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1956 - 1966
The Magic of '66
Alan Killigrew turned St Kilda around in the most drastic way come 1956.

The new coach kept only 16 players from the previous year’s list and added 29 new recruits in a massive cull the likes of which the club had never seen. His firebrand approach breathed new life into a club that had dropped to its lowest ebb. “Nobody will laugh at St Kilda”, he declared.

A recording of his half-time address in Ballarat had swung the committee’s vote to appoint him.

St Kilda Football Club Coach Alan Killigrew On the Boundary
Strangers and teammates were one in the same.

There was no example of Killigrew’s drastic list shake-up more stark than right before the club’s opening match of the season against North Melbourne.

Ray Barrett and Paul Dodd sat near each other on a tram heading to Arden Street for the Saints’ Round 1 bout. The pair could see that each other had a bag of footy gear and when they struck up a conversation they discovered that Barrett, a ruckman from Sale, and Dodd, a rover from Ballarat, would be partnering each other at the opening bounce.

Killigrew was not fazed when the wins didn't come straight away.

He turned over players at a rapid rate, with only half a dozen playing in all of the initial six games. Among those was eventual Premiership coach, Allan Jeans.

Terrific late-season football transformed St Kilda into the VFL’s glamour team, and across the next two years the Saints consolidated as a middle-order side capable of knocking off anyone on their day.

The influx of youngsters added to emerging stars. In their early 20s, Brian Gleeson and Neil Roberts won successive Brownlows and then Verdun Howell tied for the following year.

Brian Gleeson, Neil Roberts & Alan Killigrew
Brownlow Brilliance
Brian Gleeson St Kilda Football Club Hall of Fame Inductee 2008
A severe knee injury meant Brian Gleeson was lost to St Kilda at the age of just 22. The 1957 Brownlow medallist was appointed skipper for 1958, but an innocuous incident in a practice match ended his career. Originally a centre half-forward, Gleeson’s physique developed into one of a mobile ruckman whose high marking set him apart.
Neil Roberts St Kilda Football Club Hall of Fame Inductee 2003, Elevated in 2013
The long arms of centre half-back Neil Roberts countlessly repelled opposition attacks. A mid-1954 move to defence resulted in him winning two Best & Fairests, permanent selection in the Victorian side and ultimately a Brownlow. Naturally athletic and quick off the mark, he had a surfer’s good looks was a born leader.
Verdun Howell St Kilda Football Club Hall of Fame Inductee 2003
A historical wrong was righted when the men who had lost Brownlow Medals on countbacks were retrospectively awarded their medals in 1989. Verdun Howell was ahead of his time as a full-back who attacked and liked to run beyond the defensive lines. The blond defender could soar for huge marks and then hit the ground running with ease.
Bill Young: The Slender Superstar

Of all the recruits gained through scouring the countryside, the most prized of all was classic bush full-forward Bill Young.

Pundits thought his light frame was unsuited to a key position and the doubts seemed justified when he snagged just 11 goals in his first six games. An eight-goal haul in a thumping win over North soon silenced everyone.

Young took out the VFL Leading Goalkicker Award in his debut season with 56 majors, and was even credited with being the first player to use the banana kick when shooting for goal.

Bill Young & Dave McNamara St Kilda Football Club
The foundations for success were strengthening off-field too.

Graham Huggins and Ian Drake were a perfect pairing as St Kilda’s president and secretary and provided the stable administration that had never previously been seen at St Kilda.

Behind the scenes, the pair built a partnership that would become acknowledged as one of the most powerful administrative duets in the game; one vital in the Saints’ eventual success.

Between their shared tenure, the Huggins and Drake masterminded the move to Moorabbin, drew star players to the Saints, and plenty more crucial to the club’s longevity.

St Kilda Football Club Life Member Ian Drake
The dynamic Duo
Graham Huggins St Kilda Football Club Hall of Fame Inductee 2007
Ian Drake St Kilda Football Club Hall of Fame Inductee 2003
St Kilda looked to be in finals contention throughout 1958.

Under Killigrew, the Saints finished the season on a high by winning the ‘Night Premiership’, played between the eight teams that missed finals. Young kicked six goals in the final.

