Season Summary: 2008
The off-season was a very fruitful recruiting period with Callum Urch (North Melbourne), Matthew Little (Hawthorn) and Ben Jolley (Essendon) joining the Club, Dean Galea and Jackson Barling both returning from a year with West Adelaide, and Jason Cloke moving over from Bendigo after having previously played with Williamstown when on Collingwood’s list. Jolley had been on Essendon's rookie list in 2005 and then played with the Bendigo Bombers in 2006 and 2007, before going on to become Williamstown's games record holder with 217 senior appearances up until the end of the 2018 season.
The major departure was Andrew 'Hottie' Williams after 70 games and 99 goals. Williams led the Club goalkicking in 2006 and 2007. Dean Limbach and Clinton Proctor moved to Frankston, with Proctor returning in 2012 but failing to play another senior game.
Williamstown entered into a new three-year alignment with the Western Bulldogs after Collingwood decided to run their own team in the competition, ending a seven-year affiliation with the Seagulls. The VFL now comprised 14 teams, with 9 alignments, 2 AFL stand-alones and 3 VFL stand-alones. North Melbourne terminated its partial-affiliation with Tasmania, and now split its players between North Ballarat and Werribee, who had previously been aligned with the Bulldogs. Tasmania continued as a stand-alone entity.
Brett Johnson was again captain of the team, with Steven Greene his vice-captain and Brad Gotch in his seventh year as coach. 1986 premiership forward, Andrew Gibson, and 1990 Collingwood premiership player, Doug Barwick, were the assistant coaches while 200-game former player, Saade Ghazi, took over from Anthony Eames as Seconds coach. Terry Maloney was once again team manager of both the Firsts and Seconds.
The opening game of the season saw Williamstown travel to Werribee and leave triumphant, 19.15.129 to 10.13.73, with Urch booting five goals and Ben Jolley best-on-ground, both in their first games for the Seagulls. The first home game for the year saw a big win over Collingwood, 25.12.162 to 14.10.94, followed by a six-goal victory over Port at Pt. Gellibrand, 24.7.151 to 17.12.114. Williamstown kicked 15.3 to 5.6 after half-time to register their 100th win over the old rivals, led by Liam Picken and Bulldog Callan Ward.
The first defeat for the year came in round 4 at Geelong, before successive wins over North Ballarat, Sandringham, Bendigo, Box Hill, the Bullants, Frankston and Collingwood, meaning 10 victories from the 11 games played. The Roosters gained revenge in round 12, winning 115-68, then victories over Casey and Sandringham saw Williamstown on top of the ladder after 14 rounds with 12 wins and just the two losses. The Reserves also sat on top of the ladder in that competition with 12 wins and no losses to date.
A 3-goal loss to Coburg and a 10-point defeat at Port Melbourne were offset by huge wins in Tasmania in round 16 (31.14.200 to 7.7.49, Little 6 goals) and at Williamstown over Bendigo in round 18 (23.27.167 to 1.4.10) and a six-goal victory at Box Hill in round 19. Despite sitting on top of the ladder for most of the season, the two-goal loss to Werribee at Williamstown in the final home-and-away round meant the Seagulls forfeited a home final and finished in third position with 15 wins and 5 losses for the year, while the Seconds ended up in second spot with 14 wins and two losses and a percentage of 232.86%.
The trip to Ballarat for the qualifying final resulted in a 20-point loss to the Roosters, 15.16.106 to 12.14.86, and meant ‘Town had lost four of their past seven games. However, they managed to get over Frankston in the second-semi, 13.14.92 to 12.19.91, thanks to goals from Little and Urch within a minute that turned an 11-point deficit at the 29-minute mark of the last quarter into a miraculous one-point victory. The Seagulls then suffered their third consecutive preliminary final loss at the hands of Port Melbourne, 16.21.117 to 13.18.96, to conclude the season. The Gulls led by 4 goals at half-time before the Borough piled on 6.7 to three behinds with the breeze to be 16 points ahead at the last change and then maintained the lead in the final term.
