Season Summary: 1952
Harold Hosking was re-elected President for the third time in respect of the 1952 season, and Arthur Budgen and Jim Greenfield were made life members at the annual general meeting.
The committee decided on a change of coach and appointed Billy Williams of South Melbourne, where he had played 124 games from 1945-1951, kicking 180 goals and winning the Swans best & fairest in 1946, 1947 and 1950. Adrian Dullard was persuaded to remain on as a player, which he did for two more seasons, but Gordon Williams was made vice-captain. Bob Major commenced his long reign as head trainer in this season when Fred Sutton retired.
For more information on Billy Williams, copy and paste the link below.
Players missing from the 1951 outfit included 100-game veteran Alf Sampson (coach of St Arnaud Stars), Keith Abberton (coach of Moe), Reg Featherby (coach of Benalla), Jack Danckert, who missed all of 1951, transferred to Tooronga and Murray McRae retired. The biggest blow of all was the transfer of Bill Gunn to South Melbourne after just one season. The transfer of Williams was used as a lever by the Swans to acquire the brilliant Gunn.
Recruited to the club was future Team of the Century member, Harry Simpson, also from South Melbourne, whilst the sons of former players, Johnny Martin (from the Seconds) and George Taafe (from South Melbourne), both made their debuts in 1952. John Martin senior had played in Footscray's VFA premiership teams of 1919-20 and joined Williamstown as captain-coach in 1926. George Tozer came across from Carlton, whilst full-back in the Team of the Century, Max Munday, also joined the 'Town from Footscray and Yarraville Socials in the Footscray District League. Alan Cuff (from Newport), Jack Simpson, Jack Howat, Brian Lowry, B.Hogan and K.Hibbert were also useful additions. Reg Harley returned from South mid-season after playing 61 League games, and Gordon Cameron made a brief comeback before retiring.
Williamstown lost its opening two matches of the season for the first time in years, going down to Port Melbourne 15.14.104 to 6.11.47 at home and then away at Preston 16.11.107 to the 'Town 14.19.103. It was Port’s first win at Pt Gellibrand since 1941 and the Seagulls lowest score for the year. A good win against Coburg gave rise to hope of improvement, but successive defeats to Northcote, Sandringham, Oakleigh and the inexperienced Box Hill soon put paid to that, with only one win in the first seven games. The 'Town overcame the previous years premiers, Prahran, but then Yarraville beat Williamstown for the first time since 1937, getting home at Yarraville by 10 points, 18.7.115 to 15.15.105.
Just as interest in the season had almost subsidied a magnificent win over Port at Port, 16.15.111 to 11.19.85, restored some pride. It was Port's first loss for the year after thirteen consecutive wins, and Williamstown's first victory at North Port Oval since 1940. It was jocularly suggested that that the home side had been too gentlemanly in front of the Governor, Sir Dallas Brooks, who was seeing his first game of Association football as guest of the Port Melbourne club.
The 1952 season was marked by some of the worse weather ever experienced, with most of the grounds becoming waterlogged very early in the season and remained that way for the best part of the year. Williamstown's oval was a notable exception but this proved of little value to the team because every second match had to be played on a mudheap. The game at Box Hill, which resulted in a two goal defeat, was played on a ground at least half covered with water with the rest mud. These abnormal conditions, even for winter, kept crowds away and made conditions unpleasant for the players and umpires, with little drop kicking or high marking. These conditions made the 'Town's efforts to make progress or even arrest the drift of the previous season all the more difficult and, at the conclusion of the home-and-away games, the side was not only out of the top four for the second successive season but was pushed down to tenth position with just eight wins from 20 games, the worse result since 1938.
One redeeming feature of an otherwise mediocre season was the splendid performance of Johnny Walker, who got well out in front of his rivals towards the end of the season to take the VFA goalkicking honours with a total of 103, thirty-four in front of runner-up Bob Bonnett of Port Melbourne. Over the last three matches of the season, he added 37 goals to his tally with returns of 14 (v. Sandringham), 7 v (Oakleigh) and 16 (v. Box Hill). This very good finish to the year bolstered the team's percentage up to 112.47 from the eight victories from twenty played. The Box Hill game was at home, and Williamstown focused on playing through Walker in an attempt to get him the 13 goals he needed for his century. Kicking five in the first quarter, Walker was well on his way and ended up with 16 in a score of 24.11 to 8.4. Supporters were so impressed that they took up a collection after the game and gave their hero 40 pounds, a not inconsiderable amount when the basic wage was just 12 pounds a week. The Seagulls total of 27.14 against Sandringham was the highest score kicked by any club that season.
Don Rogers did well to win the club's best and fairest award, the Andy Taylor Memorial Trophy, from a back pocket.
The seconds, under coach Bert McTaggart, won ten matches, lost nine with one draw to finish sixth. Charlie McLaren took out their best and fairest award. In the Thirds competition, Williamstown missed the final four, but Peter Barnes won the Association best and fairest, whilst Fred Grubb won the Club award.
Three former officials and life members passed away during the year, being Bobby Gibbs, Arthur Prideaux (former secretary) and Jack Emmerson (former treasurer).
Harry Simpson came to Williamstown in 1952 after 16 games with South Melbourne and went on to become the premier ruckman in the VFA, winning the Club best and fairest in 1953 and 1954 and being runner-up in the JJ Liston Trophy in 1954. He was first ruck in the 1954 and 1955 premiership teams, before leaving in 1956 after 75 games to captain-coach Dimboola. He was selected in a forward pocket in the Williamstown Team of the Century.
From The Argus February 20, 1952
Williamstown Chronicle February 22, 1952
Full-back in the Team of the Century, Max Munday, joined the 'Town from Footscray and Yarraville Socials in the Footscray District League in 1952 and went on to play 120 games, finishing in 1958 after playing in the 1954, 1955 and 1956 premiership sides.
From The Age March 25, 1952
From The Argus April 3, 1952
From The Age April 12, 1952
Williamstown Chronicle August 1, 1952
Reg Harley returned from South Melbourne early in the 1952 season.
Johnny Martin made his senior debut in 1952 and went on to play 133 games, mainly across the centre, winning Club best and fairests in 1956 and 1958 and was runner-up in 1955, and the JJ Liston Trophy in 1956. He played in the 1954/1955/1956 and 1958 premiership teams, and was selected on the wing in the Williamstown Team of the Century. He went to Wentworth as playing coach in 1959 at the age of 25.