Season Summary: 1986
The off-season again proved very fruitful for the Club with the recruitment of several players who would go on to be dual premiership stars in Brett McTaggart (back from Essendon), Tony Pastore (Spotswood) and Barry Round (Sydney) and Liston Medallists (McTaggart and Round). In addition, Stephen Eather rejoined the club after a year overseas, while Vin DiMartino, Tommy McGowan and Richie Raeburn were elevated from the Thirds. Nick & Frank DiMartino (Spotswood) joined their cousin Rob and brother Vin at the 'Town, while Andrew Gibson also moved across from Spotswood. Peter Lane (Doutta Galla Stars), Andrew Maher (returned from WA), Peter Shorthouse and Ricky Knight (both West Footscray), Murray Nilsson (Glenroy), Sandy Morrison (Warragul) and Mark Kennedy (Footscray) also joined the club.
Round, the joint winner of the 1981 Brownlow Medal with Fitzroy's Bernie Quinlan, had played 328 games of League football with Footscray, South Melbourne and Sydney. Williamstown officials had heard in 1985 that Round's VFL days were finished and that Port Melbourne and Brunswick were after his services. The fact that the Seagulls were competing with Port to sign such an experienced player fired President Tony Hannebery into action. In the end it was Wheeler's influence that made Round a Williamstown player. Recruited primarily to play in the ruck, Williamstown was able to play Round at centre half-forward because Kim Kershaw was doing so well on the ball. Round was 36 by the time he made his debut with Williamstown. It mattered little because the big fellow continued to play well and was responsible for drawing a lot of people to games.
There was a major change to the VFA in 1986 with the number of teams in First Division being reduced from 12 to 10 by relegating the bottom three from the previous season. Brunswick, the 1985 Second Division premier, was promoted and met the Seagulls at Brunswick in the opening round, where Williamstown came from six goals down at three-quarter time to snatch a two-point win. Two defeats followed against Coburg and Preston before the team bounced back by winning four games in succession over Port Melbourne by 49 points, with Fotheringham kicking 14 goals, Geelong West, Springvale and Camberwell by 189 points (Larry Simmons 9 goals, Fotheringham 7). After seven rounds Williamstown was second on the ladder, one win behind Coburg. While there was no doubt Williamstown would reach the final four, the Seagulls did not gain the double chance and had to start their quest for the flag from the first semi-final after finishing third with 12 wins and six defeats, and failed to beat any of the other three finalists - Coburg, Frankston and Preston - in the home and away rounds, although they did get to within 14 points at Frankston and 7 points at Coburg and 5 points of Frankston at Pt Gellibrand in the return game.
Williamstown was a 10-point winner in the first semi-final against Preston in a tight encounter (Fotheringham 7 goals) with Barry Round playing his best game for the Seagulls to date, and then comfortably accounted for Frankston 19.19 to 12.17 in the preliminary final, with 15 year-old Ron James best-on-ground.
Video of the first semi-final can be seen by copying and pasting the following link into your internet browser:
Coburg, which had headed the ladder and easily won the second semi-final, was a formidable opponent to meet in the Grand Final, but the Seagulls were a goal up at the first break. The Lions then threatened to kick away in the second quarter when they opened up a 15-point lead, but Williamstown fought back to lead by four points at half-time. Kicking with the breeze in the third quarter, the Seagulls won the game with a devastating burst, adding 8 goals to just one by the 'Burgers after moving Round into the ruck about 10 minutes into the term. Coburg's momentum was upset when, at the eight-minute mark of the third quarter, captain-coach Phil Cleary was ordered from the ground for unduly rough play which upset the Lions balance. Whether this cost Coburg the game is open to question because the way Williamstown played it would have won under any circumstances.
Video of Phil Cleary's send-off can be seen by copying and pasting the following link into your internet browser:
The Seagulls led by 45 points at three-quarter time and extended this to 52 points six minutes into the last term. By midway through the last quarter Coburg had rallied to slash the difference to 21 points, and there was a slim chance that it could cause an upset. Twice Williamstown goaled to steady, although Coburg eventually kicked eight goals to three for the term to cut the final margin to 13 points, 17.9 to 14.14. It was the Seagull's eleventh Division One flag and the first since 1959.
Tony Pastore, a first-year player called in to replace suspended full back Mark Brierty, was outstanding for the Seagulls in his first-ever outing in that position and was awarded the Norm Goss Memorial Medal for best-on-ground. Captain-coach Wheeler and centre half-back Glenn Murphy - son of 1958 and '59 dual premiership player Lindsay Murphy - also shone in defence. Ruck-rover Grant Smith with three goals, Ron James on the half-forward line and Round were others to stand out. Fotheringham kicked five goals to give him 79 for the season and third place on the VFA list, while rover Lindsay Cahill booted four.
Williamstown's 1986 premiership team line-up was:
Backs: Terry Wheeler Tony Pastore Wayne Muschialli
Half-backs: Sandy Morrison Glenn Murphy Brett McTaggart
Centre: Alun Owen
Half-forwards: Rick Slevison Barry Round Ian Rickman
Forwards: Andrew Gibson Mark Fotheringham Lindsay Cahill
Followers: Kim Kershaw Grant Smith
Rover: Kevin Sait
Interchange: Ron James Larry Simmons
Video of Williamstown celebrating the premiership win can be seen by copying and pasting the following link into your internet browser:
By also winning the seconds and thirds premierships in 1986, both coached by Bruce Davis, Williamstown made it a clean sweep and underlined the depth of talent within the Club. This feat had been achieved previously in 1969, but that was in Second Division. Preston was the only other First Division club to achieve the trifecta, doing it in both 1983 and 1984. So this was arguably the greatest season in the 122-year history of the Club. Ironically, the Reserves 20.16.136 defeated Preston 18.15.123, with Ricky Knight booting 6 goals and being judged best-on-ground. The under 19's won 18.11.1119 to Preston's 16.11.107, with Scott Whitzell kicking six goals, and Glen Brook and Richie Raeburn four each. Raeburn was voted best-on-ground. It was the Seconds 11th premiership and the Thirds sixth.
