On the afternoon of July 17, 1976 St Kilda centre half-forward Rex Hunt hauled in no less than 21 marks.
And those were the days when a mark really was a mark, not just another accumulation from one of a myriad gentle sideways passes.
“It was probably my best contested effort with 19 contested except for two passes from Duperouzel out on my own when Picken wouldn’t chase me," Hunt said.
"Duperouzel was sensational that day – he just put it out in front of me. At one stage Picken actually physically punched the ball and I still marked it.
"I played on Billy Picken then they put Andrew Ireland on me then they put Picken back on me. He took the first two marks and said ‘Rexy, here comes Billy’. And after I took my 21st mark I said ‘there goes Billy!”
Rex revealed for the first time the story leading up to the day.
"I remember Jeansy (coach Allan Jeans) came up to me in the police gym on the Wednesday and said I can’t pick you many more times before you’ll need to have a rest in the seconds.
"I’d lost the most powerful thing known to mankind – self-belief and confidence. Picken took the first two marks and then Duper put one (pass) right in and I took the mark, might have kicked a goal, and I then I was ‘on’.
Despite the slump prior to the Collingwood game, Rex went on to run second in the best and fairest behind the great Trevor Barker.
Rex’s marking that day was a virtuoso display in every sense. And for Saints fans it had added poignancy, being at Victoria Park.
In the days of the VFL when suburban home grounds existed, there were certain venues always labelled as “hoodoo” grounds for particular clubs and no venue loomed larger than Collingwood’s Victoria Park as a hoodoo ground for St Kilda.
For Hunt it was a different scenario. He always recalled the lead up to his first game as a Tiger at Victoria Park when Richmond chief Graeme Richmond told him: “You’re not a player until you have played well against these bastards on their s***heap."
Hunt then went out and kicked seven goals.
In the first 64 seasons of League football St Kilda won at Victoria Park on only one occasion – 1919.
Victories came in successive years in 1962 and 1963 then 1968 and 1974, before a famous day in 1976. The final time a Saint team played at Victoria Park, in 1993, saw St Kilda’s seventh victory which is etched in the history of the game as it was the day Nicky Winmar lifted his guernsey to proclaim his pride in his Indigenous heritage.
But the 1976 success has its own place in footy folklore history thanks to the stupendous individual feat of Hunt.
St Kilda ended Collingwood’s faint hopes of making the finals as they downed the Magpies by 17 points. Before the game St Kilda was one win outside the top-five with six wins, and Collingwood was in 12th and bottom place with five wins. This was one of the tightest League seasons ever.
Collingwood played with confidence and used their handball game extremely well, however it all fell apart in the final quarter as the Saints kicked away. The Magpies could not stop Gary Lofts (five goals) and the match winner, Hunt. At the 20-minute mark of the third quarter Collingwood went to a 23-point lead and they looked like running away, but Lofts booted three goals in six minutes and finished with four for the quarter.
When it mattered most, the Saints had too many options as Barry Breen and George Young pushed forward to stretch the Magpies defence.
But it was Hunt who stood supreme. The Herald Sun rated him nine out of 10, which makes you wonder what they would reckon he had to do for a perfect score.
COLLINGWOOD 4.5 7.8 13.10 15.14 (104)
ST KILDA 5.0 7.2 14.8 18.13 (121)
Hunt, Duperouzel, Reynolds, Perovic, Ditterich, Lofts
Lofts 5, Duperouzel 3, Booth 2, Colling 2, Hunt 2, Elliott, Muir
|Bill Mildenhall||Kevin Neale||Carl Ditterich|
|Ian Baker||Russell Reynolds||Gary Colling|
|Russell Greene||Glenn Elliott||Val Perovic|
|Colin Carter||Rex Hunt||Barry Breen|
|Doug Booth||George Young||Robert Muir|
|Jeff Sarau||Gary Lofts|
|Robert Elliott||Wayne Judson|