Horsley reaches 150 but big game the focus for Lions skipperThursday, May 11, 2017 - 8:04 PM - by Chris Pike

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SUBIACO captain Kyal Horsley plays his 150th game this Saturday to earn life membership at the Lions but all he is worrying about is leading his team into battle in the top-of-the-table clash with South Fremantle.

Horsley will add another achievement to his remarkable career with the Subiaco skipper playing his 150th game with the Lions to earn life membership of the club he joined from Kalgoorlie in 2007 and it's another achievement in a glittering career.

Horsley already is a triple premiership player at Subiaco, dual premiership captain, two-time fairest and best winner and has played twice for Western Australia on top of his 14 games in the AFL for the Gold Coast Suns.

It's not just the achievements though. 

The 29-year-old has every right to lay claim to being the best player in the competition and to have held that stature since returning from Gold Coast in 2014.

His toughness combined with hard-running and long and accurate kicking on his left-boot make him a standout player in a team that has played in three grand finals and won two premierships with him as captain.

There's no reason to suggest Subiaco won't be there when the whips are cracking again in 2017.

That's what makes Saturday's game against South Fremantle one that Horsley is looking forward to so much.

The Bulldogs beat the Lions at Fremantle Community Bank Oval in Round 1 to start the season without him but Subiaco has won its last six games straight to be only percentage now behind South Fremantle on the ladder.

While it is a big game personally with the 150-game milestone, Horsley is most looking forward to the challenge of taking on South Fremantle.

"I'm really excited to find out where we are compared to South," Horsley said.

"We understand how good they are and from watching their tape against Perth, some of their ball movement was as slick as I've seen in my years in the WAFL.

"It's a great challenge for us to find out where we're at and then obviously if we get the win it will be an extra carrot on the 150."

An added bonus for Horsley is getting to have his milestone at Leederville Oval.

There's nowhere else he could dream of wanting to play it.

"I think Leederville is the best ground in Australia too and I love playing there. To do it in front of more friends and family will be good," he said.

"Obviously you can't call up a Swan Districts or East Fremantle or South Fremantle and ask them to put on something for my friends and family because they'd tell you where to go.

"So playing it at home is great and something I'll cherish. It will be a huge honour to have some close friends and family there to watch."

Horsley isn’t hiding from the fact that reaching the 150-game mark to earn the Subiaco life membership means a lot to him as well.

He's captained two premierships and won his second Outridge Medal since returning to the Lions from the Suns, but the 150-game milestone is the one thing he had bookmarked that he was especially keen to achieve.

"It does mean a lot. I remember when I was over at Gold Coast and living with Greg Broughton, we talked about what I would do when I left and I said that I wanted to achieve life membership at Subiaco. It's always been a huge goal and something that I wanted to achieve," Horsley said.

"Then after doing a knee you never know if you are going to come back and do it again or if it will hold up. Fortunately enough it's held up and I've been able to get to this point.

"After the game on Saturday which is a huge challenge against South Fremantle, I'll be able to reflect with real pride of reaching 150 games."

Horsley banged down the door to earn his chance in the AFL with his strong and consistent form with Subiaco between 2007 and 2011.

There was the pain of missing the premiership of 2007 after losing his place in the grand final team after playing in the preliminary final. But by 2008 there was no doubt over his place and he got his first taste of premiership glory in the win over Swan Districts.

He was then there for the losing grand final against South Fremantle a year later and by 2011 he was simply a dominant presence and likely the best player in the competition.

Horsley was a massive part in Subiaco's surprise grand final appearance of that year and on the back of it was given his AFL opportunity at the Gold Coast Suns.

He looked right at home at AFL Level in 2012 as well averaging 17.2 disposals in his 13 games.

His only opportunity in 2013 came against Geelong in Round 10 and then a knee injury ended his season prematurely, and he was delisted come the end of the season.

The two years in the AFL had its ups and downs for Horsley, but he is glad he will always now be able to say that he gave it his best shot.

"It was really tough in a lot of ways and we weren’t very successful, and had some really big losses so you don’t always realise how much that mentally drains you and takes out of you. As for personally, I thought I was alright but it gave me the understanding of how good some of the kids were and going to be," he said.

"Watching from the outside you don’t see their full potential, but playing alongside them you see that. I was grateful to have a crack but after the first year I knew they would go straight past me because they had so much growth in them. I learned where my place was and what level I was at.

"I went over there and did everything I could, and trained as hard as I could and stopped drinking and any outside influence I thought could bother me. I wanted to know that when I'm older I'll always know I gave it my best shot.

"The knee was tough too but I was already out of the side by then and it happened in the NEAFL. It's good knowing I won't be the guy at the end of the bar saying I could have made it because I got the opportunity and just wasn’t good enough."

Horsley never thought of any possibility other than returning to Subiaco in 2014.

Considering he's won and captained two premierships since and his team has played in the grand final in all three years, and he reaches the 150-game milestone it's easy to see it was the right decision.

"I was always going to come back to Subi. Achieving the 150 was always something I wanted to do and Subi was the club I loved, I couldn’t imagine playing anywhere else," Horsley said.

"I still have so many friends here and to play in premierships with them is something you will cherish for the rest of your life. You look back on it now and it was a great decision, but there was never any doubt. I'm just happy the knee has held up."

Of all the achievements Horsley has racked up over his 149-game career at Subiaco, being captain of a premiership team especially when underdogs against East Perth in 2014 will rise above the rest.

"Being premiership captain is the big one I think I'll look back on with the most pride. Everyone needs to be playing at a certain level and the coaches, support staff and players need to be pushing the same way, and the captaincy is just a letter next to your name but it is a great honour," he said.

"It's probably the one thing I will cherish the most when I look back on my career but at the time I was just so happy and exhilarated to have won a premiership. And the way we did it in 2014 was incredible."

Speaking of milestones, Horsley's great mate and midfielder partner Chris Phelan will play his 149th game on Saturday. All going well he will earn life membership with his 150th appearance a week later against East Fremantle also at Leederville Oval.

"Old Benjamin Button, the old Phez man. He keeps getting better and better every year. He's one of my best mates and it makes putting all that hard work in all that easier when you have guys like that to do it alongside and to be competitive with," Horsley said.

"Since I've been back I wouldn’t let Chris beat me in a 2km unless he broke me, and he did break me a few times because he's a very good runner. It's the same with weights and anything else we do, we'll always compete with each other.

"For him to reach 150 the week after me, touchwood nothing happens this week, is something I might cherish more than he will. He's had a tough road and came in when we were very successful, and had to earn his spot and play 50 or 60 off half-back where it probably wasn’t his strongest position.

"If he played in the midfield earlier he might have even achieved more which is saying a lot because he has two fairest and bests and two premierships. He is a really good friend and it will be awesome to play alongside him when he achieves it."