Season Summary: 1958
The Club got a new President in 1958 with Arthur Johnson being elected at the annual general meeting. Life memberships were awarded to Stan Whear and Bob Major.
After his phenomenal success at Williamstown, several League Clubs made overtures to have Wally Carter released from his agreement with the Club. Eventually he returned to his old club North Melbourne, which made it as far as the preliminary final that year. Whilst supporters were sorry to see the multi-premiership coach depart, it was with the knowledge that the Club had a ready-made replacement in captain Gerry Callahan, rather than bringing in someone from a League club. After some jostling with the Committee regarding salary and tenure, Callahan was appointed playing coach for one season only, with Ray Smith vice-captain. This put the Monster under much pressure to succeed, and raises the question of whether the committee would have maintained the faith if the ’Town slipped from the four. Ironically, this tentative appointment would eventuate into the longest reign by a coach at a single VFA club, extending to 10 years.
Not too many of the regulars were missing at the start of the season, with Allen Laurie being the most notable. However, as the season got under way several players dropped out with Maurie Gear returning to Geelong, while Alby Outen and R. Ogden gave it away when a regular game was uncertain. Alan McPherson was injured very early, and Team of the Century member Max Munday retired after very good service over his 120 matches for the 'Town.
As usual, some experienced players were recruited, including Vin Bourke and rover Tom Pelly from North Melbourne, full-back Col Colquhoun and F. Primmer from South Melbourne and B. Liddy from Essendon. Local recruits to play seniors during the year were rover George Mazouris, B. Neylon, L. Davies, M. O'Flynn, R. Jones and K. Parker.
The 1958 season was a good one for Williamstown, with the team never lower than fourth on the ladder during the year and once again headed the list at the end of the home-and-away rounds, followed by Moorabbin, Box Hill and Port Melbourne. The Seagulls got away to a good start by winning the first three matches, then lost to Port under lights at South Melbourne by nine points. The VFA’s enthusiasm for night football waned rather quickly and, after only four fixtures attracting 22,000 spectators, the idea was abandoned. Williamstown took part in two of the matches, soundly defeating Brunswick in round 2 and then going down to Port in round 4.
Seven more victories ensued before Coburg had a surprise win at Pt Gellibrand by a goal. Only one other match was lost over the last six weeks, to Moorabbin by nine points, and after the eighteen home-and-away matches, the 'Town had recorded 15 wins and three losses.
Moorabbin played really well and was not troubled to win a good game against the Seagulls in the second-semi, 13.13.91 to 8.21.69, before a crowd of 9,000 to inflict Williamstown’s biggest defeat of the year. The ‘Town were particularly poor in attack and were overall well below their usual standard. They fought back tenaciously in the last quarter, but were let down by their shocking inaccuracy in front of goal. Pelly, with three, was the main goalkicker, whilst the best players were Eric Beitzel, Colquhoun, Callahan, Martin, Whitaker, Smith, Bourke and Pelly.
Port and Williamstown, grand finalists of three of the past four seasons, met in the preliminary final before a crowd of 8,400. Port got away with the breeze to lead 4.2 to 1.1 at the first break, before Williamstown, with a winning ruck headed by Bob Jones and an improved attack, kept them scoreless in the second term to take a ten-point lead into the long break, 5.6 to 4.2. An even third quarter meant that Port was only a point in front and facing the breeze in the final stanza, and at the end the difference was a comfortable 22-point victory to the 'Town, 11.14.80 to 8.10.58, thereby denying Port the chance of playing in its ninth consecutive grand final. Cullinan kicked five goals from full-forward and best players were Martin, Eric Beitzel, Cullinan, Colquhuon, Kent, Ramsay, Pelly, Mazouris and Frank Jones.
