PEP TALK: Keith Bilston pre-game ahead of his 349th game last weekend.
PEP TALK: Keith Bilston pre-game ahead of his 349th game last weekend. Nick Kossatch GLA040819BITSBROS

BITS Saints legend Billy on cusp of another milestone

AUSSIE RULES: It all started in 1995 and fast-track 24 years Keith 'Billy' Bilston will play his 350th game for his beloved BITS Saints against arch rivals Bill Robertson Toyota Gladstone Suns on Saturday afternoon.

The Saints reserves will field four players with almost 1400 games of experience and they are Bilston and his premiership team-mates Damon Stebbings, Daniel and Darren Boase.

MERE SAINTLY MORTALS: Keith Bilston, Darren Boase, Daniel Boase and Damon Stebbings. 'Billy' Bilston will play his 350th senior game for his beloved BITS Saints on Saturday against Gladstone Suns.
MERE SAINTLY MORTALS: Keith Bilston, Darren Boase, Daniel Boase and Damon Stebbings. 'Billy' Bilston will play his 350th senior game for his beloved BITS Saints on Saturday against Gladstone Suns. Nick Kossatch GLA030819350TH

"I played a few reserves games while playing in under-17s," Bilston said of 1995.

"Then I played reserves fully in 1996 which we won the reserve grade premiership and that was pretty special as a 17-year-old."

Bilston, who attributes regular training to his longevity in the game, moved from Victoria with his family back in 1992 and BITS Saints was the first footy club he had come across.

He had played every grade at BITS from U13 to A-grade, but to make 350 games?

"I definitely never thought about making 350 games and there's only two others to do so, Daisy (Daniel Boase) and Stebbo (Damon Stebbings," Bilston said.

His milestone is more remarkable because of a series of injuries he suffered.

"I did my knee in 1999 playing Yeppoon up there and I missed the rest of that year and the next," Bilston said.

"Then I did it in 2011 as a 32-year-old and missed that year as well and most of the next."

'Billy' said his injury setbacks were easily outweighed by what the club had given him over the years.

"Making 350 will be such an honour and this club's has given me so much," he said.

"Yeah I've had a few injuries but that's nothing compared to what the clubs given me over the years. The friends and memories far outweigh those bad times."

Will Bilston look at 400 games? It's a question many pose to him.

Keith Bilston at the long break
Keith Bilston at the long break Nick Kossatch GLA040819BITSBROS

"Let's just get to 350 games," he said.

"I love the game and would like to think yes but I don't know. At my age it's a game at a time. I'll keep playing as long as the body lets me and as long as I'm still contributing to the team. That's the main thing. I don't want a few kicks a game. I want to contribute and help my team.

"Priorities change. I have a young family now and here's hoping they go on to play footy for the Saints."

The reserves game is at 2.15pm followed by the A-grade at 5pm.

Juniors start from 8am.

LONG LIST

11 premierships - 7 in A-grade and 4 in reserves

A-grade debut - 18 years old

Best premierships? Reserves premiership captain in 2017-18. Hoping for a three-peat this year

Best player with? Darren 'Dasha' Boase. His attack on the footy was second to none. Some of the marks he took were unbelievable

Others? Brett McNeil. He kicked 129 and 142 goals in year in the late 90s, early 2000s. Dan Coxen was an amazing ruck. The best tap ruckman we've seen I'd say. Robert 'Dealer' Hull was by far the best kick this club has ever seen and a long deadly left footer

Best player against? Paul Ugle from Panthers. He's a dual league best and fairest winner and was the best going around when I started out. Wayne Clifford from Brothers. He was an ultra-fit midfielder

Positions played? Almost every position over the years. Wing, defence, forward



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