Season Summary: 1992
For the first time in 33 years, the VFA seniors and reserves both played with 18-man teams by reinstating the two wingers. Tony Hannebery entered his 10th season as Seagull President in 1992, while recruits included North Melbourne quartet Steve Venner, Darren Harris (51 AFL games), David Dwyer (72 AFL games) and Stephen Zamykal, neighbour and best friend of Willi full-back, Simon Lloyd. Zamykal had played two matches on permit in the Reserves in 1991, including one where he took an astonishing 28 marks. Steven Long arrived from Keilor and Julian Shanks, 1991 best and fairest winner from Carlton under 19's. Former star goalkicker, Mark Fotheringham, returned to the Club as general manager and coach of the Reserves after four years coaching Keilor in the Essendon District Football League. Players missing from 1991 included premiership player Chris Burton (St Albans), Kevin 'Hap' Hughes (Spotswood), Murray Nilsson, Tony Dullard and Glenn Murphy. During the year the longest-serving player on the list, Rick Slevison (140 senior games, including the 1986 and 1990 premierships), and Lindsay Cahill (86 games and 133 goals, including the 1986 premiership) finished playing, although 'Cods' stayed on as an assistant coach to Mark Fotheringham in the Reserves. Wayne 'Roo' Muschialli also dropped out later in the season when senior opportunities became limited after 56 senior games (76 goals) and 62 reserves games (78 goals) from 1985, including the 1986 and 1990 premierships, and returned to Altona City Vikings, where he joined other ex-Seagulls Matty Johnson, Alun Owen, Slevison and playing coach, Peter Mildenhall. Legendary trainer, John Hogg, also departed Williamstown for Spotswood in 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 at Pt Gellibrand (Rickman 6 goals) and then going down at Preston the next week with a Bullant goal after the siren, Williamstown strung together five wins in six weeks from rounds 3-8, before losing at Box Hill by five goals. They then bounced back in round 10 to defeat Oakleigh by 21 goals at home (Rickman 11 goals) followed by a four-goal win over Prahran. The home-and-away season was then rounded out with four consecutive victories over Port (Rickman 7 goals), Springvale, Dandenong and Coburg to give Williamstown 13 wins out of the 18 home-and-away games to claim second place on the ladder, behind Sandringham which finished on top with 15 wins. The Seagulls won every home game in 1992, a feat not achieved for at least 30 years.
The qualifying final against Prahran was a struggle for the Seagulls as they trailed at every break by 2, 14 and 25 points, and were 31 points behind early in the final quarter before mounting a comeback to tie the scores on 16.10 apiece at the final siren. Unbeknown to Prahran captain-coach Brian Taylor, the VFA had introduced new rules whereby 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. Ghazi and Rickman both kicked five goals for the Seagulls.
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, after trailing by two at the first break. Box Hill failed to goal in the second half, adding seven behinds only to Williamstown's 4.5, meaning the 'Town almost doubled the Mustangs' score in winning by 32 points, 9.12 to 3.16. A sixteen-year old Jarrod Molloy played for Box Hill this day and kicked one goal for the team coached by his father, Shane Molloy.
This resulted in Williamstown and Prahran meeting again in the preliminary final. The Seagulls trailed by two points at quarter-time before kicking 5 goals to one by the Two Blues in the second quarter in a low-scoring game. Williamstown added just one more goal after half-time to two by Prahran to run out winners 7.16 to 5.7, setting up a meeting with Sandringham for the premiership. The two teams had one win each against each other in the home-and-away rounds.
The early stages of the Grand Final against Sandringham, played before a crowd of 21,000 at Princes Park, indicated an even game but by quarter-time the Zebras had opened up a three-goal lead after ruckman Steve Venner limped from the field injured early in the game. 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 19.16.130 to 13.8.86, with Ghazi and David Dwyer each booting three goals for the defeated Seagulls. Howlett, Williams, Ackerly, Mitchell, Gould and O'Connor were best for the 'Town.
