Season Summary: 2018
Frankston returned to the VFL competition in 2018, while North Melbourne and Werribee ended their 10-year alignment and fielded stand-alone teams. North Ballarat, after 22 years and 3 consecutive premierships 2008-10, had its licence suspended following two disastrous seasons where it finished last in 2017 and second-last in 2016, winning just four games in that period. This left 15 teams competing. In addition, the Development League was abolished, ending 90 years of VFA/VFL reserve grade football since starting in 1928.
With the suspension of North Ballarat’s licence to compete in the VFL in 2018, several Roosters signed with Williamstown, including Lachie George (more than 150 VFL games with several clubs), Oliver Tate (84 games) and youngster Tom Schnerring. Nick Rodda joined the Seagulls after 96 games with West Perth, while Jaylon Thorpe, son of former Sydney and Western Bulldogs player, Alan Thorpe, came across from the Northern Blues.
Arryn Siposs departed after 35 games and 52 goals over two seasons, bound for a punting scholarship at US College Auburn University. He won the VFL’s mark and goal of the year in 2017.
Others to leave included 2015 premiership players, former vice-captain and life member, Ed Carr, after 111 games (Maffra), Nick Sing (Collingwood) after 92 games, Tim Currie (Eltham) after 29 games and David Fahey (overseas). Ben Bese went back to Strathmore, Kyle Gray returned to Frankston, Josh Newman went travelling overseas and Jake Owen and Jacob Chisari transferred to Bacchus Marsh. Ayce Cordy retired to concentrate on his medical studies, but did play for University Blues in the VAFA.
Mike Howlett took over as president late in 2017, and Ben Jolley’s record-equalling six-year reign as captain came to an end when Adam Marcon took over for the 2018 season.
The VFLW team prepared for its first competition game in May by appointing Sarah Chapman as the inaugural captain with Rachel Achampong vice-captain. They also signed Collingwood AFLW player and Australian cricketer Jess Duffin. Jess was born and raised in Williamstown, and her sister Andrea Cameron also committed to the Seagulls. Both girls are nieces of the late Kathy Sheahan and granddaughters of 1949 premiership wingman Bill Sheahan.
The season commenced with a 6-goal loss at Williamstown to a Box Hill side containing 17 AFL-listed players. Despite being 10 points up at half-time, the Seagulls kicked just two goals to nine in the second half. Brayden Monk was best player. The ‘Town returned to the winners list in round 2 with a 5-goal victory over Essendon at Pt Gellibrand on a wild, wet and windy day. The year’s second loss came in round 3 at Werribee, going down by 7 goals after the Tigers kicked 8 goals to 2 in the first quarter. Gibbons was best.
Three consecutive wins in rounds 4-6 over Frankston at Williamstown by 88 points (Buykx-Smith 4 goals, Dorgan best), a 6-goal win at Coburg (Ben Cavarra 5 goals and best for the second year running) and a 7-goal win at Pt Gellibrand over the Northern Blues in Leigh Masters 100th game for Williamstown (Dunell 5 goals and best) got the year back on track.
The VFLW team had its first match for points in May against Collingwood at Oakleigh but lost 7.8.50 to 4.8.32 on an historic day. The team did not have its first victory until the round 4 clash with Richmond at Williamstown in the ‘Pride Game’, winning by 5 goals, 8.4.52 to 3.3.21, with Megan Williamson best player.
Two consecutive 6-goal losses at Geelong (Bewley best) and at Williamstown against Casey made the finals look a distant prospect, but a morale-boosting 2-goal win at Pt Gellibrand in round 10 against ladder-leader Richmond in vice-captain Willie Wheeler’s 100th Club game, 12.11.83 to 10.11.71, gave the VFL men hope. Leigh Masters was best-on-ground.
North Ballarat recruit, Lachie George, played his 175th VFL game and received life membership in the round 11 clash at Williamstown with Sandringham, played in torrential rain and wind. The Zebras went goalless for the first time in their history and registered their lowest-ever score in the 11.11.77 to 0.9.9 defeat, where the Seagulls kicked 8 goals in the last quarter, with Gibbons best. This was the first time that a VFA/VFL team had failed to kick a goal since Northcote achieved the feat in 1919.
