Lenny Hayes has been bestowed one of the game’s highest honours after being inducted into the Australian Football Hall of Fame.
The St Kilda champion’s name was enshrined into football’s hallowed halls on Monday night, with the remainder of inductees set to be announced over the next three nights.
Hayes becomes the 19th player from the club to be inducted into the prestigious group, and now stands alongside immortals Barker, Lockett and Baldock.
The No. 7 was the heart and soul of St Kilda over a decorated 16-year career, complete with four All Australian selections, three Trevor Barker Awards and a Norm Smith Medal.
From his first game, we knew there was something special about Lenny.
Cleaned up in a brutal hit by battle-hardened Shinboner of the Century Glenn Archer, the 19-year-old Hayes picked himself up, brushed aside the club doctor and carried on playing.
It was a crystal ball moment for the fearless warrior, and his reputation only grew from there.
He was both the Saints’ ultimate soldier and favourite son during an era studded with heroes – and even they would marvel at his brilliance.
An uncompromising tackler, an excellent finisher and a sublimely skilled midfielder, his ability alone made him one of St Kilda’s elites.
But his extraordinary talent was only surpassed by his fierce loyalty and courage, which earned him universal admiration from opposition players, coaches and supporters.
Whether it be playing on through an ACL tear, soldiering on after open heart surgery or bravely putting his body on the line week after week, Hayes’ actions served as inspiration to his teammates.
He was the club’s spiritual leader, and although that title didn’t sit well with the modest midfielder, there was no denying his influence on those around him.
Club Legend Nick Riewoldt summed it up best at St Kilda’s Hall of Fame ceremony last season.
“He was the teammate you’d want to go to war with, the teammate you’d call in a crisis,” Riewoldt said.
It was that class both on and off the field that commanded league-wide respect, but for the St Kilda faithful, he was more than that.
We loved Lenny.
He was already a hero in our eyes. And now, he’s officially one of the game’s greats.
297 games (1999-2014)
4 x All Australian (2003, 2005, 2009, 2010)
3 x Trevor Barker Awards (2003, 2010, 2012)
2 x St Kilda captain (2004, 2007)
1 x Norm Smith Medal (2010)
1 x St Kilda Hall of Fame inductee (2019)
1 x Australian Football Hall of Fame inductee (2020)
St Kilda’s AFL Hall of Fame Legends
Darrel Baldock (inducted 1996)
Roy Cazaly (1996)
Alex Jesaulenko (2008)
Tony Lockett (2015)
Ian Stewart (1997)
Darrel Baldock (inducted 1996, inaugural Legend)
Trevor Barker (2019)
Roy Cazaly (1996, inaugural Legend)
Vic Cumberland (1996)
Carl Ditterich (2004)
Wels Eicke (1996)
Les Foote (1996)
Barry Hall (2017)
Robert Harvey (2012)
Lenny Hayes (2020)
Verdun Howell (2016)
Alex Jesaulenko (1996, Legend 2008)
Tony Lockett (2006, Legend 2015)
Dave McNamara (1996)
Bill Mohr (1996)
Neil Roberts (2015)
Ross Smith (2010)
Ian Stewart (1996, Legend 1997)
Colin Watson (1996)
Allan Jeans (1996)