A Saint at heart

LENNY HAYES….250 games. What a superstar!

It brings tears of pride to my eyes when I think about Lenny. I think it is impossible to truly describe the footballer that he is, the influence he has had over the game of AFL, the influence he has had on the mighty Sainters.

He is a beauty, and it was FABULOUS to see the boys get up for him, it makes for a great weekend!

Lenny is a player who will forever be remembered. His name will be passed on for decades to come. I can’t wait until I have children with whom I can share these wonderful experiences, tell them what footy was like ‘back in the day’.

The Saints are part of my family. I have been brought up to love them, to hate them, to shout, yell and scream at them through smiles and tears. And for the 21 (almost 22) years of my life, that is exactly what I have done.

They consume my life, I have a reliance on them. I am truly addicted, obsessed, enthralled by them.

I remember stories my parents have told me about their times at Moorabbin, when the Sainters played their home games there. What I wouldn’t give to have that kind of intimacy with a footy club. To be able to share stories that are so personal and rare, and so unlike the footy of today.

My parents have told me about a few stories about their trips to see the Sainters at Moorabbin. What sticks in my mind is that they would stand in their ‘spot’ on the fence, the same spot every week, surrounded by the same people every week, and not know anyone’s names. How the players would talk to them after the games, say g’day, and ask mum how her pregnancy was going with me and my twin brother. How they would have a peek in the pram when we were born and see us in our knitted saints jumpers.

Those are stories that in this day and age we can no longer experience. The commercialisation, and simply the growth of AFL has turned the game into a corporation, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it is just unfortunate in the sense that stories that I will be telling my children will perhaps be generic, will perhaps not be as special as my parents’ stories sound to me.

Maybe I am wrong, maybe when I have children the game will have advanced and the way in which we love and experience footy will have changed? Only time will tell.

I made my first trip to Moorabbin – since these stories – in 2010. I travelled by myself to see an intraclub match, stood on the fence,cheered, clapped, got some snazzy photos, then left before dark. It may not have been quite the same as the times of my infant-hood, but I loved it none-the-less! The simplicity of it. The simple concrete steps, the thigh-high wire fence, the hill on the other side of the ground. How great it would have been to kick back with a few mates on the hill!

Two years on from this first trip to Moorabbin, I have matured and I think really come to understand a bit about the history that comes with the footy ground, and the decades of the VFL/AFL. I have jumped the fence and kicked goals on the ground, I have met the modern day players, and I have seen young and old out there to experience just a minute part of what it was like 22 years ago.

What I do know is that you make your own memories, and sitting front row amongst tens of thousands of people isn’t quite as personal as spending an afternoon watching the Sainters play at Moorabbin, but it is quite the experience in itself, and I will tell my children stories of all my footy experiences with the same love and admiration that I feel today.

My children will grow up with Sainter jumpers on. Perhaps I will name my first child Lenny? It’s something to think about over the coming years!

For now, spending my weekends in front of the TV or sitting in the uncomfortable seats at Telstra Dome or the MCG watching the likes of Lenny Hayes and the mighty Sainters will create enough memories to last a lifetime.


  1. Stephanie Holt says

    What a lovely story! May you have many more years of excited Saints-watching. Perhaps even some winning years.

  2. Medium Dazza says

    Great stuff Kelsey – I am inflicting them on my kids who are (reasonably) happy to lap it up as like you, are generally accustomed to them winning. It was being a kid in the spoon-winning 80’s that was a real test of character and strength through loyalty. May our kids never see such times again.

  3. Hi Kelsey, what a wonderful piece of writing and from one Saints tragic to another, loved it. It was a very moving night last night, made better by a good win, and Lenny’s best on ground performances with Farren Ray. Inspiring stuff. May we be all Saints mad into the future.


  4. Kelsey – what makes Hayes even more special is that, I beleive, he was brought up in Sydney. The Aussie Rules gene must run deep in him. Yes he’s a star.

  5. Mark Doyle says

    Lenny Hayes has been a great St. Kilda player over the past 14 or 15 years and an excellent role model for all AFL players for the way he plays the game. I haven’t seen him play live all that often, but his first quarter in the 2009 grand final was as good a first quarter AFL grand final performance that I have seen in 45 odd years. Fortunately for us Cats supporters, Jimmy Bartel played a great game on Lenny after quarter time to limit his effectiveness.
    I first saw Lenny Hayes play for the NSW RAMS in 1996 as a skinny 16 year old and he demonstrated both a high level of natural talent and a great work ethic. He won the Gardner Medal in 1997 whilst playing for the NSW RAMS and I was a bit surprised that Sydney, which had three top ten draft selections, did not draft him. St. Kilda were very fortunate to get him with either selection 10 or 11.

  6. David Downer says

    Nicely done Kelsey.

    In true humble champion style, Lenny’s not comfortable with all the fuss and bother that comes with this milestone. He’s still the man we cant least afford to lose if building towards a genuine tilt this year.

    Yes Dips, a product of Pennant Hills in western Sydney. If he was 3 or 4 years younger when the GWS arrived, they’d have been all over him like a rash!

    And I was only a young teen when we finished up at Moorabbin, but they were some exciting days to absorb, win, lose or draw. English classes and life’s learnings were fast-tracked on the terraces at Linton St.


    P.S: As has been earmarked the last eight years, my next dog will still be called Lenny

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