Records were broken again in the round 13 match against Collingwood at Williamstown, when Ben Jolley broke Troy West’s games record at the Seagulls. In his 209th appearance, Jolley enjoyed a third consecutive win, 13.13.91 to 9.7.61, set up by a 7 goal to 2 third quarter. Jolley came to Williamstown from the Bendigo Bombers with Jason Cloke in 2008, and is one of only five players to represent the Club in 200 games, joining West, Saade Ghazi, Tom Russell and Ray Smith.
A 33-point loss at Port Melbourne followed, before a 39-point win at Carlton against the Northern Blues, set up by a 6-goal to one first quarter. Nick Rodda kicked 5 goals and Gibbons was best, while Jack Dorgan suffered his 4th ACL injury in the dying stages of the game, 2 on each knee.
In the round 16 game against Footscray at Williamstown, the Seagulls were 1.10 at one stage in the match and trailed by 20 points at three quarter time, before kicking 7 goals in 16 minutes to eventually win by 10 points. Ben Cavarra was best and kicked 3 goals.
Ben Bese made a surprise appearance in the round 18 fixture against North Melbourne at Werribee. In his first game since 2016 due to shoulder issues, Williamstown enjoyed a third straight victory, kicking their highest score of the year in a 63 point win, 19.16.130 to 10.7.67. Joel Tippett kicked 5 goals and Rodda 4, while Bewley was best-on-ground.
The return match against the ladder-leading Richmond at Punt Road resulted in a 4th straight win by 7 goals, set up by a 7-goal to two last quarter. Schultz kicked 4 goals and Marcon 3 in a best-on-ground display, featuring the mark of the year.
The following day the VFLW team enjoyed their 2nd win of the year, this time by just one point over Richmond at Punt Road. The Seagull women were goalless at half-time but kicked 5 of the last 7 goals to snatch victory, 5.8.38 to 5.7.37. Jasmine Garner was best & Jenna Bruton applied an amazing 17 tackles. This was followed up by a 28-point win at Windy Hill, giving the team consecutive wins for the first time, thanks to a 4 goal to zero last quarter. Garner was best again.
Meanwhile, the men knocked off Port at Williamstown by 3 goals in round 20 in the season’s 12th victory, after the Borough were scoreless in the first quarter. Schultz was best. In the final home-and-away game for the year at Casey, the Seagulls came away with their 6th straight win, kicking 10 goals to 5 in the second half to claim a top four spot and the double chance. The ‘Town were 38 points up in the last quarter before winning by 4 goals, with Nick Rodda kicking 4 goals and Gibbons best. The team finished fourth with 13 wins and 5 losses, and won 9 of their last 10 home-and-away games, the only loss being at Port in round 14.
The VFLW team finished their season with a 3rd consecutive victory, this time over Melbourne Uni by 32 points, 10.7.67 to 4.5.29. Jess Duffin kicked 3 goals and was best on the day. The women finished with 4 wins from 14 games and in 11th position of the 13 teams in their first season together.
The qualifying final was against Richmond at Punt Road, under lights and on TV, in Jake Greiser’s 50th game for Williamstown. The Seagulls went through to their ninth consecutive preliminary final and 12th in 13 years with the third win over the Tigers for the year, this time by 25 points, 11.14.80 to 8.7.55. The lights went out due to overheated globes with 5 minutes of the third quarter remaining, delaying the game for 20 minutes, and 5 minutes was added to the last term. Schultz was best, kicking 3 goals, all in the second quarter.
The preliminary final was played against Box Hill at North Port and resulted in a 1-point defeat, 13.13.91 to 13.12.90, with Jaylon Thorpe having a shot at goal just before the siren to regain the lead that missed only narrowly. Gibbons was best.
Michael Gibbons was awarded his first Gerry Callahan Medal, from Brett Bewley with Jack Charleston in third place. Ben Cavarra was leading goalkicker for the second year running with a total of 34. The Ron James Memorial Trophy for most valuable player went to Jason Pongracic, the first person to win it other than Ben Jolley since Wayde Skipper in 2009. The Bill ‘Darkie’ Raffle Memorial Trophy for best clubperson was renamed the Janet Dooley Trophy and went to Darren Bickley, the runner for the last 8 years. Life memberships were awarded to Leigh Masters and Willie Wheeler, who both played their 100th game for Williamstown during the year, and to Matthew Cape who was co-captain of the 2003 Reserves premiership team and the recipient of the Ron James Memorial Trophy in 2003, also.
Jess Duffin won the inaugural VFLW best and fairest award, from Jacinta Reid and Jenna Bruton. She was also leading goalkicker for the year. The most valuable player was vice-captain Rachel Achampong.
