Jarryn Geary’s journey from the Rookie list to St Kilda captain and 150 game player

On Saturday 20 May 2017 against Sydney at Etihad Stadium Saints captain Jarryn Geary became the 56th player to reach 150 VFL/AFL games for the St Kilda Football Club, joining four current team-mates who have reached this milestone – Nick Riewoldt (327 games), Leigh Montagna (280), Sam Gilbert (189) and David Armitage (152). Small defender Geary has finished in the top six at St Kilda’s best and fairest four times including a career best runner-up finish in 2016. In February 2017 Geary was appointed as St Kilda’s captain, succeeding Riewoldt who captained St Kilda a club record 220 times.

Only five of Geary’s team-mates from when he joined St Kilda late in 2006 are still playing in the AFL, four at St Kilda – Riewoldt, Montagna, Gilbert and Armitage, along with Brendon Goddard who joined Essendon as a restricted free agent in 2012. Three of these players were top ten selections at the National Draft – Riewoldt and Goddard both being selected by St Kilda with the number one pick in 2000 and 2002 respectively whilst Armitage was selected with pick 9 in 2006. Montagna and Gilbert were both third round selections at the National Draft, being chosen with pick 37 in 2001 and pick 33 in 2005 respectively. Geary faced a tougher path to get on to an AFL list, being overlooked by all 16 clubs at the 2006 National Draft before St Kilda recruited him with pick 58 at the 2007 Rookie Draft.

Whilst Geary didn’t play any games for St Kilda in 2007 he was elevated to the primary list at the end of the season. From 2008 to 2011 St Kilda made the finals in all four seasons including the preliminary final in 2008 and the Grand Final in 2009 and 2010 which made it difficult to break into the St Kilda side. Geary played 52 games for St Kilda from 2008 to 2011 but only one of the club’s 11 finals during this period.

From 2012 onwards Geary has played at least 20 games in a season four times, with the only exception being 2014 when he was restricted to seven games due to suffering an elbow injury during Round 7 in his 100th AFL game. Throughout his career Geary has predominantly played as a small defender, however he has also been utilised as a run-with midfielder.

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In the week leading up to Geary’s 150th AFL game St Kilda head coach Alan Richardson commented on Geary “He’s just so consistent. There’s not a big gap between his best performances and his lesser performances. He rarely gets beaten in contests, he’s got this terrific ability to be able to know when to stay or when to leave and run to a contest, either in the air on the deck. He’s very clean, able to control the footy and he provides our team with enormous energy and run.”1

Speaking to saints.com.au on reaching 150 AFL games 28 year-old Geary commented “I’m very proud of it now and I guess in a few years time when I’m finished up I’ll look back on it and I’ll be even more proud of it. My grandad was a life member of a few different clubs and I remember looking up at the board and thinking I’d love to be a life member somewhere and I’m so happy it’s going to be St Kilda Football Club. It’s been a bit of a journey. It seems like a long time ago that I played my 100th to be honest, which wasn’t a very fun day. I’m hoping this is a little bit exciting and has a better ending than the last milestone game that I had.”2

Geary was born on 23 June 1988, grew up in Eaglehawk – a suburb of Bendigo and has a large family which may have contributed to his strong competitive instincts. Jarryn’s dad was one of 10 children whilst his mum had an even larger family with 14 siblings. Jarryn’s dad played football and cricket for leagues in Bendigo and also went on to have a role as an administrator with several of these leagues. Jarryn’s mum played netball for several small country towns and was a better sportsperson than Jarryn’s dad. Several members of Jarryn’s family are very good endurance runners including his younger brothers. Jarryn is the fourth of six children, having an older sister, two older brothers and two younger twin brothers. Jarryn’s earliest sporting memories are playing sport in the backyard with his siblings and also going with his grandfather Brian to different games.

As a junior Jarryn played for the Eaglehawk Football Club in the Bendigo Football League. When Jarryn was in high school his dad was the coach of the team and the rest of his teammates went to Eaglehwak High whereas Jarryn attended Bendigo Catholic College. Jarryn captained the Eaglehawk Under 15’s and Under 16’s in school footy however Jarryn’s close mate Joel Selwood usually captained the representative teams. Jarryn had more experience captaining cricket teams than football teams. Jarryn and Joel played for different junior football club’s with Joel playing for Sandhurst. In an under 13’s game in the early 2000’s Jarryn kicked seven goals opposed to Joel, however Joel also kicked seven goals and played on the victorious team.

In 2005 Jarryn played nine game for the Bendigo Pioneers in the TAC Cup Under 18’s, averaging 6.9 kicks, 4.9 handballs and 2.8 marks per game with a disposal efficiency of 72.6%. Due to a knee injury Jarryn’s teammate Joel Selwood was restricted to only three under 18 matches for the Bendigo under 18’s in 2006. With Selwood on the sidelines Geary took on more responsibility, including being captain, in his 16 matches in the Bendigo midfield during 2006 Jarryn averaged 13.3 kicks, 7.7 handballs and 3.5 marks per game with a disposal efficiency of 68.5%, he also made an impact on the scoreboard, averaging just over a goal per game to kick 19 goals, 14 behinds for the season. 

Geary improved slightly during the first third of his top-age under 18 season with Bendigo in 2006, however in the middle third of the season he elevated his game to an elite level. Geary’s profile in the AFL Prospectus 2007 said “From Rounds 8-14 he ranked No.1 in the TAC Cup for disposals, uncontested possessions, handball-receives and inside 50s. He also ranked second in score assists in that time and over the course of the season his tally of 23 score assists was the most of any midfielder.”3 Late in the 2006 season Geary suffered an injury set-back of his own, breaking his arm. Geary was awarded the Neville Strauch memorial trophy as the Bendigo Pioneers under 18 club champion.

Geary’s outstanding 2006 season for the Bendigo Pioneers was rewarded with selection in the TAC Cup team of the year, being named on the interchange bench, Bendigo team-mate Connors was named on a wing, whilst future St Kilda team-mates Robert Eddy and Jarryd Allen were named at half-back and centre-half forward respectively. A player that joined the Saints as a free agent in 2017 was named at full back in the 2006 TAC Cup team of the year – Nathan Brown who played for the North Ballarat Rebels in the TAC Cup before spending a decade at Collingwood in the AFL. Eddy joined St Kilda at the same time as Geary, being picked at number 39 at the 2007 Rookie Draft, whilst Allen joined St Kilda at the same time as Armitage, being the number 59 selection at the 2006 National Draft. Jarryn wasn’t expecting to be selected at the National Draft and was just grateful to be given an opportunity on the rookie list of an AFL club, especially given that only five players were selected after him at the 2007 Rookie Draft.

Bendigo Pioneers coach Mark Ellis said about Jarryn Geary and Joel Selwood “At that level of competition, guys who really want to work hard and develop tend to attract to one another. They were pretty professional, even at that age, and they knew what they wanted to do and wanted to achieve. They probably worked together a lot and it was terrific to see one was helping the other. They were very driven. But it was pretty evident they were never going to get ahead of themselves.”4 

Geary played in a trial game in 2006 for Vic Country but narrowly missed out on selection for the representative team at the 2006 under 18 National Championships. Geary attended the 2006 Draft Camp, having his best result in the 3km time-trial with a finish in the top 15%, recording the same time as David Armitage.

