Marcus Windhager was the one who put his hand up to inherit St Kilda’s No. 2 guernsey, made iconic by the late Danny Frawley, but it was two separate conversations with two very different Saints people which helped assure him that he could carry the jumper’s mantle.
One chat with former player and current Player Development Manager Tony Brown got the ball rolling for the potential change, with the former Saint - who previously inherited the No. 2 after Frawley's retirement in 1995 - now serving as an important cornerstone for St Kilda’s younger cohort in particular.
The other in Head Trainer Andrew Waddington is far less recognisable in comparison among your general Saints pundit. But ask anyone at the club as how much unseen work ‘Wad’ does behind the scenes and well beyond his official duties - from giving players massages, cleaning every surface until it’s spotless, running water or staying at the club until the early hours of the morning to get everything prepped for the following day - and the answer is all the same: who knows what would happen if Wad wasn’t around.
Both Saints men have had their discussions with Windhager about taking up Frawley’s legacy, with the combined outcome of each seeing the 20-year-old step into the shoes of the famed No. 2.
“I spoke to Browny who wore the No. 2 as well like Spud did and I said I’d be honoured to wear it. Spud’s legacy is something you hear about as soon as you walk through the doors of the club,” Windhager told saints.com.au.
“All the people who played with him, from Browny and Robert Harvey, you hear about his love for this place and his drive for St Kilda to succeed.
“I had a good chat with Wad about it too, especially about just taking it in my stride and wearing it with pride. He said to me ‘it’s yours now to build a future around’.
“He’s been around the club for 30-plus years and he knows the ins and outs and the culture of the club. Hopefully in time, I can build my own future around it.”
Windhager’s desire to wear the No. 2 in any sport originated well before a career at St Kilda came to pass, with the promising junior basketballer a big Kyrie Irving fan during his days at the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Flash forward several years, an AFL dream come true and 37 games senior games for St Kilda later, the former No. 17 says the Kyrie connection has been well overshadowed by the legacy left behind by Spud and all he’s learned during his time at RSEA Park.
“Straight away you hear about his passion and his love for the place and being here,” Windhager said.
“I loved my old No. 17. It had never really resonated with me before I got to the club, but I liked it when I got given it. But I always loved No. 2, ever since I was a little kid.
Windhager is one of three Saints to move into a new locker heading into Season 2024. Jack Higgins has vacated his No. 22 for the No. 1 made iconic by the late Trevor Barker, while Isaac Keeler has stepped into the No. 17 previously worn by Windhager.