Season Summary: 1914
The Club's first non-playing coach was appointed in 1914 when Alex 'Joker' Hall was lured across from Melbourne after coaching the VFL Demons from 1911-13. The previous year's captain-coach, Bert Reitman, stayed on as skipper in his final season with Norm Busbridge his vice-captain but Tom O'Halloran took over the position by June when Busbridge resigned due to his belief that the responsibility of the position was interfering with his performance on the field. Cecil McLean and Stan Mitchell (from Yarraville Juniors), one of the greatest rovers to ever wear the Williamstown jumper, both joined the Villagers in this season along with Len 'Toff' Elliot who led the goalkicking with a total of 22. Elliot had played with North Melbourne since 1910 but went to Richmond in 1914 before transferring to Williamstown and debuting in the round 8 match against his former club, North Melbourne, at Pt Gellibrand, kicking one goal in a game won by North by 5 points, 8.14.62 to 8.9.57.
Alex 'Joker' Hall was the Club's first non-playing coach when appointed in 1914. He also coached Williamstown in 1915 and again in 1919 after the recess for World War I. Hall had commenced playing with a team called Union Jack before he crossed to Essendon in the VFA from 1891-96, including the 'Don's four consecutive premierships from 1891-94. After a year away from the game in 1897, Hall returned to play with Essendon's VFL team from 1898-1900 before crossing to Preston, then playing in the Victorian Junior Football Association, for the 1901 season. He returned to Essendon in 1902 and then went back to Preston in 1903. He then played for Essendon Town in the VFA in 1904-05 before embarking on a lengthy coaching career, starting with St Kilda in 1906 where he played one game under the assumed identity of Wyberg. Hall then went to South Africa for several months before returning to coach Melbourne from 1907-09 and then Richmond in 1910. He then returned to Melbourne as coach for the 1911-13 seasons before coming to Williamstown in 1914. Hall later became the first coach of Hawthorn when they joined the VFL in 1925 and was later head trainer at South Melbourne just before World War II. He passed away suddenly on March 8, 1953, at his home in Warrandyte at the age of 84.
Tommy Jones from Prahran, J.S. Middleton and Mick Schade, both from Footscray VFA, and 6'2" (188cms) Walter 'Wally' Scott, after 108 games with St Kilda, joined during the season and debuted for 'Town in round 13 against Port Melboune. 1907 premiership ruckman, Mat Outen, also returned after a few seasons with the Saints and was playing by round 11. Robert Stewart from Colac was included in the team late in the season. Players missing from the 1913 line-up included Frank Eldridge, who crossed to Footscray, Tal Leonard, who moved to Prahran, and Fred Harden jnr, who transferred to North Melbourne but was back at Williamstown for 1915. Bert 'Ranji' Robinson was similarly cleared to Carlton but only played Seconds and was back at Williamstown in 1915. Harry Greaves crossed to Footscray in June but was back at Williamstown in 1921 after stints at West Perth, Carlton and Footscray once again.
Test cricketer, Jimmy Matthews, started training but failed to play a game and finished up with a total of 81 matches and 134 goals from 1903, which included a year with St Kilda in 1907 where he played 12 games and kicked 18 goals. He booted 4 goals against Collingwood at the Junction Oval in just his second VFL game. Matthews also missed the 1912 season when he was touring England with the Australian cricket team.
Charles George 'Charlie' Outen, pictured here in 1914 aged in his 50's, played for Williamstown from 1874 until 1877 and played all those years with his brother, Will. Both played in 1876 when 'Town won the Junior Challenge Cup, the Club's first piece of silverware. Another brother, Jack, played in 1880. Charlie was the father of Wyn and Mat Outen who both played in Williamstown's first VFA premiership team in 1907 and were both vice-captains during the season. Two other sons, Jack and Percy, also played for 'Town, in 1909 and 1928, respectively. Another son, Alby snr, played for Footscray in both the VFA and VFL, while his son (Charlie's grandson), Alby jnr, played in Williamstown's 1955 and 1956 premiership sides. Another grandson, Reg (pictured here being held by his grandmother, Bridget), was emergency in 'Town's 1939 premiership team in his only season with the Club. Bridget, whose maiden name was Cross, is believed to be distantly related to Mark Cross, who played for Williamstown from 1975-79, being captain in his final season, and played 74 games and kicked 125 goals, including the 1976 premiership. He coached 'Town in 1994. Charlie passed away on November 20, 1929, aged 73.
Melbourne City dropped out of the competition in 1914 and was replaced by Hawthorn. Frank Finegan, licensee of the Yacht Club Hotel in Nelson Place, became president of the Club in this season and would hold the post until the end of the 1918 season. Arthur Johnson snr stepped down as secretary of the Club due to his expanding business and was replaced by Arthur Prideaux, who would also stay on until the end of the 1918 season. Charles Ernest Tabley became treasurer in 1914 and would stay in that role until the end of the 1919 season. Billy Barnes was re-elected as assistant secretary. 1913 captain-coach, Bert Reitman, continued on as skipper with firstly, Norm Busbridge, then Tom O'Halloran, vice-captain.
