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Magnificent seven's hopes flagging

St Kilda icons Nick Riewoldt, Lenny Hayes and Brendan Goddard are nearing the twilight of their careers.

St Kilda icons Nick Riewoldt, Lenny Hayes and Brendan Goddard are nearing the twilight of their careers. Photo: Paul Rovere

EIGHT-AND-A-HALF years ago, some young Cats and Saints were considered the up-and-comers of the AFL. They played off in the grand final of the pre-season competition.

The Grant Thomas-coached Saints beat the Cats in front of 50,000 and captain Lenny Hayes held the premiership cup aloft. But a sour-faced Thomas and tight-lipped Hayes didn't get overexcited. They sent a message to the footy world that they had bigger fish to fry.

On the list were seven Saints who were to become the faces of the club over the next decade: Hayes, Nick Riewoldt, Stephen Milne, Brendon Goddard, Nick Dal Santo, Leigh Montagna and Sam Fisher.

Eight years on, the Saints still haven't cracked it for a smile, and their big names are destined to have unfulfilled careers. Meanwhile, Matthew Scarlett, Jimmy Bartel, Corey Enright, Paul Chapman and co proudly look at their three premiership medallions and know that they can rest easy in retirement.

Three years ago it could have been different when these two teams played off in one of the closest and toughest grand finals. St Kilda led narrowly at quarter-time, but couldn't kick a goal in the final term. The Cats kicked three to take the glory. Among St Kilda's best that day were Hayes, Goddard and Montagna. A year later, the Saints played in two more grand finals - the draw with Collingwood and then the loss. The best players in that finals series were again Hayes, Goddard and Montagna, along with Riewoldt, Fisher and Dal Santo.

Tonight, the Cats and Saints meet again.

But you just have to wonder if the dream has gone now for the Saints, and in particular the seven stalwarts who have given so much but are now coming to the end of distinguished careers. Just what do these seven Saints stars have left in the tank?

NICK RIEWOLDT

The captain now plays on wonky knees and is forced to play closer to goal. That's OK, and, after two ordinary seasons, he is having a good one in 2012. He may well give up the captaincy at the end of this season and enjoy his last couple of years.

NICK DAL SANTO

Now into his 11th season and with 235 games the durable midfielder has missed just one game in the past three seasons and is on track for another top-five finish in the club best and fairest. Should play four more seasons and pass the 300-game milestone.

STEPHEN MILNE

The little man with the big mouth is the Saints' most disliked player by those outside of the club but one of the most valued within. He plays in one of the hardest spots on the ground - small permanent forward. His 255 games have delivered 536 goals, a terrific return but, in his 16 finals games, not once is he mentioned in St Kilda's best players. At 32, another two years, at most, will see him out.

BRENDON GODDARD

Of the seven topliners, Goddard has the most football left. A good five years will get him to 32 and 300-plus games. He made a real name for himself with quality performances in St Kilda's three grand finals in 2009-10. He dropped away last year to finish ninth in club voting after being top three in the previous two years. He was a bad bounce away from being a St Kilda hero for life after his spectacular mark and goal late in the 2010 grand final. Now, he has to decide whether to stay a Saint forever or take the money and run.

SAM FISHER

The 30-year-old has won two of the past four club best-and-fairest awards. His ability to read the play to take intercept marks makes him the team's best defender. The other defenders rely heavily on him to present in the right spots to help them run the ball out of defence. Most teams don't let him run free, and his career will be cut short if he has to play on ''monsters'' such as Travis Cloke or Tom Hawkins, so it's imperative the Saints find some big defenders to protect him. Two or three more years will see him out.

LEIGH MONTAGNA

The small man will be 29 next year when he enters his 12th season. He rarely misses a game and will notch his 200th game in 2013. He is the only Saint to finish top six in the best and fairest in each of the past five seasons, so he continually gives quality output. Once again, he is having a fine season. Could play on for four more years.

LENNY HAYES

I, along with all other football followers, hope that the 32-year-old champion plays on next year, as he has said he wants to. After a year out with injury, Hayes has returned to play hard, effective football once again. He leads the way in so many areas: No. 1 for disposals, clearances, tackles, inside-50s and contested possessions. You would like to see the 2010 Norm Smith medallist go out a premiership player, but the reality is that's unlikely to happen. He will, however, have the respect of all the football world, and very few can boast that.

