VAFA – Williamstown CYMS: A Great Reaches 200


Initially, it was something intangible. Like a hunch, we spectators suspected right from the start that the kid was something special; but even the most optimistic of CYs supporters could not have speculated just how special he would prove to be.


In 2006, the CYs were struggling a little. However, there were some young diamonds in the rough. In Round 5 of that season a tall, skinny, local lad played his first game for the club in a reserves game against Werribee. Then coach Dene Macleod had seen enough to award the kid a senior debut at Peninsula the following week. With a great set of hands, and the ability to kick the pill like a mule, what was not to like? That first season, managing niggles that his slight young body inevitably accumulated, he played a further seven senior games. But we all had seen enough to know the young fellow could play.


No-one knew that the CYs were on the verge of a golden era, a two-season period that would yield back-to-back flags. And that the humble kid with the big leg and bigger heart would prove to be a key component of those all-conquering teams. In 2008, he was solid – but essential. And the following year, he was our best player in the famous win over Peninsula (against whom he had debuted only two and a half years previously). Notably, he won his first best and fairest in that 2009 premiership year, a feat reserved only for the best of the best.


It is arguable, however, that his performance in the 2014 premiership win at Princes Park was his best. By now, he was the captain, the leader, and our most important and inspirational player. Playing a shut-down role on one of Therry’s key forwards, he sacrificed his attacking game for the good of the team.


He would be the first to tell you that the three premierships he has won would be his career highlights, thus far. But we observers cannot neglect the individual achievements: two best-and-fairest awards (2009 & 2012), a grand-final b-o-g medal, a Victorian representative, selected 5 times in the team-of-the-year, and good enough for the VFL’s Bendigo Bombers to list. He has won countless games for the CYs off his own magnificent boot, whether up forward or down back, basically wherever the hell he has been required.


Tomorrow, Ben Gray will run out for the Williamstown CYMS Football Club for the 200th time. He will join a list of champions and battlers to have reached that number. Of course, he sits firmly in the former category for make no mistake, in the club’s 133 year history, he is one of the greatest players to have pulled on a blue and gold CYs jumper. He is a star, a diamond who has overcome injury obstacles to shine more brightly than anyone could have imagined. The end of career is looming, but a thus-far undefeated season perhaps holds the promise of more glory just ahead.


Thirteen years later, happily married to Jacinta, wiser and more mature both off-field and on, he remains a vital cog in the CYs machine. But just as importantly, all these years later, and despite all he has achieved, he remains as tough as teak yet is still the same humble kid.


And the supporters? We are blessed to have been able to watch him. And more than just a little satisfied that our early prognostications have proven to be on the money.




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About Darren Dawson

Always North.


  1. Wally from Williamstown says

    What a great tribute, Smokie

  2. The thump of the ball as he kicked was what I remember most

  3. Luke Reynolds says

    Fantastic tribute Smokie to what sounds like a magnificent career already. 200 games at any football club is a wonderful and no doubt increasingly rarer achievement these days.

  4. Thanks for your comments, all.

    You will be happy to know that Ben played a part in the CYs win over Hampton at the weekend. They are now 9-0 at the half-way point.

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