Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature

Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature
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Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature
Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature
Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature Home : VFL            Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature

 

 

 

No Saunter on Beach Road for big Nick in 2004

The great Jim 'Frosty' Miller had only just hung up his VFA boots when Sandringham full-forward Nick Sautner was born, in 1977. The year before, Dandenong had met Port Melbourne in one of the most violent grand finals in football history. As coincidence would have it, it was the king-hit on Miller's opposite number, champion full-forward Fred Cook that ignited the tit for tat violence that sent not only Cook, but Norm Brown, Allan Harper and Paddy Flaherty to the ground in a savage second quarter. Unfortunately, Channel Ten's decision to pulp the bulk of its VFA grand final tapes means there remain only a few snippets of the goal-kicking feats of the legendary Miller. Spurned by Ron Barassi at Carlton, despite kicking a bag of goals in a match against Collingwood, Miller went on to amass 883 VFA goals from 183 games at an average of 4.8 goals per game.

MILLER SOARS AND GOALS IN 1975

I have one lasting memory of the sandy haired, bandy-legged boy from Garfield. It came in the form of a soaring mark late in the final quarter of a match at Dandenong's Shepley Oval in 1975, my first year with Coburg. When the torpedo left Miller's left boot it had only one mission, to pierce the goals, post high. It was enough to give the Redlegs the lead and inspire them to victory, despite the game looking to have been ours. It was no wonder they loved Frosty.

Thirty years after Miller's departure from the alluring VFA, Nick Sautner's march towards another Frosty Miller Medal (The VFL's goalkicking award) is suddenly gathering momentum. A sometimes, enigmatic player, with no qualms about expressing indignation at rough handling by an opponent or officialdom, Sautner has never played better. Where there had once a question about the strength and accuracy of his kicking, on Saturday he drove the ball through the goals with sublime confidence and strength. A fierce training regime in the pre-season, that stripped him of excess fat and replaced it with muscle, has given him an athlete's body and renewed pace and agility. On Saturday he was simply too good for Essendon players, rookie Tim O'Keefe, and Andrew Lee. Sautner's 6 goals against the Bendigo Bombers have taken him to 45 goals for the season. With the Zebras almost certain to play at least two finals matches he has given himself an outside chance of kicking the ton, or at least beating his 93-goal tally of season 2002.

Goals, goals, goals

With 581 goals from 182 games the 29-year-old Sautner is entitled to puff out the chest. The transformation of the old VFA clubs into hybrid AFL/VFL teams has brought great pressure on VFL listed players. Before Port went alone, the brilliant goal-kicker, David Pitt, struggled for the kind of a game time he needed, to amass goals. Many others were in the same boat. So concerned was Sautner about the problems created by alignments he left the Zebras in 2001 to play with the stand-alone Frankston. After a stint with the Northern Bullants it was back to the alma mater, Sandringham, in 2004, where he immediately collected his sixth Frosty Miller Medal.

It might have been a rocky road, and he has certainly raised a few eyebrows, but Sautner need only let his goals do the talking. The VFL needs players such as Sautner. So too does it need stars such as Ezra Poyas - 5 goals and man of the match last Saturday - the exhilarating Zebra captain Chad Liddell and the likes of David Gallagher. It needs its own heroes. Nick Sautner is now one of them. I must admit to at times having wondered whether his goal kicking feats could ever be compared to the likes of Miller, Cook, Ian Rickman and Jamie Shaw. Right now he is emerging as a player who deserves a place in the pantheon of VFA goalkickers. And with 4 premiership medals around his neck and a couple of seasons left up his sleeve there are a few chapters yet to be written in the Nick Sautner story.

In 1981 Rex Hunt kicked 110 goals with the Zebras and drew vociferous crowds to the Trevor Barker Beach Road Oval. On Sunday, with the Zebras at home to the Bullants in what could be grand final preview, a big crowd is sure to descend on the old ground. Sautner at one end. Digby Morrell at the other. That's enough to start Trevor's father, Jack, talking.

 

 
 

Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature
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