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.
Paul: The 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.
Paul: Outside 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; firstname.lastname@example.org
Danny Murray in action in the 2016 Grand Final: Photo Credit – Lacrosse Pix @ https://www.facebook.com/laxoz/
Paul Werner in action in the 2016 Grand Final: Photo Credit – Lacrosse Pix @ https://www.facebook.com/laxoz/
Welcome to the first in a series of interviews with Williamstown Lacrosse Club members. We will get to know some of the players, coaches, volunteers and characters of the club and find out why Willy Lacrosse is an important part of their lives.
First up is club face off player Sean Clarke, who was recently selected in the Australian Under 19 Team.
How did you come to start playing lacrosse at Williamstown?
My mate Gil talked me into coming down and trying it out when I was in grade 6 and my little brother had played the year before I started so I wanted to see what all the fuss was about.
Who was your first Williamstown coach and what do you remember most about him?
It was Frogger (Matthew Price) in my first year of U12’s, my best memories of him that year was when he used to give out stickers to us after games for scoring sick goals and completing the wall ball challenges at training.
What other sports have you played?
I played Australian Rules Football until I was 14 and I played Cricket until the end of high school.
What has been your lacrosse career highlight so far?
Would easily have to be winning the State League flag last year.
What are your short term and long term goals in lacrosse?
Short term goals are to keep training hard these next few months to put myself in a position to compete with the best players in the world when the U19’s travel to Coquitlam in July for the Worlds and to put in another good effort in State League this year. Long term I’m not too sure about yet, being able to have a stint in College would be pretty cool and to represent Australia in the Seniors to would be an awesome experience too. If I’m still playing for WLC until I’m half Smeller’s age i’ll be a happy man.
What does it mean to you to be representing Australia at the Under 19 World Games in 2016?
I’m really excited and honoured to have the opportunity to play in the U19’s, I can’t wait to get to Canada and have a crack. I have to really thank my family for their support and everyone along the way whose has given their time to teach me Lacrosse.
You’ve been working with Face Off specialist coach Matt Schomburg, what has that experience been like?
Schommy has changed the way I looked at the the Face Off position, since I first met him about a year ago my technique has changed and improved a heap and I’ve been lucky enough to practice with some of his kids on Long Island NY who are incredible face off men. That experience showed me how much further I have to improve to even compete with the top Face Off players. Schommy’s brutally honest and passionate approach to coaching has really helped motivate me to get out there every day and practice.
How are you finding the training process, especially the physical preparation?
It’s pretty full on, I haven’t trained this hard for anything before. I’m either running or at the gym every day on top of doing my skill work daily plus lacrosse practices too. Half the battle is eating well and getting a good night’s sleep to get me ready for the next day, I’m curious to see how I will fair once it comes to the World Championships.
How are you handling the demands on your time between national team training, club training, work and study?
Since the trials started for the U19’s my time management has improved tremendously which I am pretty happy about. I’m able to get through my daily training with work and have some time left over to hang out with friends, although it does mean usually staying in Saturday which can be hard sometimes. I didn’t study last year so that helped free up time for Lacrosse.
Outside of lacrosse, what are your academic and career goals?
My academic goals are to complete my university course I am starting this year which is Accountancy, and to get a job out of uni, hopefully i’ll get to travel a bit with work too.
What does being a player and member of Williamstown LC mean to you?
It’s definitely the best club to be a part of for sure! I’m extremely grateful to be a part of club that is so much fun on and off the field. It has one been the best experiences of my life to be a part of the Williamstown Lacrosse Club and to have so many guys that have played the game at a high level to help teach the younger generations through to becoming great players themselves is something really special.
At the 2015 Annual General Meeting, the members of Williamstown Lacrosse Club inducted Gregor ‘Gus’ Garnsworthy as a life member.
This is an honour well deserved and a probably long time overdue.
Gus was unanimously selected for life membership in the presence of a number of members of the 1985 and 1986 State League premiership teams.
Gus played an instrumental role in the development of juniors at the Williamstown Lacrosse Club, particularly in the 1980’s. Gus, a teacher by trade, successfully passed on his passion for the game onto many of the juniors he coached. He built a strong foundation for the future generation of lacrosse player at the WLC. Many lacrosse players under his tutorage went on to have long and successful lacrosse careers playing for the club, representing Victorian and Australia. Many of these players’ honour and respect Gus for his efforts in assisting them realise their full lacrosse potential.
