The first decade of the new millennium gave rise to one of the great modern powerhouse sides in the Saints.
And although the ultimate glory painfully slipped our grasp, the Best 22 of the 2000s is a team that has to be seen to be believed.
As voted by you, the fans, now comes the watershed moment of our Through the Ages series: the coveted Deliveroo Team of the Decade.
B: Sean Dempster, Max Hudghton, Steven Baker
HB: Leigh Montagna, Sam Fisher, Austinn Jones
Sean Dempster crossed to St Kilda from Sydney in what became an inconceivably good trade for the Saints: Sean Dempster and Adam Schneider in, pick No. 26 out. A 168-game stint in the tricolours followed, and the disciplined and dogged defender earned the widespread adoration of the faithful. Hall of Famer Max Hudghton earns a spot again having featured in the '90s line-up, after he built a reputation as one of the toughest full-backs in the league across a 234-game career. Steven Baker was employed as both a backman and tagger across a bruising 203-game career for the Saints, his team-first mentality and loyalty to his mates on show every single week.
Leigh Montagna's ability to launch the Saints into attack off half-back is remembered fondly by many of the faithful, and across 287 games, 'Joey' well and truly made his mark. Sam 'Chips' Fisher was universally admired for his class by foot and game nous, as well as his uncanny ability to out-body bigger opponents. Aussie Jones joins Hudghton in the '90s Team of the Decade crossover defenders; his lighting-quick pace and love for a coast-to-coast run established him as one of the best half-back flankers in the league, despite being doubted for his small frame and slight figure.
C: Luke Ball, Nick Dal Santo, Brendon Goddard
FOLL: Michael Gardiner, Lenny Hayes, Robert Harvey
Luke Ball was courageous to a fault, an inspiring hard-nosed midfielder who gave his all to the Saints across 142 games before crossing to Collingwood after the 2009 Grand Final. Nick Dal Santo became one of the silkiest players in the game, effortlessly buying time and space where it seemed impossible. After 260 games for St Kilda, 'Dal' was traded to North Melbourne at the end of Season 2013. Brendon Goddard was an unbelievably talented utility who enjoyed a special career at the Saints before crossing to Essendon after the 2012 season.
Lenny Hayes. The gutsy No. 7 was admired league-wide for his dedication to his mates, flawless sidestep and brutal tackling precision across 297 games. Beside Lenny is an equally popular one-club man, the enduring Robert Harvey, who across a club-record 383 games won consecutive Brownlow Medals and stamped his influence across 21 seasons. Michael Gardiner is the chosen big man after playing a crucial role in the latter part of the decade, but he'll always be remembered for his tongue.
HF: Aaron Hamill, Nick Riewoldt, Stewart Loewe
F: Adam Schneider, Fraser Gehrig, Stephen Milne
Although he began his career at the Blues, Aaron Hamill’s decorated career came to life in the red, white and black. The man credited with creating the role of the pressure forward had a huge influence in the locker room, and was chosen to captain the Saints in just his third year at the club. Beside him, one of the all-time greats of St Kilda: Nick Riewoldt. 'Roo' led the Saints out more than any other man in history, captaining 220 games, and his mercurial rise as one of the best players in the league saw the Saints dominate the latter part of the decade. Stewart Loewe was a formidable centre-half forward for the bulk of his career, with his aerial dominance and durability a cut above.
Adam Schneider broke St Kilda hearts in 2005 after a huge outing for the eventual premiers Sydney in the preliminary final, but he paid the Saints back in spades, becoming a loyal servant and 130-game player. At full forward, one of the most iconic names in football this century: Fraser Gehrig. Still the holder of the all-time bench press record for an AFL player, the 'G-Train' did as he pleased in the goalsquare, holding off innumerable defenders whose comparatively petite frames made for easy pickings for the big G. Finally, Stephen Milne. Arguably the greatest small forward to ever play the game, Milney's 574 goals from 275 games (a 2.09 goal per game average...ridiculous) is testament to his goal nous, and his ability to get under opposition skin – at least in the eyes of Saints fans – only made him even better.
I/C: Jason Gram, Nathan Burke, Justin Koschitzke, Jason Blake
Jason Gram ran the show off half-back in the Saints' most dominant years, while Nathan Burke fought tirelessly through the middle across a brilliant 323-game career. Justin Koschitzke formed part of the twin towers forward-line that terrified the defences of the competition in 2009-2010, while Jason Blake was the quintessential team man; selfless, loyal and disciplined, and he rounds out our 2000s Deliveroo Team of the Decade.
Thanks to all the Sainters out there who voted and helped bring back some great memories of the 2000s.
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