On Friday night the 18 AFL Clubs converge upon Sydney to lay claim on the best young footballing talent in the country. With two picks in the first ten, St Kilda would appear to have a strong opportunity to add quality players to their list.
To answer the question of how valuable their picks are, we will take a look at who the Saints have drafted with the selection previously, and the best five players to have been drafted with the pick. We continue this with the club’s third selection, pick number 34.
SAINTS PICK 34 HISTORY
Friday night will be the first time the Saints have had the 34th selection in the National Draft. Despite this, success the club has had later in the draft suggests that quality can be discovered at this stage of the draft.
In 2001 St Kilda selected Leigh Montagna with the 37th pick in the draft. In 287 games, Montagna stamped himself as a modern day great of the club. A two time All-Australian, he also played in the St Kilda Grand Final teams of 2009-10 and the Night Premierships in 2004 and 2008.
In 2011, with the same pick the Saints called out Jack Newnes name on draft day. Newnes has proven a reliable and dependable defender in 113 games for the club. A regular in the side, he has played the last 91 games in a row and has missed just four games in the last five seasons.
The eighth selection has been quite fruitful for the clubs that have possessed it over the years. The 33 players selected have averaged 57-games, 6 x Premiership Medals, 5 x All Australian Jerseys and 1 x Best and Fairests. Here are the best of the best, the top five players taken with pick number 34.
Taken at 34 in the 1986 VFL Draft, Craig Kelly would prove a rock solid member of a Collingwood defence that would end the club’s long Premiership drought.
An uncompromising player, Kelly would be no stranger to the tribunal during his 122-game career for the Magpies. A fan favourite among the Collingwood faithful, he won the best clubman award in the team’s 1990 Premiership season and would achieve life membership in 2004.
After being drafted in 1999 ‘Neon’ Leon was a living highlight reel throughout his 225 game career.
A two time All Australian, Davis was a member of the 2002, 2003, 2010 & 2011 Collingwood Grand Final teams. During the 2011 season Davis reinvented himself as a dashing half back, winning his second All Australian nod, but that seasons Grand Final would prove to be his last AFL game.
Despite having picks picks 1, 2, & 18 in the 2009 Draft it was the player that Melbourne drafted at pick 34 who has proven the most important addition to the club.
While the three players brought to the club ahead of him have all left, Max Gawn remains one of the Demons most influential players. After a career best season in 2016 when he earned All Australian honours, Gawn is considered among the competition’s elite ruckmen. With Melbourne seemingly poised for a tilt at the Premiership in coming seasons, there could be a few greater prizes soon within the bearded ruckman’s reach.
Despite being drafted from Tasmania by Geelong in the 1988 Draft, it would be for the Swans that Darryn Cresswell would make his mark during a 244 game career.
A hard in and under midfielder with a nose for goals, Cresswell was highly respected thoughout his 12 seasons in the Harbour City. A member of Sydney’s 1996 Grand Final side Cresswell would play a vital role in the club’s charge to the decider. Firstly by kicking the go ahead goal with less than a minute to go in the Qualifying Final, he also kicked a vital goal late in the Prelim Final that tied the scores and allowed Tony Lockett’s after the siren behind to be the match winner.
He would also kick an after the siren winner against North Melbourne in 2002 but is perhaps best known for a moment during the 1997 season when he forcefully corrected his dislocated knee. As brave and canny as they come, Cresswell is a member both the Sydney and Tasmanian Teams of the Century.
The number 34 pick from the 2002 National Draft, would remarkably play in five grand finals in his first 100 games of League Football.
An unassuming character, Sean Dempster quietly went about his business on a football field and his efforts were perhaps only properly noticed in the rare occasions he was unavailable for selection.
A member of Sydney’s 2005 Drought breaking premiership winning team, and defeated Grand Final team a season later, Dempster would play in three more after being traded to St Kilda in 2007.
At St Kilda he would finish in the top three in the Best & Fairest four times, and earn All-Australian selection in 2011. After a series of concussions, Dempster quietly announced his retirement in 2017, bring an end to an unheralded but entirely remarkable career.
How did we go? Who is your choice for best ever Number 34 selection? Have your say in the poll below.