Given the outstanding numbers Geary produced during his final season in the under 18s some people might be surprised that all 16 AFL clubs overlooked him at the 2006 National Draft. A mitigating factor to this is that AFL club’s and recruiters assess a potential draftee’s entire junior career including at under 16s, not just their final year at under 18 level. Armitage, Eddy and Allen all represented their respective states at the under 16s as well as the under 18s, which contributed to them being selected by St Kilda before Geary who didn’t represent his state at under 16 or under 18 level. 

Geary is one week younger than David Armitage and joined St Kilda in the 2006/2007 pre-season just like Armitage, and the two players have had very similar career trajectories during their 10 and a half years together at St Kilda. However, Armitage joined the Saints with considerably more fanfare as a first round pick at the 2006 National Draft, whilst Geary Joined St Kilda weeks later after being picked with selection number 58 at the 2007 Rookie Draft. In an April 2017 interview with Inside Football Geary reflected on the latter stages of his junior career and the 2007 Rookie Draft saying “When the Rookie Draft was on, it was only on the internet. You get told by so many clubs if you are pick this or pick that we will take you. I sort of got over it by the time it got to pick 30 or pick 35. It hadn’t been until I was 16 that I had thought I was a chance. I played Pioneers schoolboys in the Under 15s and played reasonably well. The year after that I came second in the Under 16s competition medal, but I didn’t even get a letter to invite me to training. I thought jeez, I’m not going that well – maybe they just don’t like me. When it got to the draft period I was hopeful, but never thought I was guaranteed. The way I found out I had been drafted in the Rookie Draft was when Ross Lyon rang me before my name had even appeared on the screen.”5

During the 2006 Trade period, 2006 NAB AFL Draft, 2007 NAB AFL Pre-season Draft and 2007 NAB AFL Rookie Draft 12 players joined the St Kilda Football Club, three of these players went on to play over 100 AFL games for the Saints, Geary, Armitage and mature age recruit Clinton Jones, selected by the Saints with their first selection at the 2007 Rookie Draft, number 9 overall. An experienced player on St Kilda’s 2007 list had also been recruited from the Bendigo Pioneers – Nick Dal Santo who at the end of the 2006 season had played 98 AFL games. Dal Santo went on to play 322 AFL games comprised of 260 for St Kilda and 66 for North Melbourne. Dal Santo was selected in the All-Australian team three times and twice finished in the top of the Brownlow Medal. In April 2017 Dal Santo returned to the St Kilda Football Club as the Next Generation Academy coach and is also involved in the coaching of the Saints Father-Son Academy.

Being members of large families and having older brothers contributed to Jarryn and Joel’s competitive instincts and refusal to take a backward step. Selwood had an injury affected 2006 season for the Bendigo under 18’s, however this followed dominant junior seasons in 2004 and 2005, capped off by selection in the All-Australian team at the NAB AFL Under-18 Championships in 2005. Selwood was selected by Geelong with the number 7 pick at the 2006 National Draft and before he had even played a single AFL game he was touted as a future club captain. Joel is now the  equal longest serving captain (along with GWS co-captain’s Callan Ward and Phil Davis) in the AFL having been Geelong’s captain since 2012, he is a five time All-Australian including three as captain and has Geelong’s best and fairest three times.

When St Kilda selected Jarryn Geary as an 18 year old in the 2007 Rookie Draft, he was 183 centimetres tall and weighed 77 kilograms. Geary was recruited from Eaglehawk Football Club which competes in the Bendigo Football League, and TAC Cup side Bendigo Pioneers Under-18s. Geary’s strengths were his reading of the play, skills, courage and ball-winning ability, which were major factors in him winning the Bendigo Pioneers 2006 best and fairest. Team-mates at the Bendigo Pioneers who got selected at the 2006 AFL National Draft were Joel Selwood (Geelong), Daniel Connors and Andrew Collins (both Richmond). Selwood and Geary were team-mates in the under 15s at Bendigo Catholic College and became close mates with both players sharing a hard work ethic, uncompromising attack on the ball and a disciplined approach to their football, even at a young age.

Geary spent the entire 2007 season playing in the VFL with the Casey Scorpions, mainly playing as a midfielder and was rewarded for his good form during his 15 matches by being elevated off the Rookie list and named an emergency for St Kilda’s final match of the season in Round 22. Whilst Geary didn’t make his AFL debut during the 2007 season he was elevated from the rookie list to the primary list at the conclusion of the 2007 season, earning a spot on St Kilda’s primary list ahead of Jayden Attard and Robert Eddy who both remained on St Kilda’s Rookie list for the 2008 season.

Geary played three 2008 NAB Cup matches including the Grand Final win against Adelaide at AAMI Stadium. Geary made his AFL debut at 19 years of age in Round 1 2008 against Sydney at Docklands and was very impressive, having 13 kicks, eight handballs, nine marks, an equal team-high four rebound 50s and an equal game-high six bounces during the two point victory. Geary was one of five players to make their St Kilda debut in Round 1 against Sydney however the other four all had AFL experience, being Steven King and Charlie Gardiner (both Geelong), Michael Gardiner (West Coast) and Adam Schneider (Sydney).

After having only nine disposals against the Western Bulldogs in Round 3, Geary was dropped and remained out of the side for five weeks, he was twice named an emergency during this time. Geary was recalled in Round 9 and played five straight games, with his form dropping away he played only two of St Kilda’s last 13 matches, – Round 18 and 19, in both games he had under 10 disposals.

The profile for Geary in the AFL Record Season Guide 2009 said “The skilful midfielder/half back made a good start to his second season at the Saints, playing eight of the first 13 games, but tired and played just two more games.”6 During six of his first seven games Geary had at least 13 disposals, however he failed to reach this mark in any of his last four games of the season. In 2008 Geary played 10 AFL games, averaging 83 minutes, 5.6 kicks, 5.8 handballs, 3.6 marks and 1.4 rebound 50’s per game with a disposal efficiency of 75.4%. At AFL level in 2008 Geary mainly played as a defender opposed to the oppositions small forwards, whilst at VFL level he spent more time playing in the midfield, averaging 25 disposals and kicking 11 goals in his 13 games.

Geary again started the 2009 season well and played the first 14 rounds of the season for St Kilda, in seven matches from Round 4 to Round 10 he was very consistent, having between 19 and 26 disposals in each match. In Round 8 Geary received a Rising Star nomination for his performance against Essendon at Etihad Stadium, having 13 kicks, six handballs, taking four marks, four inside 50s and kicking a goal. The previous week in the 88 point victory against Collingwood Jarryn set a new career best with 26 disposals, comprised of 14 kicks and 12 handballs, he also took nine marks and had seven one percenters – ranked second for St Kilda.

