The fans have spoken, and Nick Riewoldt has stormed home to take out the 2000s Dare Iced Coffee Sainter of the Decade.
The club's longest-serving captain earned over 50% of the total votes, with his great mate Lenny Hayes coming in runner-up and the 1990s Sainter of the Decade Robert Harvey rounding out the top three.
1st: Nick Riewoldt
Accolades: 6 x Trevor Barker Award winner (2002, 2004, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2014), 5 x All Australian (2004, 2006, 2008, 2009, 2014), AFL Rising Star (2002), Leigh Matthews Trophy (2004), 4 x St Kilda Leading Goalkicker (2008, 2009, 2013, 2014), St Kilda Longest-Serving Captain (220 games)
St Kilda's fearless leader for the majority of the modern era, Nick Riewoldt remains one of the most popular Saints of the 21st Century.
The talented Tassie-born youngster arrived skinny, tanned and blonde-locked from the Gold Coast after St Kilda selected him with pick No. 1 in the 2000 National Draft.
Standing at an impressive 193cm, Nick Riewoldt’s potential as an elite footballer was evident from the moment he arrived at the Saints.
His exemplary professionalism and work ethic were traits he’d continue to carry throughout his 17-year career, and the boy they called ‘Roo’ built his entire game on both his reliable hands and his ability to wear down his opponents.
Riewoldt’s list of accolades is unrivalled on so many fronts and includes an all-time record six Trevor Barker Awards, five All-Australian selections, 333 games (the second most of any Saint), and the all-time record for the most marks in VFL/AFL history (2944).
Perhaps most significantly, Riewoldt holds the record for the longest-serving St Kilda captain in the club’s 145-year history, leading the Saints into battle on no less than 220 occasions.
When Riewoldt finally hung up the boots at the end of 2017, that same skinny blonde kid from the Gold Coast had become the face of a football club, the icon of a generation, and the epitome of St Kilda’s motto: Strength through Loyalty.
2nd: Lenny Hayes
Accolades: 1 x Norm Smith medallist (2010), 4 x All Australian (2003, 2005, 2009, 2010), 3 x Trevor Barker Award winner (2003, 2010, 2012), 2 x St Kilda captain (2004, 2007), Madden Medal (2014)
Across 297 inspirational games in red, white and black, the loyal Hayes would become known as the 'spiritual leader' within the club.
Lenny left an indelible mark on our game, with his commitment to hard but fair footy a trademark that saw him adored by the faithful and universally admired league-wide.
And for courage, you need look no further than his debut against North Melbourne in 1999, when the then 19-year-old’s actions offered a perfect snapshot of what was to come throughout his entire career.
With his head over the footy, Lenny trailed a bouncing ball along the boundary line before an oncoming steam train in the form of Glenn Archer mowed straight through the kid in a savage, bone-crunching collision.
Archer’s mass of muscle and shinboner spirit looked enough to knock any player out cold, let alone the then diminutive figure of the debutant, but Hayes quite literally bounced back up off the turf onto his feet, pushed away the concerned club doctor and played on.
The call of retiring commentating great Sandy Roberts summed it up best: "He’s a tough cookie, this youngster.”
Lenny was a man who simply played without fear.
His brutal tackle and physicality at the contest were traits perfectly complemented by his trademark step and impeccable ball use; they formed the recipe for a consistent, tough, elite midfielder and it showed.
'Spiritual leader' was a mantle that didn’t sit well with the famously modest, camera-shy superstar.
It’s rare that a player is so universally loved by everyone in football, but for Hayes, it still rings true today: everyone loves Lenny.
3rd: 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.