Three-time St Kilda leading goalkicker Tim Membrey plays his 100th game for the club

In a 53 point Round 9 victory at the Gabba on Saturday night 1 August St Kilda forward Tim Membrey played his 100th game for the club against his former team the Sydney Swans. After being selected by Sydney with pick 46 at the 2012 National Draft Membrey made his AFL debut in Round 19 2014 but didn’t add to his games tally in the harbour city. Membrey joined St Kilda as a delisted free-agent in 2014 and had a break-through season in 2016, leading the Saints goalkicking despite playing his first game of the season in Round 6. Membrey also led the Saints goalkicking in 2017 and 2019 and was ranked second in 2018, a solitary goal behind the Saints leading goalkicker for the year in small forward Jade Gresham.

Membrey started the 2015 season playing in the AFL for St Kilda, however he was unable to cement a position in the Saints side, kicking nine goals from 12 games and was demoted to the VFL four times during the season. Membrey injured his shoulder at training late in the 2015 season and required a shoulder reconstruction, although this reduced the amount of contact work he is able to do during the pre-season he worked extensively to improve his endurance which paid dividends in 2016 and beyond. During his first three and a bit seasons on an AFL list from Round 1 2013 to Round 5 2016 Membrey played 13 of a possible 77 games equating to 16.9% of games. In his first AFL game after his shoulder reconstruction Membrey kicked a then career-high five goals against Melbourne in Round 6, 2016, also earning his first Brownlow Medal vote. From that game onwards Membrey has been a fixture in the St Kilda side, playing 88 of a possible 92 games (95.7% of games), missing Rounds 17 and 18 2017 with suspension and Round 3 and 4 2018 with a knee injury.

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During his five and a half seasons at St Kilda Membrey has kicked 181 goals to lead the Saints in this category and he ranks equal second for games played with Jack Billings, behind Jack Newnes who played 108 of his 155 games for the club between 2015 and 2019 before joining Carlton.

In St Kilda’s 29 point victory in Round 8 against Port Adelaide at the Adelaide Oval Membrey played his 100th AFL game at 26 years of age during his eighth season on an AFL list, becoming the 12th player on St Kilda’s 2020 list to play 100 AFL games. Membrey’s 100 games for the Saints ranks sixth amongst current St Kilda players behind captain Jarryn Geary (195 games), vice-captain Sebastian Ross (132), Jack Billings (116), Shane Savage (108) and Luke Dunstan (104).

Membrey’s AFL career to date is comprehensively covered below.

Early life and junior career

Membrey was born on 26 May 1994 in Traralgon, a town in Gippsland approximately 160 kilometres east of Melbourne. At junior level Membrey played predominantly as a forward but spent some time in the midfield where he utilised his size advantage, he captained Gippsland Power’s under 15 and under 16 sides and represented Vic Country at the 2010 Under 16 National Championships.

Membrey played as a full-forward for Gippsland Power in Victoria’s under 18 competition – the TAC Cup in 2011 and impressed with his goalkicking. In 2011 Membrey played 15 games for the Gippsland Power as a bottom-age player, averaging 7.8 kicks, 5.6 handballs, 5.2 marks and 2.3 goals per game with a disposal efficiency of 60.7%. Despite missing several games due to injury Membrey kicked 28 goals in the 2011 TAC Cup home and away season to lead Gippsland Power for goals and rank equal eighth in the league – seven goals behind the leading goalkicker Nick Maric.

During 2012 Membrey captained Gippsland Power’s under 18 side and played three games for Vic Country at the 2012 Under 18 National Championships, in Round 5 he kicked four goals against South Australia and was named in his side’s best players.

Playing for Gippsland Power Membrey led the 2012 TAC Cup goal kicking during the home and away season with 49 goals to finish five goals ahead of Tom Boyd. Membrey was named in the forward pocked of the TAC Cup team of the year for 2012 and polled nine votes in the Morrish Medal to finish equal 12th overall and second for Gipplsand with his team-mate, midfielder Nick Graham winning the medal with 17 votes.

Gippsland Power had 14 wins and three losses to finish second on the ladder in 2012 behind the North Ballarat Rebels on percentage. Membrey played a critical role in Gippsland advancing to the Grand Final, kicking four goals against the Dandenong Stingrays in a qualifying final and followed up with eight goals in a best afield performance in the preliminary final against Sandringham.

In the Grand Final against the Oakleigh Chargers Membrey was again one of his side’s best players, kicking four goals to take his tally to 16 goals in three finals. The scores were tied at the end of the fourth quarter, play continued with the next score to win the game in golden point time. Oakleigh midfielder Jack Macrae scored a behind to secure a one point victory for Oakleigh who’s side included Membrey’s current St Kilda team-mate Jack Billings.

