2013 Hall of Fame Inductee : Andrew Sam Wilson
BORN : 12th April 1971. HEIGHT : 180cm. WEIGHT : 71kg.
RECRUITED FROM : Tarrawingee – 1988.
HERITAGE NUMBER : 438. GUERNSEY NUMBER : 17.
FIRST SENIOR GAME : 1989. LAST SENIOR GAME : 2004.
TOTAL GAMES : 258 ( Seniors). 60 (Reserves).
GOALS KICKED : 206 (15th on WRFC All-time list)
MOST GOALS IN A GAME : 6 (once).
Premierships : 1991, 1993, 1994.
Grand Final : 2002.
Runner-up Morris Medal : 1993.
O & M Representative: (3) 1993 v G.V, 1994 v Riddell, 1995 v Bendigo.F.L.
V.C.F.L Under 19 Representative 1990
Runner-Up Best & Fairest (Seniors) 1995.
Most Consistent 1991 (4th in B & F)
Most Reliable 1993 (5th in B & F).
Most Determined 1994.
Club Award 1999
Best Clubman 2000
Best 1st Year Player (Reserves) 1988.
Most Determined (Reserves) 1989.
Andrew Wilson’s brothers Michael and Joe, were firmly entrenched as stars of the Wangaratta Rovers Football Club when he won the right to join them at the W.J. Findlay Oval in 1988.
His eagerness to play with the Hawks had been blunted when Tarrawingee refused a clearance application, deeming that he wouldn’t be good enough to play at senior O & M level. On appeal the clearance was granted. The brothers were united and an extraordinary chapter in the history of the Club was about to be written. Together, they were to play a total of 814 senior games, setting an O& M record, well in excess of Lavington’s four Sansons and the King brothers, who dominated Rutherglen sides in the early 20th century.
Each of the boys brought different qualities to the table. Mick was ultra-consistent and remembered for his pace and silky skills off half-back; Joe was brilliant in the toughest of situations- the player who could extricate the ball and set up play in the mid-field. Andrew was the all-rounder, able to play anywhere, with an aggression that coaches crave. Used with equal aplomb on a wing, half-back, on-ball or even at full forward, he could provide a contest like few others.
Andrew Wilson earned his nickname “Waldo” back in the days when “Ringside with the Wrestlers” was a popular TV program and Waldo von Erich was one of the stars of the show. Family friend Dale Weightman handed Andrew the non-de-plume when the boys would spend a lot of the day wrestling alongside the boundary line, oblivious to the performance of their father, Chas, who was playing for Mildura Imperials.
Growing up in the Wilson household was an adventure in itself. Sport played an important part, but so too were games of war, slug guns, BMX bikes, shooting rabbits, swimming in the river, camping and building tree-houses. When the family moved to Tarrawingee, mum Toni’s home town, cricket and football started to dominate.
Mick Wilson was the first of many lads of his vintage who found their way to the Rovers via Tarrawingee. He played in a Thirds premiership, on permits, in 1985 and he and Joe were members of the Hawks’ senior flag of 1988. So you can imagine that ‘Wal’ felt he was ‘marking time’ at Tarra. It was not an easy task to break into a Rovers side chock-full of talent. Andrew spent a good season and a half in the Reserves before earning promotion, but once in the side, he was there to stay.
To emphasise the merit of an exemplary 17-year career with the Hawks it is important to note that “Wal” spent almost all of it traversing the Hume Highway. Whilst he gave no thought to the offers that were thrust at him from suburban clubs, his occupation as a tree-surgeon gave him no alternative but to drive home from Melbourne on a Friday night and back home on Sundays if he was to play with the club that he loved. One wise-head put it succinctly : …”do travellers get the respect from the local dignitaries for the effort they make – in all sorts of weather conditions, in uncomfortable, unreliable cars that make driving almost an heroic ordeal, many of them with little or no mechanical knowledge and the same amount of money …”. Added to this, they rarely, if ever, get to train with a full quota of team-mates.
Such an impression did Andrew make that, in his first full year – 1990 – he was selected in the VCFL under 19 team. He was now an integral part of the Rovers line-up and strapped himself in for a dream ride. The Hawks were to win premierships in 1991, 1993 and 1994 and were the powerhouse of the competition. Along the way they set an O & M record of 36 consecutive wins and amassed a 92-1-17 win-loss record in his first 5 senior seasons.
He was in rare form in 1993, winning his first O & M Guernsey against Goulburn Valley and finishing runner-up to Albury’s Tim Scott in the Morris Medal. A premiership capped what was a terrific year.
The O & M team which defeated the Riddell League in 1994 contained 5 Hawks – including the Wilsons – and was coached by their team-mate Peter Tossol. It heralded the first time in O & M history that 3 brothers had worn the famous Gold and Black in a game.
“Waldo” was one of 12 different players who finished runner-up to the legendary Robbie Walker in his dozen club Best and Fairest wins. His year as the ‘bridesmaid’ was in 1995, as he produced another top year on the wing.
As the Hawks’ era of dominance began to fade, he was thrown around the ground, his competitiveness and team-lifting qualities being used to capacity by his coaches. There was even a stint at full back, but he enjoyed his forays up forward, as testified by his 206 career goals.
And there were the occasional brain-fades, like the day he chased North Albury small man Martin Cross Jnr around Bunton Park seeking revenge for what he classified an unnecessary act.
“Wal” lost the little finger on his right hand in an accident with a woodchipper during the 2002 season. Reluctantly missing a fortnight of football, he resumed his place in the side and picked a swag of possessions, admitting that the finger affected his marking and was “a bit sore, but it’s okay”.
Equally admired as his efforts on-field was the contribution he made as a clubman and the respect he proffered to those around the place. Newcomers to the club would be given the ‘five-star’ treatment by “Wal” and his mates and heartily convinced of the virtues of the Brown and Gold.
It would extend to a few quiet ales after the game. As the night wore on and the frivolity continued, the question would be asked: “Where’s Wal? “. He would inevitably still be there, sound asleep on a chair in a corner, still clasping his beer.
Andrew Wilson played 258 senior games with the Wangaratta Rovers and will forever be remembered for his versatility and acclaimed toughness. And, without a doubt, he is right up there as one of the great characters of the Club.