The Reserves, under new coach Saade Ghazi, won their qualifying final by 55 points over Box Hill, 19.17.131 to 10.16.76, before downing the previously unbeaten Coburg in the second-semi, 18.22.130 to 9.10.64. This meant the Williamstown Seconds entered their seventh grand final in eight years, and bought home the Club’s 10th premiership in that grade by defeating Box Hill again, this time by 31 points, 16.17.113 to 11.16.82. Dean Galea kicked 5 goals, while James Beaumont was voted best-on-ground to win the Fred Hill Memorial Medal. Other good players on the day were Barling, O’Shea, Cartelli and Georgiadis.
During the year, Club legend Barry Round packed up his house in Williamstown and made the move north to Queensland. Also, the Club’s new theme song ‘Stand and Deliver’, written by Mike Brady, was adopted in this season. Skipper Brett Johnson was again runner-up in the JJ Liston Trophy for the second time in three years, after finishing second in 2006 and third in 2007. He ran fifth in 2005.
Liam Picken and Brett Johnson tied in the Gerry Callahan Medal for Club best and fairest, with newcomer Ben Jolley being runner-up and Jason Cloke in third place. Jolley also took home the Ron James Memorial Trophy for most valuable player in his debut year, while Johnson captained the VFL representative side that played SA and was also runner-up in the JJ Liston Trophy. Jason Cloke, Patrick Rose, Scott Meyer and David Stretton were also selected in the VFL team. Liam Picken was rookie-listed to the Western Bulldogs at the end of the year.
Luke Cartelli took out the Bill Sheahan Memorial Trophy for the Reserves best and fairest from Anthony Chiu and Murray Boyd, while Patrick Rose led the goalkicking in the Seniors for the year with a total of 55. 43 players were used in the Seniors over the course of the season, although there were no debutants from the Williamstown list.
Life memberships were presented at the annual meeting in respect of the 2008 season held in February 2009 to the Club general manager at the time, Brendan Curry, for his 13 years of service since 1996 and long-time club servant, Bruce Davis. Head trainer since 2005, Natalie Chahine, was awarded the Bill 'Darkie' Raffle Memorial Trophy for best club person.
Also, Williamstown's share of the Caroline Springs gaming venue, The Club, was sold to Collingwood Football Club during the year.
Andrew Williams moved on after the 2007 season.
Ben Jolley joined the Club for the 2008 season
Williamstown's 2008 playing list
The Club adopted a new logo in 2008
Western Bulldogs and North Melbourne star Shaun Higgins played against Coburg in round 15, during the alignment with the Bulldogs
Williamstown returned from Tassie with 4 points and a huge percentage boost after a 151-point victory in round 16
Club legend, Barry Round, packed up and moved to Queensland in April 2008
Western Bulldog Wayde Skipper appeared with Williamstown during the 2008 season
Reserves coach and Club legend Saade Ghazi
Williamstown Reserves 2008 Grand Final playing list
Tom Langlands gathers the ball during the Reserves Grand Final
Josh Young takes a mark during the 2008 Reserves Grand Final
Jarrad Boumann celebrates one of his three goals in the 2008 Reserves Grand Final
Best-on-ground James Beaumont with the ball during the 2008 Reserves Grand Final
Williamstown 4.7 6.9 13.14 16.17 (113)
Box Hill Hawks 3.1 6.6 9.9 11.16 (82)
Best: Beaumont, Barling, O'Shea, Galea, Cartelli, Georgiadis
Goals: Galea 5, Boumann 3, Jenkins 2, Georgiadis 2, Beaumont, Boyd, Barling, Black
Jackson Barling celebrates the 2008 Reserves Grand Final victory with teammates
Back row: Paul O'Shea, John Shaw, James Mulligan, Jarrad Boumann, Brant Dickson, Jackson Barling
Middle row: Maurie Thurston (runner), Luke Boyd (fitness advisor), James Beaumont, Nathan Black, Dean Galea, Henry White, Mitch Keddell, Josh Young, Vinnie Turcinovich (runner), Dirk Jones (boardman)
Front row: Tim Jenkins, Luke Cartelli, Matthew Miller, Tom Langlands (co-captain), Saade Ghazi (coach), Murray Boyd (co-captain), Nick Georgiadis, Nathan Lyons, Matthew Cravino
Insets: Anthony Chiu, Matthew Grossman, Trevor Monti (President)
Captain Brett Johnson & future AFL premiership player, Liam Picken, tied for the Gerry Callahan Medal in 2008