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Why Grant Thomas is seeking change at St Kilda


Former St Kilda coach Grant Thomas is keen to see change at his old club.

The Saints now have the ignominy of holding the longest current premiership drought dating back to 1966 following Melbourne’s triumph this season.

They have had their opportunities to reach football’s summit in the past few decades, playing in Grand Finals in 1997, 2009 and twice in 2010. Littered in there are some prelim appearances and a most recent finals berth in 2020, their first since 2011.

But it’s been few and far between for the Saints and Thomas is determined to see the club shift into a successful era.

Thomas, a former Saints player, is backing a board shake-up at Moorabbin and is happy to push president Andrew Bassat to open a spot on the board to dental surgeon Larry Benge.

He outlined the reasons why he is endorsing change.

“When you are seemingly quite static or your performances aren’t going in the direction you need them to, I think you need to make some changes,” he said on SEN Breakfast.

“If you keep doing what you keep doing, you’re going to get the same result. I know Larry is a passionate person, he has some great qualities, he’s a real pioneer and a brave, daring guy in his industry, he’s got great commercial acumen and he’s a passionate Saints person.

“He provides a point of difference and if he’d like to get on the board, well I’m sure Andrew Bassat, who is a really smart business guy, would entertain that. All I’m suggesting is if he doesn’t, or if that’s blocked, that tells me that the Saints aren’t opening their minds to opportunities and points of difference.”

Thomas feels the Saints are just happy to exist in the AFL realm rather than truly push themselves into the top echelon of clubs.

He referenced their form swings in season 2021 as a prime example of the club’s struggles.

“There are two types of teams in the competition - one that’s in the premiership business and the others that are just sort of playing AFL,” he added.

“I get the distinct feeling that the Saints are just happy playing AFL.

“Their best is finals, but the gap tells me that there is something wrong somewhere.

“You don’t have wild fluctuations in performances unless there’s something not quite right.

“I’m not close enough to know exactly what that is, whether it’s coaching, leadership or management. Of course you hear all the stories, but there’s stories everywhere so you pay lip service to those.”

Thomas says the time is now for the Saints to step up and challenge annually, as opposed to whittling away and being content with mediocrity.

He wonders whether the current list under Brett Ratten can help break the flag drought, and if not, then change must occur sooner than later.

“I see Melbourne and the Bulldogs have gone past us in recent years and I just think that if they can do it, there’s no reason why we can’t do it,” he said.

“But we’re not going to do it doing what we’re doing. We need to do something significantly different. We really need to enter the premiership business race.

“I can’t see us winning a premiership in the next year or two, and if we don’t win it in the next year or two, that list… well where is it?

“That means we’re another decade away and that doesn’t sit well with me.

“It’s achievable and you can do it, but you’ve got to make hard decisions.

“This is just me supporting Larry Benge to get on the board to try and make some changes and put St Kilda on the right trajectory for success.”

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