JavaScript disabled. Please enable JavaScript to use My News, My Clippings, My Comments and user settings.

If you have trouble accessing our login form below, you can go to our login page.

If you have trouble accessing our login form below, you can go to our login page.

The Saints' troubled home life

Tale of two homes: Justin Koschitzke (left) and Nick Riewoldt at a St Kilda training session at Seaford.

Tale of two homes: Justin Koschitzke (left) and Nick Riewoldt at a St Kilda training session at Seaford. Photo: Paul Rovere

IT REMAINS one of the most fateful days in St Kilda's 115-year history, but it is five years since the Saints' former boss, Archie Fraser, stormed out of a marathon session with the City of Kingston and declared: ''We're gone, we're out of here.''

Fraser was talking about deserting Moorabbin, the club's home since 1965 and the heart of the St Kilda Football Club - a heart which continues to beat with a melancholy rhythm. As it does so, the team and those around it attempt to make the best of one of the game's more unfathomable decisions in recent history.

That decision was the move by the club to give up on Moorabbin and move to a satellite venue at Seaford, the reconstructed Belvedere Park. It was a decision dreaded by players, coaches and staff alike, and a move which now - almost 18 months since it took place - remains a regretful and occasionally bitter talking point among all at the Saints.

For many Saints, Moorabbin is still the preferred home.

For many Saints, Moorabbin is still the preferred home. Photo: Wayne Taylor

Even the AFL privately believes more could have been done to save Moorabbin and reach a deal with the local council to push ahead with what was then a proposed $10.5 million upgrade, which fell apart over a bureaucratic stumbling block involving 80 poker machines.

The league is well aware that the players have not completely embraced their new home and also concedes that the club has already begun to outgrow what Fraser promised would prove a ''world-class facility''.

The Saints administration has already more than filled its new offices and the club's high-performance trainers remain concerned at the long hours footballers spend each week driving to and from the venue - for many players, closer to two hours than one hour each day.

1965: Workmen in the foreground screw down seats in the grandstand as the players do their warm-up lap. Click for more photos

Saint's haven

St Kilda left Moorabbin, its cosy home since 1965, after a dispute with Kingston council over its redevelopment. They last played at the southern suburbs venue in 1992. 

Quite apart from the more trivial concerns regarding the geographic reality of a headquarters boasting no neighbouring infrastructure and situated by the side of a freeway, the Linen House Centre boasts no lap pool and no theatrette and already sits well behind the AFL's best practices in terms of training facilities.

And now the club is very quietly but firmly eyeing a return to its former home. While there is no suggestion the Saints will leave Seaford - where it holds a 25-year lease with an option of a further 25 years - the hope is that a push combined with AFL Victoria to create a centre of excellence around the still-pristine Moorabbin Oval will lead to the footballers spending half their weekly training hours back at Linton Street.

The City of Kingston's chief executive, John Nevins, confirmed this week that he had held a series of talks with St Kilda chief executive Michael Nettlefold and the club's general manager of new business Anthony Moore with a view to putting Moorabbin as a community football hub back on the map.

''If St Kilda is keen to continue using Moorabbin, we'd be very keen to look at that,'' Nevins told The Saturday Age, pointing out the Saints still held 28 years on their lease with Moorabbin. ''It is on the drawing board. They have a very strong local supporter base and the people of Kingston remain very proud of their relationship with St Kilda.

''St Kilda has been here since the early 1960s and they remain very much a part of this community and the people in it.''

Nevins confirmed ''a shared interest'' with the Saints in opening Linton Street up for community use, as well as creating a community football hub to be used by the Sandringham Dragons, the Southern Football League and the 430-team South Metro Junior Football League.

Fraser, who quit the Saints in 2009 for an ill-fated move to run the A-League, claimed this week that the move to Seaford involved an agreement with the City of Frankston that remains the envy of many other clubs. But the pull towards Moorabbin remains magnetic.

And the falling out with the council five years ago appears another classic case with which St Kilda's history is littered - the story of a conflict between personalities getting in the way of the big picture.

St Kilda still trains at its old home at least once a month - significantly more over the pre-season - despite the absence of changing rooms, which were demolished when the grandstand was pulled down. The players also still enjoy the use of the old gymnasium and a recent members' day at Linton Street attracted more than 1000 fans.

Whether the Saints move towards a stand-alone reserves team, the club remains keen for either a St Kilda VFL side or Sandringham - to which the club remains wedded until the end of 2013 - to train in future at Moorabbin under the AFL Victoria model, which involves a push to create centres of excellence in both rural and metropolitan communities.

