Former St Kilda champion Lenny Hayes is the first of the 2020 intake inducted into the Australian Football Hall of Fame.
A courageous midfielder, Hayes played 297 games for the Saints between 1999 and 2014 and won the Norm Smith Medal in the famous 2010 drawn AFL grand final.
With the COVID-19 pandemic preventing mass gatherings, the traditional formal gala event won’t be possible for some time and the newest members are being announced on Fox Footy this week.
Hayes became the Saints’ 19th Hall of Fame player on Monday night, joining club legends Trevor Barker, Tony Lockett and Darrel Baldock.
Crunched by a brutal hit from North Melbourne hard man Glenn Archer in his AFL debut, Hayes recovered from an inglorious start to his career to play a crucial role in St Kilda rising up the ladder in the mid-2000s.
Now an assistant coach at GWS, the 40-year-old was a four-time All-Australian and took out the Saints’ best-and-fairest in 2003, 2010 and 2012.
Hayes grew up outside of AFL heartland in NSW, but cemented himself as one of the game’s most popular players.
“He was the teammate you’d want to go to war with, the teammate you’d call in a crisis,” former St Kilda captain Nick Riewoldt said.
A Hall of Fame member will be elevated to legend status later on Monday night.