The year is 1966 - the last game of the home and away season.

St Kilda is playing at home, Moorabbin Oval, against Hawthorn

With finals beckoning, the Saints, Essendon, and Geelong are all 13-4, with Richmond 12-1-4. 

The men in halos must win to keep their spot in the finals.

On the half-forward flank for the Saints is 23-year-old Ross Oakley who is hell-bent on making the finals after missing out on playing in the 1965 VFL Grand Final against the Bombers due to a knee injury suffered against Collingwood in the Semi Final.

Down by 13-points at quarter time, the Saints mount a comeback and find themselves up by four points at three-quarter time.

The Saints kick five goals in the last quarter, stretching their lead by 10-points as the final siren sounds.

The larger-than-life Kevin 'Cowboy' Neale kicks 5.1 from 18 disposals, future Brownlow Medallist Ross Smith kicks 2.3 and has 22 touches, and a young Ross Oakley shines with 19 disposals (16 kicks) and three crucial goals.

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Speaking on the Unpluggered PodcastOakley described the importance of everyone contributing.

"We had a fantastic team, and there was always someone who was able to step up and get us out of a hole... that was the strength of our team."

Unfortunately for Oakley, lightning struck twice, and in a cruel twist of fate, he re-injured his knee in the Saints' 10-point Second Semi-Final loss to Collingwood, ruling him out for the rest of the season.

In the Preliminary Final, St Kilda waltzed over Essendon by 42 points ('Cowboy' Neale kicking another four) in front of 93,453.

This nasty injury meant Oakley would be denied a chance to chase his childhood dream of winning a flag for the second consecutive year.

Oakley described the feelings of the day.

"On the day that we won... I was sitting up in the stands with Carl Ditterich (who had been suspended for six games, missing the finals series). We were ecstatic about the win… we both bounded out of the stands and down through the rooms and onto the ground… joined in the celebrations.

"There was still a bit of a feeling that we weren't part of it... Unfortunately, St Kilda's administration at the time allowed that to occur and allowed it to continue."

Oakley further explained an anecdote, which leaves much to be desired of St Kilda's administration at the time. 

After their 68-year drought-breaking premiership victory, Oakley and Ditterich were sensationally left off the invitation list to the after-party, a celebration you would think should be for everyone at the club who played their part in getting the Saints to the memorable victory.

"I wasn't invited, and neither was Carl (Ditterich)... they didn't have room, quite a few of the administrators were there, few of the trainers… [but] there wasn't room for us…"

After someone pulled out, Oakley was later asked to join by an official, yet politely declined the invitation.

"I had my nose out of joint, severely."

Sadly, Oakley's painful story will be repeated throughout the history of football.

This sport is unquestionably brutal, and that is why we love it, but players will miss grand final success for various reasons. 

Nathan Jones, who played 302 games at the Demons, painfully missed out on their drought-breaking flag last year.

These sad stories will continue to happen, yet the players' contribution to the year should never be undermined like Oakley's was.

"The 20 players that actually represent the club have the privilege of being the ones selected on the day," he claimed.

"[But] the way to build a group and build a club is to value everyone.

"I think things have changed; clubs now really value all contributors… they show that too, the way the players get around the club…"

Unpluggered host Nick Splitter brought up an interesting point with the former league boss on talking about how other major sporting codes around the world value the premise of the 'squad.'

"If you're on the squad, if you are on the roster of the championship team, you are still counted as a championship player - like the NBA - and EPL, if you play a certain amount of games," Splitter said. 

So is it time for the AFL to award medals to everyone who contributes to the spoils of a premiership?

Crows hero Tony Modra played a considerable role in Adelaide's premiership success in 1997 until he blew out his knee backing into the pack in the first quarter of the preliminary final. Walking onto the MCG for that game, Modra had played in all of the Crows' 24 games up until that point and was awarded the Coleman Medal with 81 goals for the season.

If Modra didn't kick those goals, the Crows don't finish in the top four and win their historical first flag.

Yet Modra went home without a premiership medal.

And while the high-flying Crows' spearhead is still missing an official medallion, those whose deeds have won premiership flags have a history of remembering their mates on the sidelines.

Following their redemptive grand final victory in 1987, Carlton's Peter Dean paid an expletive-laden tribute to Peter Motley and Des English, who missed the battle for the Blues' 15th flag.

Though a debilitating car accident and a fight with leukemia had robbed the South Australian (Motley) and Bendigo product (English) of playing their roles on the day, the wreathed cup's first stop on the lap of honour was with them, successfully marking their importance to immortality.

11 years prior, the champion Hawks did the same when they took the champagne-filled 1976 cup from Glenferrie Oval to the home of ailing ex-skipper Peter Crimmins and allowed the tenacious rover to revel in the glory just three days before his eventual passing at the age of 28.

And although Oakley - now the former commander and chief of the league - still has chapters left to write on his journey through life, his views on the inability of clubs and the competition to recognise each and every cog in the wheel remain the same.

"It's not just the 18 or 20 players that ran out and did it on the day... you've got to get there… there's a lot of players during the year that helped you get there," says Oakley.

He makes a valid point.

Ross Oakley played 62 games for the St Kilda Football Club, kicking 38 goals, and was the Chairman and CEO of the V/AFL from 1986-1996.

You can hear him tell this fascinating story on the Unpluggered Podcast.