No one at St Kilda would publicly criticise Seaford this week and certainly no one wants to offend the City of Frankston, which contributed close to $4 million to the Linen House Centre - a facility which was to have been based at Frankston Oval before building restrictions led to the project budget blowing out by more than $5 million.

But the club's newly restructured football department has worked to alleviate the players' various logistical issues with their new home. The recently renegotiated collective bargaining agreement, which demanded one full day off for players, means that during the season the team must travel to the Linen House Centre only four days each week at a maximum - not five.

While it is true the players now enjoy significantly better facilities than previously, the big question that remains is whether all this heartache could have been prevented.

Not according to Fraser. The major thorn in the club's side in 2007 was Kingston councillor Greg Alabaster, who some at the Saints believed harboured a green agenda which included ejecting the club from Moorabbin altogether.

Certainly, Alabaster, no longer a councillor at Kingston, criticised in a submission to the Victorian government a failure by bureaucracy to recognise the importance of public land. ''The state government needs to act now to … recognise and protect our existing public land and open spaces.''

The view of the Saints administration at the time was that Alabaster led a refusal to approve the relocation of St Kilda's poker machines to a proposed boutique social club nearby on South Road - leaving that politically sensitive decision to the Victorian government.

''Had we gone ahead and built that facility, we would have gone broke,'' Fraser said this week. ''We would have gone into debt and been caught in the middle of a conflict over poker machines between the Victorian and Kingston local governments. It was a business model which would have flattened us.

''We were not in a position to take on that battle. We didn't even have the money to knock the stand down, and our directors were unable to start a foundation to raise private money.''

Fraser pointed out that the Saints cut a deal with the City of Frankston, under which it is charged a relative pittance - $30,000 a year - for the upgrade of the Seaford facility, compared with an annual $450,000 at Moorabbin. He also stressed the future value of the Mornington Peninsula in terms of supporter growth.

''In 20 years' time, people will say it was an inspired decision,'' he said.

But there is a view at St Kilda now - one shared by the AFL - that the club could have exerted more patience and persistence in making the Moorabbin upgrade work.

In the words of St Kilda premiership player and 300-gamer Barry Breen at the time of the move: ''It was sad that the club and the council couldn't come to grips with what each other wanted and set up a whole precinct there from South Road to the oval as a community centre.''

Said Nevins: ''They made their decision and we all just have to move forward from there.'' However, he described the current proposals to reinvigorate Moorabbin as ''an exciting prospect''.

It is true that while the club complains it struggles to attract football media to Seaford and the new Linen House Centre has disenfranchised Saints fans, the move towards satellite facilities is a worldwide trend embraced successfully by European soccer.

Essendon will soon leave Windy Hill for Tullamarine and even West Coast has not ruled out setting up a new home away from its Subiaco roots should the club and the West Australian Football Commission fail to come to terms over a redevelopment.

Tell that to St Kilda supporters who feel they have lost touch with their club - a club which has long boasted a unique relationship with its fans and its heartland. And tell that to the players and coaches trying to make the best of a relatively soulless facility while significantly closer to home sits one of the best football ovals in the state, surrounded by enough land to have built an indoor training venue comparable to the Westpac Centre.

