Martin Blake July 04, 2012
St Kilda's Stephen Milne. Photo: Sebastian Costanzo
Stephen Milne says he is proud of his 250-game milestone, especially his resilience.
Milne, 32, is the ultimate survivor. Having played a season with Essendon reserves in 1999, winning a grand final (against St Kilda), he was cut, picked up by the Saints and played 12 seasons as a small forward, kicking 517 goals.
Had the ball bounced his way in the 2010 grand final against Collingwood he might have been celebrated as the man who delivered St Kilda's second premiership. It is a moment that bounces into his head, often.
"Probably every night before I go to sleep,'' he said.
"That's the way it is. If it was close enough I would've dived on it, and kicked it as hard as I could over the Collingwood cheer squad and celebrated. But I didn't and we've moved on. It's a long time ago now.''
Milne will run out against Essendon on Saturday night with his son Tyson, 11 ("he'll probably try and pull the guernsey on himself and play for me'') and daughter Lylah, 2.
"I suppose time flies when you're having fun,'' he said today.
"To say I would have played 250 a few years ago, I would have pinched myself. To be sitting here talking is something to be proud of after footy.''
The Saints' veteran long ago lost any sense of bitterness to Essendon. The Bombers were flying when he was at Windy Hill, and had small forwards like Mark Mercuri and Garry Moorcroft.
"I was a skinny guy from Hampton Park trying to find my way. They were in front of me.''
Milne becomes the ninth St Kilda player to reach 250 games. The retired Robert Harvey (383) is the club record holder.
"It's getting harder,'' said Milne.
"You don't pull up the same. Robert Harvey said it gets harder when you're older and I didn't believe him. I'm pulling up okay at the moment and going okay.''
Today he named his father Brian and former coach Ross Lyon as the biggest influences on his career.
"When Ross came in I was going to get traded. I was up in the air to stay at the Saints. Ross put the faith in me and I worked closely with him over the years.''