Former St Kilda coach Grant Thomas has unloaded on the Saints, calling on the AFL club to “get serious” about breaking their 55-year premiership drought.
Thomas, who led St Kilda from 2001 to 2006, has endorsed a bid by influential Saints figure Larry Benge to join the club’s board.
In doing so, Thomas is calling for “hard” decisions and changes to be made so St Kilda can challenge for a second VFL/AFL flag – and their first since defeating Collingwood by a point in the 1966 grand final.
He referred to the resurgence of Melbourne and the Western Bulldogs, who ended their own barren runs in recent years.
After the Demons’ breakthrough grand final win last month, St Kilda now hold the mantle of longest current flag drought in the AFL.
“There are two types of teams in the competition – one that’s in the premiership business and the others that are just sort of playing AFL,” Thomas told SEN.
“I get the distinct feeling that the Saints are just happy playing AFL.
“Their best is finals, but the gap tells me that there is something wrong somewhere.
“I see Melbourne and the Bulldogs have gone past us in recent years and I just think if they can do it, there’s no reason why we can’t.
“But we’re not going to do it doing what we’re doing.
“We really need to enter the premiership business race.”
Thomas believes St Kilda haven’t “deserved success” but that could change.
“We haven’t made the right decisions, we haven’t done it properly and you don’t deserve anything in this world – you’ve got to earn it,” he said.
“Melbourne earned it this year in magnificent fashion… I suppose they’ve lit me up a bit.”
St Kilda shot up the ladder in 2020, making the top-eight for the first time in nine years, before falling to eventual premiers Richmond in the semi-finals.
After an inconsistent start this year, plagued by injuries, they finished 10th.
After the Saints’ last game of 2021, coach Brett Ratten told his players “why can’t it be us” winning the premiership next season.
“I see our supporters, exactly the same (as Melbourne) – starved of opportunity,” Ratten said.
“It takes a whole footy club to win it.”
St Kilda fell agonisingly short of the ultimate success in 2009 and 2010, with grand final defeats in successive years.