31 comments so far

  • Oh it's not all bad, look on the bright side Luke Ball is a Premiership player.

    Commenter
    AC
    Location
    Collingwood
    Date and time
    August 17, 2012, 8:17AM
    • But unfortunately for him, he'll have to celebrate it at Collingwood functions for the remainder of his life with only O'Brien, Jolly and potentially Maxwell capable of having a coherent / socially-relevant conversation with him. I'm sure he'd gladly hand the medal back to have one more crack to do it with teammates he actually respects.

      Commenter
      Tom
      Location
      Brighton
      Date and time
      August 17, 2012, 9:07AM
    • He doesn't look to unhappy personally mate. Also, I would be a little careful claiming the high ground regarding socially relevant anything when referring to the Aints.

      Commenter
      AC
      Location
      Collingwood
      Date and time
      August 17, 2012, 9:47AM
    • On the assumption you're a Pies fan, that Sir, is irony defined.

      Commenter
      Tom
      Location
      Brighton
      Date and time
      August 17, 2012, 10:25AM
    • If anything Luke Ball must be eternally grateful that events conspired to have him join a club that recognised his talent and assign the recources to enable him to fully recover from Ostestis pubis. So much so he took a pay cut, the football world owes Ross Lyon and The Aints.

      Commenter
      Pieron
      Location
      Sydney
      Date and time
      August 17, 2012, 10:53AM
    • Carefull what you say Tom of Brighton, Chris Dawes is an old Brighton Grammar boy. Clearly you didn't major in "Having a sense of humour."

      Commenter
      Jeff
      Location
      Melbourne
      Date and time
      August 17, 2012, 11:18AM
    • AC, that's the wittiest comment I've seen posted in a long time. May their misery continue for many years to come!

      Commenter
      Albert
      Location
      Victoria Park
      Date and time
      August 17, 2012, 11:41AM
    • @Jeff - what are you talking about? I graduated with honours in "Having A Sense Of Humour" from the University of Phoenix

      Commenter
      Tom
      Location
      Brighton
      Date and time
      August 17, 2012, 3:46PM
  • St Kilda should have traded Milne years ago, once it was clearly evident that he chokes in finals games. Not amongst the best in 16 finals, and some of these were shockers. Not much good kicking goals during the h/a games if you can't produce when it counts.

    Commenter
    JD
    Date and time
    August 17, 2012, 9:09AM
    • Gotta kicks goals during the home and away season to make it to the finals. Way to over look that one.

      Commenter
      AdamA
      Location
      Melbourne
      Date and time
      August 17, 2012, 11:28AM

