DESPITE being a dominant force in both football and cricket, Gary Williamson was nothing but a gentleman on and off the sporting field.
Williamson, one of the Ovens and Murray Football League’s finest players, passed away on Saturday morning after losing a battle with cancer.
He joined Wodonga in its maiden premiership season of 1967 after playing 51 matches with Richmond and South Melbourne in the VFL.
The lanky ruckman went on to win the Morris Medal in his debut season, but an achilles injury ruled him out of the grand final win against Wangaratta Rovers despite the exhaustive efforts of the medical staff.
In 1969, Williamson returned to his best when he won the club’s best and fairest again, finished runner-up to Wangaratta’s Jeff Hemphill in the Morris Medal and finally played in a Bulldogs premiership.
Williamson played 205 matches for the Bulldogs before retiring in 1978 and was named ruckman in Wodonga’s Team of the Century in 2004.
He served as chairman of selectors in 1981 when the Bulldogs won another flag against Albury and was still the club’s timekeeper last season.
Williamson was inducted to the O and M Hall of Fame in 2006 and was also a fine cricketer, being made a life member of the Wodonga Cricket Club before becoming a long-time Albury and Border Cricket Association umpire.
While he was no doubt a champion sportsman, those closest to him will always remember him as a gentleman.
Bill Proud, who played cricket with the father-of-four at Wodonga, said Williamson gave his all for the club.
“We played a lot of cricket together, we played in three flags, he was just a great friend. It was a sad, sad day when he passed away,” he said.
“He was an absolute gentleman and an outstanding sportsman.
“He was pretty much the ultimate sportsman, he never sledged but did his talking with the bat and the ball.”
Bruce Calder, who got to know Williamson through his time at the Wodonga Football Club, said the “big bloke” would be missed.
“He was a top bloke, I don’t think I ever heard him say anything bad about anybody,” he said.
“He was just a gentleman and he did it all.
“He has been at the club ever since he moved here — he’s played, been secretary, treasurer, chairman of selectors, club historian and a timekeeper for who knows how long.
“He was a terrific big bloke and it’s a blow that he’s gone.”
Calder said Williamson was regarded as one of the Bulldogs’ greats.
“I came (to the club) right at the end of his career but if you speak to anyone who played with him, especially in the late 1960s, and they’ll tell you he was as good as anyone,” he said.
Williamson, whose wife Helen died in 2002, is survived by his sons Steve, Russell and Tim — who all wore the maroon and white — and his daughter Sharla.
Proud said Tim’s effort to play in Wodonga’s Provincial cricket final loss to North Albury at the weekend was courageous.
“Tim is very much like him, it was a great effort to play in that grand final — his dad would have been very proud of him,” he said.
“All three boys all played at the club, and the family has made a huge contribution to the Bulldogs.”
Williamson played in Wodonga’s 1972-73, 1973-74, 1975-76 and 1977-78 premierships and captured eight-wicket match figures in two of the grand final wins.
In the 1970-71 season, Williamson took a hat-trick against SS & A.
Williamson’s funeral will be held at St John’s Anglican Church, Wodonga on Friday.