WHILE Peter Lyon gets most of the credit for ensuring the Kyabram Football Netball Club still had a future in the tough times of the early 2000s, Dave Williams has been awarded most of the plaudits for restoring a winning culture to the club.
When he took over the coaching reins of the Goulburn Valley League Bombers in 2008 they had been through some of the darkest on-field times in the club’s history, with a future that looked anything but positive.
Not only did Dave get Kyabram winning games regularly again, he took them to three GVL grand finals and one drought-breaking premiership triumph in his seven years in the job.
Dave was a no-fuss, straight-shooting coach who pulled no punches and had no favourites in a coaching career that started with his home club, Rochester.
His GVL coaching days came after playing in the AFL with Melbourne Football Club, where he chalked up 67 games and kicked 102 goals between 1983 and 1988.
His last game for the Demons was in the 1988 grand final when they were flogged by the power team of that era, Hawthorn.
Delisted by Melbourne at the end of that year, Richmond picked him up in the 1989, gambling on a recovery from botched anterior cruciate ligament surgery that sadly never eventuated.
But even this massive setback wasn’t enough to prevent Dave from continuing his playing career and still having an impact on virtually one leg for the first of eight years as a player in a remarkable 16-year coaching tenure with Rochester.
In those years he coached the Tigers to flags in 1992 (against Tatura) and 1999 (against Shepparton United) but his record at Rochester could have been far more remarkable. Five Rochester teams he coached finished runner-up under his watch, including an agonising after-the-siren loss to Shepparton in the season decider in 1993.
Despite his limited mobility, Dave was still able to make a huge impact as an inspirational player for eight seasons, with a mixture of sheer determination, skill and plain old footy smarts.
Voted a GVL Coach of the Decade, Dave played 259 games with Rochester and is a life member of the club, as well as the league. He was inducted into the GVL Hall of Fame in 2015.
After finishing his coaching days at Rochester in 2007 he was headhunted for the Kyabram job by then Bombers president Peter Croxford.
The buzz of his appointment as coach of Kyabram and his arrival at the club provided a generous injection of hope, enthusiasm and high expectations, which had not been experienced for many years.
Williams virtually overnight developed a winning culture, which led to a meteoric rise from easybeats to premiership contenders.
During his time in charge, Kyabram missed the finals only once and made three grand finals — the first in 2009 when beaten by Mansfield, the following year when defeated by Shepparton United and in 2013 when the ultimate success was achieved.
That flag win was the result of a rebuilding program in 2012. Dave gave 12 thirds players a taste of senior football during a season when the Bombers just missed the finals after being gutted by departures of key players in 2011.
The Bombers overwhelmed Shepparton United in that premiership showdown 15.15 to 7.12 to claim their first flag since Peter White’s boys had triumphed in 1996.
One hard and lifelong lesson Dave said he learned about playing football was in his first AFL game with Melbourne.
‘‘I was playing on Collingwood’s John Annear and I just couldn’t believe his work rate. He gave me the complete runaround and a hiding, and I think a learned a lot that day about fitness and commitment,’’ said Dave.
Dave rates Kyabram legend Paul Newman as the best player he has seen in his GVL days, with special mentions to a Newman Kyabram teammate in Jason Morgan, as well Mansfield’s Trent Hotton and Rochester’s Robbie Miller.
He lists Shepparton’s Steve Ash as his hardest GVL opponent to counter.
Will Dave Williams, who coached a total of 23 years at senior level at Rochester and Kyabram, ever be tempted to coach again?
‘‘No, I’ve had my time,’’ he shoots back quickly to that question.
Dave Williams’ best side in his Kyabram coaching days:
Backs: Tom Sheldon, Josh Vick, Xavier Hilton
Half backs: Scott Beattie, Jason Morgan, Rhys Clark.
Centres: Nick Holman, Linc Withers, Simon Seddon
Half forwards: David Newman, Nathan Beck, Brad Mangan.
Forwards: Kayne Pettifer, Paul Newman, Luke Morris.
Rucks: Jake Reeves, Chris Atkins, Liam Ogden
Interchange (selected from): Steve Thomson, Tom Holman, Sam Sheldon, Josh Linton, Jordan Williams, Axel Child.
● Tatura Cricket Club is putting its faith in Jayden Armstrong to lead its Cricket Shepparton side in the coming season.
Armstrong takes the reins from Michael Archer and believes he has learned a lot playing under him and Archer’s predecessor, Tim Kelly.
Armstrong has expectations of Tatura making a move up the Haisman Shield ladder, with former players Tom Vibert and Mat Cornwall returning to the club to add vital experience to a young and developing team.
● Dashing defender Liam Ritche is among the players recently re-signed by Murray Football Netball League club Moama.
Ritchie will be keen to pull on the Moama jumper again, as he missed the 2019 season after shoulder surgery and this year due to coronavirus.
While Moama is regaining Ritchie, Echuca United is losing one its stars, former Benalla premiership player Farran Priest, who will be joining Heathcote League club Elmore.
Playing for the Murray Bushrangers in 2008, Priest shared a TAC Cup Morrish Medal with Gippsland Power’s Jarryd Blair and was a member of Benalla’s 2015 side that beat Kyabram for the flag.
● It’s as we were in the coaching department at Echuca Football Club for next year.
Former Carlton star Andrew Walker and Simon Maddox will again be in charge of the seniors, with Kane Morris and Ruory Kirkby their assistants.
Troy Murphy remains in charge of the reserves while Leo Tenace will be chasing his third flag in four seasons with the under 18s.
● Tom Cole, a son of the late Seymour coach Russell Cole, is literally achieving goals with AFL club West Coast Eagles.
The defender recently kicked his first goal in 52 AFL appearances earlier this month in his team's narrow loss to the Western Bulldogs. He also ventured deep into attack to kick another goal in the Eagles’ win over St Kilda last on Thursday, September 10.
Cole was drafted at pick 36 from the Bendigo Pioneers in the 2015 draft. He had spent a season with Geelong reserves after emerging from the Murray Bushrangers before West Coast pounced.
Cole’s father, Russell, coached Seymour in 1990 and played over 100 senior games with the Lions. Unfortunately he passed away early in 2018 and never got to see his son play in the Eagles’ premiership side that year.
Russell’s brother, Glen, is also a former star player with Seymour and is the father of current Seymour co-coach Jason.
● Kyabram trots trainers snared two winners at last week’s Echuca meeting.
Wes Shellie produced three-year-old trotter Sultan Sass for her second win on the track within a fortnight while Willie Cole scored with recent stable addition Tophut Johny.
Driven by James Herbertson, Sultan Sass settled last and off a backmark handicap of 30m looked to be struggling a bit 600m from home, before unleashing an explosive finishing burst to reel in her rivals in an impressive effort.
Sultan Sass has raced only seven times for three wins and three seconds and looks to be a filly who won’t be out of place in feature events later in the year.
Willie Cole hasn’t wasted any time in getting six-year-old Mr Feelgood gelding Tophut Johny into the winner’s stall in Victoria.
Formerly prepared at Dubbo, Tophut Johny was having only his second start for Cole after finishing second at the previous Echuca meeting on August 27.
That Victorian debut was only the fourth time Tophut Johny had raced on a track other than at Dubbo, where he had 15 starts for a win and two placings.
Firming into a $3.10 favourite on the tote, Tophut Johny put in a tough run for his latest win, racing without cover outsider the second favourite and pacemaker Sasscilian and getting the better of that pacer in the concluding stages.