AFL Round 20 – St Kilda v Western Bulldogs: Graduating with Honours

St Kilda versus Western Bulldogs

3.20 pm, Sunday, 10th August

Etihad Stadium


Neil Anderson



St Kilda and the Western Bulldogs have been linked for many years as the ‘one-premiership’ Clubs.

Still waiting for the second premiership long after interstate teams and expansion Clubs became part of the AFL. Quite often referred to as the hard-luck teams that reached preliminary-finals, but for whatever reason they failed to go further and win a grand-final. St Kilda at least went on to contest grand-finals.

Today St Kilda is honouring one of their heroes and long-serving greats, Lenny Hayes. There are no easy matches and I remember how St Kilda ran rampant against Fremantle, so I’m worried enough as a Bulldog supporter without a tribute-match for Lenny to contend with.

To continue the theme of the two Clubs and their similarities, I thought of the other thing that they have in common. They both have a long list of champion players and particularly one-club players that have not and unfortunately never will, be part of a premiership team.

I’m reminded of this fact whenever past-players are introduced on TV panels. Dermott Brereton gets the ‘five time day and night premiership’ introduction and Jason Dunstall gets the ‘four time premiership’ nod and someone else gets the Norm Smith winner acknowledgement. Sadly the Bulldog champion Brad Johnson can only be referred to as the Bulldog games-record holder and for the number of times he was all-Australian. Just as much a champion as the others but never having the good fortune to even play in a grand-final.

Three of the players that come to mind from each Club that fit the criteria of champion well-respected players never to be part of a premiership are as follows: Chris Grant, Brad Johnson and Dale Morris from the Bulldogs. Lenny Hayes, Nick Riewoldt and Robert Harvey from St Kilda.

If Clubs are all about quality people and not just premierships, then these six players are the best of the best.

With Lenny starting his farewell tour today I was thinking how players like him could be honoured. There is the Club’s legend status which is a given and the likelihood of becoming inducted into the AFL Hall of Fame. But for the years of service to a Club, the fans and the AFL as a sporting organization, it still doesn’t seem enough to honour the player’s worth.

When other players slip up and make the headlines for all the wrong reasons, the AFL turns to the likes of Lenny Hayes and Chris Grant as role-models of decency to appease any parent whose son is about to join an AFL Club. So these AFL ambassadors should be rewarded better accordingly.

I was thinking of an equivalent to the Honorary Doctorates that universities award to eminent persons. But after checking a couple of recent awards handed out it was more likely the players’ status would be diminished rather than enhanced. Shane Warne received one from an English university for services to cricket which was reasonable but remarkably, Dannii Minogue received one in for services to the entertainment industry.

Before I contact the University of Melbourne with my ideas, there is a footy match to be played.

The Bulldogs look sharp as they warm up in the rooms which is always a good sign. I wonder if they’re torn between going hard today and making sure they secure win number seven, as well as showing a softer respectful side by honouring Lenny Hayes. I assume they will give him a guard of honour at the end of the match.

The first quarter and spectators on both sides are asking the question, “Where’s Lenny?” rather than “Where’s Wally?” Thankfully for Bulldog supporters he doesn’t make an impact early and the Bulldogs have found ‘an end of season let’s show everyone what we’ve got’ freedom and kick their highest first-quarter score for the season.

Jake Stringer seems to be relishing his last days without domestic responsibility and changing nappies by brushing aside tackles and running in and scoring goals. Adam Cooney is giving us reminders of himself a few years ago clearing the ball out of the centre…and kicking goals!

The second quarter and I’m still waiting for Lenny to emerge and lay a fierce tackle like he did on Easton Wood earlier this year. I’m already groaning when I see Nick Riewoldt outmark the brave but shorter Dale Morris like he has for the last ten seasons. By the end of the quarter Dale is at least breaking even with the StKilda champion.

St Kilda has outscored the Bulldogs four goals to three but the Bulldogs lead by twenty points at half-time.

Three goals each for the third quarter and with a minute to go it was Lenny-time. The light was reflecting off his halo as he lined up for goal fifty metres out almost on the boundary line. It wasn’t just the 30,000 spectators watching in awe as he kicked the goal but at least three generations of St Kilda supporters at home watching on television.

I envisaged Lenny in his academic robes receiving his degree for services to football at that moment.

The last quarter and the ‘I love Lenny’ banners and T-Shirts weren’t enough for the Saints to prevail, despite a burst of goals in the last ten minutes. Lenny did provide one last memory for the fans with a classic side-step and pass to Gwilt.

In the finish I was glad for a Bulldogs win but sorry we were playing against St Kilda in a match held on one of their holiest of days.  Saint Leonard’s Day.

St Kilda          3.3    7.4   10.6    15.9        99

W. Bulldogs  7.4  10.6   13.10  18.14  122


W. Bulldogs:  Stringer 4, Cooney 3, Crameri 3, Campbell, Picken, Hrovat, Bontempelli, Higgins, Stevens, Macrae, Darley.

StKilda:  Gwilt 3, Newnes , Gilbert, Bruce, Steven, Riewoldt, Curren, Ross, Schneider, Hayes, Murdoch, Weller, Billings.


W. Bulldogs: Cooney, Stringer, Higgins, Griffen, Crameri, Roughead.

StKilda:  Steven, Armitage, Gwilt, Schneider, Ross, Montagna, Riewoldt.

Umpires: Fleer, Leppard, Harris

Official crowd:  30,095

Our Votes:  3 Cooney (WB)  2 Stringer (WB) 1 Gilbert (StK)

About Neil Anderson

Enjoys reading and writing about the Western Bulldogs. Instead of wondering if the second premiership will ever happen, he can now bask in the glory of the 2016 win.


  1. the only way the bulldogs will win a grand final NEIL,is when they merge with another Victorian team,you have too many teams in that little state of Victoria !!!!!

  2. Luke Reynolds says

    I like referring to Dermie as a Collingwood player who played in five day and five night premierships. I also like neglecting to say who he actually played for in those premierships.
    Dannii clearly the second best Minogue. I’d still be content with silver though.
    Enjoyable read Neil, as good a tribute to an opposition player as you would find anywhere. L.Hayes, what a player.

  3. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Great write up , Neil and love your idea of recognising the solid outstanding citizens of the competition . Luke how bout Dan Minogue former pies captain and tiger champ also coached , 5 clubs , mind you I will bat in what ever number , Kylie or Danni want ! Thanks Neil

  4. Luke Reynolds says

    Malcolm, I’m still upset with Dan Minogue for leaving Collingwood and going to Richmond. Unforgivable.

  5. Yvette Wroby says

    Hi Neil great write up. Great win for doggies and some good moments for Lenny’s lads . At least you and my sister were happy in the day. Let our next preliminary shot be against each other. Go dogs. Go saints. Yvette

  6. Yvette Wroby says

    I meant to say not against each other

  7. Yvette Wroby says

    I meant to say not against each other

Leave a Comment