Related Coverage

2014 Home and Away

Round 1
Fri, 14 MarTimes shown AEDT
COL 46 vs FRE 116 Report Stats
Sat, 15 MarTimes shown AEDT
GWS 99 vs SYD 67 Report Report Stats
GCF 87 vs RIC 69 Report Stats
Sun, 16 MarTimes shown AEDT
CAR 87 vs PTA 120 Report Stats
Thu, 20 MarTimes shown AEDT
GEE 119 vs ADE 81 Report Stats
Fri, 21 MarTimes shown AEDT
NTH 60 vs ESS 99 Report Stats
Sat, 22 MarTimes shown AEDT
HAW 139 vs BRI 91 Stats
STK 68 vs MEL 51 Report Stats
Sun, 23 MarTimes shown AEDT
WCE 134 vs WBU 69 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 2
Thu, 27 MarTimes shown AEDT
RIC 98 vs CAR 86 Report Stats
Fri, 28 MarTimes shown AEDT
ESS 86 vs HAW 90 Report Stats
Sat, 29 MarTimes shown AEDT
STK 95 vs GWS 88 Stats
PTA 127 vs ADE 73 Report Stats
FRE 87 vs GCF 39 Report Stats
SYD 69 vs COL 89 Report Stats
Sun, 30 MarTimes shown AEDT
BRI 68 vs GEE 93 Stats
MEL 30 vs WCE 123 Report Stats
WBU 54 vs NTH 83 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 3
Fri, 04 AprTimes shown AEDT
HAW 137 vs FRE 79 Report Stats
Sat, 05 AprTimes shown AEDT
WBU 100 vs RIC 98 Report Stats
ADE 71 vs SYD 134 Report Stats
GCF 114 vs BRI 61 Stats
WCE 83 vs STK 58 Report Stats
COL 76 vs GEE 87 Report Stats
Sun, 06 AprTimes shown AEST
GWS 79 vs MEL 47 Report Stats
NTH 97 vs PTA 90 Report Stats
ESS 138 vs CAR 57 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 4
Fri, 11 AprTimes shown AEST
RIC 72 vs COL 110 Report Stats
Sat, 12 AprTimes shown AEST
CAR 58 vs MEL 81 Report Stats
PTA 159 vs BRI 46 Report Stats
GWS 83 vs WBU 110 Report Stats
GEE 107 vs WCE 32 Report Stats
GCF 49 vs HAW 148 Report Stats
Sun, 13 AprTimes shown AEST
SYD 48 vs NTH 91 Report Stats
STK 50 vs ADE 136 Report Stats
FRE 113 vs ESS 60 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 5
Thu, 17 AprTimes shown AEST
BRI 63 vs RIC 106 Report Stats
Sat, 19 AprTimes shown AEST
COL 93 vs NTH 58 Report Stats
SYD 92 vs FRE 75 Report Stats
WCE 56 vs PTA 70 Report Stats
ESS 65 vs STK 81 Report Stats
Sun, 20 AprTimes shown AEST
ADE 137 vs GWS 72 Report Stats
MEL 78 vs GCF 86 Report Stats
WBU 91 vs CAR 119 Report Stats
Mon, 21 AprTimes shown AEST
GEE 106 vs HAW 87 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 6
Fri, 25 AprTimes shown AEST
COL 83 vs ESS 60 Report Stats
STK 79 vs BRI 82 Report Stats
FRE 61 vs NTH 74 Report Stats
Sat, 26 AprTimes shown AEST
GCF 134 vs GWS 94 Report Stats
CAR 92 vs WCE 89 Report Stats
MEL 38 vs SYD 69 Report Stats
Sun, 27 AprTimes shown AEST
WBU 83 vs ADE 92 Report Stats
RIC 52 vs HAW 118 Report Stats
PTA 107 vs GEE 67 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 7
Fri, 02 MayTimes shown AEST
CAR 70 vs COL 104 Report Stats
Sat, 03 MayTimes shown AEST
HAW 175 vs STK 30 Report Stats
GWS 97 vs PTA 132 Report Stats
ADE 67 vs MEL 70 Report Stats
BRI 44 vs SYD 123 Stats
ESS 73 vs WBU 65 Report Stats
Sun, 04 MayTimes shown AEST
NTH 77 vs GCF 120 Report Stats
GEE 81 vs RIC 76 Report Stats
WCE 54 vs FRE 73 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 8
Fri, 09 MayTimes shown AEST
SYD 107 vs HAW 88 Report Stats
Sat, 10 MayTimes shown AEST
PTA 94 vs FRE 76 Report Stats
BRI 57 vs ESS 65 Report Stats
MEL 83 vs WBU 99 Report Stats
Sun, 11 MayTimes shown AEST
WCE 188 vs GWS 77 Report Stats
Mon, 12 MayTimes shown AEST
STK 69 vs CAR 101 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 9
Thu, 15 MayTimes shown AEST
ADE 76 vs COL 55 Report Stats
Fri, 16 MayTimes shown AEST
ESS 64 vs SYD 114 Report Stats