By the time Geary received his rising star nomination in Round 8, 2009 his former Bendigo Pioneers team-mate Joel Selwood had already established himself as a star of the AFL, having won the Rising Star award in his debut 2007 season, polling 44 votes, seven ahead of runner-up Scott Pendlebury and had played in two Grand Finals, including a premiership in his first season. After receiving his rising star nomination Geary said about Selwood “He was always the talk of the town. I watched him work really hard and I remember in under 18s he was in the gym every day trying to build up to what he is now. I’ve learnt a fair bit off him. I’ve been to both of his grand finals and watched him play. He is someone I’ve got a lot of respect for. I love seeing him do well and he’s one of the players of the league at the moment.”7

St Kilda just missed the finals in Geary’s first season 2007, however they improved significantly to be a top four team in 2008 and won their first eight games of the 2009 season (they would eventually continue the winning streak to 19 games) making competition for spots tough not just in the team but also on the primary list. After receiving the Round 8 Rising Star nomination in 2009 Geary said “I came in the door with Rob Eddy and Clinton Jones. Jayden Attard was also a rookie that year and he played 22 games before he did his knee. It was good to come through with those boys. We were competing with each other to try and get on the list. It probably helped us out with where we are now. We all worked very hard and coming through with those guys really helped me along the way.”8

Weeks after receiving his Rising Star nomination Geary played the 24th game of his career in Round 14 2009 against Geelong, it was the first time he played an AFL game against his close mate Joel  Selwood. In the days leading up to the game Joel said “Jarryn has come a long way. He has had to work really hard to get where he is and it’s paying off at the moment. He has always been a good runner even when he was a kid. He was good at athletics at school and in Little Athletics. He was always gutsy. It’s a replica of his AFL career to date. I’m really proud of him and looking forward to actually playing against him. It has been a long time since I’ve played against him. But, yeah, we’ll catch up after the game.”9

St Kilda and Geelong had both been in rare form leading up to their Round 14 match at Etihad Stadium with both sides winning all 13 games to that stage of the 2009 season. Amazingly the game not just reached, but surpassed the unbelievably high expectations with both sides playing attacking, skilful, high intensity football where the tackling and pressure applied to the ball carrier was absolutely immense. St Kilda won a high quality, entertaining game in thrilling fashion by six points after ruckman Michael Gardiner took a spectacular mark deep in St Kilda’s forward line and kicked the set-shot goal to break the deadlock with little more than a minute remaining.

Geary’s form again dropped away in the second half of the 2009 season and after having less than 10 disposals in Round 12 and Round 14 he was dropped and played only one more senior match for the season after Round 14.

In Round 19 against Hawthorn at Launceston St Kilda were without seven of their best players in Nick Dal Santo, Sam Fisher, Brendon Goddard, Lenny Hayes, Leigh Montagna, Sam Gilbert and Nick Riewoldt. Geary was given another opportunity in this match and played his role well, having 14 kicks, one handball, seven tackles and a team-high seven rebound 50s in the 25 point win. The following week with all the aforementioned stars returning Geary was demoted back to the VFL. Jarryn was named an emergency for six of St Kilda’s last nine games including the Grand Final against Geelong. In 2009 Geary played 15 games, averaging 89 minutes, 9.5 kicks, 7.4 handballs, 4.7 marks and 2.1 rebound 50’s per game with a disposal efficiency of 69.7%. Geary’s disposals per game increased by 48% from 11.4 in 2008 to 16.9 in 2009, whilst his tackling increased significantly from 1.3 to 3.3 per game.

During 2010 Jarryn Geary had the most consistent season of his career to that stage, playing 19 matches in the home and away season, missing Rounds 9, 10 and 17 due to being omitted. In Round 4 against Fremantle Geary had 15 kicks, 10 handballs, a team-high five inside 50s and took six marks in the 15 point victory at Etihad Stadium. During 2010 Geary usually played across half-back opposed to small forwards and had at least 13 disposals in 17 of his matches, he was very unlucky to get dropped after having 11 kicks, nine handballs, taking four marks and kicking a goal against Collingwood in Round 16.

Geary was named in the qualifying final side against Geelong but was a late withdrawal with general soreness, his place in the side was taken by Robert Eddy, Geary was named an emergency for St Kilda’s next three finals including both Grand Finals in 2010, with the two other emergencies for the Grand Final Replay being David Armitage and Rhys Stanley. In 2009 and 2010 St Kilda played in three Grand Finals with Geary and Armitage both being emergencies for all three games.

In 2010 Geary played 19 games, averaging 100 minutes, 8.7 kicks, 7.8 handballs, 3.9 marks and 1.1 rebound 50’s per game with a disposal efficiency of 72.3%. Commenting about his game-style and his role half-way through the 2010 season Jarryn said “I don’t tend to do too many flashy things during the game, I just tend to do my job each week and I’m happy with that. I’m comfortable being a role player in the team rather than a star. I’ve been playing on the small forwards, so I have been speaking to a few of the other players to get a bit of advice on positioning and how to go about it. Last year I was more in the midfield but this year I have been working with Stephen Silvagni a lot more on developing my game in defence.”10

Whilst Geary’s form did drop off before being dropped in 2009, his output remained very steady throughout 2010, in nine of his 10 games from Round 12 to Round 22 Geary had at least 15 disposals, so being left out of the St Kilda side late in 2010 was more down the fact that the team was a very difficult one to retain a place in rather than Geary’s form falling away. During Geary’s first three seasons on St Kilda’s primary list from 2008 to 2010 the club had finished in the top four and made at least the preliminary final in each season. Over this three year period Geary was the only St Kilda player to receive an AFL Rising Star nomination.

At the start of the 2011 season Geary was named as an emergency for the first two rounds before breaking his fibula playing in the VFL for Sandringham and was on the sidelines from Round 3 to Round 13. He returned through the VFL in Round 14 and after being an emergency for rounds 16 and 17 he returned to the AFL in Round 18, he retained his position in St Kilda’s team to play the last eight games of the season including the elimination final loss to Sydney. During 2011 Geary played eight matches averaging 56 minutes, 6.1 kicks, 3.8 handballs, 1.8 marks and 0.8 rebound 50’s per game with a disposal efficiency of 65.8%. In five of his eight matches Geary played as the substitute and performed the role well to provide St Kilda with plenty of run once he was activated. In Round 23 at 23 years of age Geary played his 50th AFL game in the 65 point win against North Melbourne, reaching this milestone one week after Ben McEvoy and two weeks before David Armitage. 

Playing primarily as a defender during 2012 Jarryn played 20 of St Kilda’s 22 games, missing rounds 10 and 11 with a facial fracture suffered late in the second quarter of Round 9 during a clash of heads with Sydney’s Alex Johnson after both players running towards a loose ball in opposite directions reached the ball at the same time and collided with one another. Whilst Geary wore a helmet for several weeks after his return he continued to play in the same courageous manner he had throughout his career. Geary finished the season very strongly to have at least 20 disposals in his last six games of the season including an equal season-high 27 against Greater Western Sydney in  Round 22, comprised of 13 kicks and 14 handballs, and set a new career best for contested possessions with 12 in the 128 point win.