Other notable events that occurred during the year included:
· Michael Gibbons won his second JJ Liston Medal, tying with Richmond’s Anthony Miles, after winning it in 2016 and being runner-up in 2017;
· Jess Duffin won the VFLW Lambert-Pearce Medal and was named captain of the VFLW team of the year;
· Lachie George and Janet Dooley received VFL life membership, George for playing 175 games and Dooley for over 60 years voluntary service at Williamstown. The canteen at the ground is named in her honour;
· Life member Bill Hill passed away in Queensland on January 27 after retiring there in 1995. Bill was a volunteer and supporter in the 1960’s, 70’s and 80’s, primarily manning the players race on match days;
· Life member and director of the Club for 12 years from 1979-90, Barry Wright, passed away in March. Barry also ran bingo sessions and other fundraising activities for the Club;
· Tony Aceri, president of the Club in 1975 & father of former player, Mark Aceri, passed away early in the year. Mark is the father-in-law of former player, Dylan Conway;
· Club legend Gerry Callahan passed away in March, aged 89 years old;
· 1976 premiership player and 1994 coach, Mark Cross, passed away in May. Mark kicked the winning goal in the ’76 preliminary final that got the Seagulls into the Grand Final. He was captain in 1979, and was selected in the forward pocket in the 1970’s Team of the Decade that was announced at a function in July;
· Life member and board member 1992-94, Bob Pearman, passed away on September 7th. Bob joined the Club in the late 1970’s and was team manager 1980-82 and then Club secretary from 1984-88. He was voted best clubman in 1982 and was honoured with life membership in 1987. He assisted with Club 1864 in later years.
2018 captains, Adam Marcon and Sarah Chapman
Williamstown team list 2018
Lauchie Schultz in 2018
Lachie George joined Williamstown in 2018 after North Ballarat's VFL licence was suspended
Ollie Tate was another Roosters player to join Williamstown in 2018
Bailey Morrish looks to handball off to Michael Gibbons against Box Hill at Williamstown in round 1
Josh Pickess prepares to handball in the round 1 fixture against Box Hill
Michael Gibbons is tackled in the round 1 encounter with Box Hill at Williamstown
Jake Greiser heads downfield in 2018
Williamstown's VFLW playing list for 2018
Sarah Chapman was appointed inaugural captain of the Williamstown VFLW team
WA recruit, Nick Rodda, having a shot at goal in the round 5 fixture at Coburg
Jack Dorgan fires off a handball in the round 6 fixture against the Northern Blues at Williamstown
The VFLW team had its first match for points in May against Collingwood at Oakleigh, losing by 3 goals
Williamstown's VFLW team had their first-ever victory in round 4 over Richmond at Williamstown
Brett Bewley rebounding defensively early in the 2018 season
Nick Ebinger in full flight during the 2018 season
Jake Greiser gathers the ball against Casey in round 9
Joel Tippett looks downfield in the round 9 game against Casey at Williamstown
Jack Dorgan evades a tackle against Casey in the round 9 game at Williamstown
Jake Greiser clears from defence in the round 9 fixture at Williamstown against Casey
Jack Charleston in action v. Richmond at Williamstown in round 10
Brayden Monk defends against Richmond at Williamstown in the round 10 clash
Supporters celebrate Willi Wheeler's match-winning goal v. Richmond at Williamstown in the round 10 fixture
Willie Wheeler chaired off after his 100th Club game against Richmond in round 10
Fletcher Carroll made his senior debut in horrendous conditions v. Sandringham in round 11
Willi players celebrate in the round 11 game v. Sandringham, with the new electronic scoreboard in the background
Lachie Bramble against Sandringham in the round 11 fixture at Williamstown
The final score in the round 11 match with Sandringham failing to score a goal, the first time in the VFA/VFL since 1919.
Michael Gibbons keeps his eyes on the ball while taking a mark during the 2018 season
WFC's 200-game Club gather to celebrate Ben Jolley becoming the Club games record holder in round 13
Ben Jolley entering the field before his record-breaking 209th game for Williamstown v. Collingwood in round 13
Former players Luke Jarrad, Tom Russell, Patrick Rose and Ray Smith look on as Ben Jolley breaks through the banner.