In 2012 Membrey played 14 games for the Gippsland Power, averaging 9.4 kicks, 3.8 handballs and 5.3 marks per game with a disposal efficiency of 59.1%. His profile in AFL Prospectus 2013 said “Membrey played the majority of last year at full-forward where he showed the ability to win the ball in the air and on the ground, ranking No. 1 in the competition for average groundball gets won in the forward 50 at last year’s NAB AFL Under-18 Championships. Membrey’s ball-use was outstanding, recording the best kick rating of any forward. Membrey had an outstanding TAC Cup finals series, finishing as the No. 1 ranked player in the competition.”1

Whilst Membrey played as a full-forward at under-age level and proved to be very effective at 189 centimetres tall in this role with his marking and goal-kicking being strengths he was aware that he  might need to add other elements to his game at AFL level. In early October 2012 seven weeks before the draft he commented to Callum Twomey from afl.com.au “Coming into an AFL club, I obviously wouldn’t be a key tall, so I’ve got to learn that third tall role, where it’s about leading into space, then getting out of it, or giving second and third leads. I try to model my game on Jack Darling in that respect. He’s not a key position player but sometimes you’d think that he is.”2

As Membrey isn’t a traditional size for a key forward he tested with the general forwards at the 2012 NAB AFL Draft combine despite predominantly playing as a key forward throughout 2011 and 2012. Membrey spoke to Twomey about the view recruiters had of him, saying “They know I can play forward but they’d like to see me push up the ground a bit more and play a bit more of a higher role, and on the ball. They’d like to see me get my fitness up.”3

Sydney Swans

Membrey was recruited by Sydney with pick 46 in the 2012 NAB AFL Draft on 22 November. At the time of being drafted Membrey was 18 years old, 188 centimetres tall and weighed 87 kilograms. Nick Graham was the only other Gippsland Power player chosen at the draft, being selected by Carlton with pick 54.

When asked by his TAC Cup club Gippsland Power how he felt hearing his name called out at the draft Membrey said “I didn’t know how to react when I went at pick 46 and Nicky still hadn’t gone yet. My heart just dropped, I was so excited but then again I just wanted my best mate to go too. I had seen a few of the mock drafts, I actually thought I was going to go a little bit earlier, so slipping I was getting a little bit nervous, but in the end I am just so happy to get on to a list. I can’t wait.”4

In 2012 Sydney won the AFL premiership without having a heavy reliance on key forwards and an even spread of goalkickers, small forward Lewis Jetta led Sydney’s goalkicking in 2012 with 45 goals followed by Adam Goodes (37) and Sam Reid (31), another seven Sydney players kicked at least 20 goals for the season. To strengthen their key forward stocks Sydney selected key forward Kurt Tippett with pick 11 at the 2013 NAB AFL Pre-season draft on 11 December.

The profile for Membrey in AFL Record Season Guide 2013 said “A medium-sized forward at 188cm, Membrey kicked an impressive 54 goals in the TAC Cup with Gippsland Power and Vic Country last season. Strong overhead and a long, accurate goalkicker, he has a big game temperament, registering 16 goals in the Power’s three TAC Cup finals.”5

During 2013 Membrey played for the Sydney Swans in the North East Australian Football League (NEAFL), in the middle of the season he was named an emergency for the senior side three times however he didn’t play an AFL game. At NEAFL level Membrey impressed with his goalkicking and accuracy, in a Grand Final loss to Brisbane he kicked five goals.

His profile in AFL Prospectus 2014 said “Membrey had a solid debut season in the NEAFL averaging 15 disposals per match as a general forward and collecting more than 20 in three games. He played 17 matches and kicked 49 goals – ranked 12th in the competition – recording the 13th-highest scoring accuracy of the top 50 goalkickers.”6

Kurt Tippett led kicked 35 goals in 2013 to lead Sydney’s goalkicking despite missing the first 11 games of the season due to an AFL suspension. During the 2013 trade and free agency period Sydney recruited another key forward – two-time Coleman Medal winner Lance ‘Buddy’ Franklin from Hawthorn on a lucrative nine year-deal. The profile of Sydney’s forward line had changed dramatically since Membrey was drafted by the club with the recruitment of two key forwards in Tippett and Franklin. In the latter stages of his career two-time Brownlow Medallist Adam Goodes was spending more time playing as a general forward and the Swans also had a 22 year-old key forward in Sam Reid which meant that there was significant competition for spots in Sydney’s side as a key forward/third tall forward.

In the NEAFL during 2014 Membrey worked on his running and spent a bit of time in the midfield to improve his endurance. Membrey made his AFL debut for the Sydney Swans at 20 years of age in Round 19, 2014 against Essendon at the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG). Membrey was a late replacement for key forward Franklin who was a late out due to a knee injury. Membery only found out on the day of the game that he would be making his AFL debut, it turned out to be great timing as earlier in the year Tim’s parents and their friends had booked a trip up to Sydney for that weekend. In an interview with Swans TV in the rooms after the game Membrey commented on making his AFL debut “I was over the moon. Woke up in the morning and I was lucky enough to go up and pick my parents up at the airport and I dropped them off where they are staying and came back. I was just sitting on my bed watching TV and the phone rang and it was Horse (Swans coach John Longmire) and I sort of don’t know just had a bit of a weird feeling. I answered it and he just said ‘You are in, congratulations you are debuting’ and I just didn’t believe it at first, I was just stunned and then I was just pacing around the house going is this really happening. Look, I’m stoked.” On having a matter of hours rather than a couple of days to prepare for his AFL debut Membrey commented “I actually probably think it was a good thing because if I had of been told maybe two days before I would have struggled sleeping a little bit, nah I was pretty happy to get told in the morning so I had a good night’s sleep last night, so just bang, you’re in.”

