Season Summary: 1990
Brunswick merged with Broadmeadows Football Club to form the Brunswick-Broadmeadows Magpies in 1990, but was fortunate to even see out the season, and in August the VFA sacked the board and appointed an administrator. Sunshine attempted to re-enter the Association but was unsuccessful, bringing to an end its 31 year membership of the VFA, during which it won just a single Second Division premiership in 1971.
Ian Rickman's great form in 1989 prompted his former club Footscray to select him in the March 1990 internal draft. While keen to have another try at League level, his comeback with the Bulldogs was short-lived and Rickman was back at Williamstown by round eight. Saade Ghazi spent the season in South Australia with Central Districts, but the evergreen Barry Round chose to continue playing despite having turned 40 during the summer. A promising young full-back named Simon Lloyd was acquired from Carlton Under 19's.
The season commenced positively with a four-goal win at Port Melbourne in the opening round, followed by an 11-goal win at home against Springvale. Another big win at Box Hill in round 4 by 10 goals, was interspersed with losses to Coburg and Preston and Prahran, before a run of seven consecutive wins from rounds 8-14, including an 86-point victory at Frankston, a 105-point win at home against Oakleigh (Chris Burton 7 goals), and a 170-point win over Camberwell at Pt Gellibrand (Rickman 10 goals). In Round 16 the Seagulls won at Coburg 22.19 to 12.12 (Wayne Muschialli 6 goals) to wrest top spot from the Lions. At that stage the 'Town headed Springvale and Coburg on percentage only, with Preston in fourth place half a game behind. Losses in three of the last four games of the home-and-away round to Springvale, Box Hill and Preston meant Williamstown dropped to fourth place with the Bullants heading the ladder, half a game clear of Springvale and Coburg, with Werribee making up the final five teams. The Seagulls, which won 12 of the 18 games, still had by far the best percentage (138.4) of any of the clubs.
To take the flag Williamstown had to win four games, starting with the elimination final against the neighbouring Tigers. The 'Town found Werribee a troublesome opponent and trailed 4.8 to 2.0 by at quarter time before adding seven goals in the second quarter to take a two-goal lead at the main break. The 'Bees took advantage of the wind to kick eight goals and edge ahead by 12 points at the last change, before Williamstown dominated the final quarter, adding 10 goals to one to run out easy 45-point winners, 23.17 to 16.14, with Rickman and Muschialli each booting five goals and Aziz four.
Video of the 1990 elimination final can be seen by copying and pasting the following link into your internet browser:
The first semi-final brought the Seagulls and Coburg together in yet another finals encounter. The Lions were the better side early in the game, leading by 3 goals at quarter time and still up by nine points at half-time despite a much better effort from Williamstown in the second quarter. Coburg only managed one goal after the long interval to the Seagulls nine as the 'Gulls cruised to a 14.21 to 8.12 victory, and the identical winning margin as in the elimination final. Rickman put in another five-goal performance, which ended Coburg's hopes of a third consecutive premiership.
The preliminary final against Preston would have been similarly one-sided had the Bullants not kicked so accurately. After an even first term where the Seagulls held an 8-point advantage at quarter time, the lead blew out to four goals by half-time and 50 points by the last change. At the final siren Williamstown had won 23.15 to 15.6 to earn a spot in the Grand Final for the fifth time in six seasons. Star of the preliminary final was centreman Grant Smith, who racked up 45 possessions, while Rickman, Muschialli and Greg 'Nuts' Minett each booted four goals.
The Grand Final was played this time at Carlton where a crowd of 18,634 witnessed an epic finish. The match was delayed a week by the VFA because of the drawn League qualifying final between Collingwood and West Coast. The VFA wanted to play its Grand Final a week after the League, and a fortnight's rest between the preliminary and Grand Final gave Williamstown a much-needed break and probably meant Springvale was lacking match practice because of a three-week break for them. This seemed irrelevant for the first three quarters of the game as Williamstown led by 17 points at quarter time, but the 'Vales took control in the second term, adding six goals to just one by the Seagulls to lead by 19 points at half-time. By late in the third term, this lead had been extended to 34 points, and by the last break Springvale were still 28 points ahead, 13.15 to 10.5.