Peter Faulks fires off a handball against Collingwood in the round 13 fixture at Pt Gellibrand
Brayden Monk in action v. Port Melbourne at North Port Oval in the round 14 clash
Ben Jolley in action in the round 14 loss at Port Melbourne
Lachie George, Jake Greiser and Billy Myers in 2018
Lachie Schultz launches against the Northern Blues at Princes Park in round 15
Ben Cavarra kicked 3 goals and was best afield v. Footscray at Williamstown in the round 16 fixture
Cavarra is congratulated on one of his two last-quarter goals against the Bulldogs by Dunell, Dorgan and Bewley
Brett Bewley in his best-on-ground display v. North Melbourne at Werribee in round 18
Michael Gibbons marks strongly during the round 18 fixture against North Melbourne
Adam Marcon takes Mark of the Year in the round 19 fixture v Richmond at Punt Rd, while Jordan Jones looks on.
Jason Pongracic clears from the backline against Port Melbourne in the round 20 fixture at Pt Gellibrand
Mitch Norton prepares to handball in the final home-and-away game of the season at Casey Fields
Sam Dunell celebrates one of his goals in the qualifying final against Richmond
Cooper Stephens gets a handball away in the qualifying final v. Richmond under lights at Punt Road.
Brett Bewley unloads in the qualifying final v. Richmond under lights at Punt Road
Adam Marcon in action v. Richmond in the qualifying final under lights at Punt Road
Defender Peter Faulks heads upfield in the qualifying final against Richmond
Leigh Masters clears from defence in the preliminary final against Box Hill at North Port Oval
Nick Rodda during the 2018 preliminary final
Nick Meese takes front position in this ruck battle against Box Hill in the preliminary final
Ben Jolley marks against Box Hill in the preliminary final, his last game for the Seagulls
In 2018, Jess Duffin won the VFLW Lambert-Pearce Medal & Michael Gibbons his second JJ Liston Medal.
Runner for the past 8 years, Darren Bickley, was awarded the inaugural Janet Dooley Award for Best Club Person
Michael Gibbons won his first Gerry Callahan Medal in 2018
Club legend Gerry Callahan passed away in March, aged 89 years old.
Life member Bill Hill passed away in Queensland in January
Former team manager, Club secretary and board member, Bob Pearman, passed away on September 7th
The 1970's Team of the Decade was announced at a Club function in July.
Brian Harvey - 1969-1972
Games: 59 Goals: 1
Ron Fenton - 1971-1975
Games: 77 Goals: 37
Alan Kennedy - 1977-1982
Games: 82 Goals: 11
Colin Boyd - 1975-1976
Games: 37 Goals: 3
1976 Premiership Player
Bill Thompson - 1971-1975
Games: 70 Goals: 4
Peter Kerr - 1974-1980
Games: 111 Goals: 36
1976 Premiership Player
John Fanning - 1970-1980
Games: 132 Goals: 94
1976 Premiership Player
Kevin Jackman - 1969-1975
Games 87: Goals 153
Robert Percy - 1969-1977
Games: 135 Goals: 67
1976 Premiership Player
Greg Tweedly - 1974-1982
Games: 105 Goals: 99
Les Stillman - 1971-1975
Games: 69 Goals: 113
Robert Lane - 1967-1975
Games: 84 Goals: 46
Robert Svorinich - 1971-1973
Games: 35 Goals: 100
Ron Page - 1970-1975
Games: 78 Goals: 32
Greg Boxall - 1971-1978
Games: 88 Goals: 170
1976 Premiership Player
Mark Cross - 1975-1979
Games: 74 Goals: 125
1976 Premiership Player
RESERVES & COACH
Laurie Taylor 1977-1989
Games: 127 Goals: 83
John Whittington - 1967-1973
Games: 61 Goals: 3
Max Papley (Coach) 1968-1972
Games: 54 Goals: 108
Back row: Greg Boxall Robert Svorinich John Fanning Greg Tweedly Les Stillman
Greg Boxall holds court at the 1970's Team of the Decade function held in July
Captain and first ruck in the 1970's Team of the Decade, John Fanning
Captain and coach of the 1970's Team of the Decade, John Fanning and Max Papley
Jess Duffin won the inaugural Williamstown VFLW best & fairest award in 2018
Jacinta Reid, runner-up to Jess Duffin in the Williamstown VFLW best & fairest award
Megan Williamson, best player in Williamstown's VFLW first-ever game for premiership points & won the season's most promising player award
Rachel Achampong won the Williamstown VFLW most valuable player award in 2018
1978 best & fairest winner, Laurie Taylor, pictured in 2018, played 127 senior games from 1977-1989