Surrounded by the blue and gold walls of the Fearon Reserve clubrooms, both men sat proudly in tandem, finishing off each other’s sentences, “There’s something tangible that makes it a special place.”
There may not be a more formidable pair of brothers in VAFA football. Ben and Jack Gray have established themselves as two of the most dangerous players of the Williamstown CYMS Football Club. With a combined 357 games, this dynamic duo has helped their team rise to Premier C premiership contention.
It is no coincidence the boys have had successful sporting careers, as it seems they are products of a prolific sporting family. Their father, Dave was a talented footballer for both the CYs, Channel Nine and Footscray Tech. And their Mother, Christine, who was a talented netballer, still holds the records for hurdles in the country town of Deniliquin.
So who is the most competitive out of the two? They both share the same will to win, but when it came to contests in the backyard, Ben was the consistent winner.
Jack said, “Ben had five years on me, so there was never really a competition.”
“Jack’s terrible at cricket,” Ben said with a cheeky smile.
And how do they differ as players? Dave Gray was the right person to ask as he watches both sons play together all the time.
“Ben is your classic swingman. He can play both ends of the field, I’ve always thought Ben plays his best footy in defence, but he can kick you 40 – 50 goals a season as a forward”
“Jack on the other hand is more your running type, I think they say these days, “metres gained” type player.. he’s an outside player with lovely skills, both hand and foot, Jack’s decision making is also very good, very rarely misses a target.. also knows where the goals are.. loves a goal.”
The boys played their first game together against Mentone over in the east in 2010. It was soon after that, a meeting at the Prince Albert Hotel in Williamtown sparked Jack’s commitment to playing seniors with his brother.
Ben and Jack won their first premiership together in 2014, when they defeated Therry Penola by 56 points. Jack labelled that day as one of the best of his life.
“You hear people talk about getting married and having kids, but I haven’t done any of that yet, so these memories are what I hold, and what are ranked the highest for me.”
The pair embraced right after the siren, running through the pack and met together as a part of the big huddle of jubilation.
“Not only to win a premiership, but to win one with a family member… it’s pretty special,” Ben said.
And as for season 2019, the Seniors are undefeated, at the top of the table and are preparing for a Grand Final in two Saturdays time.
The boys are as motivated as ever after the events of last season – After winning most of their games, the Seniors went out of the finals in straight sets after two nail-bitting finishes against Fitzroy and Geelong.
Jack said, “It was the worst experience I’ve had in football.”
Ben said coach, Mathew “Monty” Montebello asked him during the preseason through a text about how he thought the team was going. Ben admitted it is always hard to get a good grasp on how well the team is going throughout training, but it was evident towards the end of preseason, the playing group did not want a repeat of 2018. “The boys have used last year as driving force.”
Jack said the team “burnt out” towards the end, “we wanted to ensure that didn’t happen again.”
Ben, 32 and Jack 28, have committed all their senior footy to the CYs. With the opportunity of playing for other clubs for money, both men have always returned the CYs each year as they’ve found a deep connection with the football club. And that connection runs deep within the Gray family.