Sat, 17 MayTimes shown AEST
RIC 74 vs MEL 91 Report Stats
NTH 125 vs BRI 38 Report Stats
FRE 96 vs GEE 64 Report Stats
Sun, 18 MayTimes shown AEST
STK 87 vs GCF 125 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 10
Fri, 23 MayTimes shown AEST
GEE 111 vs NTH 91 Report Stats
Sat, 24 MayTimes shown AEST
GWS 41 vs RIC 154 Report Stats
COL 109 vs WCE 101 Report Stats
PTA 100 vs HAW 86 Report Stats
Sun, 25 MayTimes shown AEST
GCF 119 vs WBU 74 Report Stats
CAR 81 vs ADE 76 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 11
Thu, 29 MayTimes shown AEST
SYD 148 vs GEE 38 Report Stats
Fri, 30 MayTimes shown AEST
STK 54 vs COL 140 Report Stats
Sat, 31 MayTimes shown AEST
MEL 75 vs PTA 95 Report Stats
BRI 98 vs CAR 91 Report Stats
ESS 104 vs RIC 54 Report Stats
Sun, 01 JunTimes shown AEST
ADE 109 vs GCF 77 Report Stats
WBU 51 vs FRE 89 Report Stats
HAW 94 vs GWS 87 Report Stats
WCE 44 vs NTH 82 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 12
Fri, 06 JunTimes shown AEST
GEE 107 vs CAR 102 Report Stats
Sat, 07 JunTimes shown AEST
HAW 123 vs WCE 79 Report Stats
PTA 129 vs STK 59 Report Stats
WBU 87 vs BRI 95 Report Stats
GWS 66 vs ESS 81 Report Stats
Sun, 08 JunTimes shown AEST
GCF 74 vs SYD 109 Report Stats
FRE 90 vs ADE 50 Report Stats
NTH 116 vs RIC 88 Report Stats
Mon, 09 JunTimes shown AEST
MEL 28 vs COL 61 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 13
Fri, 13 JunTimes shown AEST
CAR 90 vs HAW 118 Report Stats
Sat, 14 JunTimes shown AEST
RIC 85 vs FRE 105 Report Stats
SYD 98 vs PTA 94 Report Stats
WCE 103 vs GCF 100 Report Stats
BRI 80 vs GWS 125 Report Stats
ADE 109 vs NTH 73 Report Stats
Sun, 15 JunTimes shown AEST
GEE 133 vs STK 37 Report Stats
COL 98 vs WBU 106 Report Stats
ESS 77 vs MEL 78 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 14
Fri, 20 JunTimes shown AEST
RIC 51 vs SYD 62 Report Stats
Sat, 21 JunTimes shown AEST
PTA 128 vs WBU 56 Report Stats
HAW 115 vs COL 86 Report Stats
GCF 118 vs GEE 78 Report Stats
FRE 105 vs BRI 22 Report Stats
ESS 101 vs ADE 92 Report Stats
Sun, 22 JunTimes shown AEST
GWS 100 vs CAR 92 Report Stats
STK 70 vs WCE 103 Report Stats
MEL 66 vs NTH 107 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 15
Fri, 27 JunTimes shown AEST
GEE 89 vs ESS 80 Report Stats
Sat, 28 JunTimes shown AEST
HAW 116 vs GCF 63 Report Stats
STK 73 vs RIC 117 Report Stats
FRE 88 vs WCE 81 Report Stats
SYD 106 vs GWS 60 Stats
BRI 70 vs NTH 66 Report Stats
Sun, 29 JunTimes shown AEST
WBU 91 vs MEL 85 Report Stats
ADE 99 vs PTA 76 Report Stats
COL 91 vs CAR 76 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 16
Fri, 04 JulTimes shown AEST
NTH 108 vs HAW 88 Report Stats
Sat, 05 JulTimes shown AEST
RIC 79 vs BRI 54 Stats
GWS 72 vs ADE 140 Report Stats
GCF 80 vs COL 75 Report Stats
MEL 34 vs FRE 97 Report Stats
PTA 60 vs ESS 62 Report Stats
Sun, 06 JulTimes shown AEST
CAR 151 vs STK 66 Report Stats
WCE 51 vs SYD 79 Report Stats
GEE 69 vs WBU 56 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 17
Fri, 11 JulTimes shown AEST
ADE 92 vs HAW 104 Report Stats
Sat, 12 JulTimes shown AEST
MEL 36 vs GEE 102 Report Stats
NTH 92 vs STK 33 Report Stats
WBU 94 vs GCF 66 Report Stats
BRI 64 vs WCE 76 Report Stats
SYD 122 vs CAR 51 Report Stats
Sun, 13 JulTimes shown AEST
RIC 126 vs PTA 106 Report Stats
ESS 103 vs COL 39 Report Stats
FRE 136 vs GWS 60 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 18
Fri, 18 JulTimes shown AEST
