Season Summary: 1910
Edward 'Copper' Rourke, captain of Prahran in 1908-1909, was appointed captain-coach of Williamstown in 1910. Rourke's selection was an interesting one as the former West Melbourne captain transferred to Prahran when West disbanded and was captain of the Two Blues in 1908-09 before he was one of four players sacked after an unsatisfactory performance in the 1909 second semi-final against Brunswick. Rourke crossed to Northcote in 1911 and then to the short-lived Melbourne City side in 1912.
Billy Davies, who had played with Williamstown from 1901-05 before going to Essendon for four seasons, returned in July after 65 games at VFL level, while a new committee imported Edward 'Copper' Rourke, captain of Prahran in 1908-1909, as captain-coach in 1910 with Alick 'Roody' McKenzie the new vice-captain. Other recruits included A. Simmonds from Port Melbourne, J. Stephens from North Melbourne and his brother F. Stephens from Beverley, Walter Litchfield returned after two years with Footscray Juniors, Richard O'Connor from Collingwood District, Wally Gibbons from Carlton District, Tal Leonard from local club, White Rose Juniors, and George 'Coon' Bennett from Essendon Association. Lou Salvas' father, Gordon, also joined the Club in this year from Pt Nepean.
Frank Stewart Young, pictured here in the 1937 Williamstown Centenary booklet, had been treasurer of the Club in 1908 before becoming becoming a committeeman in 1910.
1907 premiership ruckman, Mat Outen, along with Bill O'Brien crossed to St Kilda and were followed to the Saints by Bob Monar in June without a clearance, C. Johnson transferred to North Melbourne, Frank 'Mick' Ellis went to Richmond while Tom Clancy went to Carlton. Bill Carrie was cleared to Brunswick after playing with Carlton Juniors in 1909 and Bill Bennion was at Port Melbourne by round 10 after joining Williamstown from Prahran with 'Copper' Rourke and Jack Julian before the commencement of the season. In late June the committee advised recruits Bennion and Wal Burleigh (Collingwood) that their services were no longer required along with Horner, who came from Camberwell in 1909. 1907 premiership full-back, John Francis McCabe aka Dick 'Tiger' McKay, returned during the year after a season with Port Melbourne but retired after the round 10 game against Brunswick at Williamstown at the age of 33, 14 years of constant senior football having finally taken its toll on his body.
George McNeilage played 24 games for Williamstown in 1909 and 1910 after earlier playing with Geelong and Melbourne.
Rourke was unsuccessful and was not reappointed in 1911 after the team dropped to seventh place on the ladder with just eight wins from its 18 home-and-away games. This continued the slide from premiers in 1907 to third in 1908 and fifth in 1909. One of these victories was by 115 points over Preston at Williamstown in round 2 (18.14.122-1.1.7, Bert Amy 5 goals) and by 75 points in the return match at Preston in round 11 (17.21.123-6.12.48, Bill Kerr 5 goals). 'Town's score in the first clash was the best tally of goals yet kicked while the Club's highest score was equalled in the return encounter. The exact same score had been kicked by the Villagers in the round 7 match at Williamstown against North Melbourne in 1908.
Bill Davies returned to Williamstown in 1910 after playing 65 games and kicking 4 goals for Essendon from 1906-09, including as a wingman in the 1908 grand final which was lost to Carlton. He also represented the VFL against Ballarat in 1905 and East Fremantle in 1909. Originally from Yea in Victoria, Davies played for Williamstown from 1901-05 before crossing to the 'Dons. He played a total of 89 games and kicked 3 goals for 'Town up until the end of 1911. He then became a VFL umpire in 1912. Davies passed away at Oakleigh on July 23, 1959, at the age of 76.
Apart from a 4-goal win over eventual fourth-placed Prahran in round 5, there was also a one-point loss to eventual premier, North Melbourne, at Williamstown in round 6, 8.15-8.14, and a two-point loss to preliminary finalist Essendon Association in round 16 at Williamstown. The other victories were against teams that finished below 'Town on the ladder. Rumoured player unrest reached a head on the Thursday night before the round 8 clash with Footscray when it was reported in the Victorian Football Follower of 2 July that 'the players met ...... to thrash out and settle the difficulties amongst them'. 'It could easily be seen that the seasiders just at present are not a happy family'. The meeting achieved little as the Tricolours won convincingly, 14.16.100-3.9.27, at Williamstown two days later. This was the first time that an opponent had scored a century against the Villagers. Umpire Hume awarded 87 free kicks during the game, 46 to Footscray and 41 to the Villagers. The Argus headline of June 27 screamed 'Williamstown's Downfall - Internal Discord' as it reported on 'the most pronounced thrashing inflicted upon the seasiders during the past 20 years.' It concluded that 'the elements of discord and disunion have, unfortunately, obtruded their heads at Williamstown during the past fortnight. The players will meet next Thursday evening to thrash out and settle, if possible, the difficulties that have arisen amongst them.'