In his debut AFL game Membrey had five kicks, four handballs, took four marks and laid one tackle before being substituted out of the game, Sydney defeated Essendon by 22 points. On his debut game at the SCG Membrey commented “I thought I did a couple of good things, sort of leading up at the ball, couple of marks, just sort of getting out there and getting used to it. It was a really good experience. Definitely a lot harder running, the intensity just jumps up massively, I was pretty stoked.”

Franklin returned to the Sydney side in Round 20 which resulted in Membrey being demoted back to the NEAFL. Membrey was named an emergency in Round 22 but did not add to his games tally at senior level in 2014, he kicked five goals in the Swans two point NEAFL Grand Final loss to Aspley. Other members of Sydney’s NEAFL Grand Final side were Tom Mitchell, Toby Nankervis and Ryan O’Keefe who were all on Sydney’s 2014 list along with Isaac Heeney who joined the club as an Academy selection in the first round of the National Draft later that year.

Sydney finished on top of the ladder with 17 wins and five losses and made the Grand Final for the second time in three seasons. Sydney were outplayed in the Grand Final by Hawthorn, being defeated by 63 points.

St Kilda 2015

At the end of 2014 Membrey was out of contract, with Franklin, Tippett and Goodes all remaining at Sydney in 2015 it was going to continue to be difficult for him to get opportunities at AFL level if he remained at Sydney. Several rival clubs were interested in recruiting Membrey and he ended up joining St Kilda who had finished last on the ladder in 2014 with four wins and 18 losses in Alan Richardson’s first season as head coach. St Kilda and Sydney were unable to negotiate a trade for Membrey which led to him joining the Saints as a delisted free agent.

In his first press conference at St Kilda in early November 2014 Membrey was asked “Is it a different experience, it must be coming to a new environment for the first time?” He responded “Oh yeah, it definitely is, come from such a good environment up in Sydney and then coming down here just see how things are done differently. All very good down here, I am going to be enjoying my time and get used to it.” Later in the press conference a reporter asked the question ‘Why the Saints, what was the appeal here?’ Membrey responded “They came to me and did a presentation, real professional, I thought they were the best fit for me and they came and approached me and I thought this is going to be a good young team and I am going to look forward to playing in.” Later in the press conference Membrey said “It is still going to be hard to earn the respect off the guys, I am just here to play the best I can, train the best I can and if I am lucky enough to get in there and play a few games and hopefully stamp my foot on the team I’ll be happy with that.”

During the press conference Membrey was asked ‘What did you learn at the Swans from guys like Goodes and Franklin, Reid, Tippett, those sort of guys?’ He responded “Oh really, just to not waste a session, don’t just go out there and just sort of go through the motions and just get it over and done with. They really took every session very seriously. They are a very professional group up there and all the recovery, preparation for games was just so important and obviously that’s why they are such superstars of the competition.”

In July 2016 Membrey spoke to Tom Morris from foxfooty.com.au on the impact Goodes playing on in 2015 had, saying “At the end of 2014 Goodesy decided to play on. I loved my time up there and made some really good friends. I was also really good friends with him and was happy for him. But at that point there were a few people saying ‘he needs an opportunity’ and I wanted a chance too. I had piece of mind after speaking to Horse (John Longmire) … He was very good to me.”7

St Kilda centre half-forward Nick Riewoldt kicked 49 goals in 2014 to be the only St Kilda player to kick more than 20 goals for the season. With the first pick overall at the 2014 National Draft the Saints selected a key forward in Paddy McCartin.

In Round 1, 2015 Membrey played his first game for the Saints, having seven kicks, two handballs, four marks, five inside 50’s and kicked two goals in a nine point loss to the GWS Giants at Docklands.

During the first five rounds of 2015 Membrey kicked a total of three goals and averaged 10.2 disposals per game. Saints captain Riewoldt missed Round 3 to 5 with a calf injury. Josh Bruce who had predominantly played as a key defender previously was shifted forward and kicked a total of 17 goals playing as a key forward during the first five rounds of 2015. When Riewoldt returned from his calf injury in Round 6 Membrey was dropped to the VFL.

For the remainder of the season Membrey went back and forth between playing as a third tall forward at AFL level for the Saints and playing in the VFL. From Round 6 to Round 21 Membrey played seven AFL games and was named an emergency six times, with his last AFL game for the season being in Round 21. At training between Round 21 and Round 22 Membrey dislocated his shoulder, the injury required surgery and he missed the last two games of the season.

During 2015 Membrey played 12 AFL games for the Saints, averaging 106 minutes, 6.1 kicks, 4.4 handballs and 4.0 marks per game with a disposal efficiency of 65.1%. In his 13 AFL games up to the end of the 2015 season Membrey had kicked a total of nine goals with a career-best of two goals in a game twice and the most consecutive games he had played at AFL level was five in the opening five rounds of the 2015 season. St Kilda finished 14th on the ladder with six wins, 15 loses and a draw.

Due to a shoulder reconstruction Membrey began running again before Christmas 2015 and didn’t resume contact training until January 2016. Whilst training away from the main group as part of his rehabilitation program Membrey improved his endurance base.

Breakout 2016 season with St Kilda

After being on the sidelines for the start of the 2016 home and away season Membrey was named an emergency from Round 3 to Round 5. In Round 6, 2016 Membrey played his first AFL game of the season against Melbourne at Docklands and polled the first Brownlow Medal vote of his career, receiving one vote for a performance in which he kicked a team-high five goals, had 13 kicks, three handballs, took eight marks and had three inside 50’s in a 39 point victory. From Round 6, 2016 onwards Membrey has been a fixture in St Kilda’s forward line only missing a total of four games in the next four and a bit seasons.

