AFTER not cementing a league spot at South Fremantle, Ben Sokol has made the Bulldogs pay in five games since for Subiaco but the bigger picture heading into another battle is on the premiership at stake in two weeks' time.
Sokol came through the ranks at South Fremantle an exciting talent at colts level, played State 18s and then looked set to make a successful league career for himself at the Bulldogs but it just never quite happened.
The dangerous forward only managed 11 games across the 2014 and 2015 seasons with South Fremantle at league level despite kicking 39 goals as part of a reserves premiership winning team in 2015.
He felt it was a fresh start he needed and joined the reigning premier Subiaco ahead of the 2016 WAFL season and has turned himself now into a mainstay of the Lions' forward-line.
Sokol showed good signs with 22 goals from 12 games in 2016 at the Lions and then went up a gear in 2017 kicking 49 goals from 21 matches alongside Liam Ryan while playing in the Grand Final loss to Peel Thunder.
He is Subiaco's leading goalkicker now in 2018 having booted 37 majors from 18 appearances and will have a big role to play in Sunday's second semi-final against South Fremantle at Leederville Oval, especially with the Lions without Rhys Waters and Brad Stevenson.
Sokol has especially enjoyed playing against South Fremantle since joining Subiaco kicking 18 goals in five matches including his career-best seven goals in Round 7, 2016 and five goals in Round 2 of this season – both at Fremantle Community Bank Oval.
The 22-year-old didn’t leave on bad terms from South Fremantle, but does admit to enjoying taking on his old side.
"I have been pretty successful against them the last couple of times and it just helps when you're playing in such a fully stacked side. I just feel fortunate to have been getting a game and things have fallen my way I guess," Sokol told 91.3 SportFM.
"The first few times I played them I definitely copped a bit of stick but it's been a while since I was there now and I actually did leave on good terms so the respect is always there. I do love playing the old team and I've been lucky to put some solid games together which has been good."
Subiaco put together the first undefeated WAFL home and away season since 1946 throughout 2018 earning themselves a fourth successive minor premiership and then a break in the opening weekend of the finals.
That allowed them to watch South Fremantle beat West Perth in a qualifying final last Saturday but the feeling around Subiaco with the league, reserves and colts teams all earning minor premierships is something Sokol is proud to be part of.
That sets the stage for each Subiaco team hosting a second semi-final at Leederville Oval on Sunday and Sokol hopes each of them can now book in a Grand Final berth at Optus Stadium.
"It's more exciting than nerves at the moment. Obviously you feel a little bit of nerves because finals is a whole different ball game, but for me personally I'm feel more excited," he said.
"Everyone around the group is excited too and training has gone to another level knowing it's finals time and hopefully we are two weeks away from what we've been working towards all year which is the premiership. It's definitely an exciting feeling."
Given Subiaco has lost the past two WAFL Grand Finals as minor premiers, there's certainly no complacency creeping in given the season they've had because of the pain they have felt two years running losing to Peel in that premiership decider.
But Subiaco did allow themselves to take note of the achievement they delivered during the home and away season before focusing on the job ahead in the finals starting on Sunday against a South Fremantle on their own five-game winning streak.
"We had a bit of a chat last week to reflect on what a great season it was and we are definitely proud of the 18-0 season, but we aren’t getting too complacent because finals are a totally different ball game," he said.
"I'm definitely proud of what we've achieved and it's a pretty long-standing record so to do that and be a part of it is great. But we know we have bigger fish to fry in the coming weeks.
"It's such an exciting feeling around the club and the morale has been up for the last few weeks obviously with us all having double chances and the week off.
"Hopefully we can all go in this week get three wins and earn another week off, and then win again in a couple of weeks' time. That's the ultimate objective and it definitely helps the morale of the whole club having all three teams up and about."
Subiaco will head into Sunday's second semi-final fresh after the week off but after watching South Fremantle's 98-point qualifying final over West Perth, Sokol and his Lions teammates are fully aware of what the Bulldogs are capable of with a Grand Final spot on the line.
"It definitely helps freshening up the body and it was exciting getting to go down to Fremantle Oval and watching the game between those two teams," Sokol said.
"It definitely gives you a good taste of what's to come and it will hold us in good stead for this week coming. West Perth had their chances in the first half but after that it was a pretty one-way game. South moved the ball really well and they are going to be tough opposition this week for sure."