Season Summary: 1969
The beginning of the 1969 season came on the back of a losing grand final against Geelong West in 1968, seeing the Seagulls remain in Divison Two for another season. The season also saw a change in Club President with long-serving committee member Arthur Johnson returning to the role left vacant by a departing Ron Marrett who was set on a move to Tasmania to run a hotel. He had served the club for the previous three seasons.
The selling of superstar rover Ian Nankervis to Dandenong would also leave the club in a compromising position for the season ahead, compounded by the loss of Jimmy O'Toole (86 games, 15 goals), Bob Ware (60 games, 57 goals) and Bob Cohen (51 games, 12 goals). Even with an influx of new players to the Club, many with recognised experience in the VFL, such as Footscray trio Kevin Jackman, Bob Percy and Brian Harvey, plus Ron Viney (South Melbourne) and Bert Johnson (North Melbourne), the season started slowly for the Seagulls with a 25 point loss to Sunshine in the opening round and a 46 point defeat by Coburg in round 3, both at Williamstown. The Club would then hit its straps however, storming home with only one more narrow loss (by six points at Coburg in round 12) to finish third on the VFA ladder and primed for a finals assault. Entering the first final, Williamstown were in good position to advance, playing Box Hill who had scraped into the final four managing only nine wins, six behind the 'Town. The gap in quality was evident with the Seagulls recording a resounding 20-goal victory, 26.18.174 to 7.11.53 (Dallas Patterson 8 goals and Mick Mulligan 5) to advance. The preliminary final loomed as a much tighter contest when the boys went up against Coburg and were able to come out victorious winning by a comfortable margin of 43 points, 14.12.96 to 8.5.53 (Patterson 5 goals and Mulligan 4) with sole ruckman Ken Barnes leading the way against the 'Burgers four big blokes. Coincidentally the reserves and thirds also met Coburg in their respective preliminary finals, and were also victorious.
The grand final was set to be a match for the ages with Williamstown coming up against western-suburban rivals Sunshine, with the events leading up to the fateful game being nothing short of controversial. Firstly, in the week leading up to the preliminary final a telegram was received by the Seagulls exclaiming, 'We kept you in third place. Hope to see you in First Division some time.' Such words came back to the Crows with severe repercussions however when it was Williamstown who they were to face in the grand final, and not the highly fancied Coburg. Secondly, on the Monday night after training, captain Max Papley was driving home from training with fellow players Dallas Patterson and Bert Johnson when what was believed to be a large dog ran onto the road, forcing the car to swerve and hit a telephone pole on Footscray Road, near the old fruit and vegetable market. Papley and Patterson both received head and rib injuries whilst Johnson went uninjured. Such an event was very unsettling as the Club's captain and leading goal scorer were no certainty to play in the biggest match of the season. Both players were not named in the initial team with the club allowing them as much time as possible to get them right for the game, and come game day both players were confirmed fit and ready to take the field.
The game itself was played on a blustery Sunday afternoon at Toorak Park in front of 6000 fans. Sunshine took a slender lead early in the game as a result of kicking with the wind in the first quarter. Both teams traded leads as they kicked with the wind, but the Seagulls were able to provide the fans with a sterling final quarter performance, coming from nine points down at the last change to run away with a 20-point premiership win, 15.14.104 to 12.12.84, on the back of a resounding performance from injured captain Max Papley, who kicked three goals. Rover Kevin Jackman booted four majors for the day. Patterson, who played with a face guard, kicked only one goal.
Williamstown's 1969 premiership team was:
B. Brian Harvey Tom Russell Bill Mitchell
HB. Ian Johnson Ron Page John Whittington
C. Terry O'Mara
HF. Paul Hayward Bob Lane Mick Mulligan
F. Robert Percy Dallas Patterson Bob Smith
Foll. Ken Barnes Max Papley
Rov. Kevin Jackman
Res. Andy Camilleri Ron Viney
Coach: Max Papley
Some rare footage of this game can be seen by copying and pasting the following link into your internet browser:
On top of the incredible efforts from the first team, both the seconds and thirds at the club were also able to come away victorious in their grand finals beating Sunshine by 25 points and Mordialloc by five points respectively, meaning Williamstown was the first in VFA history to win three pennants in one season. The win in the seniors also saw the Seagulls return to the top flight of VFA football in first division. Ken Barnes won the Club best and fairest award from Paul Hayward and Bob Percy, while Dallas Patterson was the leading goalkicker for the season with a total of 58. Kevin Jackman booted 42 and Papley 40. Davey Utber won the best and fairest in the Reserve grade.
During the year the Club lost life member and and former vice-president Mick Maloney, and Club Treasurer for 20 years and fellow life member Jim McConville.
Team lists for the 1969 Grand Final Sunshine v. Williamstown
1969 premiership team