At the start of his 13th season versatile Jason Blake became the 25th Saint to play 200 AFL matches

In the 2012 Opening Round Sunday evening match against Port Adelaide at AAMI Stadium St Kilda defender Jason Blake played his 200th match for St Kilda, becoming the 25th Saint to reach this milestone. At several points throughout his 13 seasons as an AFL footballer you would have received very long odds on Blake reaching this significant milestone.  To put into perspective how difficult it is for a player to reach this milestone, in the history of the VFL/AFL only “3.8% of players have played 200 games or more”.1

Blake joined four of his current team-mates, Lenny Hayes (242 matches), Stephen Milne (237), Nick Riewoldt (220) and Nick Dal Santo (217) in the St Kilda 200 game club. Whilst Blake’s afore mentioned teammates have been settled in the one position for the majority of their careers, namely Hayes and Dal Santo – midfield, Milne – small forward, Riewoldt – key position forward,  Jason has shown great versatility throughout his career to perform several very different roles including,  defender, ruckman and run with roles in the midfield.

Blake holds the unwanted record  of playing the most VFL/AFL games without receiving a Brownlow Medal vote, however this shouldn’t diminish Jason’s achievements during his 200 matches for St Kilda. Brownlow Medal votes are largely the domain of midfielders, for players consistently performing a negating role such as Blake a more accurate indication of their performance can be derived from looking at best and fairest results.  To illustrate how different the views of the umpires and a club’s match committee can be, in 2009 defender Corey Enright was a joint winner of the Geelong best and fairest, 13 Cats received at least one vote on 2009 Brownlow Medal night, however Corey Enright wasn’t one of them.

From 2007 onwards Jason Blake has spent most of his time playing in defense and relished this continuity in his role by having four consecutive top 10 finishes in St Kilda’s best and fairest from 2007 to 2010.  Over this four year period St Kilda won 64 of their 98 matches which equates to  65.3%, ranked second in the AFL from 2007 to 2010 behind Geelong.  To have four consecutive top 10 best and fairest finishes for a club with this outstanding  winning record Blake needed to be able to consistently perform the role that St Kilda Football Club asked him to do at an outstanding level week in and week out.

Whilst Blake has still had stints in the ruck from 2007 onwards he has not been shuffled around to different positions as much as he was before 2007. At 189 centimetres Blake spent several seasons sharing ruck duties for the Saints, whilst he was giving away considerable height, his great leap  allowed him to be competitive when contesting the hit-outs and his athleticism allowed him to make an impact around the ground.  It was this athleticism that resulted in him performing run-with roles in the midfield.

Whilst Blake hasn’t got the talent of high profile teammates Brendon Goddard and Nick Dal Santo he has been able to achieve some things on the football field that Goddard and Dal Santo haven’t, or indeed very few players have been able to do. Who else in the AFL has the versatility to play in the Ruck against Aaron Sandilands and also play a midfield run with role on Adam Goodes in a final and beat both Sandilands and Goodes in these very different and challenging roles.  Later in the article I will go into more detail on these superb Jason Blake performances in Round 5 2006 and the 2004 Semi-Final.  

From 2004 onwards St Kilda have been regular finals participants, only missing the finals in 2007, Blake has  played 16 finals games to be equal fourth on St Kilda’s all time list, level with Kevin ‘Cowboy’ Neale and one game behind Robert Harvey, Riewoldt and Dal Santo.

Playing 200 matches for the St Kilda Football Club is a testament to Jason’s resilience, adaptability and professionalism which has resulted in him always putting the team first and being a valuable contributor to the St Kilda football team in a variety of roles, often against much larger opponents.

Jason Blake was picked by St Kilda with the No. 24 selection in the 1999 National Draft and was 189 centimetres tall and weighed 87 kilograms when he was drafted as an 18 year old from Beaumaris and the Prahran Under-18s.  Blake was recruited as a mobile defender, his strengths were his reading of the play and his leap. The profile for Blake in AFL 2000 said “Made the All-Australian team after the AFL National Under-18 Championships and was also named in the TAC Cup team of the year. Also played three games for Melbourne Reserves.”2

St Kilda selected a total of seven players at the 1999 National Draft and 2000 Pre-season Draft. Amazingly Blake has now played more than double the combined tally of 95 matches played for St Kilda by the other six selections  Cayden Beetham (37 matches), Tony Delaney (33), Damien Monkhorst (10), Sean Charles (8),Fred Campbell (7), and Murray Pitts (0). 