Just when the Saints were on the threshold of a real advance, internal ruckus brought everything undone. Killigrew accused two committeemen of having approached Melbourne’s Noel McMahen as a replacement coach.

Killigrew then sensationally nominated for the committee – unheard of for a coach.

What ensued hadn't been seen in decades.

In scenes reminiscent of the bitter internal contests in the 1930s, fist fights broke out in the crowd.

The poll did not solve anything with members of both factions being elected. Killigrew refused to continue as coach under the two commiteemen who had betrayed him and instead accepted the coaching job at South Australian club Norwood.

Marking time for the next two years, the Saints suddenly returned to finals for the first time in two decades under the coaching of Allan Jeans, footballing disciple of Killigrew.

Alan Killigrew Yelling Into the Banner
The Jeans Era would reach its pinnacle with the club’s first Premiership.

Put simply, Allan Jeans is football royalty.

Jeans’ appointment as senior coach age of just 27 brought sweeping changes to St Kilda, instigating its most sacred era and putting an end to the longest Premiership drought in VFL/AFL history.

‘Yabby’ is widely regarded as one the most gifted orators ever to grace our game. His words still ring in the ears of noted football greats; from the spine-tingling three-quarter time Grand Final address with St Kilda, to the “pay the price” speech which delivered Hawthorn the famed 1989 flag.

St Kilda Football Club Coach Allan Jeans Surrounded By His Players
You've got 25 minutes to make a name for yourself like you've never made before!
Allan Jeans's three-quarter time address from the 1966 Grand Final
Jeans had a fire in the belly of which the club had never seen.

Those who saw ‘Yabby’ as player described him as a sturdy battler with a sharp football brain that was often too fast for those around him. The same applied while in the coaching hotseat.

Famously, Jeans once declared the Saints “could have gone harder” after keeping Richmond goalless for an entire a game – a feat last achieved in 1921.

It was the uncompromising mentality and insatiable hunger to succeed that would put the Saints on the road to Premiership glory over the next few years.

The new guard was coming through.

Jeans admitted that the loss of three veterans – Neil Roberts, Eric Guy and Bud Annand – prompted fears St Kilda would slip in 1963, but instead his side was rejuvenated by the infusion of four sensational recruits.

Ian Stewart, Carl Ditterich and Bob Murray would all become Best & Fairest winners, and Jim Wallis may have scaled similar heights if not for a career-ending knee injury.

Add in the great Tasmanian legend Darrel Baldock to the mix, and the Saints had the makings of a superstar side.

Eric Guy Being Carried Off After his Final Game for the St Kilda Football Club
The scene was set for one of the most remarkable debuts in footy history.

Folklore tells us Carl Ditterich was disappointed when he didn’t hear his name listed for the reserves in the opening round of 1963. A few minutes later, he was told that he was chosen in the firsts.

When veteran teammate Alan Morrow picked up Ditterich to drive him to his first game, Carl’s mother pulled him aside and whispered, “Please take care of him, Alan”.

Any concerns from Morrow evaporated early in the game when Ditterich tore into a brawling group of players.

Carl Ditterich's Debut Game in 1963
The Blonde Bombshell was everything and more.

The bounding 17-year-old took on and beat the VFL’s highest profile player Ron Barassi to cap off his magical debut. By today’s standards his blond hair wasn’t long, but he was dubbed as the ‘footballing Beatle’ in recognition of the famous rock group.

The rockstar adulation was unprecendented. Ditterich would play inspiring and fearsome football for 17 years between St Kilda and Melbourne, eventually captaining both sides to become one of the most unique cult figures of his time.

Carl Ditterich Goal
The Move to Moorabbin

It is fair to say that Moorabbin is known for just two things: its airport and its football ground.

That patch of earth in Linton Street has a rich and varied football history that stretches back to the days when it housed Moorabbin Football Club (VFA), but for the vast majority of footy fans, it is known as the spiritual home of the Saints.

From the start, it was a fierce and passionate crowd, with umpires always copping a huge serve despite the fact that St Kilda was virtually invincible on its new home turf.

There was controversy when St Kilda signalled its intentions to move.

Division was rife amongst the fan-base, but feathers were also ruffled in the VFA, who eventually sacked the Moorabbin Club for having been disloyal.

