1966 and all that: Epilogue

 

 

What a memorable year 1966 was for the St. Kilda football family. Ushered in by the curious sighting of a ‘flying saucer’ down the road from Moorabbin at Westall High School, the Saints’ season was launched in April with eight straight wins.

 

After a mid-season splutter and a late lapse, partly brought on by injuries, the Saints engines fired at full throttle again in September. Their finals flight was charged by a breathtaking performance against Essendon in the preliminary match when they soared past the stalled Bombers. On the last Saturday in September the Saints celebrated an atonement of their own in a courageous season-defining battle against Collingwood. In the end it was a solitary point that made a premiership team – a first and last time premiership team! Finally a premiership cup sat on the club’s top shelf.

 

In the aftermath, Moorabbin proudly boasted a previously unsighted flying object as a permanent reminder of what its sons had achieved – the 1966 VFL premiership flag.

 

 

If we fast forward five years to 1971, the next time St. Kilda reached the last Saturday in September, who was left from the ‘66 campaign? Only nine Saints from the 1966 list of 33 remained at the club when they met Hawthorn in the 1971 grand final: Barry Breen, Allan Davis, Carl Ditterich, Jeff Moran, Bob Murray, Brian Mynott, Kevin Neale, Travis Payze and Ross Smith. All nine played that day. Ironically, one of the 1966 match winners for the Saints, ‘Cowboy’ Neale, played in the back pocket. After leading by 20 points at three quarter time, St. Kilda were overrun by a rampaging Hawthorn outfit, in the end losing by seven points. The move of Bob Keddie to full forward in the last quarter resulted in four goals in 21 minutes and a premiership for the Hawks. It was a torrid and brutal game with no place for faint hearts.

 

By 1971 ‘Doc Baldock** was gone – home to Tassie. Ian Stewart** was gone – swapped with Billy Barrott from the Tigers. Daryl Griffiths* was gone – a year in limbo before joining Claremont in the West. Brian Sierakowski had left – across the Nullarbor to Subiaco. Ian Cooper, his St. Kilda career derailed by illness, was gone. Rodger Head was gone – having succumbed to injury in 1967, he settled in business. Ian Synman* was gone – his football goals achieved. Verdun Howell* was gone – retired, then to the assistant coaching job at Punt Road before coaching Claremont. Des Kennedy was gone – back to his beloved Sandringham. Kevin Roberts was gone – also to the VFA. Jim Read, Ray Cross, John Dowling, Ken Baker, Stephen Roberts and Kevin Billing were also gone.

 

Before the start of the 1967 season several saints from the ’66 campaign had already moved on. ‘Doggie’ Rowland had departed – for the NSW bush. John Bingley had left – another Saint who returned to the Apple Isle. Ken Mann’s two season career at St. Kilda was also over. Ross Oakley was gone – injury laden, he’d hung up the boots. ‘Mocca’ Morrow* saw the writing on the wall for his prospects after the ’66 triumph – he also was gone. A nest of 1966 Saints debutantes had also moved on after just one season at Moorabbin: Paddy Murphy, Graham Croft and ‘Jumping’ Jack Austin.

 

 

So, of the nine players who were still in St. Kilda colours in 1971, how did their football careers pan out? ‘Big Carl’ Ditterich* never managed to achieve redemption for his misdemeanour prior to the ’66 finals, despite a long and illustrious VFL career. Barry Breen* enjoyed a prosperous career with St. Kilda and then as an administrator at the club – but his big day had come and gone and we we all remember that. Likewise, Allan Davis was a tremendous servant of the club for a decade before trying his luck at three other VFL clubs. ‘Cowboy’ Neale* played on and continued to thrill the crowds before finally heading off into the sunset in the national capital. Solid-as-a-rock defender Bob Murray* played on until 1974 before returning home to Sandringham. Versatile Jeff Moran had a decade-long career at Moorabbin playing over 150 games. Rugged ruckman Brian Mynott* also gave great service to his club on and off the field. Ross Smith**, winner of the 1967 Brownlow Medal, would eventually be appointed captain, lead the ‘Big V’ and coach St. Kilda. Travis Payze*, another of the ’66 young brigade, would make his mark on and off the field for the Saints before sadly becoming the first of the St. Kilda premiership players to pass away.

 

Coach Allan Jeans** took the Saints to three grand finals: 1965, 1966 and 1971. He remained at the club until the end of 1976 before taking some time off. Jeans returned to coaching in 1981 leading Hawthorn to seven consecutive grand finals and four premierships in the 80’s decade.

