Season Summary: 1909
1909 fixture card produced by A. Wells, tailor, Nelson Place, Williamstown, with a train and ferry timetable on the rear.
1907 premiership full-forward, Bob Briggs, joined Fitzroy in 1909 and played for two seasons in 26 games for 47 goals, leading the 'Roys' goalkicking in 1910 with 30. He then transferred to St Kilda in 1911 for one season, playing 7 games and kicking 7 goals. Jim 'Ginger' Caldwell, the youngest member of the 1907 premiership team, also transferred to South Melbourne in 1909 where he would go on to play 155 games until the end of 1919 and captaining South's 1918 premiership team, before returning to Williamstown and captain-coaching the team to the premiership in 1921. Wyn Outen was again captain in his final season with Williamstown with Ted Alley the vice-captain, replacing Percy Garbutt. New players in this season included Frank Eldridge from Broken Hill, Alfe Weidner from Warragul, Wally Scott from St Kilda, Charlie Hartshorne from Footscray Juniors, George McNeilage from Melbourne and Joy from Camberwell while Arthur Caldwell and Jimmy Matthews both returned from St Kilda.
John Anthony 'Jack' Dennis commenced his 25-year reign as the Club's VFA delegate in 1909, in addition to being a vice-president in 1935 and also serving as president in 1919-20. He also had a lengthy stint as VFA treasurer and was a Williamstown councillor for 30 years and served as mayor in 1918-19 and 1933-34. Dennis received life membership of Williamstown in 1916 and was also a life member of the VFA. He passed away on October 18, 1943, at his residence, the Customs House Hotel in Nelson Place, at the age of 65.
West Melbourne attempted to rejoin the VFA for the 1909 season, a move that was eventually rejected on the grounds that 11 teams in the competition would create byes. Prahran and Essendon Association dominated the home-and-away rounds, losing only 5 games between them, and it was left to Brunswick, Footscray, Williamstown and Brighton to fight for the remaining two finals spots. All four finished with 11 wins and percentages decided that eventual premier, Brunswick, and the Tricolours would compete for the premiership. The Villagers missed out by 3.9%, perhaps due to an indifferent start to the season with three losses in the first four rounds, although two of these defeats were to the two top teams of the year, Prahran by 4 points at Toorak Park in round 2 which was played in torrential rain and by 7 points at Windy Hill in round 4. The only success was a 9-goal win over Port Melbourne at Williamstown in round 3, the year's biggest winning margin.
Medallion awarded to Charlie 'Gately' Hartshorne for his game against Prahran at Williamstown in round 11 of the 1909 season. Prahran won the game by two goals, 6.10 to 4.10. Hartshorne played 26 games and kicked 10 goals for 'Town from 1909-11 after being recruited from Footscray Juniors, and was awarded the best junior player in 1909, his debut season.
Four successive victories had the Villagers back in the four by round 8, including wins over eventual premier, Brunswick, by 3 goals in round 7 and a one-goal win over finalist, Footscray, in round 5. There was also a 6-goal victory at Arden St in round 6, where 1907 premiership half-back flanker, Percy Garbutt, kicked 5 goals. 28yo Garbutt was found unconscious outside the Woolpack Hotel in Nelson Place on the following Tuesday evening after falling and striking his head. He missed the following game against Northcote. A surprise loss at Preston and then defeat at the hands of Prahran for the second time had 'Town back in fifth place by round 11.
A narrow 3-point victory at Port Melbourne over the eventual wooden spooners and then a one-point win over Essendon at Williamstown in round 13, 5.3 to 4.8, gave hope of a finals berth. This game was marked by exhibitions of violence in the last 17 minutes of the match after Williamstown had taken the lead after a long snapshot from the wing by Garbutt rolled through the unguarded goal. The Argus reported 'it was really a game of no-man-standing, with the play congested between the two half back lines, and in between them two sets of angry men struggling, tearing and punching ..... with sly tripping, deliberate punching, and all the worst features of the game, displayed to between 6,000 and 7,000 people.' McIntyre of Essendon and Garbutt were both reported during the game, and at the end, as the players walked from the field, Bert Atkyns of Essendon rushed at Bob Monar of Williamstown 'and struck him a heavy blow' at the pavilion gate. Monar promptly retaliated and police intervened, took their names and charged them both with riotous behaviour. This incident had its sequel at the Williamstown Police Court on July 27 where all charges were eventually dismissed. Umpire Alley handed out more than 80 free kicks during the game, almost equally divided between the two teams.
