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The big dance 10 months 1 week ago #213557

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WAFL grand final: Subiaco inspired to 2021 premiership after loss of respected trainer Mick Bailey
John Townsend

Subiaco’s march to the 2021 premiership was inspired by the stumble the club experienced last season when they missed finals for the first time in seven years.

The Lions’ fifth flag in eight seasons was dedicated to long-time club trainer Mick Bailey, an ever-smiling face amid an often serious club, who died on the eve of the grand final and whose spirit hovered over the premiership celebrations.

Subiaco’s success this century has been built on a club culture unmatched in WAFL ranks, the rivers of gold that flowed from their lucrative Subiaco Oval arrangements and the most astute recruiting in the league.

But it took the opportunity provided by last year’s adversity to refresh the personnel required to stay ahead of the pack when the competition returned to normal.

Subiaco won just half their matches in the shortened 2020 season while first-choice players and State regulars Kyal Horsley, Jordan Lockyer, Gus Dewar, Aaron Heal, Hayden Kennedy and Harry Marsh were injured for big chunks of the year.

Yet captain Leigh Kitchin identified the opportunities provided by the absence of those multiple premiership players for the development of second-tier replacements whose contributions were critical in the club’s resurgence this year.

“We were unlucky last year and while you do not want to make excuses, you need to find a balance between the things you can control and the things that don’t go your way,” Kitchin said.

“Because of what happened last year, we got the opportunity to play blokes who might not have got an opportunity because more experienced players were holding their positions.

“We are better off this year because of what we could do last year.”

There was small defender Kyle Stainsby, a surprise winner of the 2020 fairest-and-best medal last year, who shut down the dangerous Cody Ninyette so effectively in the grand final that the State forward managed just two hurried behinds and did not touch the ball in the second half.

There was Liam Hickmott who made three appearances last year and built on that foundation by becoming one of the league’s most effective stoppers this year.

He has notched Sandover medallists Jye Bolton and Haiden Schloithe on his belt and blanketed the classy Bulldog again last Saturday.

There was Wil Hickmott, who is a year younger than his brother Liam but played a couple more games in 2020 before cementing his place on a wing this year.

He opened the scoring in the second quarter on Saturday with an opportunistic snap and then regained the lead for his team just before half-time with an ice-cold set shot.

Four votes in the Simpson Medal tally underlined his value.

There were Jakob Atkinson, Nick Martin and Bailey Matera, all fringe players until last year when they played every game and established themselves as regular if unheralded contributors.

The reality for Subiaco is that their remarkable recent success, with five flags in the past eight seasons and nine from 14 grand finals this century, raises the internal and external expectations on them beyond those of any other club.

The presence of numerous Subiaco heavyweights in the Optus Stadium changerooms after the grand final not only emphasised the club’s ability to attract match-winners at every level of its operations but reminded the players of the performances anticipated from them.

Jarrod Schofield is Subiaco royalty after winning three flags as a player and another three as coach.

Subiaco’s march to the 2021 premiership was inspired by the stumble the club experienced last season when they missed finals for the first time in seven years.

The Lions’ fifth flag in eight seasons was dedicated to long-time club trainer Mick Bailey, an ever-smiling face amid an often serious club, who died on the eve of the grand final and whose spirit hovered over the premiership celebrations.

Subiaco’s success this century has been built on a club culture unmatched in WAFL ranks, the rivers of gold that flowed from their lucrative Subiaco Oval arrangements and the most astute recruiting in the league.

But it took the opportunity provided by last year’s adversity to refresh the personnel required to stay ahead of the pack when the competition returned to normal.

Subiaco won just half their matches in the shortened 2020 season while first-choice players and State regulars Kyal Horsley, Jordan Lockyer, Gus Dewar, Aaron Heal, Hayden Kennedy and Harry Marsh were injured for big chunks of the year.

Yet captain Leigh Kitchin identified the opportunities provided by the absence of those multiple premiership players for the development of second-tier replacements whose contributions were critical in the club’s resurgence this year.