Blake commenced the 2000 season in the VFL and made his AFL debut in Round 9 against the Western Bulldogs. Blake had 16 possessions, laid 4 tackles and kicked a goal, despite leading by 31 points at three quarter time St Kilda were outscored six goals to one in the last quarter and lost by a point. Blake remained in the St Kilda AFL side until he was dropped in Round 22 so he could qualify for the VFL finals.  In 2000 Blake had an impressive debut season being used primarily as a defender and played 13 matches averaging 4.8 kicks, 4.9 handballs and 2.7 marks per game.

In the first 16 Rounds of the 2001 season Blake’s form was down on the previous season and he was dropped from the St Kilda AFL side three times, only playing six games and being named an emergency seven times.  Blake was recalled to the Saints AFL side in Round 17 in a new role as a run with player, he grew in confidence performing this role and retained his position in the side for the last six games of the season.

In 2001 Blake played 12 matches averaging 4.3 kicks, 5.8 handballs and 3.7 marks per game with a disposal efficiency of 77.5%. In Round 19 against Port Adelaide, Blake set new career highs for disposals and marks, having 10 kicks, 12 handballs and taking seven marks, he also laid a then equal career best four tackles.

Blake started the 2002 season well, being named in the best players during the Round 1, 24 point victory against Carlton. Jason played the first five games of the AFL season mainly performing run with roles, however he then missed the next 10 weeks of football due to a groin injury. Blake returned through the VFL in Round 16 and although he didn’t play any more football for St Kilda in 2002 he was named as an emergency for three of the final four games of the season. During 2002 Blake played five matches, averaging 4.0 kicks, 3.6 handballs and 2.0 marks per game with a disposal efficiency of 89.5%.

Blake was dropped after playing for the Saints in Round 1 2003, after playing seven VFL games for Springvale and being named an emergency three times he was recalled to the St Kilda side in Round 12. Blake was again dropped in Round 13, however he returned in Round 15 to play the last eight games of the season. One of St Kilda’s ruckman Matthew Capuano was controversially delisted mid-season after the 65 point loss in Round 9 against Collingwood. Trent Knobel came into the side for Round 10 however after injuring his quad he missed the final eight games of the season.

In Round 16 St Kilda split the ruck duties between Blake, 189 centimetres tall and Matt Maguire who was 190 centimetres.  Although Blake and Maguire gave away considerable height they competed hard and created a contest.  St Kilda were beaten in the hit-outs 43-28 however the Saints defeated North Melbourne by five points with full-forward Fraser Gehrig kicking nine goals.

Blake was used in the ruck for four matches up until Round 19 and had 11 possessions and 17 hit outs in the 61 point Round 18 win over the West Coast Eagles at the Telstra Dome. Blake, Maguire and Justin Koschitzke shared the ruck duties to record 39 hit outs to West Coast’s 44 which was led by Dean Cox with 22. In 2003 Blake played 10 matches averaging 68 minutes, 4.4 kicks, 5.8 handballs, 3.8 marks and 5.1 hit outs per game with a disposal efficiency of 90.2%.

For most of the 2004 season Blake played as a ruckman, although he was considerably shorter than most opposition ruckman he was still able to finish the season with 183 hitouts, ranked 22nd in the AFL.  Trent Knobel was St Kilda’s No. 1 ruckman and at 204 centimetres he played a contrasting style to Blake, Knobel was a very good tap ruckman but made a limited impact around the ground.  Blake said that his strategy when playing in the ruck was “just to compete and to bash and crash, get in there and try it make it difficult for those taller guys, and try to hurt them on the spread.”3

Blake played the first three games of the 2004 season for St Kilda and then missed the next four matches after injuring his back in Round 3 against Richmond.  After recovering from his back injury Blake came straight back into the St Kilda side in Round 8 but was dropped back to the VFL for Round 11 and 12 as St Kilda used Justin Koschitzke in the ruck. Blake was recalled for Round 13 and played the remaining 13 games of the season for St Kilda  including three finals.