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During 2012 Geary played 20 games, averaging 102 minutes, 9.5 kicks, 8.2 handballs, 3.9 marks and 2.5 rebound 50’s per game with a disposal efficiency of 72.7%. Geary finished sixth in St Kilda’s 2012 best and fairest, polling 80 votes to finish one vote behind Nick Riewoldt in fifth place. Jarryn ranked fourth at St Kilda for rebound 50s with 49, behind Sean Dempster (78), James Gwilt (54) and Brendon Goddard (50). Geary’s profile in the AFL Record Season Guide 2013 said “After spending much of his first five years on the periphery of St Kilda’s senior team, Geary was the club’s most improved player in 2012 as he consolidated himself in the defensive 50 with his uncompromising attack on the ball and approach to the contest.”11  

Geary finally cemented his position in St Kilda’s best 22 during 2012, performing his defensive role well as his opponent had more possessions than him in less than a third of his games, he also read the play well, excelling at gaining intercept possession and providing drive for the Saints from the backline. Geary’s profile in AFL Prospectus 2013 said “He ranked second at the club and 39th in the AFL for intercept possessions across the H&A season, recording the third highest scoring percentage of the top 50 with only Grant Birchall and Michael Doughty recording a higher percentage.”12

In Round 1 2013 against Gold Coast Geary received the first Brownlow Medal votes of his career, receiving two votes for a superb performance in which he had 15 kicks, a game-high 13 handballs, seven marks, six tackles and five rebound 50s, the eventual winner of the 2013 Brownlow Medal -Gold Coast midfielder Gary Ablett received the three votes in this game.

Geary had the season of his career to that stage in 2013, finishing fourth in St Kilda’s best and fairest on 76 votes, three votes ahead of midfielder David Armitage in fifth place. For most of the season Geary played as a defender opposed to small forwards, however he was also given some midfield run-with roles with his opponents including Steele Sidebottom and 2011 All-Australian Marc Murphy. In Round 6 Geary restricted Sidebottom to 10 disposals, well under half his season average of 24.1 disposals per game.

For the second season in a row Geary played at least 20 games, only missing Round 17 with a leg injury. Jarryn ranked fifth at St Kilda for rebound 50s with 51, behind Dylan Roberton (78), Leigh Montagna (68), Nick Dal Santo and Sean Dempster (both 58).

During 2013 Geary played 21 matches, averaging 104 minutes, 9.9 kicks, 7.8 handballs, 4.6 marks and 2.4 rebound 50’s per game with a disposal efficiency of 77.3%. The AFL Prospectus 2014 said about Jarryn’s 2014 season “He was the No. 1 ranked defender at the club, rating above average for disposals, uncontested possessions, tackles and pressure applied. He ranked ninth at the club for total metres gained, recording the best retention rate of the top 10 – 6% above the league average.” 13

In September 2013 to celebrate their 21st season the Bendigo Pioneers under 18s named their best team with 30 players in it comprised of 10 forwards, 10 midfielders and 10 defenders. Between them the Geary and Selwood families made up 20% of the Bendigo Pioneers team – Jarryn and Kallen Geary, along with Joel Selwood and his three brothers, Adam, Troy and Scott. Jarryn’s younger brother Kallen won the Bendigo Pioneers under 18s best and fairest in 2008 and 2009. Like Joel Selwood, Jarryn had three brothers that played for the Bendigo Pioneers during their junior careers. Jarryn’s oldest brother Daniel played for Vic Country and attended the draft camp but didn’t get drafted, another older brother Shannon played for the Bendigo Pioneers for two seasons.

The St Kilda 2014 leadership group was comprised of six players including both Geary and Armitage who at 25 years of age were considerably younger than the other four members of the group, comprising captain Nick Riewoldt – 31 years old, Lenny Hayes – 34, Leigh Montagna – 30 and Sean Dempster – 30. The St Kilda leadership group was largely driven by the players, with each St Kilda player submitting votes in front of their team-mates, and the coaching group also providing some input. Armitage and Geary were both members of a larger eight-man leadership group in 2013. Geary commented on the 2014 voting process “It was pretty much done in front of the group of players and everyone could see where they stood, so it was a lot more transparent this year in terms of the votes. Everyone knew who was voting for who, so it was a pretty good experience to go through that. Obviously the players voted pretty strongly for us six boys so it was really humbling for that to happen.”14

Whilst Geary and Armitage were by then integral members of the St Kilda team and part of the leadership group the lengthy apprenticeship they served before cementing their positions in the side assisted them in providing guidance to all players on the St Kilda list from 2013 best and fairest winner Jack Steven right down to players starting on the Rookie list just as Geary had done seven years previously. In February 2014 Geary commented on the important role that he and Armitage performed in the leadership group “The thing we need to do is build the guys up below us as well because there is sort of that gap, so if we can fast-track the younger blokes, maybe a couple next year might come up. We’re that link between the older and the younger group so that’s probably a bonus of having us in there.”15  Of the 14 players on St Kilda’s 2014 list that Champion Data rated as being average or better only three players were between 22 and 26 years of age, Geary, Steven and Armitage who were all in the above average category placing them in the top 11% to top 35%. St Kilda’s only two elite players rated in the top 10% for their position – Montagna and Riewoldt were both in their early 30’s. The Saints knew that Geary, Armitage and Steven would have pivotal roles to play in terms of both leadership and playing performance as the club attempted to climb up the ladder and make it back to the finals.

In March 2014 at their 2014 season launch the St Kilda Football Club unveiled their strategic framework for their next five seasons from 2014 to 2018.  A goal of the strategy was for St Kilda to be “admired as a competition leader in recruiting, player development and coaching”16 by 2018, whilst the club also planned to win its second premiership before 2020.

Early in the 2014 season Geary played in defense opposed to opposition small forwards including Eddie Betts and Mark Le Cras. Whilst Geary retained his speed and endurance from his junior days, he had increased his strength since being drafted, and in his eighth AFL season he weighed 82 kilograms, a five kilogram increase since joining the Saints.

At 25 years of age Geary played in his 100th AFL game against Hawthorn in Round 7 at the MCG. Speaking to saints.com.au a few days before his 100th game Geary said “I never really thought about playing 100 games so it wasn’t something I looked forward to. In the early stages I was worried about trying to get a game. The team was so successful in that period and I was in and out a bit. It’s something I’m really proud to do for this football club.”17 

Unfortunately Geary’s milestone game was a nightmare result on two fronts. Hawthorn defeated St Kilda by 145 points and Geary suffered a severe elbow injury that kept him on the sidelines for three months. Geary made his football return in Round 21 for Sandringham in the VFL and was playing well before injuring his calf, this injury ruled him out of the final two rounds of the season.