“We were unlucky last year and while you do not want to make excuses, you need to find a balance between the things you can control and the things that don’t go your way,” Kitchin said.

“Because of what happened last year, we got the opportunity to play blokes who might not have got an opportunity because more experienced players were holding their positions.

“We are better off this year because of what we could do last year.”

There was small defender Kyle Stainsby, a surprise winner of the 2020 fairest-and-best medal last year, who shut down the dangerous Cody Ninyette so effectively in the grand final that the State forward managed just two hurried behinds and did not touch the ball in the second half.

There was Liam Hickmott who made three appearances last year and built on that foundation by becoming one of the league’s most effective stoppers this year.

He has notched Sandover medallists Jye Bolton and Haiden Schloithe on his belt and blanketed the classy Bulldog again last Saturday.


There was Wil Hickmott, who is a year younger than his brother Liam but played a couple more games in 2020 before cementing his place on a wing this year.

He opened the scoring in the second quarter on Saturday with an opportunistic snap and then regained the lead for his team just before half-time with an ice-cold set shot.

Four votes in the Simpson Medal tally underlined his value.

There were Jakob Atkinson, Nick Martin and Bailey Matera, all fringe players until last year when they played every game and established themselves as regular if unheralded contributors.

The reality for Subiaco is that their remarkable recent success, with five flags in the past eight seasons and nine from 14 grand finals this century, raises the internal and external expectations on them beyond those of any other club.

The presence of numerous Subiaco heavyweights in the Optus Stadium changerooms after the grand final not only emphasised the club’s ability to attract match-winners at every level of its operations but reminded the players of the performances anticipated from them.

Jarrod Schofield is Subiaco royalty after winning three flags as a player and another three as coach.


He will be an influential coach at West Coast next year but was simply a delighted Subiaco man last Saturday.

His premiership hat-trick captain Marc Webb was there, as was Geelong star Sam Menegola who has never forgotten that his AFL re-birth would not have occurred without his stunning 2015 Lions season.

Horsley, the WAFL player of the century and now an emerging assistant coach at West Coast, was talking to Darren Rumble. They have won 11 premierships between them and welcomed Lachlan Delahunty to the five-flag club.

They want to induct Kitchin, Lockyer, Heal and Kennedy next year.

Dwayne Lamb is on the Subiaco board after a glittering 350-game career that included flags at West Coast and the Lions.

He was close to Wally Edwards, who was once Cricket Australia chairman and is now the club’s major sponsor.

Premiership-winning captains, coaches, players and presidents were all present and basking in the knowledge that they have helped Subiaco become the powerhouse club it is today.

Yes, Subiaco have a powerful foundation laid by the financial legacy of Subiaco Oval but money itself will not buy success.

That success relies on the commitment, contribution and smarts of the people invested in the club.

It is why Mick Bailey’s impact is as significant as that of any other individual at the club during its golden reign this century.

Bailey’s last act at the club was to help load the property van after the reserves preliminary final a week ago before he succumbed to a long-time illness that he was trying to keep at bay long enough to witness yet another premiership.

“It is hard to explain how loved Mick Bailey was at our club,” Kitchin said.

“He and (veteran trainer) Alby Hawkins were always the first two people you saw when you walked through the doors at the club.

“They made all your worries melt away and just loved us and the footy club unconditionally.

“I think Mick had been sick for a few weeks but he was holding on and given how unselfish he was, he wanted to be at every game and every training session to do whatever he could for the club.

“We took some motivation out of his life.

“We didn’t want to put pressure on by trying to win for Mick but we got a beautiful message from Kyal Horsley about playing with Mick’s unselfishness.

“Horse is still leading the club even when he is not here anymore.”

That is Subiaco’s reality. The club aims high but it has people willing and able to hit the target.
"I'll be the fkng sheriff"
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Last edit: by DG.

The big dance 10 months 1 week ago #213607

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Well done to the mighty lions, enjoy DG and everybody associated with the club.
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