Season Summary: 2003
A further restructure of the competition occurred in 2003, when the 16 teams from the year before became 13 after Essendon aligned with Bendigo, Carlton with the Northern Bullants and Port Melbourne with North Melbourne, leading to the end of the Murray Kangaroos. Sydney terminated its affiliation with Port, leading to threats of legal action. This left Geelong as the sole stand-alone AFL club.
Sam Cranage and Marcus Baldwin joined Williamstown in this season, while Josh Mahoney returned to the Club after stints with Collingwood, Western Bulldogs and the Bendigo Bombers from 1997-2002. The Club also opted for a co-captaincy arrangement, which was shared between Troy West, who had been captain since the 2000 season, and Brad Lloyd.
The season began brightly by defeating the Bullants 140-79 at Cramer Street in round 1, and then a huge win over Werribee at Chirnside Park in round 4, 154-33. The Seconds also had a big victory over the ‘Bees earlier in the day, 129-21.
The round 5 game at Williamstown against North Ballarat saw Brad Lloyd celebrate his 100th game for the Seagulls, and the team duly won 120-59 with Marcus Baldwin booting nine goals, remarkably including all eight goals posted by the ‘Town in the first half. This was the biggest haul since Danny Del Re kicked nine against Werribee in round 3, 1999, and Phil O’Keefe got nine against the Bullants in round 9, 1997.
Narrow victories followed against Tasmania at Pt. Gellibrand in round 6 (105-101) and away against Springvale in round 8 (117-114). The Seconds beat the ‘Vales earlier in the day 53.17.335 to a solitary goal, with Aaron Ramsay, cousin of Dane Swan, kicking 12 goals.
A bad loss at North Ballarat in round 17 (106-83), was followed by wins in Tasmania (90-52) on a bitterly cold Friday night, against Geelong in round 19 (146-54), and the home-and-away games were rounded out with a big win over Bendigo (92-14).
This left Williamstown second on the ladder with 14 wins and only four losses for the season, and a meeting with Box Hill in the qualifying final. This resulted in a comfortable 49 point victory (110-61) and set up a preliminary final meeting with arch rival, Port Melbourne. This was a much closer contest on a wet day at North Port Oval with Williamstown just sneaking over the line (113-106) to secure a grand final berth. Earlier in the day the Seconds had a thumping 100-point win over the Burra (186-86) to also advance to the grand final in that grade.
Grand Final Day 2003 proved very fruitful for the Club with the seniors taking out the flag 13.14.92 to Box Hill 9.9.63, with Marcus Baldwin kicking four goals to give him 61 for the season, making him runner-up to Nick Sauntner in the Frosty Miller Medal. Best players were Fletcher, Lloyd, Freeborn, Richards, Swan and West, with Fletcher winning the Norm Goss Medal for best-on-ground. Fletcher also finished equal third in the JJ Liston Trophy voting. The Reserves, under coach Anthony Eames, also had a good win, downing the previously unbeaten Northern Bullants 20.15.135 to 12.11.83. Aaron Ramsay kicked three goals to give him 62 for the year, with best on the day being Ben Kelly who was voted best-on-ground to win the Fred Hill Memorial Medal. Two premiership flags went back to Pt. Gellibrand, making it back-to-back for the Seconds.
Williamstown's 2003 premiership team was:
Backs: David King (C) Tristen Walker (C) Bo Nixon (C)
Half backs: Sam Cranage Troy West Glenn Freeborn (C)
Centres: Andrew Williams (C) Mark McGough (C) Rupert Betheras (C)
Half forwards: Jarrod Molloy (C) Steve McKee (C) Josh Mahoney
Forwards: Cameron Cloke (C) Marcus Baldwin Dane Swan (C)
Ruck: Guy Richards (C) Adrian Fletcher
Rover: Brad Lloyd
Interchange: Luke Shackleton (C), Mark Richardson (C), Craig Smoker, Nick Maxwell (C)
Coach: Brad Gotch
C = Collingwood-listed player
Adrian Fletcher won his second consecutive Gerry Callahan Medal in 2003 from co-captain Brad Lloyd, while the Ron James Memorial Trophy award for most valuable player went to Matthew Pearce. Leading goalkicker was Marcus Baldwin with 61. Luke Jarrad was awarded the Bill Sheahan Memorial Trophy for best and fairest in the Reserves grade. Loyal servant of the Club, Max Atkin, was voted best clubman and received the Bill 'Darkie' Raffle Memorial Trophy.
In May, the Club held its Team of the Century function at Crown Casino and announced the best 24 players to have represented the Williamstown Football Club in the period 1900-1999. Details of the evening and the selected team are contained below.
Marcus Baldwin joined Williamstown from Geelong in 2003
Brad Lloyd played his 100th game for Williamstown in round 5 against North Ballarat at Willi
Defender Brendan Hollow made his senior debut in 2003
Troy West was able to achieve just that on the last day of the 2003 season
The Williamstown Team of the Century was announced at a gala function at Crown in May
New recruit Sammy Cranage
Recruit Marcus Baldwin was the leading goalkicker for the year with a total of 61
2003 Reserves team list, including future Collingwood premiership captain Nick Maxwell #41
Future Brownlow Medallist Dane Swan played with Williamstown in 2003
Norm Goss Medal recipient Adrian Fletcher
Josh Mahoney and Dane Swan #36
2003 Grand Final team list and pen pix
Guy Richards marks strongly in the 2003 Grand Final
Adrian Fletcher and Brad Lloyd at the final siren
Coach Brad Gotch with co-captains Troy West and Brad Lloyd and the 2003 Premiership Cup
Williamstown co-captain Troy West
Williamstown 2003 senior premiership team
Back row: Sam Cranage, Andrew Williams, Mark McGough, Jarrod Molloy, Dane Swan, Rupert Betheras, David King
Centre row: Mark Richardson, Cameron Cloke, Tristen Walker, Guy Richards, Marcus Baldwin, Nick Maxwell, Bo Nixon, Luke Shackleton
Front row: Craig Smoker, Bruce Davis (chairman of selectors), Troy West (co-captain), Brad Gotch (coach), Brad Lloyd (co-captain), Adrian Fletcher (assistant coach), Josh Mahoney
Absent: Trevor Monti (President), Steve McKee, Glenn Freeborn
Williamstown Reserves victorious over the previously unbeaten Northern Bullants, with the late Ben Kelly best player
Back row: Adam Hough (runner), Salesi Uhi, Heath Lawry, Justin Crow, Steve Eichner, Luke Jarrad, Adam Butler, Wayne Taylor (assistant coach)
Centre row: Luke Theodore, Leigh Sheehan, Clint Runnalls, Scott Ralph, Brendon Hollow, Terry Knight, Kurt Gowers, Luke Mullins
Front row: Tom Hill, Aaron Ramsay, Matthew Pearce, Anthony Eames (coach), Ben Kelly (co-captain), Clint Rippon, Scott Taylor
Absent: Trevor Monti (President), Matthew Cape (co-captain), Nick McArdle
Adrian Fletcher won his 2nd Gerry Gallahan Medal in 2003 to accompany his Norm Goss Medal