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The man with the Killer approach

Alan Killigrew rallies the St Kilda faithful
Alan Killigrew rallies the St Kilda faithful
If I go to Norwood I’ll enjoy my football, but I can love only one club – St Kilda. It’s like marriage…I’m married to one club,
Alan Killigrew

ALAN Killigrew might very well be remembered as the man who was at the helm of two clubs shortly before they reached their most successful periods.

The firebrand Killigrew took on the St Kilda coaching job in 1956, coaching the club for three years before handing the reins to Jim Francis who was soon replaced by Allan Jeans.

Jeans famously coached the Saints to their one and only premiership seven years after Killigrew’s departure.

His second stint at an AFL club came in 1963 when he joined North Melbourne for four years. He left the Kangaroos at the end of 1966 – nine years before they won their first flag in 1975.

While he never coached in a VFL final, Killigrew was a big influence on both the St Kilda and North Melbourne football clubs.

He had spent his playing career at the Saints from 1938 to 1945 where he played 78 games and kicked 75 goals.

Killigrew returned to St Kilda during a particularly dark time but immediately lifted the general morale of the place and got the club back on track.

He was known to be an honest and sincere communicator with his players and actually got the job after club president Graham Huggins convinced his committee by playing a tape of Killigrew’s speech to his East Ballarat players in their 1955 semi-final.

His influence was felt far and wide and he was a key mentor to one of his young players who went on to be one of the most renowned coaches in the game’s history.

Allan Jeans once said of Killigrew that “He taught me about teamwork and handball and how to put it together,” he said.

During his time at St Kilda, he developed Brian Gleeson and Neil Roberts into Brownlow medallists as well as shaping the list into the side that eventually won the ’66 decider.

Political issues saw an end to his time at the Saints before he embarked on a brief stint coaching SANFL club Norwood.

Writing in his newspaper column of the time, Killigrew spoke of the sadness at leaving his beloved Saints – “If I go to Norwood I’ll enjoy my football, but I can love only one club – St Kilda. It’s like marriage…I’m married to one club,” Killigrew said.

Source: The Point Of It All – The Story of St Kilda Football Club.