During 2016 Riewoldt spent more time playing on a wing and four times in six games from Round 9 to Round 15 Riewoldt, Membrey, Bruce and McCartin all played in the St Kilda side. McCartin missed a total of four games in two separate stints due to concussion in 2016.

In four games from Round 7 to Round 10 Membrey kicked three goals in a game three times – against North Melbourne in Round 7, Essendon in Round 9 and Fremantle in Round 10 to be one of the Saints two highest goal kickers in all three games.

In a 32 point victory against Carlton at Docklands in Round 12 Membrey had a then career-high 17 disposals comprised of 11 kicks and six handballs, a game-high 10 marks, four inside 50’s, kicked a then equal career-best five goals and received two Brownlow Medal votes.

From Round 16 to Round 20 Membrey kicked at least four goals in a game three times and polled six Brownlow Medal votes comprised of two best afield performances. Despite having four fewer scoring shots than Essendon in Round 16 at Docklands St Kilda won by 11 points with Membrey’s efficiency and accuracy proving critical, kicking five goals straight from just seven kicks and had an equal team-high two assists with Mav Weller who was the Saints second highest goal scorer with two goals.

In his 24th AFL game at 22 years of age Membrey received the three Brownlow Medal votes for the first time in his career for his performance in a 36 point victory against Melbourne in Round 17. Membrey kicked a team-high four goals, had 12 kicks, four handballs, took an equal game-high 10 marks and had a game-high two goal assists.

One of the reasons for Membrey’s improved form in 2016 was keeping things simpler and relying on his instincts. In late July 2016 Membrey commented to Tom Morris from foxsports.com.au “I am just trying to have more a positive mindset. I just knew in my own mind that when I finally got that opportunity, I wasn’t going to let it slip. I feel like if I get too many messages from everywhere then I get in some trouble. Keeping it simple is really important. I just go out there and play now. The tactics and structures are obviously important, but they are only starting points. When the ball is in play it is more instinct. That’s where I can read the play and use my footy nous. I try to be one step ahead of the game. I try not to worry about the outcome and play in the moment. I want to be that matchup who can play tall and take big marks but also be hard to combat at ground level.”8

Against Carlton in Round 20 at Docklands Membrey kicked five goals in a game for the fourth time of the season, had nine kicks, two handballs, seven marks and polled three Brownlow Medal votes in the 71 point victory.

During 2016 Membrey played the last 17 games of the season, averaging 102 minutes, 8.8 kicks, 4.2 handballs and 6.1 marks per game with a disposal efficiency of 65.5%. In 2016 Membrey kicked at least three goals in a game eight times and kicked a total of 44 goals, 18 behinds at an average of 2.6 goals per game to be St Kilda’s leading goalkicker ahead of Nick Riewoldt (41 goals), Josh Bruce (38) and Mav Weller (24) and ranked equal 10th in the league for total goals kicked during the home and away season. Tim’s 2.6 goals per game ranked equal sixth in the league with Josh Jenkins, behind Josh Kennedy (3.6), Lance Franklin (3.1), Eddie Betts (3.1), Tom Lynch [Gold Coast] (3.0) and Jeremy Cameron (2.7). Membrey ranked fourth at St Kilda for total marks with 103, second for marks inside 50 with 54 – one behind Riewoldt, and ranked ninth in the league in this category despite missing the first five games of the season. Membrey polled nine Brownlow Medal votes, ranked fourth at St Kilda behind Riewoldt (19 votes), Steven (16) and Ross (10). Membrey was named in the AFL Player’s Association 2016 22 under 22 team, being selected on the interchange, he was the only Saints player in the team.

During Membrey’s first two seasons at St Kilda the club significantly improved and fell just short of making the finals in 2016, recording 12 wins and 10 losses to finish in ninth position on the ladder, percentage behind North Melbourne in eighth place, but three games behind the seventh placed Western Bulldogs who went on to win the premiership.

Membrey’s profile in the AFL Record Season 2017 said “His smarts, marking ability and straight kicking made him a dangerous player. Membrey was prepared to work up the ground, which ensured the forward line did not become too congested.”9

At St Kilda’s 2016 best and fairest Membrey polled 99 votes to finish ninth and received the award as St Kilda’s best emerging playing. St Kilda assistant coach Aaron Hamill commented to Saints.com.au on Membrey “I think he had an exceptional pre-season. He missed the first five games, but his pre-season really set him up to have the year he had. While he was out of the main group during summer, he did a lot of running and a lot of forward pattern play, a fair bit of read and react work. He just got his body in a sound condition and his mind was sharp, that’s what set him on a path to achieve what he has in 2016. He’s such a professional with what he does; he is an elite preparer. He’s very consistent with how he prepares, he reviews his game really hard and he wants to know where he can improve and get better and he wants to know that every week, regardless of how he has played on the weekend. In terms of his recovery he is a pro, so he’s sussed the system out at a young age and hopefully that will hold him in good stead to become an elite consistent performer over many years.”10

His profile in AFL Prospectus 2017 said “Membrey averaged the most goals of any forward in the competition of all players under 22 years of age. His goal conversion is an asset, recording the fourth-highest shot at goal accuracy of the top 30 for shots. He was also involved in 28% of all scoring chains, the seventh highest percentage of any general forward in the competition.”11

St Kilda 2017

Membrey kicked at least one goal in his first 10 games of 2017, kicking multiple goals four times during this time including three consecutive games from Round 4 to Round 6. In a 75 point victory against Hawthorn at York Park in Round 6 Membrey had 14 kicks, five handballs, took eight marks, had nine contested possessions, took three contested marks – ranked second for the game behind teammate Carlisle with four and kicked three goals.