The grand final was played in front of a crowd of 20,000 and proved a real thriller to the end, resulting in the first and only draw in VFA history. Moorabbin, which had first use of the wind, led at every change (4.5 to 0.1 at quarter time, 4.6 to 3.5 at half time, and 5.8 to 4.9 at the last change) but the prospect of finishing with the wind gave the ‘Town much confidence going into the final term. However, by kicking two goals against the breeze, Moorabbin led by 11 points after 17 minutes in a low-scoring game. Williamstown's defenders stood tall and gradually the leeway was reduced. Six minutes from the end Cullinan goaled from a free kick and then Pelly scored a badly needed goal just as time-on started. Two more behinds were added by Bourke and Mazouris and then flanker Smith got a behind to level the scores, 6.15.51 to Moorabbin's 7.9.51, which was the final score as the siren sounded with Moorabbin in attack. With a little luck, Williamstown could have won the grand final at its first attempt as three of its 15 behinds were posters after fine passages of play that deserved to end with a goal. Moorabbin had outmarked the Seagulls all day, but Williamstown controlled the centre through Martin, had a brilliant player at centre-half forward in Kent, had the better of the roving where Mazouris excelled and had capable defenders in Eric Beitzel, Ramsay and Colquhoun. Multiple goal-scorers were Cullinan and Ward with two each, while the best of the other players was Ken Reed. The ‘Town lost forward flanker Daryl Ward in the second quarter with a broken leg, and he was replaced in the side for the replay by Barry Beitzel. Follower Frank Jones was omitted in favour of Lindsay Murphy.
22,000 attended the replay but Williamstown proved too pacy for Moorabbin and the result was never in doubt from the first bounce, and the Club's ninth pennant was assured at the last change. The Seagulls had first use of the wind and led at quarter time 3.12 to nil. Moorabbin scored 3.3 with the breeze to reduce the deficit to 23 points at the long interval, but when the 'Town piled on 7.4 to two behinds in the third quarter, victory was assured. Moorabbin never gave up and added 5.11 to six behinds but was still 32 points behind at the final siren, the scores being 13.18.96 to 8.16.64.
Stronger in the ruck and air, supreme in defence and a force across the centre line where Martin dominated, Williamstown also had winners in Whitaker and Callahan who played a great captain's game, while others to do well were Colquhuon, Bourke, Martin, Eric Beitzel, Bob Jones and Kent. Multiple goalkickers were Cullinan with five and Mazouris and Pelly with two apiece.
Williamstown’s 1958 premiership team was:
B. Eric Beitzel Col Colquhoun John Ramsay
HB. Neil Whitaker Len Kent Jack Evans
C. Vin Bourke Johnny Martin Frank Sims
HF. Ray Smith Ken Reed Barry Beitzel
F. Lindsay Murphy Roy Cullinan George Mazouris
Foll. Gerry Callahan Bob Jones
Rov. Tom Pelly
Res. Neville O’Connor Barry Liddy
From the Club's renaissance in 1939, the Club made the finals fourteen times over seventeen playing seasons (the VFA went into recess 1942-44) for seven premierships, once runner-up, third on five occasions and fourth once.
John Ramsay, Len Kent, Frank Sims and Jack Evans all brought up their 100th game during the season, taking to eight the number of players on the list to pass a century of games for the Club, the others being Ray Smith, Johnny Martin, Gerry Callahan and Max Munday - easily the highest ever recorded at Williamstown.
Johnny Martin, in his last season at Williamstown, also won the Andy Taylor Memorial Trophy for the Club best and fairest, in addition to polling the highest number of votes for the Club in the JJ Liston trophy, which was won by Keith Woolnough of Northcote. Roy Cullinan topped the Club goalkicking with a total of 63, placing him third on the VFA list. Daryl Ward scored 38 to finish equal eighth. Neville O'Connor was best and fairest for the Seconds, while Doug Kellett took out the award for the Thirds.
The Seconds missed the finals by finishing seventh with eleven wins from the eighteen matches played, but the Thirds won the premiership for the first time under the coaching of 1949 senior premiership star Bill Sheahan.
Callahan shifted to Beaumaris during the season after he married, and was approached by both Sandringham and Oakleigh to coach the next year but felt that would be disloyal to Williamstown. On the night of the premiership win he was advised of his reappointment for 1959, but he wanted three years and an increased salary to continue.
After the 1958 drawn Grand Final Moorabbin's captain Alan Murphy with Gerry Callahan