BITS's Keith Bilston during the Gladstone Mudcrabs versus BITS Saint's AFL match at Clinton Oval, Gladstone. 
Photo Luka Kauzlaric / The Observer
BITS's Keith Bilston during the Gladstone Mudcrabs versus BITS Saint's AFL match at Clinton Oval, Gladstone. Photo Luka Kauzlaric / The Observer Luka Kauzlaric

AFL's Keith 'Billy' Bilston is the milestone man

AUSSIE RULES: There's more than meets the eye with Keith 'Billy' Bilston.

The utility first made his mark with his trademark zinc cream spread over his nose back when he was 13 year's old after moving from Shepparton, Victoria.

'Billy' will play his 300th senior game for the Saints today from 12.15pm at BITS Oval against Rockhampton Kangaroos.

"I started in the juniors and played mainly reserves and under-17s back in 1996 and I was lucky enough to play in the reserves premiership," Bilston said.

It was the start of a collective nine flags made up seven A-grade and two reserves premiership medals.

Bilston's timing could not be more perfect because he started playing at senior level at the start of a dynasty - borne from Gladstone's employment boom and a strong recruiting drive in poaching players from Victoria.

"When I came in, it was in the era of a golden patch," Bilston recalled.

"We got players from down south and a lot of people who got the players from there are still involved with the club.

"Before that, we were getting pumped in the early 1990s and watched that as a junior."

Bilston played in his first A-grade premiership in 1997 and has final one in 2013.

That year was also a successful one for Bilston on a personal front.

"I had a really good year as a forward pocket and kicked 30-odd goals under coach Damien Lyon," Bilston said.

At age 38, Billy sees no end to his footy career and it's not about winning or losing.

"At the moment, I love training and the mateship," he said.

"I don't know why some people don't enjoy training because I love it and hanging out with my mates.

"As long as I'm still contributing then I'll play for as long as possible."

Bilston sees himself as a competitor.

"I'm very vocal and like to be known as competitive," he said.

The experienced club-man sees the Saints on the brink of something special.

"We're modelling ourselves on how Yeppoon Swans were three or four years ago," Bilston said.

"That's why I have stopped playing A-grade to let the younger players come in."

BITS Saints club president and assistant coach said Billy's value on the field is as valuable off it.

"Whilst we all see Billy's efforts on the footy field and around the club, some people don't see the other work Billy does," McMahon said.

"Billy and his workmates - year in year out - are supporters of men's health issues and in particular always do a Movember involving the growing of moustaches during the month of November to raise awareness of men's health issues, such as prostate cancer, testicular cancer and men's suicide."

As part of recognising Billy's contribution to our footy club on Saturday we are also going to recognise the work Billy does in these other areas.

The club has had 100 beanies made to sell today at the football for $10 each.

The money raised will kick-start Bilston and his mates' Movember campaign this year.



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