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Membrey was kept goalless for the only time of the year in Round 12 against Adelaide, he kicked a total of 15 goals and 10 behinds in his first 11 games of the season. From Round 13 to Round 23 Membrey kicked multiple goals in all eight games that he played, displaying phenomenal accuracy during this time to kick a total of 23 goals and four behinds for an accuracy of 85.2%.

During 2017 Membrey was held goalless only once in his 20 games and kicked at least three goals in a game four times including a season best five goals in Maddie’s Match in Round 16 against Richmond, he had seven kicks, four handballs, took a game-high five contested marks, had a goal assist and polled two Brownlow Medal votes. The Saints led by four goals at quarter-time and put the result beyond doubt with nine goals to none in the second quarter playing their best football of the season. After leading by 82 points at halftime 92 to 10 St Kilda won by 67 points. Membrey was suspended for two games for striking Richmond defender Dylan Grimes in a marking contest in the second quarter.

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At the end of Round 16 St Kilda had a record of nine wins and six losses to be seventh on the ladder, percentage behind fourth placed Port Adelaide, fifth placed Melbourne and sixth placed Richmond. For the second season in a row St Kilda won at least half their games but missed out on the finals, having 11 wins and 11 losses in 2017 to finish 11th, one win and percentage behind Essendon and West Coast who finished in seventh and eighth place respectively.

During 2017 Membrey played 20 games for St Kilda, averaging 105 minutes, 9.3 kicks, 3.7 handballs,  6.1 marks and 1.9 goals per game with a retention rate of 74.1%. Membrey kicked 38 goals and 14 behinds to lead the Saints goalkicking for the second season in a row, finishing in front of Bruce (36 goals), Jade Gresham (30), Riewoldt (29) and Jack Billings (23). Membrey took 130 marks – ranked third at St Kilda behind Dylan Roberton (137) and Jake Carlisle (131) and ahead of Riewoldt (125) and Newnes (124). Despite leading St Kilda’s goalkicking Membrey finished outside the top 10 at St Kilda’s 2017 best and fairest.

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The profile for Membrey in AFL Prospectus 2018 said “Champion Data was forced to change Membrey from a general forward to a key forward as his style of play across the last two seasons has been based around his marking. As a key forward he rated above average for marks, contested marks, and marks inside 50. A sharpshooter, since arriving at the Saints his shot at goal accuracy of 64% is the fourth-best of the top-100 players for shots taken.”12

St Kilda 2018

Across the 2016 and 2017 seasons Membrey was one of the most accurate kicks for goal in the league, kicking a total of 72 goals and 32 behinds from 37 games across this two season period, however this phenomenal accuracy did not continue in 2018, particularly early in the season.

Six-time St Kilda best and fairest winner Nick Riewoldt retired at the end of 2017 and it was hoped that Membrey, Bruce and Paddy McCartin would form an effective three pronged tall-forward set-up. The trio all played for the Saints in Rounds 1 and 2, however due to injuries it was the only two games the trio all represented the Saints for the season.

Membrey played the first two games of the 2018 season, kicking two goals, three behinds in Round 1 against Brisbane and zero goals, one behind against North Melbourne in Round 2. Due to a knee injury Membrey was a late withdrawal for Round 3 against Adelaide, he also missed Round 4 against Geelong.

After playing the first three games of the season a back injury sidelined Bruce from Round 4 onwards, after making his return through the VFL he broke his leg at training and didn’t play for the rest of the season. McCartin played 13 of the first 15 games of the season, missing Rounds 8 and 9, due to a foot injury he missed the last seven games of the season from Round 17 onwards. The retirement of Riewoldt and injuries to Bruce made Membrey the focal point of the St Kilda forward line.

In Round 5 Membrey returned to the St Kilda side and played in the draw against the GWS Giants at Docklands. In five games from Round 5 to Round 9 Membrey was inaccurate, kicking a total of four goals and 11 behinds during these five games to have a tally of six goals and 15 behinds from seven games after Round 9 and was kept goalless three times during this period – the same number of times that he didn’t kick a goal during his 37 games across the 2016 and 2017 seasons. Membrey’s worst miss was against Hawthorn in round 6 at York Park, running into an open goal almost directly in front Membrey missed from six metres out, kicking the ball just to the left of the goals.

Against Richmond in Round 10 at the MCG Membrey got his radar back on track, kicked a goal with his first scoring shot for the goal, finished the game with two goals straight and didn’t blot his copybook in any of his following three games, kicking 11 goals straight in four games from Round 10 to Round 13, kicking multiple goals in three of these four games.

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In Round 11 2018 against West Coast at Optus Stadium on 2 June Membrey set new career-highs for disposals and goals in a game, having 20 disposals comprised of 12 kicks and eight handballs, and kicked six goals straight, he also took nine marks and received the three Brownlow Medal votes in the 13 point loss.