 

 

Life goes on, but the words of Jeans to his men after the ’66 grand final could be the sentiments of all St. Kilda football fans: “I’ll always remember what you have done for me today.”

 

 

 

** St. Kilda Hall of Fame legends

 

* St. Kilda Hall of Fame inductees

 

 

 

Read more of Peter Clark’s weekly reviews of  St Kilda’s triumphant 1966 footy season HERE

 

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About Peter Clark

is a lifetime Geelong supporter. Hailing from the Riverina, he is now entrenched on the NSW South Coast. His passion for footy was ignited by attending Ovens and Murray League matches in the 1960's with his father. After years of watching, playing and coaching, now it is time for some serious writing about his favourite subjects… footy, especially country footy, and cricket.

Comments

  1. John Butler says

    Peter, thank you for all the work and writing. This has been a very rewarding look back to a different time in footy.

    This series will revisited in time to come. All Saints fans need to read it at least twice. :)

    Cheers

  2. A monumental series, Peter! Congratulations and thanks for the time and effort you have invested in this project. Sainters everywhere are indebted to you for this historical record. I think of Almanackers like Yvette and Yoshi who will have loved this series. I’m a Bombers supporter but readily acknowledge what you have done and achieved, and I enjoyed the journey through the season.

  3. Peter
    What this summary clearly shows is that very often, the gathering of a Premiership-winning group is a fleeting and serendipitous thing. It seems that St Kilda’s 1966 team unravelled fairly quickly after their triumph.
    Once again, congratulations on an outstanding series.

  4. Gordon Tansey says

    Thanks Peter, great memories of an immortal team and time.

    I have my 1970’s autograph book, full of names from the ‘66 triumph, and others who grace the ‘dust’ at Moorabbin – some too briefly. Names like Theodore, Grambeau, Pascoe (& Pascoe) , Lilley, Antoine, Ward, Galt, Rae, Trott, Macintosh and Manzie, to name a few, and always look back fondly at those times.

    Cheers

  5. This has been a wonderful series Peter, the best of its type i’ve seen in the years i’ve been involved with the Almanac.

    That flying saucer story, apocryphal, maybe, but it got a mention Monday morning on the ABC radio.

    As mentioned,though i was up & about, i was too young for any memories of 1966. 1971 was a different ball game. My parents took me to the Royal Melbourne Show on Grand Final day, a tranny accompanied them providing the scores. Much of 1971 is quite clear. St Kilda flogged Geelong twice, firstly on a hot sunny R1 @ Kardinia Park, then in the mud & slush of a cold, wet Moorabbin in R 12.

    All going to plan Maryanne & i will be up your way in 2021. Only too happy to pop in for a chat about these events,etc.

    Glen!

  6. Thanks Peter.

    Really enjoyed this series.

    Now you must write the Rannock story!

  7. Colin Ritchie says

    Well done, fantastic effort Peter! Thoroughly enjoyed the series. What’s next?

  8. Brian Sierakowski returned to WA and played in the 1973 Subiaco flag. Successful career in the law. Eagles and WA Football Commission board member and Tribunal chair. His son David played for the Eagles. Brian survived a shark attack at Cottesloe in 1997 that took a chunk out of his surf ski.

  9. Big Siera’s father Ralph, mine host at the iconic Brighton Club Hotel on the Nepean Highway, known universally as “Siera’s” hosted the late night celebrations at the pub as the social rooms were not not yet finished at the Moorabbin ground. Ralph got a special licence through to 7 am.
    In the morning there was a St Kilda jumper wrapped around the statue of Tommy Bent just outside the pub in the strip dividing the highway.

  10. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Well played Peter, very well played.

  11. Peter thank you ! Massive amount of research required for this series !

  12. Thanks for your comments Almanackers!

    The 1966 and all that series originated from a story I wrote on the 50th anniversary of the St. Kilda’s premiership. JTH invited me to serialise the season for the Almanac and Warwick Nolan provided some great leads.

    I appreciated all the weekly comments. Thanks especially fo Dr Rocket and Glen! for your interest and enthusiastic support.

    I hope to do something again in 2021.
    Cheers
    Peter

  13. Peter,
    I have had the privilege of previewing these pieces of a Tuesday evening,
    and have greatly enjoyed this series.
    Bravo, and thank you!
    Cheers
    Smokie

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