Season Summary: 1990
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.
Consistent form enabled Williamstown to have a good season, particularly in the middle stages when it won seven consecutive games. In Round 16 the Seagulls defeated Coburg 22.19 to 12.12 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 to Box Hill, which finished ninth, and Preston in the remaining two home-and-away games meant Williamstown dropped to fourth place with the Bullants heading the ladder, half a game clear of Springvale and Coburg. 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 finals, starting with the elimination final against fifth-placed Werribee. The 'Town found the Tigers a troublesome opponent and trailed by two goals at three-quarter time before dominating the final quarter, adding 10 goals to one to run out easy winners 23.17 to 16.14. 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 and still led by nine points at half-time despite obvious improvement from Williamstown in the second quarter. Coburg only managed one goal after the long interval and the 'Gulls cruised to a 14.21 to 8.12 victory, which snuffed out Coburg's hopes of a third consecutive premiership. The preliminary final against Preston would have been totally one-sided had the Bullants not kicked so precisely. As it turned out, Williamstown 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.
The Grand Final was again played on a League ground, 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. Williamstown led by 17 points at quarter time, but the 'Vales took control in the second term to lead by 19 points at half-time. By late in the third term, this lead had been extended to 33 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 restored the 33-point buffer. Williamstown battled on and, amongst the positional changes it made, was the shift of full-forward Rickman out to centre-half forward. The Seagulls certainly lifted their game but the margin was large and victory seemed a long way off. If anyone could salvage the game it was the dynamic 'Chops' Rickman, the personification of confidence when things looked grim. At the 25-minute mark he converted 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 crept into Springvale's play, which contrasted the growing confidence of the Seagulls. With the game well into time-on, veteran Bill Swan gained possession and his long kick brought up a goal to put the 'Town in front. It was the last score of the game. Williamstown's two-point win, 16.11 to 15.15, was its 14th premiership. Whilst Rickman had been inspirational in the comeback, the 'Gulls best on the day were Round, Brett McTaggart, Marcus O'Connor, Steve Johansen 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
Troy Mitchell won the first of his three best and fairest's at Williamstown, while Rickman was the team's leading goal-kicker with 53 majors despite missing a third of the season at Footscray. During the season McTaggart had captained a VFA side against the ACT in Canberra, with teammates Howlett and Rickman (five goals) also contributing to the VFA's 21.14 to 13.11 win.
On the downside, former rover Ron James was killed in a water-skiing accident at the age of 19. The club named its Most Valuable Player trophy in his honour. Round completed 100 games with Williamstown, thus joining a small group of players to bring up a century of both VFA and League games. Rickman played his 100th game with the 'Town in the preliminary final to join 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.
Barry Round and Simon Lloyd v. Box Hill 1990
1990 Grand Final team