At the MCG in Round 15 Membrey continued his great record against Melbourne, having 12 kicks, three handballs, seven marks, and kicked four goals and two behinds to receive one Brownlow Medal vote in the thrilling two point victory.

In an article published on afl.com.au on 9 June 2018 Membrey spoke to Dinny Navaratnam about his goal kicking yips earlier in the season, commenting “To be honest, I didn’t necessarily feel like my confidence had gone anywhere. It’s happened before where I had a bit of the yips but I managed to get it back on my terms. I still felt like I wanted the ball in my hands, having shots. I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t (mental). It was one of those things that starts to play on your mind. You want to win and give the team opportunities to do that. It feels like at times you let the team down but it’s one of those things, you’ve just got to keep hammering away.”13

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After working with the club’s sports psychologist Emma Murray and doing different exercises Membrey began to focus more on is goalkicking routine rather than the results, commenting “Little things about getting the feeling back, telling myself things at the top of my mark and just trying to block out any other thoughts and purely be in the present in that time. Just getting that feeling back with the ball drop and those type of things. I’m going to miss goals in the future. It’s just one of those things, but I just have to give myself the best opportunity when I do get a clear shot at goal and just make the most of it.”14

From Round 17 to Round 23 Membrey kicked multiple goals five times from seven games. Membrey finished the 2018 season with 34 goals, 28 behinds, ranked second for the Saints behind small forward Gresham who kicked 35 goals and 20 behinds, they were the only two St Kilda players who kicked more than 19 goals for the season. Membrey ranked second at St Kilda for marks with 132 – one behind Carlisle and took 61 marks inside 50 – ranked third in the AFL during the home and away season behind Jack Riewoldt (86) and Tom Hawkins (74). Tim polled 87 votes at St Kilda’s best and fairest to finish eighth and polled four Brownlow Medal votes to be ranked third at St Kilda behind Jack Steven (18 votes) and Seb Ross (6).  St Kilda finished 16th on the ladder with four wins, 17 losses and a draw.

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During 2018 Membrey played 20 games for the Saints, averaging 106 minutes, 8.3 kicks, 4.1 handballs, 6.6 marks and 1.7 goals per game with a retention rate of 68.0%. Membrey’s profile in AFL Prospectus 2019 said “Struggles in front of goal were a central them in Membrey’s 2018 season, rating below average for shot at goal accuracy, down from an elite rating in 2017. Set shots were his downfall, posting a set conversion rate of 52%, ranked equal 45th of the top-50 goalkickers. That’s in contrast to a 71% conversion rate via that source between 2016-17, ranked sixth of the top-50.”15

St Kilda 2019

In 2019 Membrey was voted into St Kilda’s five player leadership group, joining captain Jarryn Geary, vice-captain Seb Ross, Dylan Roberton and new recruit Dan Hannebery. St Kilda’s head coach Alan Richardson commented on Membrey’s inclusion in the leadership group “Tim has been particularly impressive in how he has grown as a leader of our footy club. He represents an important age bracket of players who are hungry to take the next step and build a solid foundation for what we as a team wish to stand for.”16

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On being voted into the St Kilda leadership group Membrey commented “It is a great honour to be voted in by the players. I have done a lot of work last year in terms of working on it with Sebby and then Gears and Danny Sexton so to be able to be in an official role, yeah it is really good. I led a little bit differently in terms of on-field is more my go, out there communicating one on one with players but the other stuff is one that I am working on and getting better at.”

Brett Ratten joined St Kilda as an assistant coach for the 2019 season and was in charge of the forward line and ball movement. Ratten played 255 games for Carlton as an inside midfielder and was Carlton’s head coach for 120 games from 2007 to 2012.

Membrey kicked multiple goals in five of his first six games of 2019 including four goals in a 40 point victory against Melbourne at the MCG in Round 5. In this game Membrey had eight kicks, four handballs, took eight marks, laid four tackles, took a game-high four contested marks and polled two Brownlow Medal votes.

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St Kilda started the season well to win four of their first five games of the season to be second on the ladder. From Round 6 to Round 17 St Kilda only won two of their 11 games to have a record of six wins, 10 losses and be 15th on the ladder. After Round 17 Alan Richardson stepped down as St Kilda’s head coach with Brett Ratten taking over as care-taker coach. In his first 16 games of the season Membrey kicked at least three goals in a game three times.

St Kilda won three of their last six games of the season with Ratten as the head coach. Four times in five games from Round 18 to Round 22 Membrey kicked at least three goals in a game. Against the Western Bulldogs in Round 18 Membrey kicked an equal team-high four goals along with small forward Jack Lonie, had nine kicks, five handballs and took four marks in the 27 point victory. St Kilda finished the season in 14th position on the ladder with nine wins and 13 losses.

In 2019 Membrey played all 22 games for the Saints, averaging 108 minutes game-time, 8.3 kicks, 4.8 handballs, 5.6 marks and 2.0 goals per game with a retention rate of 71.3%. Membrey finished fifth in St Kilda’s 2019 best and fairest, polling 136 votes to finish behind Seb Ross (170 votes), Rowan Marshall (152), Jack Steele (151) and Jack Billings (140) and ahead of Jade Gresham (131). Membrey kicked 44 goals and 17 behinds to lead St Kilda’s goalkicking for the third time in four seasons, Josh Bruce kicked 36 goals to be the only other Saint with more than 19 goals for the season. For the first time in his career Membrey played every game of the season, he was one of seven Saints to play all 22 games in 2019 along with Billings, Bruce, Ross, Savage, Jack Sinclair and Callum Wilkie. Membrey ranked second at the Saints for marks with 124 – eight behind Billings and second for score involvements with 131 – eight behind Ross. Membrey took 51 marks inside 50 during the home and away season – ranked sixth in the AFL. Membrey ranked equal seventh in the AFL for goals during the home and away season.

