From New Jersey to Williamstown - A Lacrosse Odyssey 2016

Wednesday, 8th March 2017

Williamstown Lacrosse Club has a long history of welcoming lacrosse players from around the world to our seaside Club. 

We all have fond memories of players like Shinichi Yoshikawa aka Yoshi and Gen Hasegawa from Japan, Matt Tanner and Eric ‘BJ’ Armstrong who randomly arrived at the club from Canada in 2014 and 2015. Then there are those like Brendan Maschuch (Stony Brook, USA) and Mike Sullivan (Loyola, USA) who came to the club chasing after love in Australia and have never left us!

Most of these players have come to Williamstown by some form of random chance (or divine intervention, if you like). In 2016 however, after months of planning, we welcomed two young men from New Jersey to the hallowed Fearon. The two were fresh out of college and the rigours of NCAA lacrosse.

Their names: Danny Murray and Paul Werner. By the end of their time here they’d be known as, ‘Lieutenant Dan’, ‘Buzz’, ‘Woody’, ‘PJ’, Big Strawberry’ and ‘Puppy Dog’ (to name a few). The guys injected new life into the senior playing squad and with a team that was already tight for spots they helped us through some tough winter months where we had a lot of injuries and absences. They also injected a untold number of laughs. 

Ultimately, the guys also played a huge part of State League going back-to-back in grand final wins over Footscray and securing the club’s 32nd State League premiership.

We sat down with the guys to reflect on their time at Williamstown by doing a little Q&A session.

Q: When did you first decide you wanted to come to play lacrosse in Australia?

Danny: Paul and I have been buddies since high school, since the beginning of our friendship we always talked about making a trip to Australia. After hearing my teammate's experience from playing in Perth, I knew I had to give it a shot.

Paul: In high school Dan and I had the vision to play lacrosse in Australia. 

Q: How did you come to choose to play for Williamstown?

Paul: Dan heard Willy was a solid squad…

Danny: I chose Williamstown because of how professional you acted throughout my process of choosing a team. You explained every aspect of what to expect perfectly: the club as a tight knit crew full of selfless caring people, the support for accommodations and work, and lacrosse play. The location of Williamstown beach also sold me, I loved the suburban feel.

Q: What did you expect of the experience before you arrived?

Paul: I try not to have expectations because having expectations inevitably leads to disappointment. That being said, if I were to have had the highest expectations prior to the trip, my time in Willy would have surpassed those expectations. Specifically the awesome people we met through the club I will always remember.

Danny: I had no clue what I was walking into. Knew you guys love your beer and are super sarcastic. That's about it.

Q: What were your first impressions of Williamstown lacrosse Club?

Danny: I will never forget the first night getting to Australia. Showing up to practice that night and skulling a beer maybe 2 minutes after leaving the field. Everyone seemed very laid back and welcoming.

Paul: A family. Guys who liked to play lacrosse and didn't have a problem having a good time on the ‘Itchy Green Pants’ and making fun of one another. 

Q: How did you find the level of competition in Melbourne?

Danny: The competition was good. Many great players but there is a big drop off in talent at the bottom end.

Paul: The competition was very physical. One aspect that really stood out was the superb goaltending, there are some absolute guns between the pipes. 

Q: What was it like winning the State League grand final?

Danny: One of my best memories ever, felt like we were on top of the world. It was an absolute blast playing for Williamstown in the first place, but winning the grand final was the cherry on top. Everything came together perfectly and it seemed like it was meant to be. (Mad Monday is a whole other story).

Paul: Winning the State League grand final was a good way to go out. That was always the goal with our team and it was nice to see us rebound back from some losses and win when it counted. 

Q: You did a lot of lacrosse clinics for primary school kids, how did you find that?

Danny: The kids were absolutely hilarious. It was so fun hanging with these kids every week because they seemed interested and wanted to learn. They always found a way to have fun learning the basic fundamentals of the game.

PaulThe clinics were great the kids really got into it. I think there is a lot of untapped potential in the younger generations, hopefully we helped a few see the light and start playing the creators game.

Q: What else did you do for work?

Danny: We worked at Santorini restaurant for a couple of weeks as waiters and bar tenders. This was good work but it conflicted with our training and playing schedule. We later found jobs at Monza Imports working under the one and only ‘Ash Moolie’ (Ash Wilkinson). It was a warehouse job with very lenient hours and great pay. The club took care of us, gave us a home (living with the Gibson and Robinson families) and helped us find work.

Paul: We walked Ivy [the Dog] early on, really good natured pup. Then we worked at Santorini for a bit before working a majority of the time at Monza imports. We met some really wonderful people while working there.

Q: Outside of lacrosse, tell us what your most memorable experiences in Australia were

Danny: Day in and day out living in the Robinson household. Club house celebrations after wins. Sunday morning barbecues with Davo. Kicking the footy around with Cal (Gibson). Jam sessions at Nikesh's and hanging at Gil (Cordell-Radford’s). The night life in Melbourne is unforgettable along with the local crowd of Williamstown.

PaulOutside of lacrosse the most memorable experiences I had were with the friends I made. I got to stay with two great families the Gibson’s and the Robinson’s. Another experience that was particularly memorable I had was watching the Western Bulldogs make their grand final run after overcoming so much adversity during the season. We had the opportunity to go to the Bulldogs vs Hawthorn game and also the semi-final (Shoutout to Andrea) I couldn't have been prouder watching the Grand Final on my couch in New Jersey I just wish I'd been in Melbourne for it.

Q: would you recommend other college players seek out the same experience?

Danny: Absolutely. Come play in Melbourne, Williamstown if you want to bring home the shield and have an unbelievable experience meeting some of the best people I've ever met. It's an unforgettable experience and you will leave with a new view on life.

Paul: It's a grand old flag it's a high flying flag!

Any final words of your own?

Danny: I love you guys. Shout out to Konrad Frankee for helping me get down under. Andrea and Davo Robinson for taking me and making me a part of the family, Tinker and Lauren (Gibson) for having my back and helping take care of me as well. And everyone in the Williamstown Lacrosse Club who made me feel like home.

Paul: We walked Indy (the Dog) for a bit and also worked 

In 2017 we have welcomed another New Jesery native Brendon McGuire, a friend of Danny and Paul. Brendon has recently finished his studies and college lacrosse career at Providence College, in Rhode Island. 

Any players from outside Australia looking to come to Australia and join Williamstown should email; contact@williamstownlacrosse.com.au

2016 Grand Final

Danny Murray in action in the 2016 Grand Final: Photo Credit - Lacrosse Pix @ https://www.facebook.com/laxoz/

2016 Grand Final

Paul Werner in action in the 2016 Grand Final: Photo Credit - Lacrosse Pix @ https://www.facebook.com/laxoz/

 

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