Gus played a significant role and was involved in running the WLC Saturday morning Sofcrosse programme of the late 70s- early 80s, with Georgia Flaherty.
He was instrumental in the establishment of the highly successful Local Primary Schools soft lacrosse competition of the mid 80s; and coached the U16 WLC teams to two consecutive premierships in 1983 and 1984.
Gus has a very impressive and long list of Lacrosse accolades which are listed below.
The success of this Club in the last 20 years can be contributed to many individuals who have devoted their time and energy toward the advancement of Williamstown Lacrosse Club and lacrosse in general.
A Snapshot of Gus’ on-field achievements
The following accolades and player statistics were extracted from the Williamstown Lacrosse Club Annual Report and Club Player Statistics posted on the website.
Total No of Games Played -316
Total no of Goals Scored – 228
Total No of Assists thrown – 148
Total No of A Grade “Fearons” Games 286
Total No of A Grade “Fearons” Goals 186
Total No of A Grade “Fearons” Assists 127
No of A Grade Premierships “Fearons” Player (13)
1967, 1969, 1970, 1971, 1973, 1975, 1976, 1977, 1978, 1979, 1980, 1982 and 1983
No of A Grade Premierships “Fearons” as Coach(2) 1985, 1986
Australia Lacrosse Representation
Seniors(3) Melbourne 1974, Manchester 1982 and Baltimore 1986
Australian Championship Allstars 1972, 1979 (C), 1981
International Tours 1976
Australian U-19’s Assist Coach 1988
Victorian Lacrosse Representation
U-16s 1964, 1966
Seniors 1971, 1972, 1973, 1977, 1979(C), 1980(C), 1981 (C) and 1983 (CC)
Assistant Coach 1986, 1987
On December 4 2012, in front of the 2012 Annual General Meeting, club legend Darren Gibson was inducted as Williamstown Lacrosse Club’s newest Life Member.
Extracted below is the text of the induction speech given by President Robert Speakman to mark the occasion.
LIFE MEMBER – DARREN JOHN GIBSON
Darren started playing lacrosse with the Glenroy Lacrosse Club at the age of 14 along with his brothers Cameron, Jamie and Scott. Darren tried out for the Victorian Under 16 team twice but to no avail. He was Captain of Glenroy’s Senior team from 1984 to 1991 and was named Best and Fairest in 1983-88-89-91. Darren went on to represent Victoria in Colts (Under 19) in 1980, the Victorian Senior state side in 1985-87-88-89-91, making the Championship All Stars 1987-88-89-91. Darren represented Australia at a pre-Olympic tournament in Los Angeles in 1984 and at the World Series in Toronto 1986, Perth 1990 with brother Cameron also in the team.
Unfortunately for the sport but fortunately for Williamstown, Glenroy Lacrosse Club disbanded at the end of 1991 and Darren came to play with Williamstown. Since he has been at Williamstown Darren has represented Australia at two World Games – in Manchester 1994 (co captain) and Baltimore 1998 (co captain) represented Victoria in 1992 – ’93 – ’95 – ’97 and ’98 making the Championship All Stars 1992.
Darren won Williamstown’s State League Best and Fairest Award in 1993 – ’95 and ’96 and an Victorian Lacrosse Association Best and Fairest. He was Captain of State League from 1993 to 1999 and in 1993 he threw 110 goals for the season.
Darren went on to coach State League for 3 years for 3 premierships (2008, 2009 and 2010). After playing and coaching State League Darren has coached & played for Williamstown’s Division 1 and Division Two teams. Darren has also coached many of our Junior teams and umpired man, many Junior games.
Darren has been an active committee member since joining Williamstown and is a member of the Lacrosse Victoria Junior Sub Committee and in the 2012 season took on the role of our Junior Coordinator at Williamstown helping the club to get many more parents involved with the club and to revitalise our Junior recruitment program.
When Darren came to Williamstown we also inherited his Father Doug (known to most as ‘Hoot’). Hoot took on the job of team manager of State League. Back in those days we did not have team drink bottles so Hoot used to mix up the cordial in a plastic bucket and had about 6 plastic cups, these used to be thrown back into the bucket complete with grass, by ¾ time there was more grass than cordial in the bucket!
Darren has had a very distinguished playing and administrative career and we hope to see Darren, his wife Lauren and boys Callan and Harry around the club for many years to come.
Congratulations Tinka! You are a very worthy Life Member.
This club is significantly in your debt and we are all better for your efforts.