At a glance:
- Brad Crouch says St Kilda's historical ties to Ballarat played a role in his decision to join the club.
- The 26-year-old was born in Beaufort, a small town about 35 minutes out of Ballarat.
- Crouch is set to join Seb Ross, Dan Butler and James Frawley as current players from the region.
New Saint Brad Crouch says St Kilda’s historical ties to Ballarat played a role in his decision to join the club ahead of Season 2021.
The Beaufort-born recruit – whose parents still live in the region – flew from the Crows’ nest as a restricted free agent earlier this month.
St Kilda champions Tony Lockett, Danny Frawley and Geoff Cunningham, among several others, were farmed from the Central Highlands – part of the Saints’ recruiting zone – before the introduction of the National Draft.
And it was the club’s connection with Ballarat that ultimately swayed Crouch to put pen to paper.
“Definitely. I spoke a little bit about that (connection) to James Gallagher and Ratts,” Crouch told media.
“Back in the day it was the region for St Kilda. There were a lot of great players from Ballarat. I still have a lot of friends and older mates from Ballarat who are St Kilda supporters, so I have a lot of support from them.
Crouch will join fellow St Kilda recruits James Frawley and Dan Butler in adding to the Saints’ current pool of Ballarat pick-ups, along with midfielder Seb Ross.
Rowan Marshall spent several years in Sebastapol before being picked up as a rookie, while the outgoing Nicholas Hind (traded) and Nathan Brown (retired) also hailed from the area.
St Kilda strengthened its connection to Ballarat in light of Danny Frawley’s passing last year, with players, coaches and staff making the pilgrimage north last February to pay respect and acknowledge the legacy left by the club legend.
The group spent time at Frawley’s property, were greeted by the Frawley family and Stewart Loewe and spent the night under the stars at Butler’s nearby residence.
“‘Spud’ (Frawley) was a connector of people, which we need to do here,” Chief Operating Officer Simon Lethlean said last year regarding the expedition to Ballarat.
“He was all about teammates and mateship and he was a captain at 23.
“We wanted to impress on the guys that just because you’re young doesn’t mean you can’t lead the club.
“The idea now will be we’ll do it every year and we’ll probably take admin staff and others to make sure the connection is well known.”
The links to Ballarat and the fast-tracked gelling of the club’s new recruits further convinced Crouch that St Kilda was the right fit for him.
“A couple of years ago, it would have been one of those things where you go, ‘Oh, I’m not sure about St Kilda’,” Crouch said.
“But then the way they’ve gone over the last few years, and the way they are going, (it is) not just the form of those players, but the whole way the club’s going. Led by Ratts, it seems like it’s going in the right direction.
“It got to the stage for me where it was just a complete no-brainer. The decision was just made and it was really clear for me.”