It was a move that had been brewing for several years due to the St Kilda Cricket Club’s control of Junction Oval, and despite the initial scepticism, it didn’t take long for the faithful to fall in love with Moorabbin.

How do you describe Moorabbin to a modern-day fan accustomed to covered, all- seat stadiums? It had character and characters, pure and simple.

Newspaper Article - Saints Will Move to Moorabbin in '65
Character & characters
St Kilda Football Club Round 1, 1965
A record
The Saints were primed and ready to make a big impression at their new home in Round 1, 1965. It’s still remarkable to consider that 51,370 people crammed into the ground that day against Collingwood, with gates shut as the crowd savoured a thrilling six-point win.
Ian Cooper Signing the Team Song
The lanky Ian Cooper created an indelible piece of history by kicking the Saints’ first goal at Moorabbin. The effort was made even more poignant by the fact that Cooper kicked it from the spot where his battling family had camped just after the end of World War II.
Travis Payze Covered in Mud
In the
Infamous “local showers” - or sprinklers - at Moorabbin turned the ground into a mudheap, which would often bring visiting sides undone, much to their ire. Once, umpire Rowan Sawers was stunned when his opening bounce stuck in the centre gluepot!
Animal Enclosure At Moorabbin Oval
is enough!
One abysmal outing against Geelong, the Animal Enclosure boys suddenly decided to have a sit-down protest. “We’re not putting up with this crap!” yelled one instigator. A dozen blokes promptly sat down and stared at a sea of legs in front of them while the game proceeded! Bizarre.
Moorabbin Oval Car Park
Car parks at monster Moorabbin games were stretched to the limit, with the nearby service station and local residents with large front yards making a killing by charging for parking spaces!
Allan Jeans During the 1965 VFL Grand Final
Almost a
1965 ended in heartbreak after St Kilda lost the Grand Final at the hands of Essendon. It may have prevented the fairy-tale move to Moorabbin from coming true in its first year, but it ultimately would sow the seeds for the mythical year that was 1966.
St Kilda Football Club's Last Game at Moorabbin
In emotional scenes, the Saints closed the book on Moorabbin’s rich history of football after taking residency at Waverley Park as part of the AFL’s ground rationalisation strategy. Football would return to the venue in 2020, this time for the club’s AFLW side.
We were leaving our mark on something. We knew that we were pioneers.
Ian Stewart
Building a new home

Six months of direct involvement from the Saints’ stars in building their new footballing residency – right down to walking in lines to pick up stones from the newly-laid playing surface – was done in the hopes of ushering in an era of prosperity for the club.

They were building – both literally and figuratively – a new home and a new beginning, as the bayside club entered a new and unknown frontier in the south-eastern suburbs.

Spearheading the charge was one Mr Magic, Darrel Baldock.

Mr Magic, The Doc, the great Darrel Baldock

Allan Jeans once said that when Darrel Baldock played well, St Kilda never lost.

It is a testament to his level of performance that his presence helped largely to create the Saints’ most successful era.

He was dubbed ‘Mr Magic’; an appropriate title for someone blessed with incredible ball control and evasive skills. To be under six foot tall and play at centre half-forward is proof of his greatness, but while most references to him concentrate on his unique ball-handling skills, his toughness should never be forgotten.

Darrel Baldock Mark
Baldock was the most highly sought-after footballer in all of the land.

He entered VFL football in a blaze of publicity. At 23, he had already captain-coached Tasmania and skippered the state side in the 1961 Carnival before the Saints secured his services.

Baldock was appointed captain in just his second year and with fellow Tasmanian Ian Stewart, formed an irresistible combination.

His heroics would be enshrined not only in the 1966 Grand Final, but in the final home-and-away outing which got the Saints into September.

Darrel Baldock Colourised
"We Want Baldock"

Moorabbin’s tin cantilever roof always seemed to amplify the crowd’s noise, and when St Kilda was firing, the rolling thunder of the grandstand definitely transmitted strength to the team, never more so than in the final round of 1966 when St Kilda had to win to reach the finals.

Captain Baldock had been included on the bench at the last minute despite recuperating from a knee injury and with Hawthorn seizing the initiative, the crowd broke into chants of “we want Baldock” early in the third quarter.