In Blake’s first three seasons at St Kilda from 2000 to 2002 the Saints won a total of just 11 matches to  finish 16th once and 15th twice in a then 16 club AFL competition.  St Kilda were in a rebuilding phase and the group of players who made their AFL debut during this period would become key players  for the next decade, players that joined Blake in debuting for St Kilda during this time included: Nick Riewoldt, Nick Dal Santo, Leigh Montagna, Stephen Milne and Justin Koschitzke.

In 2003 St Kilda started their climb up the ladder, improving throughout the season to finish 11th with 11 wins. In 2004 the progression of the young Saints outfit accelerated with 10 consecutive wins to start the home and away season setting up a top four finish and St Kilda’s first finals appearance in six years.

St Kilda were overwhelmed in the Qualifying Final, losing by 80 points at the Gabba to the Brisbane Lions who were chasing their fourth straight AFL Premiership.

By virtue of their top four finish, the Saints had a second chance and an opportunity to redeem themselves with a home final at the MCG against the Sydney Swans. Jason Blake was handed arguably the toughest assignment of any St Kilda player on that night – a run with role in the midfield on 2003 Brownlow Medalist Adam Goodes.  At 193 centimetres tall Goodes was (and still is) one of the most difficult players to match up on in the AFL due to his explosive speed and his size which means that very few players can match him at ground level and also in the air.

Blake performed the run-with role superbly restricting Goodes to 12 possessions whilst having 13 possessions himself to play a pivotal role in the 51 point Semi Final victory against Sydney. In St Kilda’s first finals victory in seven years Official AFL Records list Blake as St Kilda’s third best player, behind Robert Harvey and Nick Riewoldt, who between them have won nine St Kilda best and fairests.

In his fifth season of AFL football Blake set a new high for games played in a season with 19 – six more than his debut season, and in the Round 16 44 point victory against Richmond Blake played his 50th match. In his 19  games during 2004 Blake averaged 68 minutes, 4.5 kicks, 6.5 handballs, 4.1 marks and 10.4 hit outs per game with a disposal efficiency of 86.6%.

After playing in Round 1, 2005 against Brisbane Blake was dropped and only played one of St Kilda’s next six matches – Round 4, he was on the cusp of selection being named an emergency for the other five games. Blake played three straight matches, commencing in Round 8 but in his third game back for the Saints he injured his leg.

Blake missed two matches, was named an emergency for another two and was called up as a late replacement for the Round 15 80 point victory against Carlton at the Telstra Dome. St Kilda shared the ruck duties between, Cain Ackland, Justin Koschitzke and Blake, all three Saints had at least 13 hit-outs and 13 possessions each leading to St Kilda convincingly winning the hit-outs 47 to 30.  Blake retained his position in the St Kilda side for the final 10 games of the year.

Blake continued to be used predominantly as a back-up ruckman during the 2005 season. Whilst Jason was the shortest ruckman in the AFL his great endurance allowed him to have more impact around the ground than most of his opponents. In 2005 Blake played 15 matches, averaging 70 minutes, 4.4 kicks, 6.3 handballs, 2.9 marks and 10.4 hit-ots per game with a disposal efficiency of 87.6%. Blake was ranked 27th in the AFL for total hit-outs with 156.

Blake displayed good form over the first four Rounds of the 2006 season and in Round 4 against Port Adelaide he had 17 disposals and 15 hit-outs out of St Kilda’s total of 22.

Whilst Blake was accustomed to giving away considerable height to his ruck opponents, it went to a whole new level in Round 5 against Fremantle at Aurora Stadium as Jason faced the monumental task of playing the entire game in the ruck against Aaron Sandilands who at 211 centimetres  and 125 kilograms was 22 centimetres taller and 36 kilograms heavier than Blake.

