player of his generation, the big full-forward from North Ballarat with vice-like hands was a deadly kick for goal, and when coupled with his pace off the mark and body strength, made him an unstoppable force.

‘Plugger’ became the greatest goalkicker in the sport’s history (1360 goals) and was dubbed “the Bradman of our game” by his great mate, Danny Frawley.

His story will forever live on in the hearts of the Saints faithful.

Tony Lockett with the Coleman Medal St Kilda Football Club
You walked taller alongside him, not just because of his physical menace, but because you knew he'd do anything to help us prevail
Nathan Burke
Plugger was the definition of inspiration and intimidation.

His deceptive mobility was exceptional for someone of his huge physique, and allied with his innate goal-sense, were attributes that set him apart from the rest.

The sight of ‘Plugger’ on the lead was one that brought joy to a privileged generation of fans, even amid a victory-starved era. For Saints, it was a dream to see him. For opposition defenders, an absolute nightmare.

In no uncertain terms, Lockett wasn’t one to trifle with.

Premium Plugger
Tony 'Plugger' Lockett 1983
Wearing No. 37, Lockett debuts at the age of 17 against Geelong. Coming off the bench, he has three kicks, four marks, two handballs and kicks two goals. In Round 20, he bags five goals for the first time.
Tony 'Plugger' Lockett 1984
In the opening game of the season, Lockett puts his stamp on the game with seven goals at Moorabbin. At the other end, Essendon’s second-year player Paul Salmon makes a similar impression with seven goals. Lockett scores 77 goals for the year.
Tony 'Plugger' Lockett 1987 100 Goals
Plugger officially becomes a goalkicking centurion, registering his first of six 100-goal seasons. The last Saint to achieve the remarkable feat was Bill Mohr in 1936, with cult figure Fraser Gehrig later joining the revered club in 2004. Lockett registered 15 games with 10 goals or more with St Kilda, with another eight coming while at Sydney.
Tony 'Plugger' Lockett winning the 1987 Brownlow Medal
History is made with Lockett the first player to win the Brownlow and Coleman Medals, tying with former with Hawthorn’s John Platten. He polls votes in six of the last eight games and in that period kicks eight or more goals on five occasions.
1988 Tony 'Plugger' Lockett Vs Hawthorn
A 9.7 display against the VFL’s dominant side, Hawthorn, is one of his greatest considering the strength of the opposition and his opponent Chris Langford. He is awarded three Brownlow votes on a day where Danny Frawley was knocked out and he finishes as acting captain.
Tony 'Plugger' Lockett 1989 vs Carlton Blues
Pitted against Blues champ Steve Silvagni, he kicks a mighty 10.7 – the Saints scored 13 goals for the game – which includes the match-winning goal in the last minute.
Tony 'Plugger' Lockett 1991 vs Port Adelaide Power
A back injury delays his start to the season, but when he returns, Plugger kicks 12.6 against Adelaide, including nine to half-time. He then kicks 10 and 12 goals in the next two weeks.
Tony 'Plugger' Lockett Vs Sydney Swans 1992
Fifteen goals against Sydney at Moorabbin sets a new club record. In sodden conditions in the last home and away round, he kicks five goals at the MCG to power St Kilda to a finals berth. His 132 goals for the season also sets a new personal-best for the Saints.
Tony 'Plugger' Lockett Vs Sydney Swans 1994
In a chaotic game in Sydney against the Swans, Lockett fuels one of the club’s greatest comebacks with 11 goals, but is also reported and suspended for eight weeks. The following season, Plugger would be lining up against the Saints in Sydney's strip.
An unrivalled immortal of red, white and black.

Lockett eventually overtook Bill Mohr as the club’s all-time leading goalkicker, registering 898 majors for the red, white and black. He had three 100-goal seasons while at Moorabbin.

With Lockett up one end and Frawley up the other, St Kilda’s line-up for the next decade was one that would consistently bring fans through the turnstiles.

A footballing colossus, Lockett crossed to Sydney at the end of 1994 and eventually became the competition’s highest ever goalkicker with 1360 in 281 games.

Tony 'Plugger' Lockett St Kilda Football Club
The return of Darrel Baldock was vital in St Kilda’s eventual resurgence.

Taking on the coaching role at the start of 1987, Baldock steered the Saints to five-straight wins to open the seasons, led by Lockett and brilliant West Australian recruit Nicky Winmar forming a potent path to goal.

On the day that Lockett achieved his first century of goals, the team was a mathematical chance to reach finals, but in the end fell short. Despite suffering a stroke late in 1987, Baldock remained in the head coach role for the next two years.

Forever the Saints

The late 1980s were a time when club mergers were discussed in detail and the Saints’ financial situation meant that the club often figured in the speculation.

A meeting of club officials, sponsors and coteries rejected the suggestion that St Kilda actively pursue a merger, before a spirited plea by long-term backer Ron Williams convinced anyone sitting on the fence.

St Kilda had survived its darkest era. The Saints would remain as a proud, standalone entity.

St Kilda Football Club Coach Darrel Baldock with Tony Lockett