“Football Williamstown”

By Darren Dawson

There has been more than a little discussion about junior footy on the Almanac website recently, in part prompted by Paul Daffey’s piece referencing the Brunswick Junior Football Club:  http://footyalmanac.com.au/?p=10504 Was it mere chance that in the very week Daff’s article appeared on this site, that my old club Williamstown CYMS was fixtured to play NOB/St. Pat’s in a VAFA Division 1 encounter? Probably! The coincidence is further enhanced by the fact that Cys are an integral part of a new concept which will be officially launched this Saturday at mid-day at the Fearon Reserve in Williamstown.

“Football Williamstown” is a joint initiative of the Williamstown (VFL), Williamstown CYMS (VAFA) and Williamstown Juniors (WRFL) Football Clubs. Thus far, the chief driver has been well-known former VFL umpire Bill Deller, who was born and bred in Williamstown. The aims are numerous. Chief among them is to provide a pathway for junior footballers (Willy Jnrs have no senior teams) into either the VAFA through the Cys (who have no junior teams) or, if they are talented and dedicated enough, to Williamstown (who also have no junior affiliation other than a loose geographical arrangement with TAC Cup team Western Jets).

There is the hope that, further down the track, administratively the three clubs will form a formidable bloc when it comes to such perilous tasks as attracting sponsorship, negotiating with the local council (although it must be said that the City of Hobson’s Bay have been very supportive of the venture), and the sharing and improvement of facilities (Willy Juniors do not have a social base).

As a life-long Williamstown resident, father of three boys who play at Williamstown Juniors, and life-member of Williamstown CYMS, it would be fair to say that I have a foot in more than one camp. To me, the most appealing aspect of this alliance is the fact that neither Willy Juniors nor Willy CYMS will lose their identity. To an extent, VFL club Williamstown’s future will remain at the mercy of the AFL’s plans for its second-tier competition, but thus far the grand old club – and its general manager Brendan Curry- have been hugely supportive. As a club, they are keen to foster stronger links with the local community and see “Football Williamstown” as a means of doing this.

As the demographics of the suburb of Williamstown have changed markedly over the past fifteen or so years, so too has Willy Juniors morphed from a rag-tag collective of teams (for whom I proudly played my first competitive games of footy) into a thriving, relatively wealthy junior sporting club. One of the major fears of junior clubs is that they will be relied upon as a source of funds by their senior partners. It is a well-founded belief. (A good friend of mine is a committee-man at a well-known junior club in the north-western suburbs; he is appalled at the club’s senior affiliate’s constant attempts to mine dollars from the juniors). Of course, with no senior club, Willy Juniors have the advantage of never having faced these pressures. But they have watched as many of their players are lost to footy after their U/18 years.

Williamstown CYMS (founded in 1886) have a proud history, and have now spent over a quarter of a century in the VAFA. Their ties with both the WJFC and Williamstown have strengthened recently, and there are now some fifteen players from the Juniors at Cys. There have also been a number of Williamstown-listed players delegated to Cys recently. Some valiant attempts have been made by CYMS at consistently fielding an U/19 team in the Amateurs; but the stretching of finances, volunteers and resources has proved too great a burden for the club to sustain. It is envisaged the “Football Williamstown” concept will provide a bridge between Williamstown’s Juniors and CYMS Football Clubs. The hope is that the junior players will forge an ownership and belonging at Cys. With all due respect to the local WRFL competition, having played all my football in the VAFA I hope my children go on to Williamstown CYMS.

The “Football Williamstown” concept is only in its embryonic stages, but it may well be adopted as a blueprint other football communities, who may be struggling with the loss to our code of junior players.

About Darren Dawson

Always North.

Comments

  1. Smokie,

    Good luck with it. It sounds like a winner in theory. History shows that it’s hard to bring various footy strands together, but this arrangement really does seem to benefit all parties.

    I played against the Willy CYs under-19s once and formed the opinion that you really did need some juniors coming through.

    I have a theory that Willy as a suburb is of almost as much fascination to the rest of Melbourne as it is to Willy itself. It’s that peninsula thing. Willy is stuck out on a finger in the bay. It’s not on the way to anywhere. You’ve got to want to be there.

    It seems to me that this isolation produced a very close community, as isolation does. But Willy is not like it used to be. It’s become a very desirable place. The few Western Bulldogs who deign to live in the western suburbs seem to live in Williamstown (apart from Ryan Hargraves, who lives in Maidstone).

    I’m from the Essendon area. Essendon has always been the Camberwell of the north-west even if it is surrounded by a series of Frankstons. Willy seems a bit like that: the Camberwell of the west, or maybe Brighton, give its seaside locale.

    I’m going on a bit. Enough amateur demographics.

    Anyway, good luck with your footy venture, which, in these post-dockside times, I presume will be well-funded.

  2. smokie88 says:

    Daff
    You have pretty much nailed it.
    I alluded to it a couple of times in the article: Williamstown has changed enormously over the past 20 years. There is an extraordinary amount of wealth here now! It is definitely no longer a suburb full of docks labourers and railway workers.
    There are also actually a few non-Bulldog AFL players living in Willy now! Not sure whether or not this gives Willy some sort of further claims to being the Brighton of the west!

  3. Smokie,

    Nick Maxwell lives in Newport. One day he’ll be able to graduate to Williamstown.

  4. John Butler says:

    Smokie, Paul

    You’re right about good old Willie.

    When I first ventured there as a (relatively) fresh faced (south eastern) bay side boy, it was like another world.

    Now, you can barely beat your way down Ferguson St for all the real estate agents.

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