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The five...Saints in pop culture

Luke Holmesby  May 9, 2014 9:23 AM

Australian TV legend Graham Kennedy catches up with Saints players in the 1960s.

Australian TV legend Graham Kennedy catches up with Saints players in the 1960s.

There has always been a curiosity about St Kilda that has separated it from every other AFL club. Regardless of team success or individual accolades, the Saints are an iconic part of Australia and that icon status has extended to pop culture, be it in the form of movies, TV shows or music clips.

Unfortunately we can’t claim to have the quirkiest AFL pop culture reference - that honour falls to mysterious appearance of a Footscray jumper in an episode of Canadian teen drama Degrassi Junior High but the Saints have still managed to get a mention in some unusual places.

In the latest of our series and with the help of the YouTube archives, we look at the five…Saints pop culture references.

 

Greg! The Stop Sign

TISM was without doubt one of the quirkiest acts to hit the Australian music scene.

A seven member group that always made public appearances in masks to hide their identity, there were persistent (and ultimately never confirmed) rumours that they were in fact a collection of teachers at a suburban Melbourne school. Regardless, the intrigue and occasional controversy surrounding the group made it an obvious bedfellow for the Saints. One of the band’s most famous songs Greg! The Stop Sign!! was accompanied by a film clip that was filmed at the club’s base at Moorabbin Oval. The opening scene of the clip features Saints players Shane Wakelin, Chris Hemley, Josh Kitchen and Justin Peckett working out in the club’s gym before panning to a band member singing in front of a sign in the locker room reminding players that “Your (sic) a professional. Keep it simple.”

Click here to view the clip.

Obviously the need to keep it simple involved getting rid of punctuation and the odd letter.

Greg! The Stop Sign!! made it to number 10 in Triple J’s hottest 100 list of 1995, beating out slightly more famous songs such as Morning Glory by Oasis, My Friends by Red Hot Chili Peppers and Last Goodbye by Jeff Buckley.

It is generally accepted in the music industry that those bands missed the top 10 due to an absence of Justin Peckett doing bicep curls in their film clips.

 

Funny People

Australian actor Eric Bana has never made a secret of his passion for the Saints, ever since he burst on to the scene in sketch comedy Full Frontal in the early 1990s.

Bana has even managed to work his obsession with the red, white and black into his work as a film star.

When Bana was cast in Judd Apatow’s film Funny People in 2009 he found himself working alongside big Hollywood names Adam Sandler, Seth Rogen and Jonah Hill – choosing that opportunity to spread the word of the Saints throughout the globe.

A memorable scene from Funny People had Bana’s character hosting Sandler and Rogen as they watched the St Kilda v Collingwood 2008 semi-final with the Australian passionately spruiking the game to the bemused Americans. See the clip here.

The fact that Sandler’s character spent much of the scene ogling Bana’s character’s wife is probably representative of the interest Americans have traditionally shown in our game.

Not to be discouraged though, Bana happily worked in references to the Saints as he did the late night talk show circuit to promote the movie – to the point that he convinced Apatow to wear a St Kilda jumper and scarf during an interview on Rove Live.

 

Blue Murder

Widely regarded as one of the greatest Australian TV productions of all-time, Blue Murder was an intense dramatisation of corruption in the New South Wales police force throughout the 1970s and 1980s.

The critically acclaimed mini-series featured a series of star Australian actors such as Richard Roxburgh, Tony Martin, Steve Bastoni, Peter Phelps and Marcus Graham – each of whom put in a stellar performance.

One particular scene late in the first episode focused on a monologue from Sweet in his portrayal of notorious underworld figure Chris Flannery.

It is not known if the actual Flannery was a St Kilda supporter, but Sweet’s representation of him certainly depicted him that way.

While under some duress due to a sticky situation, Sweet’s character shouts “Carn the Saints” at a nearby TV before lovingly recalling Barry Breen’s point in the 1966 Grand Final. See Sweet's ode to the Saints here.

The fact he managed this in between twirling a gun and indulging in other nefarious activities made it an impressive act of multi-tasking but probably not one that will feature in an official club membership campaign any time soon.

 

Gra-Gra’s final farewell

Few would doubt Graham Kennedy’s legacy as the greatest TV performer in Australia’s history. Kennedy was a pioneer of Aussie TV with few, if any peers.

His work with Bert Newton and Don Lane among others remains some of the most golden times of Australian TV history.

When he passed away in May, 2005 the who’s who of the Australian entertainment industry descended on Mittagong, NSW to pay tribute to The King.

What wasn’t so well known about Kennedy was that he was a keen Saints fan who regularly visited the club, having grown up in nearby Balaclava. As his star continued to rise, Kennedy remained a staunch Saints fan.

Even though Kennedy never actually met any one of the six men who became pallbearers at his funeral, Fraser Gehrig, Luke Ball, Aaron Hamill, Nick Riewoldt, Rod Butterss and Grant Thomas were all on hand to represent a true love of Kennedy’s as the country bid farewell to a true star.


Bop Girl

You may have to listen to it to remember what was largely an innocuous, if catchy teenybopper tune by Pat Wilson (see here)

As with many Australian pop film clips of the time, there is a bizarre series of scenes – one of which depicts a middle-aged woman hanging a bunch of red, white and black footy socks.

Wilson’s husband Ross made his name as a performer with Mondo Rock and Daddy Cool and also wrote Bop Girl. Ross Wilson is a renowned St Kilda supporter and would have been instrumental behind the nod to the Saints in the clip.

The film clip is also memorable for being the screen debut of a 15-year-old girl named Nicole Kidman who went on to become slightly more recognisable than a few pairs of Saints socks.