Geary had been remarkably consistent from 2012 to Round 8 2014, averaging between 17.60 and 16.4 disposals per game in each season. Since returning from his broken leg to the AFL in Round 15 2011 until injuring his elbow in Round 8 2014 Geary played 56 of a possible 59 games for the Saints, missing two games due to a facial fracture in 2012 and one game in 2013 due to a leg injury.

Geary’s profile in AFL Prospectus 2015 said “Playing deeper in defence than ever before, he rated above average for disposals, contested possessions and intercept possessions for a general defender. He ranked second at the club for intercept possessions from Rounds 1-6 and third in the AFL for groundball-gets won in the defensive 50. Geary demonstrated a good balance between winning the ball and applying pressure, rating elite for pressure applied and averaging the fourth-most pressure acts of any player in the AFL.”18

Geary played seven games in 2014, averaging 88 minutes, 9.3 kicks, 7.1 handballs, 3.9 marks and 2.4 rebound 50’s per game with a disposal efficiency of 70.9%. St Kilda finished last on the ladder in 2014 with four wins, 18 losses and a percentage of 60.8%, Melbourne had an identical win loss record but had a percentage of 68.4% to finish 17th, GWS finished 16th with six wins. As well as three-time St Kilda best and fairest winner Lenny Hayes retiring at the end of the 2014 season, Rhys Stanley was traded and experienced players James Gwilt and Clinton Jones weren’t offered contracts for 2015 as the St Kilda looked to fast-track their rebuild. The Saints had three selections in the first 22 picks at the 2014 National Draft and selected key forward Paddy McCartin at one, key defender Hugh Goddard at 21 and wingman/half-back Daniel McKenzie at 22.

Geary made his return to AFL football in Round 1 of the 2015 season against the GWS Giants at Etihad Stadium and had 12 kicks, 12 handballs, nine marks, an equal game-high six rebound 50’s, eight contested possessions and an equal team-high six one percenters.

Throughout 2015 Geary averaged a career-high 19.4 disposals spending time opposed to opposition small forwards as well as performing some run with roles in the midfield. In Round 2 he successfully performed a close checking role on Gold Coast captain Gary Ablett, restricting the two-time Brownlow Medallist to 23 disposals and one goal whilst having 15 disposals and five tackles himself in St Kilda’s 28 point win at Metricon Stadium. After playing the first six games of 2015 Geary was a late withdrawal for Round 7 with a quad injury which also forced him to miss Round 8.

In Round 9 Geary returned to the St Kilda side and played the remaining 14 games of the season. Geary had at least 23 disposals in a game seven times during 2015 including a season-high 25 disposals three times. Against Hawthorn in Round 10 at Etihad Stadium Geary restricted Luke Bruest to 14 disposals and one goal whilst providing drive from defense, having 11 kicks, 14 handballs, five marks, eight contested possessions, three bounces and one goal assist himself.

St Kilda only scored more than 110 points once in 2015, amazingly on this one occasion St Kilda scored 162 points to Essendon’s 52 in Round 14 to record a 110 point victory – the equal fifth greatest winning margin in St Kilda’s history. Against Essendon in Round 14 Geary had 10 kicks, 15 handballs, six marks, three rebound 50’s and a goal assist.

During 2015 Geary played 20 games, averaging 105 minutes, 10.7 kicks, 8.7 handballs, 4.9 marks and  2.6 rebound 50’s per game with a disposal efficiency of 76.9%. Geary ranked fifth at St Kilda for uncontested possessions and fourth for intercept possessions. Geary finished fifth in St Kilda’s best and fairest on 132 votes, 11 votes behind Leigh Montagna in fourth place. Jack Steven won the award followed by David Armitage and Sean Dempster in second and third place respectively.

In December 2015 Geary signed a two year contract extension with St Kilda until the end of 2018. At the time of signing Geary commented “In my time at the Saints, I have seen the club rise to the top and now work its way up from the bottom. There is an exciting future ahead for the Saints and I couldn’t be happier to commit to being a part of that future.”19

The profile for Geary in AFL Record Season 2016 said “Stepped up his leadership last year when he captained the team twice in the absence of Nick Riewoldt. The versatile defender played 20 games in a variety of roles, including against a range of smaller midfielder/forward types such as Gary Ablett and Luke Bruest. Placed fifth in the best and fairest and was awarded best clubman.”20

St Kilda showed signs of improvement during 2015 to record six wins, a draw and 15 losses to finish 14th on the ladder, two premiership points behind Melbourne in 13th place, but 14 premiership points behind 12th placed Collingwood and 26 premiership points behind the eighth placed North Melbourne.

In Round 3, 2016 against Collingwood at the MCG Geary had 10 kicks, 10 handballs, five marks and three rebound 50’s whilst keeping Alex Fasolo to 14 disposals and two goals. Saints key forwards Nick Riewoldt and Paddy McCartin were both concussed in separate instances in the second quarter and didn’t play at all in the second half whilst defender Dylan Roberton’s day also ended early after injuring his knee in the third quarter. On the day that St Kilda celebrated the 50th anniversary of their 1966 premiership the modern day Saints gave a courageous performance to defeat Collingwood by 29 points despite only having one fit player on the bench for much of the second half. 

Against Melbourne in the 39 point win at Etihad Stadium in Round 6 Geary restricted Jeff Garlett to 10 disposals and no goals whilst having 15 disposals himself. In a thrilling three point win against Geelong at Etihad Stadium in Round 14 Geary had eight kicks, six handballs and four marks whilst his opponent Daniel Menzel had 15 disposals and one goal.

Although Adelaide defeated St Kilda by 88 points at the Adelaide Oval in Round 11 and had 69 inside 50s to the Saints 30 Geary was able to shut down the most dangerous small forward in the competition – Eddie Betts. Whilst Geary had only seven disposals himself he was able to restrict Betts to 11 disposals and one goal. Betts averaged 3.1 goals per game in 2016 and finished equal fourth in the AFL Players Associations 2016 Most Valuable Player award. 

In Round 17, 2016 Geary restricted Melbourne small forward Jeff Garlett to seven disposals and two goals. At the 25 minute mark of the second quarter St Kilda led by a point, however Geary kicked two goals in two and a half minutes late in the term to gain momentum for the Saints. Whilst Melbourne closed the gap to five points early in the last quarter St Kilda finished strongly to win by 36 points. Geary finished the game with seven kicks, eight handballs, four marks, and four rebound 50’s as well as his two second term goals.

St Kilda finished the 2016 season in ninth position with 12 wins and 10 losses, an identical win-loss record and position as 2012. Whilst St Kilda made some difficult list management decisions which were a contributing factor in the Saints only recording 15 wins and a draw from 2013 to 2015 these difficult and in some cases unpopular decisions were vindicated with St Kilda’s rapid improvement in 2016.

