GNFL Finals: Kyle ‘Steamer’ Watts prepares to run out for 250th game in final season

Headshot of Jake Santa Maria
Jake Santa MariaGeraldton Guardian
Railways player Kyle Watts marks the ball alongside Chapman Valley's Finlay Bain.
Camera IconRailways player Kyle Watts marks the ball alongside Chapman Valley's Finlay Bain. Credit: Arctic Moon Photography./Arctic Moon Photography.

As finals preparations begin, one man is preparing to hang up the boots as he runs out for his 250th league game on Saturday.

Kyle Watts, affectionately known as ‘Steamer’, will be retiring from the league at the end of the season after more than 20 years at the club.

He is already Railways’ games record holder and will be the first player to reach the milestone for the club.

“I suppose it’s pretty unexpected I definitely didn’t think I’d still be playing this long,” he said.

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Watts began as a junior at St Patrick’s before moving across to Railways in 2001.

He said he gained his moniker pretty early in his playing days at the Blues from the father of current club president Nathan Tubby.

“I think it was Geoff who gave me the name cause I just used to run in a straight line through people like a steam train in my younger days, I’m a bit too slow to do that sort of thing now though,” he joked.

‘Steamer’ has been a key linchpin in defence for nearly two decades and has played with and against some of the greats in that time.

“Dale Baynes and Dale Williamson come to mind as some of the best I’ve seen and toughest competitors,” he said.

“I would of loved to have played with Paul Sorenson, not that I enjoyed playing against him, but just a great club man and player.

“But for guys I’ve played with there’s been so many like Tubby, Drew Tunbridge, Jeff Smith and it’s great to run out with the younger guys coming through like Riley Zimmerman.”

Ever the club man, Watts said seeing his fellow teammates reach their 150th games and get life membership rank as some of his best memories up there with winning the flag.

But he will have another shot at a flag this season and is likely to line up against Dale Williamson again for the fourth time this year as they prepare to face off in Saturday’s semifinal.

“It’s always pretty exciting to play finals, to get that reward for all the hard work before and during the season,” he said.

“We have probably underperformed in finals in the last five to 10 years but hopefully we can go one better this year and grab the flag.”

Following last year’s defeat to the Hawks in the decider, Watts was prepared to call time before he heard Matt Powell was coming into coach this season.

“I was actually pretty much retired after last year but when I heard Powelly was coming back to coach I just really wanted to play another year with him,” he said.

It is clearly a sentiment that Powell shares.

“It’s players like Steamer that make you want to be at a football club, he was one of the reasons I wanted to be back involved,” Powell said.

“He has been such a great player over his 250 games and being the first player to do it at Railways is fantastic, and so well deserved.

“He has always stood up and through his career despite having had to deal with some very good opponents, he is without a doubt a club favourite and leads by example each week the players love him.”

But Watts said he is definitely retiring at the end of the season whenever that may be.

“I’m 100 per cent sure this will be my last season playing league for Railways,” he said.

“I don’t want to go through another preseason and training but there may be some reserves or masters games down the road.”

He hopes there isn’t too much of a fuss made for him.

“I think the final is a lot more important than me playing another game,” he said.

“We’re pretty lucky as a footy club to have some great workers behind the scenes.

“It would be great for us guys out on the field to repay all that hard work by taking home the flag this year.”

Bouncedown for the Railways versus Brigades semifinal will be at 2.10pm at the Recreation Ground.

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