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Round 1
Thu, 02 AprTimes shown AEDT
CAR 78 vs RIC 105 Report Stats
Sat, 04 AprTimes shown AEDT
MEL 115 vs GCF 89 Stats
SYD 72 vs ESS 60 Stats
BRI 74 vs COL 86 Stats
WBU 97 vs WCE 87 Stats
Sun, 05 AprTimes shown AEST
STK 78 vs GWS 87 Stats
ADE 140 vs NTH 63 Stats
FRE 75 vs PTA 68 Stats
Mon, 06 AprTimes shown AEST
HAW 123 vs GEE 61 Stats
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Round 2
Fri, 10 AprTimes shown AEST
WCE 131 vs CAR 62 Stats
Sat, 11 AprTimes shown AEST
RIC 66 vs WBU 85 Report Stats
GWS 101 vs MEL 56 Stats
COL 63 vs ADE 90 Report Stats
GCF 76 vs STK 104 Stats
PTA 44 vs SYD 92 Stats
Sun, 12 AprTimes shown AEST
GEE 60 vs FRE 104 Stats
ESS 78 vs HAW 76 Stats
NTH 133 vs BRI 51 Stats
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Round 3
Fri, 17 AprTimes shown AEST
COL 140 vs STK 66 Stats
Sat, 18 AprTimes shown AEST
CAR 84 vs ESS 105 Stats
ADE 80 vs MEL 55 Stats
SYD 111 vs GWS 90 Report Stats
NTH 105 vs PTA 113 Stats
BRI 58 vs RIC 137 Stats
Sun, 19 AprTimes shown AEST
HAW 127 vs WBU 57 Stats
GEE 105 vs GCF 96 Stats
WCE 81 vs FRE 111 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 4
Fri, 24 AprTimes shown AEST
RIC 51 vs MEL 83 Stats
Sat, 25 AprTimes shown AEST
STK 81 vs CAR 121 Report Report Stats
ESS 49 vs COL 69 Report Stats
GWS 119 vs GCF 53 Stats
PTA 99 vs HAW 91 Stats
FRE 74 vs SYD 60 Stats
Sun, 26 AprTimes shown AEST
BRI 65 vs WCE 118 Stats
GEE 67 vs NTH 83 Stats
WBU 125 vs ADE 68 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 5
Fri, 01 MayTimes shown AEST
CAR 45 vs COL 120 Stats
Sat, 02 MayTimes shown AEST
RIC 76 vs GEE 85 Stats
SYD 73 vs WBU 77 Stats
GCF 118 vs BRI 54 Stats
NTH 70 vs HAW 130 Stats
WCE 120 vs GWS 33 Stats
Sun, 03 MayTimes shown AEST
MEL 50 vs FRE 118 Stats
STK 80 vs ESS 82 Stats
ADE 91 vs PTA 115 Stats
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Round 6
Fri, 08 MayTimes shown AEST
COL 59 vs GEE 100 Stats
Sat, 09 MayTimes shown AEST
NTH 109 vs RIC 74 Stats
WBU 87 vs STK 94 Stats
GWS 108 vs HAW 98 Stats
GCF 78 vs ADE 119 Stats
MEL 50 vs SYD 88 Stats
FRE 80 vs ESS 52 Stats
Sun, 10 MayTimes shown AEST
CAR 75 vs BRI 84 Report Stats
PTA 68 vs WCE 78 Stats
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Round 7
Fri, 15 MayTimes shown AEST
ESS 82 vs NTH 93 Stats
Sat, 16 MayTimes shown AEST
ADE 119 vs STK 73 Stats
HAW 155 vs MEL 50 Stats
CAR 57 vs GWS 135 Stats
SYD 120 vs GEE 77 Stats
WCE 135 vs GCF 43 Stats
Sun, 17 MayTimes shown AEST
WBU 88 vs FRE 101 Stats
RIC 105 vs COL 100 Report Stats
BRI 102 vs PTA 65 Report Stats
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Round 8
Fri, 22 MayTimes shown AEST
GEE 140 vs CAR 63 Report Stats
Sat, 23 MayTimes shown AEST
STK 78 vs WCE 131 Report Stats
GWS 108 vs ADE 84 Report Stats
GCF 63 vs COL 132 Report Stats
HAW 69 vs SYD 73 Report Stats
FRE 115 vs NTH 42 Report Stats
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ESS 136 vs BRI 78 Report Stats
MEL 103 vs WBU 64 Report Stats
PTA 43 vs RIC 76 Report Stats
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Round 9
Fri, 29 MayTimes shown AEST
SYD vs CAR 19:50SCG
Sat, 30 MayTimes shown AEST
HAW vs GCF 13:45AS
MEL vs PTA 14:10TIO Traeger Park
WBU vs GWS 16:35ES
RIC vs ESS 19:20MCG
ADE vs FRE 19:40Adelaide Oval
Sun, 31 MayTimes shown AEST
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COL vs NTH 15:20MCG
WCE vs GEE 16:40Domain Stadium
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Round 10
Fri, 05 JunTimes shown AEST
FRE vs RIC 20:10Domain Stadium
Sat, 06 JunTimes shown AEST
CAR vs ADE 13:40MCG
GCF vs SYD 16:35MS
ESS vs GEE 19:20ES
PTA vs WBU 19:40Adelaide Oval
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NTH vs WCE 15:20BA
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Round 11
Fri, 12 JunTimes shown AEST
PTA vs GEE 19:50Adelaide Oval
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NTH vs SYD 19:20ES
