Season Summary: 2002
2002 saw the appointment of former Fitzroy and St.Kilda player Brad Gotch as non-playing coach to succeed Andrew Bews, and the return of 1996 JJ Liston Trophy winner Paul Dooley after five years with the Western Bulldogs. Williamstown was also able to obtain the services of AFL journeyman Adrian Fletcher.
The season got off to a bright start with victory over North Ballarat in the opening game 114-80, with Dooley booting four goals in his first game back and Fletcher being best-on-ground in his first outing for the Seagulls.
The first home game of the season was memorable, not only for the fact that Williamstown downed a Carlton side containing a rampant Brendan Fevola by a point, 124-123, but that when the siren sounded the scoreboard showed that the game was drawn. After the goal umpires marched down to confer with the attendant, the late Noel Portingale, the score was amended to make the Seagulls victorious by the slimmest of margins.
The next home game against Essendon in round 4 resulted in a big win for the ‘Town, 168-83, but it was not until the last game of the season with a 55-point win over Springvale that a finals spot was secured.
After round 12 a win was then followed by a loss through to the end of the home-and-away round, despite beating the minor premier Geelong at Geelong and the reigning premier Box Hill by six goals at Williamstown in round 18.
The team eventually finished sixth with 11 wins and nine losses, and secured an elimination home final against the Murray Kangaroos, the first time that a VFA/VFL final had been played at Williamstown. Despite this advantage, it resulted in a loss, 126-98, and the end of the season.
The Seconds, under new coach Anthony Eames, finished third with 13 wins and 5 losses, and then proceeded to narrowly defeat Box Hill in the first semi, 68-63, and then Port Melbourne in the preliminary, 92-75, to advance to the grand final. There they met Werribee and triumphed, 11.15.81 to 10.14.74, to bring the first premiership flag to Pt. Gellibrand since 1990. After being four goals down at half-time and only having kicked three themselves, the young ‘Gulls fought back with a five goal to one last quarter to clinch victory. Leigh Sheehan was voted best-on-ground to win the Fred Hill Memorial Medal.
Adrian Fletcher took out the Gerry Callahan Medal from Collingwood-listed player Andrew Dimattina, while the leading goalkicker was James Podsiadly, who was on Collingwood’s rookie list, with a total of 33. Matthew Cape won the Bill Sheahan Memorial Trophy for best and fairest in the Seconds and also the Ron James Memorial Trophy for most valuable player. Chris Pace was voted best clubperson and was awarded the Bill 'Darkie' Raffle Memorial Trophy.
Craig Smoker played his 50th game for the Club in round 12.
Other highlights of the season were the extension of the alignment agreement with Collingwood for a further five years, while the Club entered into a 40-year lease of the Seagulls Nest gaming venue.
Janet Dooley celebrated 50 seasons of voluntary service in the canteen in 2002, after starting in 1953. Janet became a life member in 1965, along with husband Rex, daughter Merryl and mother, Myrtle Deller, who was a sister of Larry Floyd.
Nathan Lovett-Murray, a Collingwood-listed player to appear for Williamstown in 2002
Andrew Dimattina, another Collingwood-listed player, who was runner-up in the Gerry Callahan Medal
Collingwood rookie-listed James Podsiadly won the goalkicking award in 2002 with a total of 33
Paul Dooley, winner of the Frank Johnson Medal for Victoria's best player against SA in 2002
Paul Dooley injured his knee during the 2002 season
Reserves preliminary final side v. Port Melbourne, victorious by 17 points, 92-75
Reserves Grand Final list, victorious by seven points over Werribee, 81-74
Williamstown Reserves premiership coach, Anthony Eames
Centreman Adrian Fletcher won the 2002 Gerry Callahan Medal in his first year at the Club