‘You’re a liar’: AFL great confronts former Saints coach
AFL great Peter "Spida" Everitt has grilled former coach Grant Thomas in a fiery live radio dispute surrounding the former mentor's explosive drug allegations.
Everitt, a three-club star who finished his 10 seasons with the Saints in 2002, labelled Thomas a "liar" for suggesting a group of St Kilda players used illicit drugs during his coaching tenure in the early 2000s.
The former Saints coach revealed he was stunned when told recreational drug use had been "rife" among players during his time at the club.
In his podcast, the ex-Saints mentor opened up about how he was "devastated" when one player told him, shortly after he finished his tenure in 2006, about what had allegedly happening under his watch.
"I would've had a suspicion of one or two, but no more than a week or so after I finish, one of the players, he told me what had actually been going on, which basically devastated me," Thomas said on Sam, Mike & Thommo.
"He said that it (drug use) was rife - a lot of them.
"Some of the players that were mentioned could've dropped me."
Thomas's comments were on Wednesday rejected by former Saints star Nick Dal Santo - and they were again strongly denied by Everitt on Thursday when he and Thomas traded bitter words during a live radio segment.
Everitt declared that what he had experienced at the club was not in line with Thomas's allegations.
He said he had never used illicit substances and never witnessed any teammates using illegal drugs at the Saints.
Everitt also appeared to get angry when Thomas made a joke suggesting the number of former St Kilda players using drugs at the time could have been as high as 90 per cent.
Here's how the frosty conversation unfolded during the Bridge and Spida Breakfast Show on Gold FM.
Peter Everitt: Thommo, I take offence to something like this and I think the majority of the players do. When you're saying 50 per cent of the players are on social drugs, do you really believe the information you were given?
Grant Thomas: Yeah, it was probably a bit light on wasn't it? It was probably more like 80 or 90 per cent.
PE: We're being serious because you're questioning a lot of the dignity of the players that you supported, you grew up with. You put your heart and soul into them and now you're questioning their dignity in the game. Every time now we're going to be questioned. I think you're a liar.
GT: Don't you think that's a good thing. Don't you think that there's a question about it. Let me remind you, first of all, Spida, it's illegal. That's the first thing, Secondly, it's not my opinion. What I was doing, I was conveying what was told to me by a player straight after I was terminated. Since that time I've spoken on many occasions to many of the guys that I've coached and they've confirmed it. If you've got information that refutes that, well, I'm happy to hear it. But I can only convey what I've been told.
PE: You can convey what you've been told, but is that 100 per cent correct? We know that being in the media you have to do your research to make sure what you're saying is correct. I totally say that it isn't correct.
GT: I'm not in the media, mate.
PE: You are. A podcast is no different to using TV or radio.
GT: 100 per cent it's different. I don't have any guidelines. I'm not responsible to anyone. We can say what we want, when we want.
PE: So you're lying. You're lying then.
GT: I'm not lying at all mate. I know you know what lying is Spida, but I'm not lying.
PE: I say that you are because you're saying that 80 per cent of St Kilda players are on social drugs.
GT: I never said any percentage. It's really important when you're in the media…. it's sad that I'm still giving you advice, Spida. If you're in the media you actually have to use facts. The facts are it was told to me that it was rife. I didn't quote a percentage. All I said was, I was told that it was rife. What's rife? I don't know. But in my investigations and discussions with players since, probably around… 10 to 15 players, 50 per cent of them, had tried social drugs.
PE: But you're saying it's rife. There's a difference between trying and rife. You're saying at the time while you were coaching that you didn't know any of the players were on drugs? Did you know (former St Kilda president) Rod Butterss was going down that line, because you were great mates with him, who was the president of the football club at the time.
GT: Absolutely, but that's been well documented. Of course I knew.
PE: Why didn't you bring that out at the time? Why is it so good now for you to sit there and throw allegations out about players?
GT: I did actually. Once again you haven't got your facts straight.
PE: In 2006 you brought that out.
GT: No, not in 2006 I didn't. No I didn't.
It was then suggested to Thomas that he had thrown Everitt and his teammates under the bus by casting doubt across the entire playing group from 15 years ago.
Thomas then attacked Everitt, suggesting the former ruckman was so displeased with the comments because he might have been one of the players accused of using illicit substances.
"I understand that," Thomas said.
"Usually the players who complain are the ones who have actually done it."
Everitt responded by saying he never saw drug use while at the Saints.
"Well, I totally disagree with that," he said.
"I can sit here honestly and say I have never done it. I have never seen a St Kilda player do it. So I disagree."
Everitt's comments came after Dal Santo said it was "annoying and frustrating" that he and his former teammates had been forced to defend themselves.
"I am just as shocked that he's even going to suggest that it was rife within that playing group, but then not follow on," Dal Santo said on SEN Radio.
"It's just annoying and frustrating and there's just no need for it."
The former midfielder admitted there had been a drinking culture at the club, but said he never saw any evidence that the club had a drug culture problem.
He also said he now believed he had to defend himself because of what Thomas had said.
"I will say I'm extremely disappointed that I'm going to get painted with the brush of possibly being one of those drug-takers that you wouldn't have thought did it," he said.
"I would be shocked if it was 'rife' with that playing group. I'm not calling Grant a liar, because if that's the story he's been told he has every right to tell it.
"But I look through some of the guys I grew up with since I was 17, and I'm still really close with a big group of them, to say it was rife with that particular group of players would shock me.
"I didn't see it. Yes, we drank ... but I didn't see drugs. It wasn't part of our culture with that particular playing group.
"It would be naive of me to say no one at St Kilda was doing it, but rife makes me think it's the majority, that's 20 to 25 players. I can't see that."