Blake responded to the huge challenge set for him by playing one of the most complete games of his AFL career to have 14 kicks, 11 handballs, 10 marks and kick two goals.  Blake battled manfully in the ruck to have 20 hit-outs to Sandilands 29, however Jason’s impact around the ground, effectively playing as an extra midfielder resulted in him convincingly taking the honours on the day, winning the possession count 25 to 8, taking eight more marks and kicking two more goals than Sandilands. Despite Blake’s herculean effort St Kilda were not able to get the victory over Fremantle in the infamous siren-gate match.

St Kilda hard-nut Steven Baker was awarded a free kick for a push in the back and given a shot after the siren with St Kilda trailing by a point. The siren had gone seconds before Baker was awarded the free kick however the umpires didn’t hear it. Baker’s shot went through for a behind which probably turned out to be a good thing.

The match was declared as a draw however this result was overturned during a special Tribunal hearing which awarded the victory and 4 premiership points to the Fremantle Dockers as the match should been declared over before the free kick was awarded to Baker.

Blake played the first 11 matches of the 2006 season to bring his consecutive games tally to a career-best 21, however he then missed Rounds 12 to 15 with a hamstring injury. Jason was brought straight back into the St Kilda side for the Round 16 four point victory against Port Adelaide at Aurora Stadium.  Blake played six of St Kilda’s last eight games of the season, missing Round 21 with injured ribs and being named an emergency for the Qualifying Final. In Round 20 and 22 he was a late replacement coming into the side for Cain Ackland (soreness) and Max Hudghton (ankle) respectively.   

In 2006 Blake played 17 matches, averaging 74 minutes, 7.2 kicks, 6.5 handballs, 5.6 marks and 9.4 hit-outs per game with a disposal efficiency of 82.3%.  Blake “ranked fourth of all ruckmen in disposals per minute, however his contested possessions average dropped below four for the first time in his career.”4  Blake set a new career-best with 13.7 possessions a game and  ranked 23rd in the AFL for total hit-outs with 157.

In Ross Lyon’s first season as coach in 2007 Blake spent most of his time playing in defense, he was given some run-with roles in the midfield including against tall midfielders such as Adam Goodes and Cameron Bruce, and was only used in the ruck sparingly. Blake had 79 hit-outs for the season, however most of these were from three games, Round 13 (12 hit-outs), Round 20 (15) and Round 22 with a career-best 21 hit-outs against Richmond.

In 2007 Blake was ranked fifth at St Kilda for hard-ball gets and had his first top 10 finish in the best and fairest, with ninth place. Blake played 22 matches averaging 105 minutes, 5.7 kicks, 6.9 handballs and 4.1 marks per game with a disposal efficiency of 82.0%. For the first time in his career Blake played every game of the season, to be one of four Saints to achieve this feat in 2007 along with Dal Santo, Aaron Fiora and Milne.

Mindful of the task the St Kilda match committee were setting Blake each week by having him play in the ruck and give away considerable height and weight to his opponents Blake’s time on the ground was carefully managed during the period from 2003 to 2006. If Blake had been playing 100 minutes a game the risk of injury would have been severe. During Blake’s four seasons as an under-sized ruckmen, his average time on the ground per game in each season was between 68 and 74 minutes.

In 2007 Blake, playing against similar sized opponents had a massive jump in playing time,  increasing by 32 minutes per game to 106 minutes, effectively he spent just over one entire quarter more per match on the ground.  Blake went from being St Kilda’s second most benched player in 2006 behind Cain Ackland to being ranked second at St Kilda for minutes played in 2007 behind Stephen Milne.

After making consecutive Preliminary Finals in 2004 and 2005 St Kilda fell away in the next couple of years to be knocked out of the 2006 finals in the first week after an Elimination Final loss to Melbourne and in 2007 the Saints failed to make the finals at all, finishing ninth, half a game and percentage behind the eighth placed Adelaide Crows.

After 15 rounds of the 2008 season St Kilda were precariously positioned, eighth on the ladder, inside the eight by half a game and percentage. In Round 16 St Kilda played Hawthorn, third on the ladder with 13 wins and just two losses. The match at the Telstra Dome followed the script during the first half to see Hawthorn enjoy a 28 point lead at half-time.  