The season commenced promisingly with four consecutive victories, including a 3-goal win over eventual finalist, Essendon Association, at Williamstown in round 1 and the two biggest wins for the year at Northcote (63 points - Stan Mitchell and Bert Amy 4 goals each) and at home over Port Melbourne (48 points - Mick Schade 3 goals on debut at centre half-forward), which saw the Villagers in second place on the ladder. Reality arrived when clashes with some of the stronger teams in the competition resulted in four successive defeats, including a 2-goal loss to eventual grand finalist, Footscray, and a 1-goal defeat at the hands of eventual premier, North Melbourne. In the game at Brunswick in round 5, Williamstown had three players with ankle injuries before half-time and then captain, Bert Reitman, also sustained an ankle injury in the third quarter and took no further part in the match. There were no replacements for injured players at this stage of the game's devopment. All four missed the following week's game against Footscray.
Williamstown Advertiser, June 13, 1914
Bert Reitman was appointed captain again in 1914 after being captain-coach in 1913 and then replaced by Alex 'Joker' Hall, the Club's first non-playing coach. It was Reitman's final season as a player with Williamstown who retired at season's end after 126 games and 10 goals from 1907-14, including the 1907 premiership which was the Club's first. He received life membership in 1915 and passed away on May 12, 1973, at his home in Williamstown at the age of 85.
Williamstown Advertiser, June 27, 1914
Williamstown Advertiser, July 4, 1914
Williamstown also suffered the ignominy of losing by 3 goals at Glenferrie in Hawthorn's first victory in the VFA after the newcomers had lost their first six games by an average of 7 goals. 'Town had slipped to seventh place on the ladder by round 8. A narrow win at Brighton and a narrow loss at Prahran preceded another string of four consecutive victories, including the second win for the season over Essendon Association, and the Villagers were back in third spot by round 13. Trailing by two goals with just five minutes to play at Essendon, successive majors from Bill Grant, Reg Wallis and Len Elliot saw 'Town victorious by 10 points amidst deafening cheers, according to the Williamstown Advertiser of June 27. Elliot kicked a total of 4 goals on the day. He followed that up with 5 goals the next week at Port Melbourne in a 16-point victory after trailing by 13 points at half-time.
The Argus, July 11 1914 - team line-ups for the round 15 clash at Western/Whitten Oval, won by Footscray 6.11.47 to Williamstown 4.5.29. The Tricolours were eventual runners-up to North Melbourne in this season, the first of three consecutive premierships won by North.
Williamstown Advertiser, July 11, 1914.
Williamstown Advertiser, July 18, 1914.
Defeats at the hands of the eventual grand finalists, Footscray and North Melbourne, both by 3 goals, interspersed with wins over Brighton (23 points - Norm Busbridge 4 goals) and lowly Hawthorn (15 points) rounded out the home-and-away rounds. Eleven matches were won and seven lost in making the final four for the first time since 1908.
Williamstown Advertiser, August 8, 1914 - 'Town's selected side for the semi-final against Footscray at East Melbourne which was lost by 54 points.
Williamstown were beaten badly by Footscray in the first final, 13.12.90 to 5.6.36 at East Melbourne before a crowd of 7,000. The Villagers led by 7 points at half-time but were over-run in the second half by the Tricolours, who added 6.3 to NIL in the third term and 4.1 to just two behinds in the last. Better players were Bert Amy, Bobby Gibbs jnr, vice-captain Tom O'Halloran, Jack MacDonald, Bert McTaggart snr, Stan Mitchell, Richard Anderson, Norm Busbridge and Tommy Jones. Len 'Toff' Elliott led the goalkicking with a total of 22, followed closely by Bert Amy with 21 and Ted Busbridge with 19. The Club scored 155 goals and 191 behinds (1121 points) to the opposition's 141 goals and 176 behinds (1022 points).
At the annual meeting in respect of the 1914 season, held at the Empress Pavilion in Garden St. on March 1, 1915, life membership was awarded to the retiring 1907 premiership player and 1913 captain-coach, Bert Reitman, after eight seasons of service and 126 games. He was also made a life member of the VFA for 'valuable services rendered to the game'.
Former player and trainer, George Baker jnr aka Mick Sheehan (1902-05, 38 games and 25 goals), passed away on May 10 at the age of 32 at his residence in Douglas Parade as a result of heart disease and pleurisy. His father, former player (1871-74), life member and assistant to the training staff, George Baker snr, passed away a month later on June 6 aged 67.
The Club had a record 1357 members in this season, made up of 837 males, 423 ladies and 97 youths.
Harry Cox was a vice-president and trainer in 1914/15 before enlisting and seeing action in Egypt with the Expeditionary Forces, together with Bert McTaggart snr. McTaggart came to Williamstown from Werribee in 1911 and played until 1914, when he enlisted and sustained a wound to the shoulder and was hospitalised in Heliopolis, Egypt, in September 1915. After four years in the service, he returned to play one final season in 1919 with 'Town, finishing on 75 games and 43 goals.
The Age, May 11, 1914
The Herald, May 15, 1914
Former player (1871-74), life member and assistant to the training staff, George Baker snr, passed away on June 6 aged 67, just one month after the death of his son, George Baker jnr aka Mick Sheehan.
Bert Reitman received life membership at the annual meeting held in respect of the 1914 season in March 1915 after playing 126 games over eight seasons from 1907-14, which included stints as vice-captain in 1911, captain for part of 1912, captain-coach in 1913 and captain in 1914, his final year as a player.
Williamstown Advertiser, May 9, 1914 - the winner of the most popular player award was rover, Bobby Gibbs, followed by defender, Ted Alley, with captain, Bert Reitman, in third place. A gold curb Albert is/was a gold watch chain.
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