Season Summary: 1900
36yo Dick Houston, pictured here when captain of Geelong in 1894, came from North Melbourne in 1900 to captain Williamstown for one season only.
Essendon Town joined the Association in 1900, increasing the number of teams in the competition to nine. Its home games were played at the Essendon Cricket Ground (Windy Hill) while the Essendon team in the VFL continued to play at East Melbourne. Due to it also playing in the red and black colours, Brunswick changed to black and white jumpers in this season and wore them for the first time in the opening game against Williamstown, which the Villagers won 4.10 to 2.8.
Former North Melbourne, St Kilda and Geelong 200-game player, 36yo Dick Houston, who had captained North in 1890 and 1898, came to Williamstown in 1900 and, because of his experience, was elected skipper. There was resentment that an outsider was given the role ahead of the more-than-capable local Walter Warren, but it didn't seem to effect the harmony of the team as 'Town enjoyed its best season to date and was even in line to win the premiership until late in the season. In fact, the Villagers headed the VFA ladder for the first time in its history from rounds 1-10 and rounds 14-15 and defeated Footscray, the eventual premiers, 2.8.20 to 2.3.15, at Pt Gellibrand in round 7 in a top-of-the-table clash with captain Houston inspiring. 'Town's score remains the Club's record lowest-ever winning score, and left Williamstown as the only undefeated side in either League or Association ranks.
Despite the inaccurate Villagers kicking 19.52 in the first five rounds (of which Archie Guthrie contributed 1.12), nine consecutive victories, including a forfeit by Brunswick which arrived at Williamstown on June 30 without the players jumpers, to start the season was the best by a Williamstown side until 1957, when the team won all 20 home-and-away rounds before losing both finals. The run of wins was only ended by the Villagers' poor kicking at North Melbourne in round 11 in the 3.6 to 1.12 loss, which included 1.9 in the final term. Following the round 14 clash at Port Melbourne which Williamstown won, 2.17 to 2.4, the Port captain, Syd Hickey, and another Port player, Arthur Knox, were both served letters advising them 'that their services will not be again required by the Port Melbourne Football Club.' Both players transferred to Williamstown the following year, although Knox later returned to Port in 1903.
The victories continued until the visit to Footscray in the penultimate round of games. Both teams had lost only one game to that point and, as the premiership was still decided by the club which won the most games, this clash was virtually for the pennant. The Tricolours had the match sewn up by quarter time, kicking 3.7 to 0.1, and were still 4 goals up at half-time. Footscray went on to win 8.15 to 3.5 to earn its third consecutive title, while Williamstown lost its final game of the year to Prahran by 8 points. Williamstown finished second on the ladder in 1900 with 13 wins from their 16 matches, three games clear of third-placed Richmond, in the best result since promotion to senior football in 1884, and were the only side to defeat the powerful Footscray team during the season. There was no finals play-off system in place in the VFA until 1903.
First-year player, Edward Staniland from Fitzroy, was the leading goalkicker for the year with a total of 16 to Walter Warren's 11, including a haul of 5 against West Melbourne at Williamstown in round 15 in a 56-point win, the season's biggest victory margin. A total of 69 goals were kicked during the season to the 53 scored by opponents. An exhibition game between Footscray and a combined VFA team was played two weeks after the end of the season at North Melbourne in aid of the family of the late Mr F. Mitchell, who had been a hard worker for the Association. The VFA won 8.13.61 to 3.6.24 and Williamstown's George McWilliams was best afield.
Dick Houston was also a fine cricketer and played 23 first-class matches for Victoria between 1885 and 1898, with a highest score of 72 when he captained Victoria to a win over Tasmania in 1893-94. He also scored 213 not out against Brighton when playing for Williamstown in 1902-03. He was caretaker at the Williamstown Cricket Ground at the time of his death in November 1921 at the age of 58. He retired from football after an illustrious career spent mostly with North Melbourne at the end of the 1900 season. His brief stay at 'Town in charge of the team coincided with the Club having its best-ever season and it was unfortunate his services were not sought after earlier.
The fourth president of the Club from 1888-93, William Henry Roberts, passed away on 5 November at the age of 53 at his residence in Canterbury Road, Albert Park. At the annual meeting in respect of the 1900 season held in April 1901, the issue of life memberships was raised again as the resolution carried at the annual meeting of 1894 that any player who represented the Club for at least three years be granted life membership had still not been acted upon. Vice-president JJ Liston moved that this requirement should be extended to four consecutive years of service, a motion that was seconded and carried. Martin Joseph 'Tottie' Fitzpatrick was defeated in a vote for the secretaryship of the VFA by the Footscray delegate, Mr J Fotheringham, in this year and was awarded life membership of the Association for his long and sterling service, the first Williamstown person to be so honoured. John Anthony 'Jack' Dennis, treasurer of the VFA, James Hall, president of the VFA, and JJ Liston, also a president of the Association, were other Williamstown identities to be awarded this honour in later years.
Ted Staniland, pictured here in Fitzroy's 1895 premiership team photo, came to Williamstown from Fitzroy Juniors in 1900 and played 44 games and kicked 64 goals up until he was badly injured in a work accident and never played again. Born in Yorkshire, England, he played 19 games and kicked 12 goals for Fitzroy in the VFA in 1895-96, including the 1895 premiership, and 5 games and 3 goals for Fitzroy in the VFL in 1897 after being recruited from Fitzroy Juniors. He returned to Fitzroy Juniors in 1898-99 before coming to Williamstown. He was leading goalkicker for 'Town in 1900 (16 goals), 1901 (25 goals) and 1902 (13 goals). In June 1903, he was driving a horse-drawn lorry when the horses bolted and he was thrown under the vehicle and sustained a serious leg injury, which ended his football career. He passed away at his home in Napier Street, Fitzroy, on September 1, 1917, aged 44.
The fourth president of the Club from 1888-93, William Henry Roberts, passed away on 5 November at the age of 53 at his residence 'Fernville', Canterbury Road, Albert Park. Born and educated in Williamstown, Roberts was a solicitor with a legal firm in Chancery Lane, Melbourne, and lived at Tudor House on the corner of Pasco and Electra Streets, which he had built by John Howe & William Thwaites in 1884. By 1893, Roberts had been severely effected by the financial crash and the property was reclaimed by the Commercial Bank. From 1874-76, Roberts had been a Williamstown Councillor and, on 9 September 1886, he was elected to the Victorian Legislative Council as the member for North Yarra, a position he held for six years.
The Argus, November 6, 1900
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