Australian Football Celebrating the history of the great Australian game


Key Facts

Full name
Cyril Leonard Gambetta

Known as
Cyril Gambetta

Jazz legs

1 August 1899

Place of birth
Eaglehawk, VIC (3556)

20 August 1974 (aged 75)

Place of death
Elwood, VIC (3184)

Age at first & last AFL game
First game: 22y 278d
Last game: 31y 295d

Height and weight
Height: 180 cm
Weight: 80 kg

Senior clubs
Hawthorn; St. Kilda

Jumper numbers
St. Kilda: 25, 7

Recruited from
Sandhurst (1921); Hawthorn (1922)

State of origin

Family links
Billy Gambetta (Cousin)Frank Roberts (Cousin)

Cyril Gambetta

ClubLeagueCareer spanGamesGoalsAvgWin %AKIAHBAMKBV
St. KildaV/AFL1922-1931129750.5847%12

AFL: 2,690th player to appear, 1,677th most games played, 1,437th most goals kickedSt. Kilda: 528th player to appear, 86th most games played, 84th most goals kicked

Without doubt one of the finest St Kilda footballers of the inter-war years, Cyril Gambetta eked out a 129-game VFL career for himself despite suffering from badly bowed legs, which were a legacy of an attack of polio while he was a youngster. He began his senior career in the VFA with Hawthorn, where he earned a reputation as a useful forward, but it was a full back that he played for most of his time with the Saints. His judgement and anticipation were first rate, and he was regarded as one of the best high marks of his time. 

Gambetta arrived at St Kilda in 1922, and played his last match in 1931, which meant that he only ever got to play in one finals team. That was in a 1929 semi final against Carlton in which the Saints trailed narrowly all day, eventually going down by eight points. Gambetta, who won his club's best and fairest award in 1925, played interstate football twice for the VFL. The fact that he played some of his early football with the Saints on the forward lines is evidenced by his feat in kicking 75 goals during the course of his league career.

One does not envy the St Kilda 'Team of the Century' selectors having had to chose between Gambetta and the likes of Verdun Howell, Danny Frawley and Barry Lawrence for the coveted full back position in the side. In the end, they went for Howell, but there can be no doubt that Gambetta's contribution to the club, during an era that combined intermittent promise with repeated under-achievement, was noteworthy in the extreme.

Author - John Devaney


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* Behinds calculated from the 1965 season on.
+ Score at the end of extra time.