The profile for Membrey in AFL Record Season Guide 2020 said “In an ideal world, Membrey would be best suited as a second or third option in attack. He is smart, runs hard, marks well and is reasonable at ground level. However, he has too often been required to be the club’s primary target due to injuries or poor form of others around him. Apart from a blip in 2018 when he admitted to the yips, his conversion has been outstanding.”17

St Kilda 2020

On 5 September 2019 Brett Ratten was appointed as St Kilda’s head coach. There were significant changes to St Kilda’s list between the 2019 and 2020 seasons with Jack Steven, Josh Bruce and Blake Acres being traded to Geelong, the Western Bulldogs and Fremantle respectively. Jack Newnes joined Carlton as a delisted free agent, David Armitage retired and Paddy McCartin retired due to concussion. St Kilda identified deficiencies on their list and targeted players to improve these areas,   recruiting midfielder Zak Jones, wingman Brad Hill, small forward Dan Butler, key defender Dougal Howard and ruckman Paddy Ryder.

Membrey is part of St Kilda’s six player leadership group in 2020 along with captain Jarryn Geary, vice-captain Seb Ross, Jack Billings, Brad Hill and Dylan Roberton. In a 2020 Marsh Community Series pre-season game against Hawthorn in front of 10,000 people at RSEA Park Moorabbin Membrey captained St Kilda for the first time and was best afield, kicking four goals and had 24 disposals in the victory.

In the week before the 2020 AFL home and away season commenced it was announced that due to the uncertainty regarding the coronavirus the structure of the season and length of games would be condensed. During the 2020 home and away season each club would play 17 games comprised of one game against each of the other AFL clubs, a reduction from each team playing 22 games across 23 rounds. The length of quarters was reduced from 20 minutes plus time-on to 16 minutes plus time-on to enable a shorter break between games.

Round 1 of the 2020 season went ahead as planned from March 19-22, however due to the threat posed by the coronavirus fans were unable to attend. Membrey was named in the forward pocket for St Kilda’s Round 1 game against North Melbourne at Docklands, the other five Saints forwards had played a total of 69 games for the club before that match comprised of 64 for Jack Lonie and five for Dan Hannebery. Max King made his AFL debut whilst Dan Butler and Paddy Ryder made their club debut. Three other players recruited in the off-season also made their club debut for St Kilda – Zak Jones, Dougal Howard and Brad Hill. St Kilda started the match well and led by 31 points seven minutes into the third quarter, however were outplayed from that point on with North Melbourne kicking six goals to one to defeat St Kilda by two points. Membrey kicked one goal straight from six disposals. In recent seasons goal kicking accuracy has been a major issue for St Kilda and it proved to be the case again in this game with the Saints kicking seven goals and 12 behinds whilst North Melbourne kicked eight goals and eight behinds.

With coronavirus cases in Australia increasing the AFL season paused after Round 1 and resumed just under three months later on June 11. Against Richmond in Round 4 at the Docklands Membrey kicked an equal game-high three goals along with Dan Butler, had seven kicks, six handballs, seven marks took two contested marks and had a goal assist in the 26 point victory.

Membrey was voted by Saint supporters on saints.com.au as the Round 6 Dare Sainter of the Round, he kicked the opening goal of the game in the first minute and finished with a game-high three goals, eight kicks, three handballs, six marks and six score involvements. Membrey kicked two of his goals in the first quarter to help the Saints build a 36 point quarter-time lead, however St Kilda were outscored BY Fremantle four goals to 11 for the remainder of the match and were defeated by six points.

Before this season St Kilda had lost all 10 games they had played at Adelaide Oval and were on losing streaks of 10 games and eight games respectively against the Adelaide Crows and Port Adelaide. The Saints smashed these hoodoos in the period of five days, defeating Adelaide by 23 points in a Monday night Round 8 game on 20 July followed up by a 29 point victory against the top of the ladder team Port Adelaide on Saturday night 25 July.

Against Port Adelaide Membrey played the 100th game of his AFL career at 26 years of age, he kicked two goals, winning goal of the week for his second goal to extend St Kilda’s lead to  23 points 16 and a half minutes into the last quarter. St Kilda midfielder Jack Steele’s kick from the forward pocket on the non-preferred side for a right-footer was just short of the goals. Membrey and Jonas engaged in a contest a couple of metres in front of the goals directly in front, Membrey lifted his right foot to head-height, Jonas punched the ball with his right foot and then Membrey kicked it through for a goal however the goal umpire initially only awarded a behind, it was only after a goal review that the decision was overturned with Membrey being credited with the goal. Membrey was voted as the goal of the week, receiving 80.9% of the votes to win in a landslide from Liam Shiels (10.9%) and Tom Papley (8.1%).

The following round Membrey played his 100th club game for St Kilda in a 53 point victory against his former team the Sydney Swans at the Gabba, extending St Kilda’ winning streak to three games and consolidating their position in the top eight.

