St Kilda Football Club is deeply saddened by the passing of Kevin “Cowboy” Neale.

The 1966 premiership hero died overnight at the age of 78.

Cowboy was truly a beloved figure at the Saints, not only among his teammates and fans, but by those who worked alongside him at the club long after his playing days.

Recruited from South Warrnambool in 1965, he created a then club record of 256 games, which was subsequently passed by his great mate Barry Breen.

Renowned for his great physical strength as a footballer, he was also blessed with exceptional skills for a big man which enabled him to play as either a key defender or forward.

He later captain-coached Canberra club Ainslie to four premierships in the ACT and also led the ACT to a famous victory over a Victorian team in a pre-cursor to State of Origin. He then coached Central District in the SANFL.

Returning to the Saints in later years he worked in the marketing department and was president of the Past Players Association.

Truly a larger than life character in every way, Cowboy was always able to engage with people across various generations.

His health struggles in recent times were well-publicised, and his teammates regularly visited him in Albury as a group. Through the difficult times his wife Georgina was always a constant pillar of strength and the club extends its deepest sympathies to her and the Neale family.

Vale, Cowboy.