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Behind the No. 12

The number 12 is back Watch the moment Nick Riewoldt presents Max King with his famous No. 12 guernsey.

After a one-year hiatus in reverence to Nick Riewoldt’s extraordinary achievements, the prestigious No. 12 guernsey has found a new home.

Exciting key forward prospect Max King has been bestowed the former champion’s locker, becoming the 22nd player to wear the now famed number.

The 18-year-old will be hoping to emulate his predecessor and childhood hero in Riewoldt going into 2019 and beyond, but several other Saints have also championed the guernsey.

Riewoldt was undoubtedly the most distinguished player to grace the No. 12 in the club’s 145-year history, finishing his career in second and third position for St Kilda’s all-time number of games and goals respectively.

READ: Number 12 lives on

Courageous, athletic and powerful, he was widely regarded as one of the best centre half-forwards to ever play the game, booting 718 goals from 336 games and notching up the most marks ever by an AFL player (2944).

Riewoldt amassed six Trevor Barker Awards, five All Australian honours and four leading goalkicker awards, with 11 of his 17 seasons served as captain of the club.

His achievements alone have bestowed the No. 12 with immortal greatness, but the history of the celebrated jumper began long before Riewoldt.

Bert Pierce was the first ever Saint to play with the No. 12 following the introduction of guernsey numbers during the 1911 VFL season, before Bob Bowden took up the mantle from 1913-1915, and then again from 1918-1919 following the club’s recession during World War I.

The war also brought about a change in colours – with the Saints trading out their traditional white for yellow in solidarity with allied force, Belgium – as well as personnel, with four Saints pulling on the No. 12 from 1915-1920.

It wouldn’t be until 1925 that it saw action again, with crafty rover Roy Bence – in traditional colours – notching up 144 matches, as the Saints pushed for finals contention over the next decade.

Fellow 100-gamers Doug Rayment and Harold Bray were just as prolific for the club as victories became few and far between, while Harold Davies’ 85 games helped jumpstart St Kilda’s turn of form during the 1950s.

The appointment of former player Allan Jeans as senior coach at last culminated in St Kilda’s sole premiership in 1966, but the No. 12 was noticeably absent, despite the individual glory it had brought to the club in years prior.

Ross Oakley injured his knee in both the 1965 and 1966 semi-finals before launching into his career as Chairman and CEO of the VFL, leaving a stretch of 58 years between the guernsey’s first Grand Final appearance with Bowden (1913) and Gary Colling’s Grand Final berth (1971).

Colling was the longest servant of the number until Riewoldt’s debut in 2001, with his 14-year career seeing him captain the side in 1978, before becoming heavily involved in the club post-retirement in several positions.


Tough nut defender Gary Colling wore the No. 12 across 265 games in red, white and black.

The guernsey passed through Mark Jackson, Peter McConville, Russell Morris and Shane Wakelin, before finding its most remarkable talent in Riewoldt and remaining with him until his career came to an end in 2017.

The No. 12 has since become synonymous with Riewoldt’s name, heroic attributes and prolific style of play up forward.

For Max King, this guernsey isn’t simply a handover.

It’s an honour.

St Kilda's No. 12

YEAR

NAME

GAMES

1909-1913

Pierce, B

20*

1913-1915, 1918-1919

Bowden, B

66

1915

Richardson, E

3

1915, 1918

Turnbull, F

8

1920-1921

Lloyd, B

11

1920

Sarll, B

4

1925-1933

Bence, R

144

1934

Ranson, T

2

1934-1940

Rayment, D

100

1941-1943, 1945-1952

Bray, H

156

1941

Flegg, B

18

1942

Brenchley, J

9

1953-1959

Davies, H

85

1960-1961

Prescott, D

13

1962-1966

Oakley, R

62

1968-1981

Colling, G

265

1983

Jackson, M

10

1986-1989

McConville, P

54

1991-1994

Morris, R

66

1995-2000

Wakelin, S

79**

2001-2017

Riewoldt, N

336

2018-

King, M

-

*guernsey numbers weren’t introduced until the 1911 VFL Finals, 64 games for St Kilda total
**as the No. 12, debuted with the No. 33 and played 94 games for St Kilda total