Season Summary: 1996


Williamstown was at home to Werribee - the side in the previous year which was picked as a possible merger with Williamstown - in the opening round of the season. 1996 marked the start of the new VFL, whose ranks included country clubs, Traralgon and North Ballarat. After losing 17 consecutive games dating back to August 1994, the Seagulls, under new coach, former Richmond premiership player Merv Keane, won 12.12 to 8.13. A 26-point win at Traralgon followed and, before long, it was evident that the 'Town had reversed its dismal form of the previous year. Good performances in the second half of the season enabled the club to finish fourth on the ladder with 11 wins, 6 losses and a draw.

The draw, at Port Melbourne, was Williamstown's first against Port for exactly 100 years and was reflected by only 1.2 percent separating the two sides on the ladder at the end of the season. Williamstown and Port met in the elimination final with the 'Town triumphing by 12 points. This brought the Seagulls and Werribee together in the first semi-final, but this time the 'Bees won 13.19 to 9.5. In addition to reaching the finals, Williamstown provided the Liston Trophy winner in Paul Dooley, whose great grandfather Bill Dooley had been the club president in 1945-46, and whose father Bill had played with the 'Town in 1965. Paul also won the Seagulls best and fairest award and the club had two players in the top six goal-kickers for the season. They were Phil O'Keefe who finished third with 53, and Danny Del Re who was sixth with 45.


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