The fans have spoken, and Robert Harvey has taken out the Dare Iced Coffee Sainter of the Decade in a landslide.
The club's games record-holder stormed home in the polls, earning nearly 50% of the total votes. There was daylight between Harvey and runner-up Tony Lockett, with Nicky Winmar edging out Danny Frawley for third place.
1st: Robert Harvey
Accolades: 2 x Brownlow medallist (1997, 1998), 8 x All Australian (1992, 1994-1999, 2003), 4 x Trevor Barker Award winner (1992, 1994, 1997, 1998), 8 x Victorian representative, 3 x E.J. Whitten medallist, AFLPA MVP (1997), St Kilda Team of the Century inductee, St Kilda Hall of Fame inductee
Robert Harvey was consistent in every sense of the word.
From his two decades of midfield dominance to his unchanging haircut, the iconic No. 35 engrained himself as both an immortal of the Saints and a legend of his era.
A club record 383 games, back-to-back Brownlows, eight All Australians, four Trevor Barker Awards, three E. J. Whitten Medals and a place in St Kilda’s Team of the Century serve as a reminder of his incredible consistency, which saw him represent his club with distinction for 21 seasons.
The longevity of Harvey’s career saw him line up alongside two distinct midfield generations, with the 1990s seeing him at arguably the peak of his powers.
Alongside Nathan Burke and Nicky Winmar, Harvey dominated the centre week after week.
He became renowned for his unmatched endurance and running ability – both in games and at training – which exhausted even the most elite athletes while he himself barely broke a sweat.
It was a well-known fact throughout the 1990s that opposition sides had to alternate taggers each quarter because they simply couldn’t match his running power.
Just as astonishing was his knack for accumulating disposals with ease.
From 1990-1999 the disposal-magnet had 93 games with more than 30 disposals, 33 of which came from his back-to-back Brownlow years (1997-1998).
He ended his esteemed run in the red, white and black with 9,656 disposals – the most of any player in the competition’s 162-year history – at an average of 25 touches per game.
His remarkable talent was furthered by his goal-kicking on the run, and when combined with his ball-winning ability and deft evasive skills at full pace, he was close to unstoppable.
In a standout match in 1999 against the Western Bulldogs, Harvey booted three goals and racked up a career-best 45 disposals to prove he wasn’t slowing down after over a decade in the game.
Harvey became the first Saint since Ian Stewart (1965-1966) to win back-to-back Brownlow Medals, and despite injury concerns in the early 2000s, the seemingly ageless midfielder pushed on for almost another decade.
Away from the red, white and black, Harvey proudly represented the Big V, winning three E. J. Whitten Medals for his stellar performances against the best of the best.
Throughout the 1990s, Harvey was one of the league’s most prodigious talents and a vital figure in St Kilda’s upward surges.
The iconic Saint played a vital hand in 1991 in steering the red, white and black to its first finals berth since 1973, before putting on a 36-disposal masterclass in the 1997 Grand Final.
Premiership success proved to be one of the few accolades missing from Harvey’s glorious list of achievements.
Heading into the 2000s, Harvey was appointed captain of the club (2001-2002), earned his eighth All Australian selection and surpassed Nathan Burke’s record as the club’s record games-holder.
The battle-hardened Harvey then helped build up the next generation of St Kilda midfielders – Lenny Hayes and Nick Dal Santo, among others – before calling time on his astounding 383-game career.
There were many Saints heroes throughout the 1990s, but few could win over the admiration of both the faithful and the opposition.
Robert Harvey is one of those select few.
2nd. Tony Lockett
Accolades: Brownlow Medal (1987), Leigh Matthews Trophy (1987), 4 x Coleman Medal (1987, 1991, 1996, 1998), 2 x Trevor Barker Award (1987, 1991), 5 x All Australian (1991, 1992, 1995, 1996, 1998), 5 x Victorian representative, St Kilda Hall of Fame Legend (2010), AFL Hall of Fame Legend (2015), St Kilda Team of the Century member.
Any football-related (let alone Saints-specific) ‘90s flashback would be glaringly incomplete without due respect paid to the one and only Tony Lockett.
The game's greatest goalkicker of all time is a title that sits well with St Kilda's brilliant full-forward, who took the game by storm for one-and-a-half decades.
A vice-like mark and deadly accurate kick from all distances, he was also deceptively quick off the mark when leading. Once he secured front position, no full-back could stop him.
The sight of Lockett on the lead and grabbing the ball out of the air with those pincer-like arms was one that brought joy to a privileged generation of St Kilda fans.
Lockett's mobility and skills were exceptional for someone of his huge physique, and allied with his innate goal-sense, were attributes that set him apart from the rest.
He created history in 1987 by becoming the first full-forward to win a Brownlow Medal and to this day, no player has had more 10-goal hauls in a game.
He had his moments of frustration with the tight checking of opposition defenders, but few men have had Lockett's ability to attract crowds just to watch him in action.
3rd: Nicky Winmar
Accolades: 2 x Trevor Barker Award (1989, 1995), 2 x All Australian (1991, 1995), Mark of the Year (1992), Michael Tuck Medal (1996), Aboriginal Sportsperson of the Year (1999), St Kilda Team of the Century member, St Kilda Hall of Fame inductee (2003), Indigenous Team of the Century, West Australian Football Hall of Fame (2009)
In our quest to narrow down the most influential Saint of the 1990s, we couldn’t overlook the man who made arguably the most iconic stand in Australian sporting history.
When Nicky Winmar lifted his jumper at Victoria Park to the jeers and vitriol of an irate Collingwood home crowd, the racial landscape of this country was altered forever.
So celebrated is his strong, defiant pose in that timeless photograph that Cuz’s unmatched ability as a footballer is often clouded by his sizeable legacy in race relations.
Winmar’s natural skills covered the full range of the champion's repertoire, and the boy from the West Australian wheatbelt proved to be an inspired recruiting selection.
He came to the Saints with a reputation for inconsistency, but in his first three years ran second in the best and fairest and also won the award.
He was a superb kick and had the capacity to soar for huge marks from only a couple of steps.
The understanding and synergy he developed with Tony Lockett made them one of the most formidable combinations in the game.
He was the first Aboriginal footballer to play 200 AFL games.
Growing up as a youngster he would practise on a muddy piece of ground that had been hosed to replicate the wintry conditions in Melbourne.
Aside from his superb ball skills he was also a technically perfect tackler who could mow down unsuspecting players with his lightning pace.
He could anticipate the direction players would take on the field and could nail them with a superbly applied tackle every time.
Renowned for his quiet nature, Winmar retreated from the public eye after his career, but recent years have seen the superstar Saint return to Melbourne and reignite his ties with the club.