Season Summary: 1969
The beginning of the 1969 season came on the back of a losing grand final against Geelong West in 1969, seeing the Seagulls remain in Divison Two for another season.
The season also saw a change in Club President with long-serving member Arthur Johnson assuming 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.
Although an influx of new players, many with recognised experience in the VFL, the season started slowly for the Seagulls. The club would then hit its straps however, storming home 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.
The gap in quality was evident with the Seagulls recording a resounding 131-point victory 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 37 points.
The grand final was set to be a match for the ages with Williamstown coming up against 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 soon.' Such words came back 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.
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, kicking away to seal a 20-point premiership win on the back of a resounding performance from injured captain Max Papley.
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.
The win in the seniors also saw the Seagulls return to the top flight of VFA football in first division.
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Round 7 President's Luncheon featuring the 7VFL Commentary team and author/journalist, Nick Richardson
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