The Williamstown team of 1910, the only season in the Club's history that a WFC monogram appeared on the guernsey. The side was captain-coached by Edward 'Copper' Rourke, a former West Melbourne and Prahran captain, who is seated in the middle of the front row. 1907 premiership defender, Bert Reitman, is seated to the left of Rourke.
The players and committee again met before the next match against Northcote at Williamstown to discuss the strained relations. The Argus reported on July 4 that 'after some parleying, and after (captain-coach) Rourke had volunteered to resign, which the players unanimously would not hear of, it was agreed 'to let bygones be bygones' and the hatchet was decently interred on the spot'. The team bounced back, downing the 'Cotes by 55 points, 12.20.92 to 5.7.37 (Jimmy Matthews 4 goals). 1910 was also the season that the Club temporarily adopted a yellow WFC monogram on a blue guernsey. Jimmy Matthews finished eighth on the VFA goalkicking list with his 30 majors for the season, followed by Bert Amy with 21 and Bill Kerr 16. The team kicked 135 goals 208 behinds (1018 points) to the opposition's 126 goals and 166 behinds (922 points).
Edward 'Copper' Rourke, pictured here in 1908 when captain of Prahran.
Matthews also represented the Association along with Alf Weidner and Alick McKenzie against South Australia at North Melbourne on June 18, which the VFA won by two goals, 9.12 to 8.6. Billy Davies and Weidner both represented the VFA in the return clash with SA at Adelaide Oval on July 30, which SA won by just 2 points, 10.16.76 to 11.8.74. The Club also reportedly considered a move back to the Gardens Reserve, its former home ground before the amalgamation with South Williamstown in 1888, but nothing came of the idea. Also, Williamstown Juniors joined the VJFA in this season. Secretary, Arthur Johnson snr, applied to the Council in late May for use of the ground for season 1911 as the cricket ground was likely to be used for naval shipbuilding. The Defence Department was the lessor of the land at that time.
WFC Ladies membership badge 1910
Rourke's selection was an interesting one as the former West Melbourne captain transferred to Prahran when West disbanded and was captain of the Two Blues in 1908-09 before he was one of four players sacked after an unsatisfactory performance in the 1909 second semi-final against Brunswick. Rumours 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. Two of the other Prahran players, Bill Bennion and Jack Julian also joined 'Town, although the former had played previously with the Villagers but he was at Port Melbourne by round 10 after being told his services were no longer required once again. Rourke crossed to Northcote in 1911 and was appointed captain there also after the original skipper, Alf Beck, resigned after the opening game.
Bill Bennion played 46 games with Geelong from 1901-04, then played with Richmond 1905-07 and then Prahran 1908-09 before arriving at Williamstown in 1910. His stay was short and Bennion only played 5 games and kicked 2 goals before heading to Port Melbourne by round 10 of the season.
Williamstown players of 1910, from top left clockwise:
George 'Coon' Bennett : played 13 games and kicked 1 goal in 1910 after joining from Essendon Association. Bennett later served in World War I.
Edward 'Copper' Rourke : captain-coach 1910 in his only season with Williamstown, playing 18 games and kicking 3 goals. He had earlier played 4 games with Collingwood in 1894 after being recruited from Collingwood Imperials, before continuing on with West Melbourne (1902-07) and Prahran (1908-09). He captained both of those clubs. Rourke was unsuccessful and was not reappointed in 1911 after the team dropped to seventh place on the ladder with just eight wins from its 18 home-and-away games. This continued the slide from premiers in 1907 to third in 1908 and fifth in 1909. Rourke's selection as captain-coach was an interesting one as the former West Melbourne captain transferred to Prahran when West disbanded and was captain of the Two Blues in 1908-09 before he was one of four players sacked after an unsatisfactory performance in the 1909 second semi-final against Brunswick. Rumours 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. Two of the other Prahran players, Bill Bennion and Jack Julian also joined 'Town, although the former had played previously with the Villagers but he was at Port Melbourne by round 10 after being told his services were no longer required once again. Rourke crossed to Northcote in 1911 and was appointed captain there also after the original skipper, Alf Beck, resigned after the opening game. He then moved on to the newly-created team, Melbourne City, in 1912.
Alfe Weidner : played 42 games and kicked 3 goals for Williamstown from 1909-11 after being recruited from Warragul.
Les Gell : played 4 games and kicked 2 goals for Williamstown in 1909. He had played 6 games and kicked 5 goals with Geelong in 1908.