Several records were set when the Seagulls visited Camberwell on August 10 that year. Williamstown's score of 55.17 to 4.8 was the highest kicked in any senior VFA game, the winning margin of 315 points was the greatest of all time and Andrew Gibson's total of 22 goals was a club record, surpassing the 20 goals kicked by both Ron Todd in 1945 and Harry 'Soapy' Vallence in 1941. It was still three short of the 25 kicked by George Gough for Northcote against Prahran in 1924. The Seagulls percentage went up by 20 points as a result of the massacre. Williamstown's previous highest score had been 42.18 against Box Hill in 1985. While the big score against Camberwell was a feat, it was by no means Williamstown's proudest moment due to the opposition being so demonstrably weak. Thankfully, Mark Fotheringham did not play in this game. The Seagulls had also won by 189 points when the teams met earlier in the season, although the Cobras did defeat the 'Town in 1985.
Kim Kershaw won his fourth consecutive Andy Taylor Memorial Trophy for best and fairest player in the seniors, surpassing the record he had held jointly with Arthur 'Porky' Sykes (1930-32) and Ray Smith (1959-61). Glen Murphy was runner-up with Grant Smith in third place. For the fifth year in succession, Mark Fotheringham won the Bert Hodge Memorial Trophy for leading goalkicker with a total of 79. Barry Wright was awarded the Bill 'Darkie' Raffle Memorial Trophy for best clubman. Fifteen-year old Ron James won the inaugural Bill Sheahan Memorial Trophy for best and fairest in the Reserves, from Mark Kennedy and Steven Eather. Andrew Gibson was leading goalkicker in the Seconds. Ian Argus took out the under 19's best and fairest from Ross Hodges and Glen Brooks. Scott Whitzell was the leading goalscorer in the Thirds.
Before the start of the season, the Coasts, Open Space and Waterways branch of the State Government Ministry of Planning and Environment advised the Williamstown Council that the football ground did not 'support a coastal dependent use' and that the football and cricket clubs should be 'encouraged to relocate inland'. There was an immediate and vociferous protest and the Ministry backed down. More worryingly, the declaration of the W.L. Floyd pavilion as a fire hazard was serious and the Council subsequently spent about $100,000 rectifying the problem along with the sub-standard toilets at the ground.
Former long-serving president Arthur Johnson (1958-65 and 1969-72) passed away in 1986, aged 94, and the Club also lost life-members Myrtle Deller, Tom Orange and George Holdsworth, along with 1949 premiership teammates Bill Sheahan and Fred 'Snowy' Matthews. The Seconds best and fairest award was named in Bill Sheahan's honour from this year onwards.
Players to depart during 1986 included Rollo Goetz (1977-1985 76 games, 54 goals) and Rob Semmens (1985 20 games, 8 goals) due to a severe leg injury.
Williamstown coaches gather in 1986, from left Max Papley, Wally Carter, Terry Wheeler, Gerry Callahan & Barry Gill
Club stalwarts, Myrtle Deller & George Holdsworth, both passed away in 1986.
1986 playing list
The Williamstown Backers Group was another supporter fund-raising arm of the Club at the time
Round 4 v. Port at home, the first trifecta over Port since 1972
Round 7 v. Camberwell at home, a total of 142 goals kicked by Willi
Larry Simmons, 9 goals against Camberwell in round 7
Round 16 v. Camberwell at Camberwell, the VFA's highest-ever score & winning margin.
Not a bad day for the club, 172 goals kicked across the three grades.
Andrew Gibson meets the great Ron Todd following his record 22-goal haul v. Camberwell in round 16
1986 First-semi final action, Mark Fotheringham and David Brine (Preston).
VFA Thirds grand final teams, featuring future senior players Brett Gould (1989-1998 143 games, 31 goals), Glen Brook (1988-1990 8 games, 8 goals), Gavin Johnstone (1988 two games, no goals), Ross Hodges (1988 two games, no goals), Ian Argus (1987 3 games, one goal) and Leyton Miles (1990-1992 20 games, 15 goals).
Thirds (Under 19's) winning Grand Final result
Captain-coach Terry Wheeler with the premiership cup
Ricky Slevison, Sandy Morrison, Ron James and Mark Fotheringham celebrate the win in the 1986 grand final
1986 Reserves winning Grand Final result
Williamstown Football Club - 1986 VFA Under 19s - Premiers
BACK ROW: Leyton Miles, Craig Dawson, Ray Arandez, Vin Dimartino, Frank Dimartino, Brett Gould, Michael Corum, Richie Raeburn, Wayne Taylor, Joe Ferguson
MIDDLE ROW: Mark Anderson, Shane Roache, Ross College, Scott Daykin, Mark Owen, Robert Purves, Scott Whitzell, Tom McGowan
FRONT ROW: Ross Hodges, Brad Stafford, Ian Argus, Craig Steinhardt (Captain) Bruce Davis (Coach), Gavin Johnstone (Vice Captain), Ross Jackson, Glenn Evans, Glen Brook