What happened next was spine-tingling in every sense.

Of all the roars heard from the Moorabbin stand, nothing came near the decibel level that greeted the sight of the stocky figure emerging from the dugout and preparing to take the field.

It actually felt like the grandstand shook at that moment and the effect on both sides was instantaneous. Baldock was suddenly everywhere, kicking two goals himself and generating a couple more for those around him.

The Saints won the game, held the place in the finals and the rest of the 1966 story is, as they say, history.

Darrel Baldock and Allan Jeans
To win a Premiership at any club is special… to win one at St Kilda would make you immortal.
Allan Jeans
The 1966 Grand Final has been enshrined in our game's very folklore.

But the lead-up to the game was also dramatic in the extreme.

A loss to Collingwood in the first semi-final had the Saints poised for another premature exit from September action, before rallying in the preliminary final to inflict sweet revenge on the Bombers in front of over 94,000 spectators.

Another opportunity to go down in history beckoned, but the Saints had their backs to the wall after Ditterich was ruled out of the Grand Final after being suspended the week prior.

Baldock’s knee was still far from right.

The skipper re-injured it two days before the big dance, with Jeans promptly ending the training session to keep it concealed. As late as 9pm the night before the game, Baldock went for a jog around the streets of Cheltenham. It was only then that he felt comfortable.

When he booted an early goal, he felt like his knee went further than the ball. That goal was one of the side’s two in the opening minutes and was vital in psychological terms as Collingwood had jumped St Kilda in the previous two semis.

Darrel Baldock Injured
It was one of the most epic encounters the game had ever seen.

No more than four points separated the two warring sides at each change, with the dominance of Kevin ‘Cowboy’ Neale’s five goals and Ian Cooper’s best-on-ground display pushing the red, white and black closer and closer to the most incredible of triumphs.

The Saints leaned in as Jeans’ rousing three-quarter time address rallied the troops together for one last assault.

They had 25 minutes to make a name for themselves.