 Jason Blake was thrown into the ruck during the third quarter against Hawthorn and turned the game, kicking three goals to be St Kilda’s second highest goal scorer for the match behind Nick Riewoldt with six.  At the eight minute mark of the third quarter Hawthorn led by 22 points, Blake responded with two goals in the next four minutes to reduce the margin to 10 points, when Blake added his third goal at the 17 minute mark the Saints led by eight points and had all the momentum.

After half-time St Kilda dominated, kicking 12 goals to Hawthorn’s three. Blake had 23 possessions and 11 hit-outs for the match to be a catalyst in the memorable 30 point victory that transformed St Kilda’s 2008 season.

In the official AFL records Jason Blake is listed as the second best St Kilda player in the Round 16 victory against Hawthorn, behind Nick Riewoldt.  I agree with the AFL’s assessment that the Saints two best players in this match were 1. Riewoldt and 2. Blake, whilst Nick Riewoldt received the three Brownlow Medal votes and St Kilda players picked up the remaining votes from this game Blake was not amongst the vote getters – instead the minor votes went to Hayes (2) and Montagna (1).     

Blake had at least 15 possessions in six of St Kilda’s last seven matches of the home and away season, playing some of the best football of his career. During this period St Kilda appeared a rejuvenated side and finished the season strongly to sneak into fourth position with a 108 point Round 22 victory against Essendon.

In the 34 point Elimination Final victory against Collingwood Blake was one of St Kilda’s best players with 19 kicks, eight handballs and a game-high 18 marks.

During 2008 Blake played 23 matches averaging 109 minutes, 6.6 kicks, 7.6 handballs and 5.4 marks per game with a disposal efficiency of 87.6% and was ranked fifth at St Kilda for marks. Jason played most of the season in defense and after being a late withdrawal from the Round 1 match against Sydney due to an infection, he missed only one more match for the season, Round 7 when he was dropped to the VFL.

Blake was the recipient of the 2008 Excellence in Education & Training award from the AFL in relation to his double degree in Bachelor of Civil Engineering (Construction Management specialization) and Bachelor of Business (Finance specialization). 

During 2009 Blake was ranked first for minutes played at St Kilda and second for marks, playing as a defender he was able to perform roles on tall and small forwards. In 2009 Blake “had the flexibility to play on a number of different opponents including Drew Petrie, Tom Hawkins, Jason Porplyzia and Daniel Motlop. He conceded the fourth most-most goals at the club and kept nine clean sheets.”5

On seven occasions during his 200 match AFL career Jason Blake has had 25 possessions or more. In a purple patch from Round 14 to Round 17 2009 Blake averaged 25.5 possessions over his four games, comprised of 26 in Round 14 against Geelong, 20 in Round 15 against West Coast, 25 in Round 16 against Adelaide and culminating with a career best 31 in Round 17 against the Western Bulldogs comprised of 16 kicks and  15 handballs. Blake’s reading of the play was exceptional and he had at least 10 marks in all four of these matches.

In 2009 Blake played 25 matches, averaging 115 minutes, 9.4 kicks, 8.5 handballs and 7.6 marks per game with a disposal efficiency of 89.7%. Blake set new highs for minutes, kicks, handballs and marks per game as part of St Kilda’s miserly defense that conceded the least amount of points in a season since the home and away season increased to 22 rounds in 1970. Blake was one of only two Saints along with Farren Ray to play every game in 2009. Blake had 10 or more marks nine times in 2009 and he ranked sixth in the AFL for average marks with 7.6 per game, behind Nick Riewoldt 9.6, Jonathan Brown 8.5, Brian Lake 8.3, Brett Thornton 7.9 and Sam Fisher 7.7.

During 2010 Blake “ranked No. 1 at St Kilda in spoils and fourth in marks from opposition kicks, winning the fourth-most possessions off the opposition. He also took the third-most marks among Saints and the fifth-most of any player during the H & A fixture.”6

In 2010 Blake played all 26 matches, averaging 110 minutes, 8.5 kicks, 7.7 handballs and 6.8 marks per game with a disposal efficiency of 88.2%. Throughout the 2010 season Blake usually picked up an opposition key forward with his opponents including Jarryd Roughead, Cameron Mooney and Josh Kennedy, however he has also had stints on small forwards as well.  In the 24 point Round 13 victory against Geelong Blake had 15 possessions and held key forward Cameron Mooney goalless and to only three kicks and four handballs.