Geary’s profile in AFL Prospectus 2017 said “Geary became a more defence-oriented player last season. He rated above average for intercept marks and intercept possessions per game, whilst he was elite at defending one-on-one contests, being outmarked just once in 34 contests – the second best percentage of the top 78 players to be the defender in at least 30 one-on-one contests.”21

Geary’s profile in AFL Record Season 2017 said “The defender had a career-best season last year and could be relied upon to shut down the opposition’s No. 1 small forward. Tough, hard and one of the best runners at the club, Geary showed his defensive abilities when he kept Eddie Betts out of the game against Adelaide, despite the Saints being thumped by the Crows.”22

During 2016 Geary played 21 games, averaging 103 minutes, 7.8 kicks, 7.4 handballs, 3.4 marks and a career-high 2.8 rebound 50’s per game with a disposal efficiency of 75.7%. Geary was a late withdrawal in Round 21 due to a back injury. Jarryn ranked third at St Kilda for intercept possessions in 2016 and finished second in St Kilda’s best and fairest with 157 votes, 15 votes behind midfielder Jack Steven who won his third b & f in four years, and four votes ahead of Nick Riewoldt. After 220 games as St Kilda captain, ranked third on the VFL/AFL all-time list Riewoldt stood down from the role as St Kilda captain at the club’s 2016 best and fairest award.

At the start of the 2017 season St Kilda had four players on its list that were 30 years old or older, Nick Riewoldt, Leigh Montagna, Sean Dempster & Sam Gilbert, these players were known as the ‘four elders’. The players on St Kilda’s 2017 list had a vote to determine which players were included in the club’s 2017 leadership group. St Kilda head coach Alan Richardson told AFL.com.au “Before that vote, Montagna, Riewoldt, Gilbert and Dempster got up and said ‘Don’t vote for us, we’re out. Time for you blokes to drive it. We think you’re ready’.”23 The Saints 2017 leadership group has eight players comprised of five members of the 2016 leadership group – Geary, Armitage, Steven, Mav Weller and Jack Newnes, along with three new additions – Sebastian Ross, Dylan Roberton and Josh Bruce.

After the leadership group was selected a meeting was held between Richardson, football manager Jamie Cox, director of coaching Danny Sexton and the ‘four elders’ to determine the club’s new captain. Richardson comments “They all spoke and it was pretty clear that Jarryn is the most complete of a pretty impressive group. Last year we got to see David Armitage and Jack Steven lead the group in ‘Rooey’s’ absence and they did a really good job. Geary had done the same. But it was good to have three new players in the group give their opinions, but (Geary) is the one who’s the most complete in terms of what’s important at our footy club. You don’t have to be the best player but you have to be a strong performer, someone who’s respected for how he plays and is a really impressive performer in his role.”24

In early February 2017 Geary was announced as the new Saints captain. On being appointed St Kilda captain Geary commented to saints.com.au “I’m obviously very humbled and honoured to be named captain. It’s a great football club, St Kilda, and there haven’t been a lot of captains – I think I’m the 62nd captain of the club. There’s been a lot more players come through the door so I’m obviously very honoured to be chosen to be captain.”25 On his own leadership style and the St Kilda  leadership group in general Geary commented “I think I’ll be the kind of leader that leads by actions, like everyone wants to. We’re in a really good position where we’ve got a really good group of leaders now that are going to really drive the club with their actions first. We’ve got some values that we hold really close to our chest. Hopefully we can deliver on them each week and the boys can get in behind them and do the same.”26

Upon being appointed St Kilda captain Geary reflected on his journey from the Rookie list to Saints captain and told saints.com.au in his first official interview as St Kilda Captain “I’ve just never really taken anything for granted. When you get taken as a rookie you’ve only got one chance to show what you’ve got, you’ve got a one-year contract and you’ve got to fight tooth and nail to keep your spot the following year. I think I’ve done that with my footy every year; I’m a pretty competitive person and hate to be beaten. I never set a goal to be an AFL captain; every week I gave myself the opportunity to perform really strongly by fighting tooth and nail to win my position. Things come your way every now and then, you don’t set out to achieve them but I’m really honoured to be here now.”27

During the interview with Saints.com.au Geary also spoke about the captains and leaders he has played under at St Kilda, commenting “‘Rooey’ has been basically my captain the whole time I’ve been here, but I’ve played with some great leaders like Lenny Hayes, Nick Dal Santo, I spent a year or two learning from Robert Harvey; I’ve learnt a lot from those guys and I’ll take bits and pieces away from them. But I’ll try and be myself the whole time and hopefully I’ve been put in the role for that very reason, but I’ll take bits and pieces from them for sure.”28

On 16 March 2017 Geary attended the AFL Captain’s Day at the MCG along with the captain’s of the other 17 AFL clubs including Geelong captain Joel Selwood. At the Captain’s Day Selwood spoke to saints.com.au about his close mate Geary, commenting “(I played) plenty of footy with him and against him. ‘Gears’ was the type of player who had a lot of skill, a huge work rate like you’ve seen down at training and in games I’m sure. He just never gave up on the opportunity. I was lucky enough to go to school with him and then go on and play Pioneers with him. To see that he limped through the draft and got picked at No. 53 or No. 57 in the rookie draft in the same year that I did; I always knew that he was going to make it because he had that will just to get there. Nick’s going to be a hard person to replace, but you have a star person and a star individual who is going to look after the footy club really well.”29

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In the week before his first game as full-time captain of St Kilda (he has been the acting captain previously) the club played Melbourne in the opening Round of the 2017 season Jarryn commented to melbournefc.com.au. “My fiancé Emma’s father actually played for Melbourne, Peter Giles, so there is a bit of a rivalry at home. They’re very much a Melbourne family, so in round one, I won’t just be competing with the current Melbourne players, but the past as well. It’s a tough situation, because my fiancé says she barracks for St Kilda, but every now and then, I see her giving Melbourne a bit of a fist pump, so she’s got a soft spot for the Dees.”30 Peter Giles played 124 games for Melbourne from 1979 to 1987, he predominantly played in defense but also had some stints in the forward line.

Melbourne’s last victory over St Kilda was the 2006 elimination final at the MCG which is also the Demons most recent win in a final. In four seasons from 2013 to 2016 St Kilda and Melbourne were never more than two positions apart on the ladder at the end of the season, despite being so close on the ladder St Kilda dominated the head to head battles and won 13 games in a row from 2007 to 2016. Geary commented “I think we’ve had a pretty healthy rivalry for a number of years and we have had the wood over them (Melbourne) for a period of time, but some of those wins have been pretty close. Melbourne probably feel they’ve been unlucky not to get over the line on a couple of those games, so really those few games could’ve gone either way really. Melbourne has been playing some really good footy in the off-season and played some really good footy last year, so we think it’s going to be a really good game.”31

Given the number of early draft picks and the form St Kilda and Melbourne displayed during 2016 both clubs were expected to improve in 2017 and push strongly for a finals berth and the Round 1 edition of the AFL Record featured an article by Ashley Browne titled ‘Demons and Saints Dare to dream… the next big things.’ In Round 1 of the 2017 season at Etihad Stadium St Kilda kicked six goals to two in the opening term to lead by 23 points at quarter time, however Melbourne dominated the next two quarters, kicking 13 goals to three and led by 34 points at the final change, the Demons went to win by 30 points.

