Main content

Play it again, Sam: Fisher celebrates 200

Sam Fisher has been a St Kilda stalwart for over a decade.
I’m happy to go under the radar and go about my business.
Sam Fisher

THE oft-held perceptions of Sam Fisher the footballer and Sam Fisher the citizen are at polar opposites with neither a true reflection.

As far as his football deeds are concerned, Fisher is almost forgotten when people recall the Saints stars of what has been probably most successful decade of the club’s 142-year history.

The team that played in three Grand Finals and a further two preliminary finals from 2004 onwards is littered with some of the most talented and hard-working players of the modern era such as Lenny Hayes, Fraser Gehrig, Nick Dal Santo, Leigh Montagna, Brendon Goddard, Stephen Milne, Luke Ball and of course Nick Riewoldt.

Become a Saints member TODAY! Click HERE or call 1300 GO SAINTS.

Fisher’s name is not one that immediately rolls off the tongue when speaking of the greats of that time – unusual considering he won two best and fairests and earned an All-Australian selection when the team was at its peak.

But that feeling of being unappreciated by way of being underrated is not something that seems to bother the 32-year-old as he speaks to SAINTS.com.au on the eve of his 200th AFL game.

“I’ve played with a lot of stars but it is something I haven’t thought about. I’m happy to go under the radar and go about my business,” Fisher said.

“I think you find most defenders are underrated, it’s the nature of the position. I admire the defenders’ work. It is a nerve-racking spot to be one-out in defence or on the last line. It’s not a nice spot to play in but it’s really rewarding to play there when you spoil or save a goal.”

FEATURE VIDEO: Fisher meets Kei Nishikori

Fisher and Barry Hall battle for front position, round six, 2010.

While still considered an unassuming defender on the field, away from the game, many who only see him from a distance would believe Fisher to enjoy the limelight of being an AFL footballer.

The Hollywood looks, the model girlfriend and the occasional appearance in the social pages contrast the reality of a softly-spoken, polite and engaging country boy who has time for everyone he passes in the corridors of St Kilda’s Seaford base and who goes out of his way to help those less fortunate.

In years gone by as a run of injury problems kept him off the track, it became the norm to see Fisher enjoying a long casual chat in the Linen House Centre kitchen with a long-time St Kilda trainer Ken Whiffin or a member of The Angels – the female St Kilda supporters group who help prepare meals for players post-training.

ARTICLE: Burning questions St Kilda vs Gold Coast

While it would be understandable for some to feel isolated when sidelined with a long-term injury, the man known as ‘Chips’ only seemed to be more involved with all aspects of the club.

A community conscience is a key part of the Sam Fisher make-up. When a sheet went up on a notice board offering players the chance to put their names down to help out at the Royal Children’s Hospital for the Good Friday appeal, Fisher’s was the first on the list.

“If you speak to people who know me best they’d say I’m a pretty relaxed and chilled out sort of guy and reasonably quiet,” Fisher said.

“That perception (of glamour) would be a little bit off reality. I just want to be respected by my peers, be a decent mate, a good bloke and easy to get along with.”

 

One young Saints fan Fisher has developed a genuine friendship with is 13-year-old Jackson, a cancer patient in remission who possesses a deep love for St Kilda and its No.25 defender.

“I hung out with Jackson when he came down one time and we had an instant bond,” he said.

“It’s amazing to see how bubbly he is - to see what he is going through and how energetic he is. We sometimes complain about little things but to see him not complain and go about his business is amazing. I get a massive kick out of seeing a smile on his face.”

FEATURE: Sam makes Jackson's day

Fisher’s 200th milestone significant for the fact that not so long ago, it appeared unlikely to happen due to a troublesome toe injury that has effectively wiped a large chunk of his past couple of seasons.

“I got to 190 games and it was a long time until I played my next game. I thought I was going to get there but I just didn’t know when,” he said.

“I suppose I questioned it a little bit and thought I might not get there when it got to late last year. I played the last seven in a row but before my return I had my doubts. Once I got back and we strengthened it I started to free it up.”

On the eve of his 200th game, Fisher is reflective of the changes he has seen in football since he made his debut in the middle of St Kilda’s 10-game winning streak at the start of 2004.

“On the field it has changed in terms of zone defences and team defences,” he said.

“When I first started, I remember playing on guys like Fev (Brendan Fevola) and Jonathan Brown, Matty Richardson and Lloydy (Matthew Lloyd) and you’d find yourself one out in the 50 whereas now with team defence it is rare that you are left one-out too often. It has changed quite a bit in that sense.

“The professionalism, meetings, tactics and diet across the board have gone up a number of notches since I first started.”

Fisher and Steven Baker celebrate a win over North Melbourne in round 20, 2005.

As the oldest player on the 2015 St Kilda list, Fisher could be excused for looking beyond his football career.

And while he has an eye on his future with an investment in Chapel St restaurant Susie Wong’s, a new role with the AFL Players Association and the ever-burning and realistic dream of trying his hand at the pro golf circuit, football remains Fisher’s number one passion and his love of the game has not waned.

VIDEO: Fisher interviews Hugh Goddard.

“Hopefully I can play footy for a few more years yet. I still love it, especially this year. Being fit and healthy is a big part of that,” he said.

“We’ve got a young and exciting list with a lot of new players. It is exciting – I’m loving my footy at the moment because of those young guys.

“The group we’ve got are fantastic and the coaches are great. I feel that the club has had a big momentum shift in the way we are re-engaging with the fans. I think the place is heading in the right direction and it’s enjoyable to just be around the place.”

Fisher against Carlton, round seven, 2013.

FISHER'S FOOTBALL CV

Best and Fairest 2008, 2011 (runner-up, 2007, 3rd in 2006)

All-Australian 2008

All-Australian nominee 2007,2011

International Rules Series 2006

Pre-season premiership side 2008

Browlow Medal votes: 6

Drafted No.55, 2003 AFL National Draft

(function(d, s, id) { var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0]; if (d.getElementById(id)) return; js = d.createElement(s); js.id = id; js.src = "//connect.facebook.net/en_US/sdk.js#xfbml=1&version=v2.3"; fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs); }(document, 'script', 'facebook-jssdk'));