Scott Williamson had just turned 18 when he jetted across the nation to become a West Coast Eagle.It was January of 1989 and he had been drafted to the two-year-old club with pick 44, a month earlier.
It was heady stuff indeed for someone who had recently completed Year 12 and had hardly given a thought to where his life was heading. His blissful existence had,until now, involved playing footy with Wangaratta Rovers and getting up to the usual kind of skulduggery that kids of his age do.
He was greeted at the airport by Elaine Waterman – the mother of a future 177-gamer, Chris – who introduced herself and told Scott that she’d only found out the previous night that she would be caring for the new arrival.
She was a terrific influence during a rollicking four months or so,which ended up with Scott hot-footing it back home and probably convincing the Eagles that there were plenty of improvements to be made to their Player Welfare program.
Of the five Victorians drafted by the Eagles,none of them were to play a senior game.
But let’s go back to the start……….
Scott came from good Rovers stock.His parents were enthusiastic Hawks and his brother Brett had preceded him in the lower grades.He had a good,solid grounding , playing 37 games with the Thirds before Laurie Burt deemed him strong enough and good enough to be thrust into the senior side in 1988.
“He’d captained the Thirds and impressed with his leadership qualities.He walked straight into the seniors and didn’t miss a beat”,Burt recalled.
Williamson ,playing mainly across half back,hit the ball hard and had an excellent attitude.It helped that he was part of a very young side that included nine teen-agers. They gelled together and gathered momentum as they stormed into the Grand Final.
Champion centre half back John O’Donoghue, the league’s best player that year, went down with a shoulder injury early in the game.But his fellow defenders filled the void and the Hawks finally got on top to run out winners by 25 points over the experienced Lavington.It was a memorable performance and the young number 18 had been a shining light.
So it was no surprise when his name bobbed up in draft discussions.
Burt reckons that Williamson and Joe Wilson,who was drafted to the Brisbane Bears a year later,should both have played League footy. ”But after you hear some of the stories of how they were treated,it’s little wonder things went askew”,he said.
Scott did all of the post-Christmas pre-season under coach John Todd (“a bit of a weirdo”) and only found out the evening before the first game that he was aligned to East Perth.He played a few games with their Under 19’s before pulling the pin.
The Rovers welcomed him back heartily and he played the remaining 15 games of the season,as they just fell short in a dramatic Preliminary Final.
He had begun studying accountancy in Bendigo in 1990 when he received the news that Melbourne had selected him with pick 31 of the pre-season draft.It presented him with a quandary.He was intending to travel back to play with the Rovers,but the Demons talked him into training with them on a Thursday night and playing a few games with their Reserves during the year.
Melbourne were flying at this stage and Scott enjoyed the three games he played .He thought a lot of coach John Northey and got on well with the players.And to illustrate that his form with the Rovers was strong, he was rewarded with his first inter-league Guernsey.
The Demons presented him with an ultimatum: “We’ll be delisting you at the end of the season,but if you agree to move to Melbourne permanently we’ll put you on the list again in 1991”.
At the end of the day he wasn’t prepared to disrupt his studies to make that commitment.
Instead,he had a fine season with Golden Square,the highlight being representing the Bendigo League against the Ovens and Murray.
Scott returned ‘home’ to the Findlay Oval in 1992.He had now developed into a tough,hard-hitting utility player and spent his share of time up forward over the next couple of seasons.
He played a significant role in the Hawks pulling back a seven-goal deficit to over-run Wodonga in the 1993 second semi-final. A fortnight later he lined up at centre half back on Bulldog strongman Paul Nugent .It was a Grand Final remembered for an easy Rovers victory and a nasty altercation between the clubs in the player’s race at half-time .
Williamson was one of the casualties from the mini-brawl.He needed to be ‘stitched-up’ by Rovers’ doctor Matt Byrne during the break after a haymaker from Wodonga’s volatile full forward Mark Stockdale landed flush on his ‘moosh’.
Armed with an accountancy degree,Scott moved to Lakes Entrance and played in successive East Gippsland League flags.Two years later he had another premiership under his belt,as a member of North Wangaratta’s successful 1997 side.
Eyebrows were raised the following season,when, five years after the last of his 88 senior games with the Rovers,he starred in a one-off reserves game.Tongues wagged that he was on the comeback trail.It was felt that he’d be more than handy for the seniors,even if he was carrying a bit of surplus condition.
But no, he explained,he was just filling in because the ‘two’s’ were short,as a favour to coach Peter Harvey.
He played out his football career with North Wangaratta and chalked up over 100 games.In 2002,his final season as a player,he took over the coaching position.It was a patchy season and North finished just outside the five.
With that Scott Williamson was done.
His involvement as a Real Estate agent with Landmark keeps him busy now ,but he still follows footy keenly and watches as the eldest of his 3 kids, son Ky makes his way in the game.One day,he hopes,the young bloke will follow the Williamson tradition and pull on the Brown and Gold Guernsey.
One wonders whether Scott reflects occasionally ,on a football journey that provided him with five premierships and plenty of highs and took him to the verge of the big-time.
What if he’d had a mentor at the West Coast Eagles –someone he could have relied on for advice and encouragement ? What if he’d stuck it out for a year and then come under the influence of that master man-manager Micky Malthouse ? Why didn’t he shift to Melbourne and have a decent crack with the Demons?
No,that’s all in the past and he’s happy with the way his career panned out.
There are no regrets.