It appeared certain that Williamstown would lose its third successive Grand Final at the five minute mark of the final term when another Springvale goal from a dubious free kick to Graham Dempster restored the 34-point margin. The Seagulls battled on and, amongst the positional changes it made, was the shift of full-forward Rickman out to centre-half forward. The 'Town had certainly lifted but the gap was large and victory seemed a dream. However, Williamstown rallied and kicked 6.6 to a solitary goal by the 'Vales from that point, started by a long kick from Steve Johansen, then one off the ground by Marcus O'Connor, followed by a snap from Aziz. At the 25-minute mark Rickman scored a goal with a prodigious drop punt from 60 metres out, with the ball travelling a further ten metres beyond the goalmouth. Two minutes later he added another one and a Williamstown victory was now a possibility. A degree of uncertainty had crept into Springvale's play, which contrasted with the growing confidence of the Seagulls. With the game well into time-on, veteran Bill Swan gained possession after a pass from Brett McTaggart and his long kick from the 50-metre line brought up a goal to put the 'Town in front for the first time since the second quarter. It was to be the last score of the game. Williamstown's two-point win, 16.11 to 15.15, was its 14th premiership, and twelfth in the top division. Whilst Rickman, with four goals for the game, had been inspirational in the comeback, the 'Gulls best on the day were Round, McTaggart, O'Connor, Johansen (3 goals) and Smith.
Williamstown's 1990 premiership team line-up was:
Backs: Troy Mitchell Simon Lloyd Wayne Muschialli
Half-backs: Brett McTaggart Andrew Howlett Chris Burton
Centre: Bill Swan
Half-forwards: Tony Pastore Jack Aziz Greg Minett
Forwards: Bruce Mourney Ian Rickman Steve Johansen
Followers: Barry Round Grant Smith
Rover: Marcus O'Connor
Interchange: Rick Slevison Brett Gould
Video of the 1990 grand final can be seen by copying and pasting the following links into your internet browser:
Troy Mitchell, in his debut year in Senior football, won the first of his three Andy Taylor Memorial Trophies for best and fairest at Williamstown, from Grant Smith and Brett McTaggart. Ian Rickman won the Bert Hodge Memorial Trophy for the team's leading goal-kicker with 53 majors despite missing a third of the season at Footscray. Nick Dimartino won the Bill Sheahan Memorial Trophy for the Seconds best and fairest award with Peter McDonald runner-up. John Bouris was the leading goalkicker in the reserves. Bill Dooley took out the Harold Hosking Memorial Trophy for best and fairest honours in the Thirds from Matt Bury. Leading goalkicker in the Under 19's was Patrick McCurry. Long-time trainer Bob 'Bumper' Jones was awarded the Bill 'Darkie' Raffle Memorial Trophy as best clubman for the season.
On the downside, former rover and 1986 premiership player Ron James was killed in a water-skiing accident on the Murray River near Echuca at the age of 19 on New Year's Day, 1990. The Club named its Most Valuable Player trophy in his honour from this season on, with the inaugural winner being Brett McTaggart. Round completed 100 games with Williamstown in the elimination final, thus joining a small group of players to bring up a century of both VFA and League games. Rickman also played his 100th game with the 'Town in the preliminary final to join Round, McTaggart, Slevison and Glen Murphy, who had also reached that milestone. Not since 1959 when there were six players with 100 games to their credit had Williamstown had so many long-serving players.
Tony 'Spud' Dullard finished up as Reserves coach at the end of the season.
Barry Round and Simon Lloyd v. Box Hill 1990
1990 Grand Final team
Captain-coach Barry Round with the premiership cup
Andy Howlett, Simon Lloyd, Tony Pastore, Ricky Slevison and Wayne Muschialli celebrate the miraculous 1990 premiership victory
Back Row: Marcus O'Connor, Brett Gould, Wayne Muschialli, Greg Minnet, Ricky Slevison, Steve Johansen
Middle Row: Troy Mitchell, Bruce Mourney, Jack Aziz, Andrew Howlett, Simon Lloyd, Tony Pastore
Front Row: Chris Burton, Ian Rickman, Brett McTaggart, Barry Round (captain-coach), Grant Smith, Billy Swan