Melbourne Leader, July 3 1909 - team photo taken before the round 10 game at Brighton, won by Williamstown by 12 points, 5.15.45 to 4.9.33
Losses to Footscray at Western Oval the next week and at Brunswick two weeks later put paid to the notion of participating in the finals. The season was rounded out with victories at Northcote by 5 points and over Preston by 45 points at Williamstown. Bob Monar was suspended for six matches and recruit Frank Eldridge for four as a result of the Northcote game for alleged fighting. In the final game against Preston, the Villagers needed either Brunswick or Footscray to lose and for victory over the Bullants by between 100 and 140 points to make the final four. The first two requirements were met but due to the suspension of so many players, 'Town struggled to field a team and had to coax Billy Jones, who had hardly played since the 1907 premiership, out of retirement and play an untried junior in Wilson, who never made another senior appearance for the Villagers. Jim Addison was the season's leading goalkicker with 26, followed by future Test cricket player, Jimmy Matthews, with 22 and 1908 vice-captain, Percy Garbutt, who also kicked 22. The team kicked a total of 110 goals and 187 behinds (847 points) to 90 goals and 154 behinds (694 points) booted by opponents, giving 'Town a percentage of 122 as against fourth-placed Footscray's of 125.9.
Francis Lachlan 'Frank/Mick' Ellis played the last of his two seasons at Williamstown in 1909. Originally from West Torrens in SA, Ellis played 31 games and kicked 10 goals before transferring to Richmond in 1910, where he played 18 games without kicking a goal. He then crossed to Carlton in 1913 but did not manage a senior appearance before moving to Melbourne the same year and playing a further six games without scoring a goal.
After Prahran headed the ladder at the end of the home-and-away rounds but was then defeated in the first semi-final by Brunswick, a 'post-mortem' was held and four players, Edward 'Copper' Rourke, Bill Bennion, Jack Julian and Charlie Haigbloom were advised that their services were no longer required as a result of rumours that circulated that the players accepted money to 'play dead', although the VFA didn't have an investigation and the Association was comfortable enough to grant the quartet permits to play elsewhere. Rourke, Bennion and Julian all joined 'Town the following year, although Bennion was at Port Melbourne by round 10 after being told his services were no longer required once again.
Win/Wyn Outen was reappointed captain of Williamstown in 1909, his final season with the Club. He played a total of 99 games and kicked 19 goals for 'Town from 1899-1901 and from 1907-09. He played for St Kilda from 1903-05 and in early 1907 before returning to Williamstown. He played 54 games and kicked 3 goals for the Saints and had a year playing in WA in 1906. He was vice-captain of the 1907 'Town premiership side, the Club's first, before being elected captain for the first time in 1908. Outen passed away on November 10, 1964, at the age of 84.
At the annual meeting in respect of the 1909 season, held at the Mechanics Institute in Electra Street in March 1910, life memberships were awarded to Horrie Dick, who played 96 games and kicked 42 goals from 1901-06 and was captain in 1905 and was the Club's first official coach in 1906, Billy Barnes, who was assistant secretary from 1900-1902 and in 1904, 1906, from 1908-09 and from 1912-15 and was a committeeman in 1903, Wyn Outen, who played 99 games and kicked 19 goals from 1899-1901 and 1907-09 with a stint at St Kilda from 1903-05 and part of 1907 and was Williamstown captain in 1908-09 and vice-captain of the 1907 premiership team, and Dick Bliss, who played 21 games and kicked 8 goals in 1906-07, 1909 and 1911. Trophies were presented to first-year player, Frank Eldridge, for consistent training, Bert Reitman for most consistent player, Jim Addison for leading goalkicker, Charlie 'Gately' Hartshorn for best junior player and Bert Amy for best attendance at training. Reitman also represented the VFA in games against SA at Adelaide Oval in June and at North Melbourne in August, the first of which was won by SA, 7.8.50 to 4.7.31, while the latter was won by the VFA, 9.11.65 to 5.8.38.
Former player of the 1860's and 1870's, James Arthur Thompson, passed away suddenly on December 22, aged 62. John Anthony 'Jack' Dennis entered the football scene in 1909 when he was elected as the Club's VFA delegate, a post he would hold until 1934, as well as occupying top positions with Williamstown and the VFA. He was Club president in 1912, 1913, 1919 and 1920 and a vice-president in 1935, as well as VFA treasurer and chairman of the Permit and Umpire Committee. He was also a councillor of the City of Williamstown and Mayor twice and the licensee of the Customs House Hotel in Nelson Place for many years. J.J. Liston also reappeared in 1909 when he became a vice-president of the Club. The Club had about 800 members in the 1909 season.
Melbourne Punch magazine, August 5 1909 - part of the crowd at Williamstown for the round 15 game against North Melbourne, which was won by the Villagers, 3.11.29 to 0.7.
Williamstown Chronicle, December 25 1909 - James Arthur Thompson passed away suddenly on December 22 1909, aged 62. A native of London, he arrived in Williamstown in 1864 and immediately engaged in local sports activities, mainly cricket and Australian Rules football. He played for the Football Club in the 1860's & 70's and organised the meeting in May 1870 that restarted the Club. As Cricket Club secretary in 1888, Thompson was responsible for drawing up the agreement under which the Football Club agreed to use the cricket ground for home games following the merger with South Williamstown. He was a Williamstown resident for 45 years and was president of both the Williamstown Cricket Club and Baseball Club when he passed away.
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