Sitting across from me with his CYs beanie sitting nicely on his head, Peter (Welshy) Welsh became emotional when telling me a story. The story was of an elderly lady giving $120 to the Footscray Bulldogs during their ‘Fight Back’ period.
The tears welled up in Welshy’s eyes, as he told me he always gets emotional telling that particular story. I then told Welshy, who was sitting directly in front of me at the time, that the old lady in the story shares similar traits to that of himself.
No, Welshy is not an old lady, however the way he described her painted a picture of a dedicated, proud and passionate person. Passionate about her football club. Just like Welshy.
The 165 game, centre-half-back Bulldog was conscripted and did army training camp for 18 months during the Vietnam War. He played his first game when he was only 16 years-old, playing for Footscray against some of the game’s best forwards at the time.
Welshy won Footscray’s Best and Fairest Award in 1972 and his career then ended in 1978 when his knee finally gave way.
Welshy was also a part of the famous Fight Back Board, which saw the resurgence of the Footscray Football Club, which is now the Western Bulldogs Football Club.
Welshy, 68 has two sons and has been married to wife, Margo since 1973.
In fact, Welshy’s son, Mike was the reason the great man became involved with the CYs.
Mike needed a team to play for at the time. Welshy explained the quirky reason he knew the Williamstown CYMS existed. “I always heard every Saturday the whistles from the other side of the botanical garden, so I said, why don’t you play for them?”
I really wanted to tap into Welshy’s perspective of football clubs.
He said, “Football clubs give people a place of belonging… a place of worth.”
“Their (volunteers) contribution is valuable and valued.”
Welshy is now the Team Manager of the Under19 Colts. The former five-year president of the CYs describes his young team as; skilful and tough.
“They are hard-working.”
Welshy’s favourite moment at the CYs occurred on the day of the 2009 Grand Final. Welshy believes the three-quarter-time speech by coach, Alan “Oopy” Elliot was what went a long way to them winning on the day.
He said, Oopy invited the whole CYs crowd into the three-quarter-time huddle. That then gave the players a sense of formidable support and they then went on to win that last quarter, and eventually the game.
When I asked Welshy about his connection to the CYs, he said he peels the label off the word, ‘club’, as he further explained that the word, ‘club’ is incidental, and his sense of belonging and the friendships he’s formed during his time at the club are what matters.
“A football club is also a vehicle for social cohesion.
“Football and life have been generally good to me.”
The U19 Colts went on to win the Holmesglen U19 Division 4 Grand Final, beating Peninsula by 113 points.