St Kilda’s iconic crest is almost as longstanding as the famous red, white and black itself.
It has appeared on every incarnation of the St Kilda jumper since 1933 and has become synonymous with the club’s motto, Fortius Quo Fidelius – strength through loyalty.
The crest was introduced at the onset of the 1933 VFL Season, but it wasn’t until Round 5 of that year that it became immortalised in St Kilda folklore.
The Saints’ triumph over North Melbourne at Junction Oval was to be engrained in the very ethos of the club, which saw them hold on to victory after ending the game with just 15 men on the field.
The match epitomised the underdog St Kilda’s never-say-die attitude, with one football reporter writing at the time:
Nothing finer nor more inspiring than St Kilda's magnificent win against overwhelming odds has been witnessed at the seaside oval within living memory of the oldest member of the club. It was a superb exhibition of indomitable pluck, stamina and steadfastness of purpose."
The noble display, which was likened to “a battle rather than a game” in the Argus newspaper, warranted commemoration in the eyes of then St Kilda President, Fred Arlington-Burke, who commissioned medals for the players and coach in honour of the stirring victory.
Each medal was adorned with the St Kilda crest, cementing its place in the club’s identity forever.
The medals are so vital to the history of the Saints in fact, that the St Kilda Football Club’s Past Players and Officials Association recently purchased the medal belonging to coach Col Deane, which now sits proudly in the CJ Levin Heritage Museum & Hall of Fame at RSEA Park.
Only three medals from the fateful clash are known to still exist, one of which was stolen from the club during the 1980s before cataloguing and security measures were introduced.
In the lead-up to the defining match, the club was embroiled in several internal issues.
The Saints had started the year poorly, losing its first four matches and resulting in a vote of no-confidence in the selection committee, which saw its chairman, Dave McNamara, resign in protest.
Deane had also stepped aside from his playing and captaincy duties two weeks prior, with the former Demon opting to lead the team from the sidelines rather than in a dual-capacity role.
St Kilda’s chances of securing a maiden victory for the season appeared to dissipate during the opening term against the Shinboners, with the first of many injuries for the day ravaging the Saints’ line-up.
An early clash of heads saw St Kilda’s Matt Cave substituted out of the game, before they finished the first half ahead by a solitary point with just 16 fully-fit men on the ground.
Future St Kilda Team of the Century inductee Bill Mohr broke two ribs in a smother, while newly-inducted captain Clarrie Hindson was forced to leave the field with a broken ankle.
The injury list continued to mount in the second half, the match quickly becoming a bloodbath, as aggression between both sides took precedence over cohesion and smooth ball movement.
North Melbourne were infamous for their intimidating brand of football, so when the winless and depleted Saints were five men down at half-time, things were looking bleak.
Although lacking players, the Saints’ heart never dissipated, even as more men went down in the second half.
16 men were reduced to 15 when club champion Roy Bence suffered a second concussion just 10 seconds into the third term.
Battered and bruised, the seasiders continued to fight relentlessly, with Bill Downie (broken thumb), Jack George (ankle) and Stewart Anderson (concussion) all continuing to play.
Exhausted but utterly determined, the Saints’ resolve never faltered as they held onto the lead in the last, booting four goals to run away with an incredible 14-point victory.
President of the St Kilda Past Players and Officials Association Russell Morris said the medal and crest bear great significance to the club, particularly in light of the Saints’ tumultuous 2018.
St Kilda’s history has always been about resilience and never giving up, no matter what the odds are."
The crest serves as a symbol for St Kilda’s courage in the face of adversity, especially at a time where the club had experienced minimal success.
And there’s a reason why it still features on the red, white and black guernsey today.
To serve as a reminder to never give in, even in the most dire of circumstances.
ST KILDA 4.4 7.10 9.17 13.19 (97)
NORTH MELBOURNE 3.5 6.10 7.13 11.17 (83)
Matt Cave (eye gash), Bill Mohr (broken ribs), Clarrie Hindson (broken ankle), Roy Bence (concussion), Bill Downie* (broken thumb), Jack George* (ankle), Doug Bourne* (calf), Billy Roberts* (concussion), Jack Holden* (ankle), Jack Anderson* (leg), Stewart Anderson* (knocked out)
*continued to play despite injury
ST KILDA TEAM
Clarrie Hindson (C)
Coach: Col Deane