Lenny Hayes

Lenny Hayes (born 14 January 1980) is a former professional Australian rules footballer who played for the St Kilda Football Club in the Australian Football League (AFL) from 1999 to 2014.

Lenny Hayes
Personal information
Full name Lenny Hayes
Date of birth (1980-01-14) 14 January 1980
Place of birth Sydney, New South Wales
Original team(s) NSW/ACT Rams (TAC Cup)
Draft No. 11, 1998 National Draft
Height 186 cm (6 ft 1 in)
Weight 83 kg (183 lb)
Position(s) Midfielder
Playing career
Years Club Games (Goals)
1999–2014 St Kilda 297 (95)
International team honours
Years Team Games (Goals)
2003 Australia 2 (0)
Career highlights
Sources: AFL Tables, AustralianFootball.com

Growing up in Sydney, Hayes played TAC Cup football for the NSW/ACT Rams. He was recruited by St Kilda with the 11th pick in the 1998 National Draft and made his senior debut in round five of the 1999 season. He was nominated for the AFL Rising Star Award later in the year as well. Hayes was a first-choice player for St Kilda for virtually his whole career, other than in two seasons (2006 and 2011) where he would require knee reconstructions. After playing 297 games and kicking 95 goals, he retired midway through the 2014 season.

Hayes would establish himself as one of the best midfielders in the league. He was named in the All-Australian team three times (in 2003, 2005 and 2009) and placed third in the 2009 Brownlow Medal (behind Gary Ablett and Chris Judd). Hayes was a three-time winner of the Trevor Barker Award as St Kilda's best and fairest player (in 2003, 2010 and 2012). He also spent two seasons as St Kilda's captain – in 2004 as sole captain and in 2007 as co-captain, alongside both Luke Ball and Nick Riewoldt. Hayes played in three Grand Finals without tasting premiership success, but won the Norm Smith Medal for his performance in the drawn 2010 AFL Grand Final.

Playing career


Hayes grew up in suburban Sydney and began playing junior football with Pennant Hills in the Sydney AFL.

In 1998, Hayes was a standout player for NSW/ACT in the representative TAC Cup, taking out the Morrish Medal as the best player in the competition.

Hayes debuted in the AFL the following year. He started well and improved throughout the year, earning an AFL Rising Star nomination in the final round of the season (R22).


With St Kilda's current policy being that of one to rotate the captaincy to a different player each season, Hayes would be named captain ahead of 2004.

After he was sworn into the role, Hayes captained St Kilda’s 2004 Wizard Home Loans Cup winning side, in what was the club's second pre-season cup win.[1][2]

After a strong start to the 2006 season, Hayes ruptured his anterior cruciate ligament against the Kangaroos in Round 9, requiring a minor knee reconstruction which sidelined him until the 2007 season. In just his fifth game back in the 2007 season he suffered a broken collarbone, sidelining him for three weeks, although he managed to come back and play 19 games for the year.

Hayes was a co-captain and part of the Saints' 2007 leadership group – dubbed the "Young Saints", which also included Justin Koschitzke, Luke Ball (co-captain) and Nick Riewoldt (co-captain). Additionally, others included in the leadership group were Aaron Hamill, Fraser Gehrig, Nick Dal Santo and Robert Harvey.

Hayes played in St Kilda’s 2008 NAB Cup winning side, the club’s third pre-season cup win.[3][4]

In 2009, Hayes played his 200th AFL game in Round 9 against the Brisbane Lions at Docklands Stadium. During the match he gained 31 possessions in the Saints' 16-point victory.[5] He finished third in the 2009 Brownlow Medal.

Hayes played in 19 of the 22 matches in the 2009 home and away rounds in which St Kilda qualified in first position for the finals series, winning the club’s third minor premiership.[6]

Hayes was recognised for his excellent season with selection in the 2009 All-Australian team as a midfield player. It was his third career selection in the All-Australian team.

St Kilda made the 2009 AFL Grand Final after qualifying and preliminary final wins. Hayes played in the Grand Final in which St Kilda were defeated by 12 points.


