Member memories: what this Club has done for me
The following contribution was sent in by member Sean Grima.
(Sean pictured with premiership star Barry Round).
I started following Williamstown in 1985 as my mate Philip Bratby and his father were the Club statisticians at the time, never thinking I would fall in love with the place.
What immediately struck me was how welcoming and helpful everyone was; I was constantly in the rooms paying attention and learning from those around me about footy and life.
I have great memories of Tony Pastore and Ron James not only on the field but training at Westgate Leisure Centre.
I also used to watch Pas play cricket at ANBY - a place I would both play at and coach at later on - and he lived next door to my cousin Johnny Burgess.
I have memories of Bootnose (Keith McKay) once not letting me into the rooms. I had the stats boards and Kevin Hughes and Grant Smith shouting ‘let him in Bootnose or none of us will get a game’. I also lived next door to Graham Oborne who was a great mentor to me in those days.
I also remember as a 19-year-old having surgery to correct my legs due to cerebral palsy and going to a game with both legs in plaster. It started raining and Roundy and a few others picked me up and took me upstairs out of the rain.
While all these memories are great, I feel the need to talk about what this Club has done for me.
It gave me a sense of belonging and purpose as I did not have a lot of friends and I walked into what was and still is a family Club.
While I went to school with Brett Gould for example I got to know him more at Williamstown.
I have a brother with mental health issues and was always staying away from home due to violence. But there was always a place to stay at Tommy McGowan’s and this I am still grateful for. Tommy taught the whole Club about loyalty and persistence.
I got to a stage where I could not play footy anymore and I was encouraged by many to take up coaching.
In about 1992 I coached under 9s at Hoppers Crossing and I went on to coach for 27 years up to reserves footy, gaining level two accreditation (assessed by Chris Fagan). I also spent two years as an under 19 representative coach for the Northern Tasmanian Football League.
Being a part of Williamstown proved a great network as I found out when leaving in 1995 to pursue work in Launceston, I was advised that Robert Groenewegen had taken up a coaching job with North Launceston. I looked him up and began assisting the under 19s and down the track bench coached for the reserves.
He taught me honesty, straight as they come.
I also learnt a lot of my coaching and life skills through Wheels and Bruce Davis, but mostly this Club taught me about people and life. People say I have great people skills, thank you Terry Wheeler, and Bruce taught me without knowing it to keep learning, not to judge and to give everyone a chance.
Chops, Tags and Hap were always happy to encourage me and taught me to believe in myself. Through all these learnings I’ve been able to see different approaches and lifelong friendships.
I recall while coaching at South Launceston Sam Clear went on a trial at Collingwood. I took him to see Wheels, Roundy was there as well, and as he was a ruckman they spoke with him for about an hour.
Mateship has many intangibles and this was never more evident when returning to the Club last year as part of the 1990 celebrations.
Ray Green and Bulldog having a chat… it was like I had never left, that connection and loyalty was still there.
The influence that people like Hambone and Ray Moloney had on me around how to handle difficult situations and all types of people was profound.
I owe my coaching experiences and ability to deal with the communities most vulnerable in my job to the guidance and support afforded to me at Williamstown.
Patience, belief, persistence. Everyone at the Club had a simple appreciation of each other. I felt so much joy being a part of something special.
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