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Vale Bruce Phillips

The St Kilda Football Club is mourning the passing of Bruce Phillips, a club Hall of Fame member and 1950 best and fairest.

Phillips died aged 85 on Saturday.

A full-forward who was prolific in the reserves before becoming one of the best defenders in the competition, the Camden product played 115 games across an 11-season career, before a knee injury forced him into early retirement.

A champion goal-kicker as a teenager, Phillips had never played in defence until the final round of the 1949 season, in what he believed would be his final game for St Kilda before moving to Collingwood.

However he played so well against the Magpies that by the end of 1950, Phillips had played for Victoria, finished third in the Brownlow Medal, and won the club Best and Fairest.

Had John Coleman not kicked seven goals in the last 10 minutes of the final game of the year, Phillips may have been closer to winning the Brownlow Medal.

“Ablett and Lockett were terrific players,” Phillips said years later, “But they were not Coleman.”

In mid-1957, following several failed comebacks from a knee reconstruction, Phillips retired.

His ashes will be scattered on the Junction Oval turf.