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Round 12
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Round 13
Thu, 25 JunTimes shown AEST
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SYD vs RIC 19:50SCG
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BRI vs ADE 16:35G
STK vs WBU 19:20ES
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CAR vs GCF 15:20ES
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Round 14
Thu, 02 JulTimes shown AEST
SYD vs PTA 19:20SCG
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COL vs HAW 19:50MCG
Sat, 04 JulTimes shown AEST
RIC vs GWS 13:40MCG
GCF vs NTH 16:35MS
WBU vs CAR 19:20ES
MEL vs WCE 19:40TIO
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ESS vs STK 13:10ES
ADE vs GEE 15:20Adelaide Oval
FRE vs BRI 16:40Domain Stadium
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Round 15
Thu, 09 JulTimes shown AEST
PTA vs COL 19:50Adelaide Oval
Fri, 10 JulTimes shown AEST
RIC vs CAR 19:50MCG
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ESS vs MEL 13:40MCG
WBU vs GCF 16:35CAZ
NTH vs GEE 19:20ES
WCE vs ADE 19:40Domain Stadium
Sun, 12 JulTimes shown AEST
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HAW vs FRE 15:20AS
BRI vs SYD 16:40G
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Round 16
Fri, 17 JulTimes shown AEST
NTH vs ESS 19:50ES
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GCF vs GWS 14:10MS
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STK vs RIC 16:40ES
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ESS vs PTA 19:20ES
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Fri, 31 JulTimes shown AEST
HAW vs RIC 19:50MCG
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COL vs MEL 14:10MCG
SYD vs ADE 16:35SCG
CAR vs NTH 19:20ES
GCF vs WCE 19:20MS
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ESS vs WBU 15:20ES
FRE vs GWS 16:40Domain Stadium
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Fri, 07 AugTimes shown AEST
ADE vs RIC 19:50Adelaide Oval
Sat, 08 AugTimes shown AEST
COL vs CAR 13:45MCG
WBU vs PTA 14:10ES
BRI vs GCF 16:35G
GEE vs SYD 19:20SS
WCE vs HAW 19:40Domain Stadium
Sun, 09 AugTimes shown AEST
MEL vs NTH 13:10MCG
GWS vs ESS 15:20Spotless Stadium
STK vs FRE 16:40ES
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Round 20
Fri, 14 AugTimes shown AEST
SYD vs COL 19:50SCG
Sat, 15 AugTimes shown AEST
ESS vs ADE 13:45ES
NTH vs STK 14:10BA
PTA vs GWS 16:35Adelaide Oval
GEE vs HAW 19:20MCG
BRI vs CAR 19:20G
Sun, 16 AugTimes shown AEST
RIC vs GCF 13:10MCG
WBU vs MEL 15:20ES
FRE vs WCE 16:40Domain Stadium
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Round 21
Fri, 21 AugTimes shown AEST
HAW vs PTA 19:50ES
Sat, 22 AugTimes shown AEST
COL vs RIC 13:45MCG
GWS vs SYD 14:10Spotless Stadium
GCF vs ESS 16:35MS
STK vs GEE 19:20ES
ADE vs BRI 19:40Adelaide Oval
Sun, 23 AugTimes shown AEST
NTH vs FRE 13:10ES
CAR vs MEL 15:20MCG
WCE vs WBU 16:40Domain Stadium
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Fri, 28 AugTimes shown AEST
GEE vs COL 19:50MCG
Sat, 29 AugTimes shown AEST
GWS vs CAR 13:45Spotless Stadium
HAW vs BRI 14:10AS
NTH vs WBU 16:35ES
ESS vs RIC 19:20MCG
GCF vs PTA 19:20MS
Sun, 30 AugTimes shown AEST
ADE vs WCE 13:10Adelaide Oval
STK vs SYD 15:20ES
FRE vs MEL 16:40Domain Stadium
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Round 23
Fri, 04 SepTimes shown AEST
COL vs ESS 00:00MCG
RIC vs NTH 00:00ES
HAW vs CAR 00:00MCG
GEE vs ADE 00:00SS
SYD vs GCF 00:00SCG
MEL vs GWS 00:00ES
BRI vs WBU 00:00G
PTA vs FRE 00:30Adelaide Oval
WCE vs STK 02:00Domain Stadium
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West Coast Eagles 8 6 2 0 158.17 24
Sydney Swans 8 6 2 0 127.36 24
GWS Giants 8 6 2 0 118.87 24
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Adelaide Crows 8 5 3 0 116.32 20
Hawthorn 8 4 4 0 145.81 16
Richmond 8 4 4 0 107.64 16
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