From 2007 to 2010 Blake showed remarkable durability to play 96 of St Kilda’s 98 matches and at the end of the 2010 season Blake had played 69 consecutive games which was the longest current streak for St Kilda.  In this four year period no-one played more games of football for the St Kilda Football Club, and two-time All-Australian Leigh Montagna was the only player to equal Jason’s 96 games.

In August 2010 Jon Anderson listed Jason Blake as one of the AFL’s six most under-rated players in his article in the Herald-Sun, and the AFL Record Season Guide 2010 even went as far to say “Underrate him at your peril” and “in his 11th season at the club, Blake has performed whatever role required of him (and there have been plenty along the journey) with the minimum of fuss.”7

In the 2011 pre-season continuing to play in defense where he had been settled for several years Jason Blake was unanimously voted best Saint afield by True Sainters members for his Quarter-Final NAB Cup performance against Geelong at Etihad Stadium.  Blake read the play brilliantly to take 12 marks and repel many of Geelong’s attacking forays. The ever-reliable Blake finished the match with 12 kicks, nine handballs and outplayed several Geelong forwards including Tom Hawkins.

At the start of the 2011 season St Kilda were looking for tall marking options in the forward line to support captain Nick Riewoldt and allow the Saints to be  less predictable with how they delivered the ball inside the forward fifty. 

It was a surprise to the majority of St Kilda supporters and in fact AFL followers in general to see Jason Blake lining up in the forward line for the Saints 2011 Round 1 match of the Home and Away season against Geelong, especially after four straight top 10 finishes in the Saints Best and Fairest playing as a defender and displaying sensational form as a defender in the NAB Cup match against the Cats weeks earlier.

Over the first two rounds Blake played predominantly as a forward,  a move that was not successful as Jason had eight disposals and six marks against Geelong followed by nine disposals and two marks in Round 2 against Richmond. During these two matches Blake kicked a total of one goal, one behind.

Rather then return Blake back to his customary role in defense the St Kilda match committee decided to drop Jason for the Round 3 clash with Essendon, ending a sequence of 71 straight matches for St Kilda.

Blake was named an emergency for Round 5 and was recalled for St Kilda’s Round 6 match against Adelaide, he played four of the Saints next five matches, missing Round 8 after being dropped and named an emergency.

With only a few minutes remaining in the 46 point Round 10 win against Fremantle Jason Blake going back with the flight of the ball, collected teammate Sean Dempster. Blake injured his knee and Dempster was knocked out which resulted in him being taken off the ground on a stretcher and then onto Charles Gairdner Hospital just like Goddard who was knocked out in friendly fire from Zac Dawson at the end of the first quarter. 

Dempster and Goddard recovered well to be able to fly back to Melbourne with their St Kilda teammates late that night and both players took their place in the St Kilda side for Round 11 against Collingwood. Blake  didn’t fare so well and spent several weeks on the sidelines due to his knee injury.

Blake returned through the VFL in Round 16 and was recalled to AFL level in Round 20 against Fremantle at Etihad Stadium. In his first game for St Kilda in ten weeks since injuring his knee against Fremantle at Patersons Stadium Jason Blake was superb in defense having 27 possessions and was very close to receiving a vote from True Sainters members. With Zac Dawson suspended Blake was given the opportunity to play at full-back and excelled to be ranked second at St Kilda for contested possessions with 10 and had a game high 10 spoils, five more than Raph Clarke ranked second.  Against the Dockers Blake had his 2011 season highs for handballs and marks with 14 and 10 respectively, he also had his second highest number of kicks for the year with 13, one less than his season high in the Elimination Final against Sydney. Blake retained his position in the St Kilda side for the last six matches of the 2011 season.

