The Saints have one premiership to Hawthorn’s 13.
The Saints are saddled with debt; the Hawks rolling in cash.
But if not for the flourish of an administrator’s pen and then 30 minutes of football things might have been much different.
But ahead of their clash at Marvel Stadium on Sunday, the AFL Record has looked at the ties that bind the two clubs.
THE FIGHT FOR FRANKSTON
From the time the Saints first moved to Moorabbin in 1965, they had their eyes set on the entire Mornington Peninsula and parts of Gippsland as their recruiting zone.
Yet when the Victorian Football League introduced recruiting zones in 1967, the Saints were given Ballarat, while the Peninsula and surrounds were allocated to Hawthorn. It meant champions like Leigh Matthews, Kelvin Moore and Peter Knights were gifted to the Hawks.
Indeed, the Hawk premiership teams of the 1970s and 1980s were filled with players from the Mornington Peninsula and beyond. It is highly doubtful the Hawks would have won all those flags between 1971 and 1991 if that region had been awarded to the Saints. Dermott Brereton, Gary Ayres, Chris Mew and Knights were all Hawthorn champions who might easily have played for St Kilda instead. The Ablett brothers – Geoff, Kevin and Gary, were also from nearby west Gippsland.
THE 1971 GRAND FINAL
It was one of the most brutal Grand Finals ever played. Hawthorn captain David Parkin once said of the first half that it was “played without the ball”. It would take AFL Match Review Officer Michael Christian days to work through the game if today’s rules were applied.
The Saints led the Hawks by 20 points at three-quarter time and a boilover seemed certain. But the move of Bob Keddie to the forward line paid huge dividends and the Hawks kicked seven goals in the final term to win by seven points to collect their second flag. And the fortunes of the two clubs have contrasted widely ever since.
St Kilda people often think of the three-quarter time break of the 1971 Grand Final as a sliding door moment. What would have happened if the Saints had held on to win?
THE PLAYER TRAFFIC
It started with a bizarre Thursday night in May 1980 and since then, there has been no pathway more trodden by players than that between St Kilda and Hawthorn.
Russell Greene’s transfer is unthinkable in today’s landscape. The 120-game St Kilda wingman trained as usual at Moorabbin ahead of a round nine game but came home to find a phone message to call Hawthorn skipper Don Scott. It was Scott who told him that he had been just been traded to the Hawks and that he would see him at Waverley that Saturday for the game against North Melbourne.
The Hawks might have got the quality. Greene, Joel Smith and Peter Everitt won the Hawks best and fairest after crossing from the Saints and Allan Jeans coached the Hawks to three premierships, having led the Saints to their first and only flag in 1966.
Lots of fringe Hawthorn players went to St Kilda in search of more senior football and players such as Russell Morris, Dean Anderson, Matthew Young, Paul Harding and Peter Russo gave the club outstanding service.
The Saints and Hawks have enjoyed a mutually beneficial trade in more recent times with Shane Savage and Ben McEvoy swapping clubs at the end of 2013 in what was a win-win deal for both clubs.
Policemen Gary Silk and Senior Constable Rodney Miller were killed in the line of duty in August 1988. Silk was a Hawthorn member and Miller a fan of the Saints and in games between the clubs since then, the best player on the ground has been awarded the Silk-Miller Medal.
Both the Saints and the Hawks use these games to honour policemen and women who have died while on duty.
SOON TO BE NEIGHBOURS
Having once shared Waverley Park and what is now the University of Tasmania Stadium in Launceston, the clubs will soon be neighbours in a different sense.
The Saints are back at Moorabbin in what will eventually become a $50 million all-encompassing facility built in their old home ground, the City of Kingston is in the footy business once more.
And they’ll be joined in 2022 by the Hawks, who will move into their new $130 million training and administrative base in Dingley, about nine kilometres and a 12 minute drive away.
Also in this week’s Record:
• Damian Barrett on what ails the Tigers
• Trent Masenhelder looks at the retirement of Western Bulldogs premiership player Liam Picken and other star athletes who finished up perhaps ahead of time.
Look for the full story in this week’s edition of the AFL Record available at all grounds for just $5.