Season Summary: 1997

The playing list saw a huge turnover in 1997 with 33 new players out of a list of 55, with nearly all being aged between 18-22. The exception was 30yo Andrew 'Ghost' Howlett who returned after playing at Lara under Ian 'Chops' Rickman for two seasons and represented the VFL against the ACT during the season. Allen Nash also returned to the Club after breaking his hand in round 2 of 1996, and then spending the remainder of the year on the supplementary list with Melbourne, where he played 14 AFL reserves games. Steve Zavalas also joined the Club from Fitzroy where he had played 21 AFL reserves games while on their supplementary list. Both had played under coach Merv Keane at the Western Jets. Paul Dooley, Josh Mahoney and Brad Lloyd joined AFL clubs Footscray, Collingwood and Hawthorn, respectively, and Brad Copeland went travelling overseas. Nathan Thompson was recruited from Bendigo under 18's to replace Dooley but was drafted by Hawthorn. 

Williamstown began season 1997 with a draw at Traralgon, a win at Springvale and a two-point loss at home to Sandringham. Steady performances kept the Seagulls up with the leaders and, when they won the return game against Traralgon by 84 points, it seemed a finals spot was assured. With seven wins and a draw from the first 11 games it appeared only an almighty fade-out would prevent the 'Town's advancement.

Four losses against eventual finalists followed and then the Seagulls had another draw, this time against Box Hill at Pt. Gellibrand. A loss at Frankston and a two-point win against North Ballarat completed the season and a sixth-placed finish, just one win and substantial percentage out of the final five. The reserves side, under coach Michael Boyd, also finished in sixth position. Boyd moved to Sydney at the end of the year and was replaced by Mick Baker. Tony Pastore, who had captained the side since 1994 and had given great service as both a defender and forward, played the last of his 189 senior games with the club. He transferred to Springvale in 1998. Another veteran, rover Saade Ghazi, won the club's Andy Taylor Memorial Trophy for best and fairest for the first time and the Ron James Memorial Trophy for most valuable player, which was a fitting reward for his consistent efforts. Phil O'Keefe again scored the most goals for Williamstown with 46 and won the Bert Hodge Memorial Trophy for leading goalkicker. Ron 'Hambone' Johnson was awarded the Bill 'Darkie' Raffle Memorial Trophy for best clubman for the second time. 

After trying to obtain a licence for close on a decade, Seagulls Nest, the Club's successful gaming venue in Newport, officially opened on December 12.


The Club's gaming venue, Seagulls, opened on 12 December 1997. Pictured are coach Merv Keane, captain Saade Ghazi, player Steve Zavalas and Club legend Barry Round.


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