Membrey has played St Kilda’s first nine games of 2020 and is averaging 6.7 kicks, 3.0 handballs, 4.6 marks and 1.3 goals per game. Membrey has been accurate this season, kicked 12 goals and four behinds, he is ranked third on the Saints goalkicking behind small forward Dan Butler (17 goals, seven behinds) and Max King (14 goals, five behinds). Butler is in his first season at the Saints after being acquired in a trade with reigning premiers Richmond whilst King is in his second season but didn’t play any AFL games in 2019. Membrey ranks fifth at the Saints for marks, is equal leader along with King for marks inside 50 with 13, and ranks equal second along with Marshall for contested marks with 11 – three behind key forward King.

After Round 9 St Kilda had six wins and three losses to be in third position on the ladder, however they were only a win and percentage ahead of ninth placed Essendon who had played one less game. St Kilda were the host scoring team in the AFL after Round 9 with an aggregate of 670 points scored, just ahead of Brisbane (663) with Port Adelaide (647) ranked third and Geelong (614) ranked fourth. In recent seasons St Kilda had been very inaccurate in front of goal but have turned things around in 2020 largely by taking shots from the corridor. In four games so far in 2020 the Saints have kicked goals with at least two thirds of their scoring shots – 14 goals, four behinds against the Western Bulldogs in Round 2, 15 goals, three behinds against Richmond in Round 4, 12 goals, six behinds against Adelaide in Round 7 and most impressively 12 goals and one behind against Port Adelaide in Round 8.

The last time that St Kilda had won at least two thirds of their games after the mid-way point of the home and season was in 2010, having nine wins and three losses after Round 12 and finishing the home and away season in third position with 15 wins, six losses and a draw. The Saints won two finals in 2010 and have not won a final since.

Epilogue

As a junior Membrey’s strengths were his marking, goal kicking and accuracy which contributed to him leading the TAC Cup goalkicking playing as a full-forward for Gippsland Power in 2012. With Membrey being shorter than a typical key forward at 189 centimetres tall there were doubts about how his game would translate at AFL level which contributed to him sliding down the draft and being selected by reigning premiers Sydney with pick 46 at the 2012 National Draft.

With strong competition for spots Membrey’s opportunities at Sydney were limited and he played just one game in two seasons at the club before joining St Kilda at the end of 2014.

During 2015 Membrey had more opportunities at AFL level but wasn’t able to cement a position in the St Kilda side, kicking nine goals in 12 games. A shoulder injury late in the 2015 season ended his season and required a reconstruction.

After building up his endurance in the 2015/16 off-season Membrey made an impact in his first game of the 2016 season against Melbourne  in Round 6, kicking five goals and receiving a Brownlow Medal vote. Membrey had a break-through 2016 season kicking five goals in a game three more times, polled nine Brownlow Medal votes for the season led the Saints goalkicking and finished in the top 10 of the club’s best and fairest.

In the three completed seasons since 2016 Membrey has finished in the top two of St Kilda’s goalkicking, leading the club in this category in 2017 and 2019 and finishing a goal behind Gresham in 2018.

Tim Membrey’s strengths have been his marking, goalkicking, accuracy and leadership. After cementing a spot in St Kilda’s AFL side during 2016 Membrey has kicked 181 goals to lead the Saints in this category and has also been durable, playing 100 games for the club ranked equal second.

By Dean Andrews

Twitter – @DeanAndrews7777

1 Champion Data, AFL Prospectus – The essential number cruncher for season 2013, 8th edition, page 311

2 https://www.afl.com.au/news/57708/a-new-darling

3 https://www.afl.com.au/news/57708/a-new-darling

4 https://websites.sportstg.com/club_info.cgi?c=0-3020-111700-0-0&sID=56113&&news_task=DETAIL&articleID=21355997

5 Australian Football League, AFL Record Guide to Season 2013, page 318.

6 Champion Data, AFL Prospectus – The essential number cruncher for season 2014, 9th edition, page 334

7 https://www.foxsports.com.au/afl/behind-the-tatooes-and-rough-exterior-meet-the-real-tim-membrey-st-kildas-find-of-2016/news-story/274477ded44314e94063b15f6e97c380

8 https://www.foxsports.com.au/afl/behind-the-tatooes-and-rough-exterior-meet-the-real-tim-membrey-st-kildas-find-of-2016/news-story/274477ded44314e94063b15f6e97c380

9 Australian Football League, AFL Record Season 2017, page 299

10 https://www.saints.com.au/news/348294/2016-best-emerging-player-tim-membrey

11 Champion Data, AFL Prospectus – The essential number cruncher for season 2017, 12th edition, page 321

12 Champion Data, AFL Prospectus – The essential number cruncher for season 2018, 13th edition, page 319

13 https://www.afl.com.au/news/128556/wayward-saint-works-to-realign-his-radar

14 https://www.afl.com.au/news/128556/wayward-saint-works-to-realign-his-radar

15 Champion Data, AFL Prospectus – The essential number cruncher for season 2019, 14th edition, page 320

16 https://www.saints.com.au/news/9002/2019-leadership-group-announced#:~:text=Jarryn%20Geary%20will%20captain%20St,over%20the%20past%20two%20seasons.

17 Australian Football League, AFL Record Season Guide 2020, page 301

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