In Round 3 against Brisbane at Etihad Stadium Geary had his first win as captain, with the Saints winning by 31 points. For much of the game Geary had a midfield run-with role on Dayne Zorko.

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A 14 point win against Collingwood at Etihad Stadium enabled St Kilda to square the ledger at two wins and two losses. Geary restricted Alex Fasolo to nine disposals and one goal whilst having 17 disposals, seven marks, five tackles, two contested marks, and a game-high nine one percenters himself and played a typical courageous game. Geary received five votes in the AFL Coaches Association Player of the Year award to be ranked second for the game with fellow defender Dylan Roberton, behind Saints midfielder Sebastian Ross with nine votes. Geary was named in the AFL Media Round 4 team of the week at half-back. Geary was joined in the team by two St Kilda teammates – fellow Saints defender Dylan Roberton on the opposite half-back flank and midfielder Ross who was the fans pick for the final spot on the interchange.

In Round 5 Geary captained St Kilda and his close mate and former Bendigo Pioneers teammate Joel Selwood captained Geelong. Very little separated the two sides for the first three quarters however after the Saints led by five points at three quarter-time Geelong dominated the last quarter, kicking eight goals to one to record a resounding 38 point victory. Playing as a small defender Geary had six kicks, eight handballs and recorded a disposal efficiency of 85.7%. Joel Selwood was clearly best afield, playing in the midfield he had an equal career-high 43 disposals, 22 contested possessions, laid a tackle, kicked a goal and had two goal assists.

St Kilda played their first Friday night game in more than two years against GWS in Round 7 at Etihad Stadium. St Kilda entered the game with a record of three wins and three losses whereas GWS had a record of five wins and one loss. The Saints gave a brilliant team performance of intense skilful football to defeat GWS by 23 points. During the second quarter Geary laid a strong tackle on Jonathon Patton that stopped the Giants key forward dead in his tracks and was unlucky not to get a free kick for holding the ball. Whilst Geary’s tackle only resulted in a ball-up it was an inspirational act that set the benchmark for other Saints to match and if he hadn’t laid the tackle Patton would have been able to pass to a teammate in space for an open goal. 

In Round 9 at 28 years of age Geary played his 150th game, three years and a fortnight after playing his 100th AFL game in Round 7, 2014. When asked on the eve of his 150th game ‘Milestones are a time to reflect, who are the people who have really helped you get along in footy across your journey?’ Geary responded “I came in the door at the footy club at the same time Danny Sexton did. He was the development coach so I had a really good relationship with him and we’ve both progressed through the club for the same amount of time. So I’ve probably had as much to do with him as anyone at the club in terms of coaching. Sean Dempster – who I lived with for three years – showed me how to do lots of things and showed me how to live like a professional footballer and obviously perform really strongly on game day. Those two are guys that have really helped me get to where I’ve got to today.”32

On April 6 Sean Dempster retired from AFL football due to head knock concerns after suffering a concussion in the Saints first JLT game of 2017 against Port Adelaide. Dempster played 222 AFL games including 168 for the Saints, was selected in the 2012 All-Australian team and finished third in St Kilda’s best and fairest four times. In his retirement video posted on saints.com.au Dempster commented “When I first moved down here I lived with Jarryn and David Armitage and their friendships I will forever cherish, I was able to see them grow from 18 year old boys to now one of them is the captain of the club and the other one is also in the leadership group and could easily lead this club just as well. They’re two players that I’ll forever cherish their friendships, they have been great friends to me.” An article comprehensively covering Dempster’s career was published on Milestones and misses after his retirement. A link to this Dempster article is provided below:

https://milestonesandmisses.com/2017/04/23/reliable-and-professional-st-kilda-defender-sean-dempster-retires-due-to-concerns-about-head-knocks/

Speaking to saints.com.au Geary commented on the impact key defenders Nathan Brown and Jake Carlisle have had on St Kilda “We have got a really good mix of big blokes and small blokes and blokes that are playing their role, they haven’t just made it easier on the big blokes Jake and Browny, they have made it a lot easier on the little blokes. The ball seems to get marked or cleared a long way away from the congestion now and as a little bloke when you are playing on some pretty dangerous forwards that like to get front and square, when the ball gets banged a fair distance away from the congestion you are pretty happy. We are in a pretty good spot the back seven.”

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On his new role as St Kilda captain Geary commented after Round 8 “I think the first few weeks I learnt a few things and I’ve adapted to it well now. It helps when you’re winning games of footy, we’ve won the last three games which has helped my role coming in on Monday mornings and being in a pretty good mood so hopefully that continues and winning games makes it a lot easier.”33

Alan Richardson commented on Geary’s captaincy “He’s the complete package with his ability to play the game the way we want him to play, to be able to train and prepare and set a great example of what we want at the Saints. And he has a really good balance with how he communicates with his teammates, whether they are younger or older. He can strike that balance of being direct and challenging if need be, but also showing empathy and care at the right time.”34

In the Round 9, 2017 edition of the AFL Record Leigh Montgana commented on Geary “The good thing about ‘Gears’ is that he gets on well with the younger players and having some fun with them, but he also has the ability to get on with the older players and staff around the club. He’s probably one of the characters around the club with pranks and being silly, but when it’s time to work he knuckles down and gets things done. And what he produces on the ground is exactly what you want from a leader. It’s a nice blend and a nice balance. He leads through his deeds.”35

During 2017 Geary has played all 10 games up until the mid-season bye, averaging 85.9% game-time, 8.4 kicks, 7.5 handballs, 3.3 marks and 2.6 rebound 50’s per game with a disposal efficiency of 78.6%. Geary ranks in the top four at St Kilda for intercept possessions and equal fourth for rebound 50s with Montagna, behind Roberton, Newnes and Jimmy Webster.

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After Round 10 St Kilda are ninth on the ladder with five wins and five losses, they have their bye in Round 11 before playing the Adelaide Crows in a Friday night game in Round 12 at the Adelaide Oval. One of the major goals for the Saints in 2017 was to reduce the gap between their best and worst. The Saints did this well in the first seven rounds to be in every game they had played and have four wins and three losses. Whilst the Saints had been hurt by some poor quarters, most noticeably against Melbourne (2nd & 3rd quarters) and Geelong (4th quarter), on the whole they had played consistent football up until the end of the Round 7 with the highlight being an upset win in a home Friday night game against GWS in Round 7. St Kilda’s form has dropped off from Round 8 to Round 10, with an unconvincing win against Carlton followed by a 50 point loss to Sydney and a 40 point loss to the Western Bulldogs.

2017 is shaping as an extremely close season and after Round 10 only two games and percentage separate the fourth placed Western Bulldogs and the 14th placed Hawks. St Kilda well and truly have the capability to make the finals in 2017 however in order to achieve this the gap between their best and their worst will have to be far narrower than it has been over the past few weeks.