Jack Julian : played 16 games in 1910 after being recruited from Prahran, along with Edward 'Copper' Rourke and Bill Bennion, who were all sacked by the Two Blues after an unsatisfactory performance in the 1909 second semi-final against Brunswick. See the notes on Rourke for further details.
Bill Bennion : played 5 games and kicked 2 goals in 1910 after being recruited from Prahran, along with Edward 'Copper' Rourke and Jack Julian, who were all sacked by the Two Blues after an unsatisfactory performance in the 1909 second semi-final against Brunswick. See the notes on Rourke for further details. He was at Port Melbourne by round 10 after being informed by the committee in late June that his services were no longer required. He had played previously with Geelong West, Geelong (1901-04, 46 games 6 goals) and then Richmond (1905-07) before Prahran (1908-09).
Williamstown players of 1910, from top left clockwise:
Bert Reitman : played 126 games and kicked 10 goals between 1907-14, after being recruited from Collingwood. He was vice-captain in 1911, captain for part of 1912, captain-coach in 1913 and captain in 1914. He was a member of Williamstown's first premiership team in 1907, and had two sons, Ron and Keith Reitman, who both played senior football with 'Town and were members of the Seconds premiership team of 1948. Keith was also president of the Seconds in 1966/67.
Gordon Salvas : played 7 games and kicked 2 goals after being recruited from Pt Nepean in 1910. He was assistant secretary in 1911 and was the father of Lou Salvas, who played 103 games and kicked 112 goals from 1941-51 after being recruited from Auburn, including the 1949 premiership and the 1948 grand final, when he was vice-captain. He joined the army in 1941 and played 5 games with Hawthorn in 1943 during the war recess. He was also a runner and made the semi-finals of the Stawell Gift in 1947.
Les Joy : played 34 games and kicked just one goal from 1909-11. Joy was a wingman recruited from Camberwell.
Jimmy Matthews : played 81 games and kicked 134 goals from 1903-13. He played for St Kilda in 1907, appearing in 12 games and kicking 18 goals. He kicked 46 goals in 1906 to lead the Club goalkicking and was runner-up in the Association goalscoring, and led the Club goalkicking again in 1910 with a total of 30. He played first-class cricket for Victoria from 1906-15 and appeared in 8 Test matches for Australia and is the only player to take two hat-tricks in a game against South Africa in 1912. He served in World War I and became the curator of the Williamstown ground after his retirement from playing.
Gilbert 'Gib' Currie, came from Williamstown Juniors in 1885 and played 53 games and kicked 10 goals until crossing to Carlton in 1889, where he played 73 games and kicked 35 goals up until the end of 1892. He also represented the VFA in a game against SA in 1890. He went to Port Melbourne in 1893 and played a further 14 games, kicking 2 goals. He died on November 28, 1910, aged just 45 at his home in Oakbank Street, Newport.
Williamstown Chronicle, December 3, 1910
Recruit, George 'Coon' Bennett, pictured here on a 1909 Sniders & Abrahams trading card when with Essendon Association, came to Williamstown in 1910 and played 13 games, kicking one goal. He passed away in 1923 aged just 37 as a result of an accident on the wharves at Port Melbourne where he worked.
Williamstown Chronicle, September 10, 1910 - Johnny Fribbs played between 125-128 games and kicked 13 goals for Williamstown from 1886-1897, which included a year at South Williamstown in 1887 and then two years with Fitzroy in 1891-92, where he played 18 games and kicked 3 goals. He returned to Williamstown during 1892. He was just 39 years old at the time of his passing.
Tom Clancy transferred to Carlton in 1910 after playing 8 games without kicking a goal for Williamstown in 1908 and 1909. He came to 'Town from South Melbourne, where he had played one game early in 1908. He went on to play 74 games for Carlton from 1910-14 and then 18 games for Collingwood in 1915-16. Clancy played for the Blues in the 1910 VFL grand final and again in 1915 for the Magpies but was on the losing side in both games.
Hugh Ronald Reid was elected the first secretary and treasurer of the Football Club in 1860 at the age of 20 and also played for the team. Reid was a founding player and also first secretary of the Williamstown Alliance Cricket Club, from which the Football Club was formed in May 1860. Born in Ayrshire, Scotland, Reid arrived in Victoria in 1852 aboard the ship, Martin Luther, and commenced work with the Pilots Office in Williamstown at the age of 12. His father was the local Presbyterian minister. In the 1860's Reid joined the shipowners, Poole's, which later became Reid, Poole and Co. before merging with the Melbourne Steamship Company in 1873. Reid was chairman of the company for 27 years and passed away at his home in Elsternwick on March 11, 1910, aged 69.
Adelaide Observer, March 19, 1910.
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