Up until his knee injury in Round 10 Blake was consistently called upon to support Ben McEvoy in the ruck, and in his first six matches of the season Blake averaged 7 hit-outs per game with a season best of 16 in Round 9 against Melbourne when Ben McEvoy was dropped.

After his return from the knee injury Blake was rarely used in the ruck and averaged 1.2 hit-outs in his last six games of the season. In 2011 Blake has played 12 matches, averaging 103 minutes, 6.1 kicks, 6.4 handballs and 4.2 marks per game with a disposal efficiency of 87.0%.

The only current day Saint that has been at St Kilda longer than Jason Blake is two time Saints Best and Fairest Lenny Hayes who was drafted by St Kilda one season before Blake. In 2011 St Kilda placed Blake on the veterans list, he was included on the Saints list of 38 whereas St Kilda’s other two veterans, Hayes and Steven Baker were outside St Kilda’s list of 38 players. 

At the conclusion of the 2011 season St Kilda didn’t have much room in their salary cap and faced a battle to retain all of their required players.

One measure to ease this pressure was a bit of list management which resulted in Jason Blake being delisted to allow Justin Koschitzke to be included as one of two  St Kilda veteran’s. St Kilda were committed to re-drafting Blake with their final selection at the 2011 National Draft, pick 76, and this is exactly what happened, placing the then 30 year old (he turned 31 on March 15 this year) to the Saints Primary list. 

With Steven Baker’s AFL career ending at the conclusion of the 2011 season St Kilda now have two veterans who are both outside the list of 38, Hayes and Koschitzke.

During St Kilda’s 2012 Pre-Season Blake played in three Pre-Season games, but had limited game-time, playing a total of only 92 minutes across the three games.

Blake was selected to play his 200th  AFL match in Round 1 of the 2012 season against Port Adelaide and on the eve of his milestone match Blake said “It’s very exciting to be a part of this great Club. It’s quite a humble feeling to play 200 games, and I’m very proud to be a part of St Kilda.”8

Blake had 12 kicks, 3 handballs and eight marks in game number 200, however the result was very similar to Blake’s first game, with the Saints suffering a narrow loss, this time by four points.

Throughout his career Blake has shown great versatility to perform many roles for the St Kilda football club including, run with player in the midfield, ruckman and key defender.  The ability of Blake to perform several roles due to his endurance, leap and strength has afforded his coaches great flexibility allowing him to be used in the role that was best for St Kilda team balance at that point in time.  

In an article for Saints.com.au in April 2010 Blake commented “The last couple of years have been good to be able to settle down into a position and have a niche in the team. You can really focus on the position and what it takes to play well in this role.”9

This afternoon Blake plays his 201st game against the Gold Coast Suns, in the twilight of his AFL career you can be certain that Blake will continue to be an understated role model for his younger teammates both on and off the field throughout the rest of his career with the St Kilda Football Club.

Whilst Jason Blake doesn’t receive the same level of recognition from the wider football community that many of his teammates do he is highly admired and respected within the St Kilda Football Club for his decision making, reliability, durability and ability to perform his role well week in and week out with a minimum of fuss.

Well done Jason on playing 200 tenacious games for the St Kilda Football Club. 

1 AFL, AFL Record Season Guide 2012, page 661

2 AFL, AFL 2000 – The official statistical history of the AFL, page 212

3 St Kilda Football Club, Jason Blake: a Saint for all occasions by Luke Holmesby, 17 April 2008, Saint.com.au

4 Champion Data, AFL Prospectus the essential number-cruncher for season 2007, 2nd edition, page 250.

5 Champion Data, AFL Prospectus the essential number-cruncher for season 2010, 5th edition, page 223.

6 Champion Data, AFL Prospectus the essential number-cruncher for season 2011, 6th edition, page 246.

7 AFL, AFL Record Season Guide 2010, page 264

8 St Kilda Football Club, 200 games for a True Sainter by Breanna Gallagher, 30 March 2012, Saints.com.au

9 St Kilda Football Club, Blake finds his niche by Felicity George, 30 April 2010, Saint.com.au

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One Comment on “At the start of his 13th season versatile Jason Blake became the 25th Saint to play 200 AFL matches”

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