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
Coach: Barry Round
Video of this game can be seen by copying and pasting the below link into your internet browser:
Rickman headed the VFA goalkicking list with 82 and won the Club's Bert Hodge Memorial Trophy, 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 Andy Taylor Memorial Trophy for best and fairest in just his third year at the Club. Andrew Howlett was runner-up. Mitchell also won the Ron James Memorial Trophy for most valuable player. Bill Dooley won the Bill Sheahan Memorial Trophy for the Reserves best and fairest from Stephen Zamykal, while Vinnie Turcinovich was leading goalkicker. Brad Spurling took out the Harold Hosking Memorial Trophy for best and fairest in the Under 19's, with Greg Wray runner-up. David Patterson was leading goalkicker in the Thirds. Ron Johnson was awarded the Bill 'Darkie' Raffle Memorial Trophy for best clubman.
Julian Shanks was awarded the Fothergill-Round Medal as the most promising young player in the VFA.
Tony Hannebery stood down mid-year after ten years as President to take a position on the VFA Board of Management and eventually was elected President of the Association, the fourth Williamstown official to gain the VFA leadership when he succeeded John Grieve in 1992. Grieve had been VFA President since April 1988. An amateur footballer, Hannebery crossed to Williamstown in 1972 where he played 43 games, mainly on a half-back flank, and in 1973 was runner-up in the club's best and fairest award to Les Stillman. He gave football away to concentrate on his law career. Graham Oborne succeeded Hannebery as president of the Club.
David Ackerley finished up after two seasons with the Seagulls, playing 32 games, and Stuart Brown relinquished the editorship of the football club publication 'Dogtown Dialogue' at the end of June following a heart attack at the age of 75. Stuart passed away three years later in 1995.
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.
Steve Venner, a 198cm ruckman from North Melbourne, was recruited in 1992
Julian Shanks, Carlton under 19's best & fairest winner in 1991, joined the Club in 1992
Steven Long was recruited from Keilor in 1992
Steve Zamykal was one of four players recruited from North Melbourne in 1992
Recruit Kevin Wilson made his senior debut in the round 4 game against Port Melbourne
Steve Zamykal kicking one of his two goals in the 18-point loss at Port Melbourne in round 4
Big 209-point win for the Reserves against the 'Vales at Willi in round 5
Founder and editor of Dogtown Dialogue, Stuart Brown, stepped down mid-year following a heart attack at the age of 75. He passed away in 1995.
Rover Marcus O'Connor in action against Sandringham in round twelve
Troy Mitchell, best player for Williamstown in the 21-point loss at Sandringham in round 12
Recruit Darren Harris marks at Werribee in round 14. Looking on are Jack Aziz #28, who would cross to the 'Bees the following season, and 1991 Liston Medallist, Anthony Eames, who would later play for Williamstown and coach the Seagulls Reserves for six seasons 2002-2007, winning 3 premierships and twice runner-up.
Gail Bouchaud, the first-ever female trainer at Williamstown
Lindsay Cahill retired during the season, having suffered a badly broken arm in 1990
Wayne 'Roo' Muschialli returned to Altona City during the season after 56 senior games from 1985
Trevor Barker and Barry Round, opposing coaches 1992 Grand Final
1992 Grand Final record, featuring Peter Czerkaski and Jack Aziz
1992 Grand Final squad - Barry Round, Bill Swan, Scott Perry and Steve Symons did not play.
Back row: Jason Williams, Julian Shanks, Greg Minett, Ian Rickman, Brett Gould, Rodney Callahan, Bill Swan, Steven Johansen, Saade Ghazi
Middle row: Julian Toby (chairman of selectors), Ashley Koenig, Jack Aziz, Scott Perry, Steven Venner, Andy Howlett, Simon Lloyd, David Dwyer, Mark Szalay (runner)
Front row: Steven Long, Marcus O'Connor, Tony Pastore (vice-captain), David Ackerly (assistant coach), Barry Round (coach), Brett McTaggart (captain), Troy Mitchell, Steve Symons, Mark Fotheringham (reserves coach)
WFC historian Fred Critchley pictured here in 1992