THE beginning of a new era at Subiaco got underway in 2020 highlighted by Kyle Stainsby claiming the Outridge Medal as fairest and best winner while since one of the all-time WAFL greats, Kyal Horsley has retired.
Subiaco had dominated the WAFL leading into the 2020 season having won the past two premierships and four in the past six seasons while being minor premiership for five consecutive years and having played in six successive Grand Finals.
Every era has to come to an end and that was signalled in 2020 firstly with the Lions unable to reach the finals in the season that ended up being shortened thanks to COVID-19.
On top of that, the winner of the Outridge Medal for 2020 as Subiaco's fairest and best winner was a 20-year-old with only 15 games of league experience behind him.
Kyle Stainsby was terrific for Subiaco in the eight matches of 2020 on the back of making his league debut in 2019 and becoming a premiership player just seven matches into his senior career.
That was on the back of winning a colts premiership with Subiaco in 2018 so it's fair to say it's been quite the successful and eventful three years now for Stainsby.
Highlighting somewhat the changing of the guard is the fact that five-time premiership legend Kyal Horsley and dual premiership wingman Ben Newton have since announced their retirements at Subiaco marking a significantly new era heading into 2021.
Stainsby won the Outridge Medal by polling 205 votes from the eight matches to narrowly win ahead of reigning Sandover Medallist Lachlan Delahunty who polled 203 votes.
Captain Leigh Kitchin was 10 further back with 193 votes to finish third in front of Ben Newton (182 votes), Greg Clark (178), Drew Rohde (172), Jack Beverley (170), Nick Martin (145), Jakob Atkinson (144) and Bailey Matera (142).
There was nobody more shocked to be announced the winner than Stainsby and he was anything but prepared on the night, but he's blown away to already be a fairest and best winner with Subiaco.
"It's still so surreal. It was definitely a surprise when I got called up to the stage especially with a team full of great players such Kyal Horsley, Leigh Kitchin, Lachlan Delahunty and Ben Newton. It was just so surreal," Stainsby told 91.3 SportFM.
"I went along with no speech prepared and a few people were telling me I was a chance, but I didn’t think I was at all. But then I got up on the stage and had shock written all over my face. I couldn’t get too many words out."
To now already be a colts premiership player, a league premiership player and an Outridge Medal winner means that it's been quite the experience already at Subiaco for Stainsby.
He was never expecting to step right into playing league football in 2019 coming out of the colts but he ended up holding his spot throughout the finals to be there at Optus Stadium to win a league premiership medal as the Lions hammered South Fremantle by 96 points.
To then back it up with a strong 2020 season meant his rise has certainly been quicker than he imagined, but with the senior players pushing him on, he knew that he either rose to their level or would be left behind.
"I have been very lucky in my first few years at the Subiaco Football Club that's for sure," he said.
"Especially my first two years at senior level I wasn’t even expecting a game, but then in my first year I got a call up and I was getting the shakes. But now I've won a premiership and a best and fairest already.
"In my first year of playing senior footy at Subi those guys just pushed me to play at my best. At the start of the year I wasn’t really playing my best through the reserves and wasn’t too keen, but once I got the call up I knew I had to pull my head in.
"I had Leigh Kitchin and Kyal Horsley pushing me all the way through especially coming into finals where you know you have to be playing your best if you want to be in the side."
Stainsby also couldn’t be more thankful for the support of coach Beau Wardman in his rapid rise. Wardman was coach of the Lions' colts premiership team of 2018 of which Stainsby was part of before being appointed league coach in 2019.
Having that familiarity and relationship already with his coach is something that Stainsby has no doubt has helped his smooth transition into league football.
"It definitely made it easier for me coming into the senior side knowing that I had Beau for two years before that as my colts coach and we won a Grand Final together," Stainsby said.
"Knowing that he's such a smart bloke who is so easy to talk to. I always know I can go up to him if I needed anything or if I needed help on things to improve on, and he'd always have an answer for me. It definitely made it an easier transition into the senior side to do it with him as my coach."
LEAGUE AWARD WINNERS
Outridge Medal (Fairest and Best winner): Kyle Stainsby
Don Carter Memorial Trophy (Runner-up): Lachlan Delahunty
Ted Doherty Memorial Trophy (Third-place): Leigh Kitchin
Golds Player of the Year: Max Walters
Austin Robertson Jnr Trophy (Leading Goalkicker): Nick Martin (13 goals)
Dennis Barron Memorial Trophy (Rising Star Award): Liam Hickmott
City of Subiaco Medallion (Best Clubman): Hayden Kennedy
Newton Screaigh Memorial Award (Coaches Award): Leigh Kitchin
President's Trophy: Paul Pisani
Lionhearted Award (Most Courageous): Jack Beverley
RESERVES AWARD WINNERS
Blackmore Medal (Fairest and Best winner): Oskar Matthews
Bill Mackie Memorial Trophy (Runner-up): Ben Golding
Outstanding Play Award (Third-place): Abraham Clinch
Newton Screaigh Memorial Award (Coaches Award): Noah Ash
Lionhearted Award (Most Courageous): Isaac Clinch
Player of the Finals: Ben Golding