Season Summary: 1992
The 'Town's slump was short-lived because the Seagulls in 1992 played in their sixth Grand Final in only eight years. Opening the season with a 44-point win over Sandringham, Williamstown played consistently throughout the year to win 13 of the 18 home-and-away games to claim second place on the ladder. Sandringham led the field with 15 wins. For the first time since 1958 the VFA played with 18-man teams by reinstating the two wingers. Another change came in the qualifying final against Prahran when the sides were tied on 16.10 apiece at the final siren. Under new rules, extra time had to be played to avoid a replay and two halves of five minutes each were played to break the deadlock. The Two Blues managed two goals to Williamstown's 1.1, which meant Prahran advanced to the second semi-final while the 'Town had to make another premiership attempt via the first semi-final.
Wet weather, heavy conditions and a fracas before the game had even started - three players from both sides were reported - marred the first semi against Box Hill. The Seagulls adapted to the conditions better than the Mustangs and led by a useful 10 points at half-time. Box Hill failed to goal in the second half, adding seven behinds only, and the 'Town almost doubled the Mustangs' score in winning 9.12 to 3.16. This resulted in Williamstown and Prahran meeting again in the preliminary final. The Seagulls won a low-scoring contest 7.16 to 5.7, setting up the victory with an emphatic second quarter when they added five goals to one. Williamstown's other goals were kicked in the first and third quarters.
(Above: Tony Pastore)
The early stages of the Grand Final against Sandringham at Princes Park indicated an even game, but by quarter-time the Zebras had opened up a three-goal lead. At half-time Sandringham had extended this advantage to 43 points and, by early in the third term, had a buffer of more than 60 points. Williamstown rallied to outscore the Zebras for the rest of the game, but it made little difference to the outcome. Sandy triumphed 19.16 to 13.8, which by coincidence was a margin of 44 points - the difference between the two sides when the 'Town won the opening game of the season. Howlett, Williams, Ackerly, Mitchell, Gould and O'Connor were best for the Seagulls.
Williamstown's 1992 Grand Final team was:
Backs: David Ackerly Simon Lloyd Steven Long
Half Backs: Brett Gould Andrew Howlett Brett McTaggart
Centres: Ashleigh Koenig Troy Mitchell Julian Shanks
Half Forwards: David Dwyer Jack Aziz Jason Williams
Forwards: Steven Johansen Ian Rickman Marcus O'Connor
Followers: Steven Venner Tony Pastore
Rover: Saade Ghazi
Interchange: Greg Minett Rodney Callahan
Rickman headed the VFA goalkicking list with 82, while Ghazi was tenth with 42. Pastore captained the VFA side that thrashed the VCFL 32.7 to 15.7 at the MCG in May. Rickman, who kicked six goals, and Ghazi were also in the team. Troy Mitchell took out his second best and fairest award.
Tony Hannebery became the fourth Williamstown official to gain the VFA presidency when he succeeded John Grieve in 1992. Born at Moonee Ponds in October 1946, Hannebery had followed Essendon when young, but occassionally his father took him to Williamstown to watch a game. Educated at St Bernards College, Hannebery played amateur football with St Bernards Old Collegians and represented the VAFA at the 1970 Australian championships. Two years later he crossed to Williamstown where he played 43 games, mainly on a half-back flank, and in one season was runner-up in the club's best and fairest award. He gave football away to concentrate on his law career. Graham Oborne succeeded Hannebery as president of the Club.
Several factors precipitated Williamstown's decline in the mid-1990's, most notably a downturn in the economy that had set in by 1992. The Seagulls did not have the cash flow of previous years, they missed Hannebery's guidance as president and the time had come for many of the experienced players to either retire or look elsewhere to play. Ironically the 'Town had turned its back on money in 1991 when a local brothel offered $20,000 to sponsor the club. The Seagulls, who would have to advertise the name of the Spellbound brothel on the player tracksuits in return for the sponsorship, declined on the grounds that they feared alienating supporters.
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