Hayes played 25 games in 2010 (including 4 finals) and received a number of accolades for his performances during the season:

  • Trevor Barker Award as St Kilda's best & fairest player.
  • 2010 Norm Smith Medallist (1st Grand Final).
  • St Kilda's player of the finals series (jointly with Zac Dawson).

Hayes injured his left ACL early in the 2011 season and did not play for the rest of the year.

Hayes played all games in 2012 and won his third Trevor Barker Medal as St Kilda's best & fairest player for the season. He had a fantastic season and made a brilliant recovery from the ACL injury from 2011. He played his 250th game in Round 9 against eventual premiers Sydney, gaining 25 disposals in a 28-point win for the Saints.[7]

On 15 July 2014, Hayes announced his retirement in front of all his teammates and family. Out of respect, his teammates wore t-shirts with the hashtag #ilovelenny. At the time of his retirement, Hayes held the all-time VFL/AFL record for most tackles in a career, having laid 1,496 tackles at an average of 5.04 per game.[8] He held the record until 23 April 2017, when he was overtaken by Matt Priddis.[9]

Coaching career

After working in the media for twelve months, Hayes returned home to Sydney in 2015 and joined Greater Western Sydney as an assistant coach.[10]


 G  Goals  B  Behinds  K  Kicks  H  Handballs  D  Disposals  M  Marks  T  Tackles
Season Team No. Games G B K H D M T G B K H D M T
Totals Averages (per game)
1999 St Kilda 71655968217830130.
2000 St Kilda 72210520014834849460.
2001 St Kilda 713519311220537380.
2002 St Kilda 72075200203403661000.40.310.
2003 St Kilda 722136342226568931010.60.315.510.325.84.24.6
2004 St Kilda 72346266245511931290.20.311.610.722.24.05.6
2005 St Kilda 72410153052625671111160.40.612.710.923.64.64.8
2006 St Kilda 79431339122448500.40.314.810.
2007 St Kilda 71948228204432841080.20.412.010.722.74.45.7
2008 St Kilda 7245122563225781051440.20.510.713.424.14.46.0
2009 St Kilda 72256310306616951390.20.314.113.928.04.36.3
2010 St Kilda 725910341344685931770.40.413.613.827.43.77.1
2011 St Kilda 72102520454100.50.012.510.
2012 St Kilda 72278255283538711300.30.411.612.924.53.25.9
2013 St Kilda 7142515716732450640.10.411.211.923.13.64.6
2014 St Kilda 71946198247445711180.20.310.413.
Career 296 95 101 3405 3262 6667 1100 1483 0.3 0.3 11.5 11.0 22.5 3.7 5.0


  1. "AFL 2004 Wizard Cup Grand Final – Geelong v St Kilda". Slattery Media Group. 13 March 2004. Archived from the original on 16 July 2011. Retrieved 7 November 2009.
  2. "AFL 2004 Wizard Cup Grand Final – Geelong v St Kilda – captain Lenny Hayes celebrates with the trophy". Slattery Media Group. 13 March 2004. Archived from the original on 16 July 2011. Retrieved 7 November 2009.
  3. "St Kilda wins NAB cup". The Age. 8 March 2008. Retrieved 7 November 2009.
  4. "Saints are NAB Cup Champions in 2008". Jeld-Wen. 8 March 2008. Archived from the original on 20 November 2008. Retrieved 7 November 2009.
  5. "AFL News – Saints shake off feisty Lions by 16pts". 2009. Retrieved 23 May 2009.
  6. "2009 Season Scores and Results – Ladder". AFL Tables. 2009. Retrieved 8 November 2009.
  7. "Smashing Saints do it for Lenny". ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation). 26 May 2012. Retrieved 8 March 2015.
  8. "Player Totals". AFL Tables. Retrieved 19 September 2014.
  9. Schmook, Nathan. "Five talking points: Hawthorn v West Coast". Australian Football League. Retrieved 23 April 2017.
  10. "Lenny Hayes Joins the GIANTS". GIANTS Media. gwsgiants.com.au. 7 September 2015. Retrieved 18 November 2015.
  11. Lenny Hayes' player profile at AFL Tables
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