Talking to saints.com.au in July 2010 Geary said “I was never expecting to get drafted, I knew I was more of a chance to get rookie listed. But once I arrived at the Club they made it very clear that it didn’t matter where you had come from or what pick you were, as if you put in the work you will get rewarded for your effort.”36 Whilst much at the St Kilda Football Club has changed in the intervening 10 and a half years since Jarryn Geary joined the Saints this sentiment remains as true today as it did in December 2006. It is impossible to know what a player or group of players potential is, and regardless, very little will be achieved without large doses of hardwork and discipline. Given his journey from the rookie list to St Kilda 150 game player, club captain and consistent top six finishes in the best and fairest, the courageous Jarryn Geary is the epitome of this message at the St Kilda Football Club. 

 In his first 151 AFL games for St Kilda Geary has averaged 8.8 kicks, 7.5 handballs 4.0 marks and 2.1 rebound 50s per game. Geary was the 1,519th player to represent St Kilda and is one of only 56 players to play 150 VFL/AFL games for the club meaning that under 4% of St Kilda players have reached this milestone, putting Jarryn’s achievement into perspective. Of the 54 players that rank ahead of him for games at St Kilda played four are current team-mates, and 12 are former team-mates, being in order of games played for the Saints,  Robert Harvey, Lenny Hayes, Stephen Milne, Nick Dal Santo, Max Hudghton, Sam Fisher, Jason Blake, Brendon Goddard, Steven Baker, Justin Koschitzke, Sean Dempster and Jason Gram

Although Geary has played 151 AFL games he has played only one of the 11 finals St Kilda played in from 2008 to 2011. Joel Selwood has played 23 finals to rank equal third on Geelong’s all-time list for most finals played and has played in three AFL premierships. Whilst Geary was overlooked for most of St Kilda’s finals he stills views it as a positive experience to have been at the club during this period. Jarryn comments on the early stages of his career when the Saints regularly featured deep into September “It probably does drive me today. I’m not someone that talks or thinks about it too much. The thing about that period was that the group was coming to the end and they felt they had missed out. I came into a group that had been developing for years. Now I’ve been through that development period and if this current group was to play finals it would be more important for me, because I would have been through that and potentially been a premiership player. So many players have come and gone.”37

In his only AFL final to date Geary was the substitute in the 2011 elimination final against Sydney at Etihad Stadium and played only 34% game-time, being activated to replace David Armitage. Five and a half years later Geary and Armitage are the most experienced members of the St Kilda leadership group and have been among St Kilda’s most consistent players since the club’s last finals appearance. Five players finished in the top 10 of St Kilda’s best and fairest in all five seasons from 2012 to 2016 – Riewoldt, Montagna, Dempster, Armitage and Steven. Geary is the only Saint to record four top 10 finishes in the club’s b & f during this time, having finished sixth in 2012, fourth in 2013, fifth in 2015 and second in 2016. Geary’s elbow injury in 2014 restricted him to seven games and took him out of contention for a top 10 finish in the best and fairest.

Geary’s strengths throughout his 150 plus game AFL career playing as a small defender and midfielder have been his leadership, running endurance, defensive work to limit the effectiveness of his opponent, courage, consistency, his effectiveness in one on one contests and capacity to get the most out of his ability. It is a magnificent achievement by Geary to progress from being the last player selected on St Kilda’s 2007 Rookie list, fight hard to retain a position on St Kilda’s list, then cement a position in St Kilda’s best 22 in 2012 before becoming a member of the leadership group and now in his 11th AFL season be appointed St Kilda’s captain and reach 150 AFL games.

By Dean Andrews

Twitter – @DeanAndrews7777

1 AFL, AFL Record Round 9 May 19-21, 2017, page 16

2 http://www.saints.com.au/news/2017-05-19/from-a-rookie-list-to-life-membership

3 Champion Data, AFL Prospectus the essential number-cruncher for season 2007, 2nd edition, page 261.

4 http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/joel-selwood-versus-jarryn-geary/story-e6frf7jo-1225745823993

5 Pacific Star Network Limited, Inside Football Top Gear by Russell Holmesby, Inside Football April 2017, page 19

6 AFL, AFL Record Season Guide 2009, page 263

7 http://www.foxsportspulse.com/assoc_page.cgi?c=1-3020-0-0-0&sID=69677&articleID=9071476&news_task=DETAIL

8 http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/joel-selwood-versus-jarryn-geary/story-e6frf7jo-1225745823993

9 http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/joel-selwood-versus-jarryn-geary/story-e6frf7jo-1225745823993

10 http://www.saints.com.au/news/2010-07-01/geary-keen-to-play-his-role

11 AFL, AFL Record Season Guide 2013, page 267

12 Champion Data, AFL Prospectus the essential number-cruncher for season 2013, 8th edition, page 291.

13 Champion Data, AFL Prospectus the essential number-cruncher for season 2014, 9th edition, page 311.

14 http://www.saints.com.au/news/2014-02-17/geary-praises-leadership-voting

15 http://www.saints.com.au/news/2014-02-17/geary-praises-leadership-voting

16 http://www.afl.com.au/news/2014-03-13/saints-map-road-to-2018

17 http://www.saints.com.au/news/2014-04-30/rising-leader-reaches-a-ton

18 Champion Data, AFL Prospectus the essential number-cruncher for season 2015, 10th edition, page 315.

19 http://www.saints.com.au/news/2015-12-08/geary-extends-contract-

20 AFL, AFL Record Season 2016, page 297

21 Champion Data, AFL Prospectus the essential number-cruncher for season 2017, 12th edition, page 317.

22 AFL, AFL Record Season 2017, page 297

23 http://www.afl.com.au/news/2017-02-07/captain-jarryn-saint-nick-hands-the-baton-to-geary

24 http://www.afl.com.au/news/2017-02-07/captain-jarryn-saint-nick-hands-the-baton-to-geary

25 http://www.saints.com.au/news/2017-02-07/geary-honoured-to-join-distinguished-group

26 http://www.saints.com.au/news/2017-02-07/geary-honoured-to-join-distinguished-group

27 http://www.saints.com.au/news/2017-02-07/started-from-the-bottom-now-hes-here

28 http://www.saints.com.au/news/2017-02-07/started-from-the-bottom-now-hes

29 http://www.saints.com.au/news/2017-03-17/the-day-geary-kicked-seven-goals-on-selwood

30 http://www.melbournefc.com.au/news/2017-03-24/st-kilda-skippers-melbourne-connection

31  http://www.melbournefc.com.au/news/2017-03-24/st-kilda-skippers-melbourne-connection

32 http://www.saints.com.au/news/2017-05-19/from-a-rookie-list-to-life-membership

33 http://www.saints.com.au/news/2017-05-19/from-a-rookie-list-to-life-membership

34 AFL, AFL Record Round 9 May 19-21, 2017, page 18

35 AFL, AFL Record Round 9 May 19-21, 2017, page 16

36 http://www.saints.com.au/news/2010-07-01/geary-keen-to-play-his-role

37 Pacific Star Network Limited, Inside Football Top Gear by Russell Holmesby, Inside Football April 2017, page 19

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