AustralianFootball.com Celebrating the history of the great Australian game
17 October 1982 (age 40)
Place of birth
Hobart, TAS (7000)
Age at first & last AFL game
First game: 18y 269d
Last game: 34y 314d
Height and weight
Height: 193 cm
Weight: 92 kg
St. Kilda; Australia
St. Kilda: 12
State of origin
Jack Riewoldt (Cousin)
|Club||League||Career span||Games||Goals||Avg||Win %||AKI||AHB||AMK||BV|
AFL: 11,154th player to appear, 28th most games played, 24th most goals kickedSt. Kilda: 1,484th player to appear, 2nd most games played, 3rd most goals kicked
When the siren sounded at the end of St Kilda's match against Richmond in the final home-and-away round of the 2017 season, it drew a curtain on the 336-game career of Nick Riewoldt, who epitomised the club's motto, "Fortius Quo Fidelius" ("Strength through loyalty") almost from the moment he walked through the doors until his departure 17 seasons later.
At the end of the match, Riewoldt was chaired off by teammate Josh Bruce, and his Tiger cousin Jack Riewoldt in a moment that would become painfully ironic a month later. Throughout most of Nick's time at St Kilda, the Saints had been more than competitive and they had twice come within a few points of delivering a long-awaited premiership to the club, while the Tigers had rarely looked remotely like a contender. Yet four weeks after Nick had hung the boots up, cousin Jack was a Richmond premiership player.
Notwithstanding that poignancy, Nick Riewoldt's playing career saw him achieve almost everything that could be achieved on a football field. Born in Hobart, Riewoldt moved to Queensland's Gold Coast when he was nine and came under notice playing for Southport as a junior. He was taken with the number one selection in the 2000 National AFL Draft, and made a somewhat inauspicious debut against Adelaide in 2001 as a raw 18-year-old in what was Malcolm Blight's last match as an AFL coach. The Saints were humbled by 97 points by Adelaide, and Riewoldt's second game the following week was under the guidance of Blight's replacement Grant Thomas.
That match was another loss, to the Western Bulldogs, as were Riewoldt's third, fourth and fifth matches. Riewoldt finally broke through for a win in his sixth match, St Kilda beating Hawthorn by two points in the last match of the 2001 season. Riewoldt's six matches had yielded 26 marks and just two goals to that point but he showed enough potential in those matches and the following pre-season to be an automatic selection in the Saints team in round one the following season and, indeed, in every match of 2002.
St Kilda finished second-last in 2002 but Riewoldt excelled personally, winning that season's AFL Rising Star award. As the Saints developed as team as Riewoldt himself developed as a player over the next few seasons. Riewoldt soon became renowned as a fearless player, always throwing himself into the unknown - regardless of personal safety - in a effort to take a mark, and as the hardest working player not only at St Kilda but in the league, never leaving a stone unturned in his preparation during the week and on game day.
Those qualities, along with a superb marking ability (helped along by a keen hand-eye coordination that Riewoldt credited to a junior cricket coach who spent hours throwing a hockey ball at him in the nets) saw Riewoldt become one of the elite players in the AFL, and one of St Kilda's greatest of all time. He was also a fine leader, his club-record 220 matches as captain testament to that fact. Arguably the complete footballer, if Riewoldt had one weakness it was his occasional 'flakiness' when kicking for goal, but it would be hard to find any other way to criticise his body of work.
Riewoldt's 336-game career saw him collect most of football's accolades: All Australian in 2004, 2006, 2008, 2009 and 2014, club best and fairest six times, and winner of the 2004 Leigh Matthews Trophy (most valuable player as voted by the players themselves) amongst the many accolades Riewoldt earned in 17 seasons.
A solid if unspectacular contributor for the Saints in the three Grand Finals they played during his career, two of those matches saw Riewoldt and his team come tantalisingly close to winning a flag. Alas for Riewoldt, that was not to be, and he will never be known as the premiership player his cousin Jack has become. He will, however, be known as a player who got everything he possibly could have out of his career, and will almost certainly become an Australian Hall of Fame player as soon as he becomes eligible for induction.
Author - Andrew Gigacz