CAR 109 vs NTH 86 Report Stats
Sat, 19 JulTimes shown AEST
STK 118 vs FRE 60 Report Stats
GWS 87 vs GEE 94 Report Stats
Sun, 20 JulTimes shown AEST
PTA 72 vs MEL 69 Report Stats
WBU 94 vs ESS 101 Report Stats
Fri, 25 JulTimes shown AEST
WCE 42 vs RIC 59 Report Stats
Sat, 26 JulTimes shown AEST
BRI 110 vs GCF 56 Report Stats
HAW 104 vs SYD 94 Report Stats
Sun, 27 JulTimes shown AEST
COL 82 vs ADE 98 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 19
Thu, 31 JulTimes shown AEST
FRE 83 vs CAR 78 Report Stats
Fri, 01 AugTimes shown AEST
SYD 79 vs ESS 57 Report Stats
Sat, 02 AugTimes shown AEST
ADE 105 vs WCE 136 Report Stats
RIC 89 vs GWS 62 Report Stats
GCF 117 vs STK 64 Report Stats
NTH 79 vs GEE 111 Report Stats
Sun, 03 AugTimes shown AEST
MEL 51 vs BRI 74 Stats
HAW 107 vs WBU 45 Report Stats
COL 76 vs PTA 70 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 20
Fri, 08 AugTimes shown AEST
RIC 95 vs ESS 77 Report Stats
Sat, 09 AugTimes shown AEST
GWS 51 vs NTH 126 Report Stats
CAR 97 vs GCF 58 Report Stats
HAW 115 vs MEL 65 Report Stats
PTA 58 vs SYD 84 Report Stats
GEE 81 vs FRE 79 Report Stats
Sun, 10 AugTimes shown AEST
BRI 63 vs ADE 168 Report Stats
STK 99 vs WBU 122 Report Stats
WCE 126 vs COL 66 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 21
Fri, 15 AugTimes shown AEST
CAR 76 vs GEE 82 Report Stats
Sat, 16 AugTimes shown AEST
SYD 127 vs STK 56 Stats
GCF 47 vs PTA 56 Report Stats
ESS 77 vs WCE 74 Report Stats
COL 56 vs BRI 123 Report Stats
ADE 69 vs RIC 79 Report Stats
Sun, 17 AugTimes shown AEST
NTH 111 vs WBU 61 Report Stats
MEL 34 vs GWS 98 Report Stats
FRE 110 vs HAW 91 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 22
Fri, 22 AugTimes shown AEST
PTA 140 vs CAR 37 Report Stats
Sat, 23 AugTimes shown AEST
NTH 101 vs ADE 94 Report Stats
ESS 108 vs GCF 89 Report Stats
GWS 67 vs COL 75 Report Stats
WCE 119 vs MEL 53 Report Stats
HAW 94 vs GEE 71 Report Stats
Sun, 24 AugTimes shown AEST
BRI 48 vs FRE 106 Report Stats
WBU 67 vs SYD 130 Report Stats
RIC 98 vs STK 72 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 23
Fri, 29 AugTimes shown AEST
COL 56 vs HAW 121 Stats
Sat, 30 AugTimes shown AEST
CAR 90 vs ESS 90 Stats
FRE 105 vs PTA 97 Stats
SYD 65 vs RIC 68 Stats
NTH 123 vs MEL 93 Stats
GEE 143 vs BRI 81 Stats
Sun, 31 AugTimes shown AEST
GCF 99 vs WCE 151 Stats
ADE 141 vs STK 62 Stats
WBU 109 vs GWS 115 Stats
View All Fixtures
AFL Finals Round 1
Fri, 05 SepTimes shown AEST
HAW 104 vs GEE 68 Report Stats
Sat, 06 SepTimes shown AEST
SYD 93 vs FRE 69 Stats
NTH 93 vs ESS 81 Report Stats
Sun, 07 SepTimes shown AEST
PTA 132 vs RIC 75 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
AFL Finals Round 2
Fri, 12 SepTimes shown AEST
GEE 92 vs NTH 98 Stats
Sat, 13 SepTimes shown AEST
FRE 83 vs PTA 105 Stats
View All Fixtures
AFL Finals Round 3
Fri, 19 SepTimes shown AEST
SYD 136 vs NTH 65 Report Stats
Sat, 20 SepTimes shown AEST
HAW 97 vs PTA 94 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
AFL Finals Round 4
Sat, 27 SepTimes shown AEST
SYD 74 vs HAW 137 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
AFL Home and Away
Overall standings
Team P W L D % Pts
Sydney Swans 22 17 5 0 142.88 68
Hawthorn 22 17 5 0 140.78 68
Geelong Cats 22 17 5 0 113.77 68
Fremantle 22 16 6 0 130.40 64
Port Adelaide 22 14 8 0 129.92 56
North Melbourne 22 14 8 0 117.04 56
Essendon 22 12 9 1 106.34 50
Richmond 22 12 10 0 105.77 48
View all
 
Featured advertisers