St Kilda Football Club during the 1966 VFL Grand Final
The Premiership Twenty
Darrel Baldock Holding the Premiership Cup
Baldock (C)
A freakish and unique footballer who faced the twin challenges of carrying a knee injury, and facing opponent Ted Potter who had often contained him. Despite all that, he was crucial in the closing stages when swung onto the ball.
Kevin Billing 1966 Premiership Player
The 20th man who was never used off the bench. When the others ran a victory lap he didn’t join in because he felt he hadn’t contributed. While the affable Billing claims he's "famous for doing bugger all", his teammates still attest he is a deserving member of the Premiership Twenty.
John Bingley St Kilda Football Club Premiership Player 1966
A seasoned and tough player from Tasmania whose chances had been limited by injuries in his first couple of years. Given the vital role of containing the dangerous Tuddenham and carried it out to perfection.
Barry Breen St Kilda Football Club Premiership Player 1966
Immortalised by his match deciding point in the closing minutes, Breen is a true Saints great. Apart from the famous point, he also played a good overall Grand Final in what was just his second season.
Ian Cooper St Kilda Football Club Premiership Player 1966
The beanstalk forward may have looked too skinny, but was a big-game player and never more so than in the biggest game of all. A brilliant mark also possessing fine ground skills and sharp creativity, he deservedly won the club’s award for best afield.
Allan Davis St Kilda Football Club Premiership Player 1966
Although only 17 and in his 10th game, he played with confidence and assurance. As part of his role, he was told to draw Collingwood’s Montgomery, a man who targeted Baldock, out of the play; a tactic contrary to Davis’s attacking game.
Daryl Griffiths St Kilda Football Club Premiership Player 1966
The Hall of Famer had been bitterly disappointed with his game at half-back on Des Tuddenham in the semi, which saw the latter kick seven majors. Griffiths redeemed himself in the ruck roving role in the Grand Final, helping steer the Saints to victory.
Rodger Head St Kilda Football Club Premiership Player 1966
A back pocket who would always bore in hard for the ball to limit resting rovers. In his early years at St Kilda, Head had been plagued by injuries and never seem likely to last.
Verdun Howell St Kilda Football Club Premiership Player 1966
A broken jaw had kept Howell out late in the season before returning for the finals. Despite losing a considerable amount of weight, he did his bit in the play-off.
Jeff Moran St Kilda Football Club Premiership Player 1966
A long-kicking winger in his second year at the club. A typical running goal from a distance was crucial in the final term, with Moran one of just five Saints' goalkickers for the day.
Alan Morrow Hall of Fame Inductee 2007
The oldest player in the team in what proved to be his last game. Morrow had to take on extra workload because of the late-season suspension of Ditterich, but as ever he rose to the challenge.
Bob Murray St Kilda Football Club Premiership Player 1966
The resolute full-back who overcame the mental scars of a difficult 1965 series to have a vital hand in the 1966 Grand Final. Murray was steady in the pressurised finish greatest game of all when he took the game-saving mark.
Brian Mynott St Kilda Football Club Hall of Fame Inductee 2008
Hardworking and honest ruckman whose responsibilities had increased in the absence of Ditterich. Mynott was typically put in a wholehearted effort on Grand Final day.
Kevin Neale St Kilda Football Club Hall of Fame Inductee 2007
Kicking five of his team’s 10 goals was indicative of the big full-forward’s vital importance to the victory. In just his second year, he had great strength and deceptive speed off the mark.
Travis Payze St Kilda Football Club Premiership Player 1966
Incredibly debuted in the 1966 semi-final and impressed with strong marking and three goals. Made a late run in the Grand Final, but took one very strong grab.
Jim Read St Kilda Football Club Premiership Player 1966
Read had been troubled by injury late in the season, but returned for the Preliminary Final and did well. Extremely tough winger who tackled hard.
Brian Sierakowski St Kilda Football Club Premiership Player 1966
One of the best afield in this game with his strong marking. Displayed excellent defensive work on resting Magpie talls Gabelich and Thompson.
Ross Smith St Kilda Football Club Premiership Player 1966
Absolutely fearless rover whose Preliminary Final edge over his childhood heroes Essendon’s Clarke and Birt had paved the way to the Grand Final. Never conceded an inch in the Grand Final.
Ian Stewart St Kilda Football Club Hall of Fame Inductee 2003, Elevated 2007
Superb centreman without a flaw in his game who came into the finals having just won his second Brownlow. Was just behind Ian Cooper as best afield.
Ian Synman St Kilda Football Club Hall of Fame Inductee 2009
Despite conjecture over whether he would play on the Jewish holiday Yom Kippur, Synman was never in doubt. A steadfast and consistent centre half back who held the record for the most consecutive Saints appearances (123).
All it would take was one more point.

Hearts were in mouths as hysterical panic and excitement coursed around the ground in the deadlocked final minutes.

As the ball bobbled up in the Saints’ forward 50 and the crowd continued to scream their lungs out, an opportunistic Barry Breen found himself with just enough space to seize the Sherrin and fire towards goal.

Time seemed to stand still.

His tumbling kick sailed high for an agonising few seconds, dribbling through…

Barry Breen Point During the 1966 VFL Grand Final
...for the most famous minor score in the game’s history.
But Collingwood wasn't done yet.

In a heart-stopping, final roll of the dice, Tuddenham burst clear and jetted away, but instead of bouncing and going on, launched a kick that was bravely marked by Saints full-back Bob Murray.

With the seconds ticking away, Murray could see Alan Morrow and Darrel Baldock making position. He was certain that his kick would be either marked by the veteran Morrow, or if it did hit the ground, Baldock would surely win it.

Morrow’s outstretched hands grasped the ball to the sound of the final siren.

Bob Murray Mark During the 1966 VFL Grand Final
The Saints, at long last, were Premiers.

Nothing can compare to the release of unbridled joy as men and women, young and old wept unashamedly and complete strangers embraced as they realised that those mighty, battling Saints had pulled off the ultimate prize.

There aren’t quite words to do justice in describing the sheer emotion that followed. But the tears that flowed in pure happiness, the unparalleled outpouring of joy and the historic celebrations that were 93 years in the making had finally blessed the red, white and black.

1966 will forever be remembered.

Alan Morrow Mark During the 1966 VFL Grand Final
I knew it would happen. If we stuck together… I knew it would happen.
Premiership Coach, Allan Jeans