Season Summary: 1915
Charlie Dunn started with Williamstown in 1915, debuting in the round 2 clash with North Melbourne at Pt Gellibrand. He volunteered along with teammates, Dick Anderson and Cecil McLean, during 1915 and went on to serve in World War I for four years but returned to play again from 1919-22, totalling 33 games before transferring to Williamstown Juniors in 1924.
Although Great Britain had been at war with Germany since August 1914, the impact had not been felt in Australia due to the distance from the scene of battles in Belgium and France. However, the landscape altered as the men started to embark after impressive farewell marches through the streets of Melbourne and many doubted the wisdom of starting the 1915 football season. Opposition to wartime sport grew when news of Australian casualties filtered through from Gallipoli. Nevertheless, the VFA decided to commence the season, and it was a common sight for prominent citizens, including suburban mayors, to address crowds at matches in an effort to gain recruits for the war effort. Players were also implored before they took the field and many promised to join up when the season was finished.
Alex Hall was reappointed non-playing coach for 1915 and Ted Alley became captain in lieu of Bert Reitman who retired after playing 126 games for 'Town from 1907-14 and being awarded life membership. Bobby Gibbs jnr was elected vice-captain. New players included Bob Monk from Melbourne, Richard 'Dicka' Brown from Yarraville Juniors, Charlie Dunn from Williamstown Juniors, Herbert Wouda from Eaglehawk, Leslie 'Leggo' Lee from Richmond and Jim 'Corker' Jamieson, also from Williamstown Juniors. Bert 'Ranji' Robinson returned to the Club after a year with Carlton Seconds while Artie Adams also came back to 'Town but was at South Melbourne by May where he played 3 senior games. Fred Harden jnr was another player who returned after a year with North Melbourne. Former Collingwood and Brunswick player, 'Doc' Mills, was another recruit after leasing the billiard room at the Steampacket Hotel. William Miller and Miller from Leopold were others to appear during the season.
Robert Stewart transferred to Richmond early in the year but does not appear to have played any games with the Tigers. Leading goalkicker of 1914, Len 'Toff' Elliott, crossed to Benalla during the season, while Wally Scott and James Condon went to Essendon VFL in late June.
Miles Alexander 'Bob' Monk, pictured here in the VFL Record of round 2 1914, was recruited from Melbourne in 1915 after 125 games from 1907-14 and debuted in round 3 at Essendon in a 7-goal victory. He would play 12 games and kick 2 goals with 'Town before enlisting in the Army and going off to France in 1916.
Nine wins and four losses in a season truncated to 13 rounds due to the advent of World War I saw Williamstown finish in third spot. The season began well with four wins in the first five games, starting with a 16-point victory at Brighton after the team sailed there aboard the S.S. Williamstown. The only defeat was by two goals at the hands of eventual premier, North Melbourne, at Williamstown in round 2 after 'Town led all day and it was only a dubious free-kick awarded to future 1921 Villagers' premiership full-back, Herb Miles, that put North in front during the last quarter. The team bounced back the following week to down Essendon Association at Windy Hill by 7 goals with Richard 'Dicka' Brown booting 4 majors. There was also a narrow five-point win in the mud at Western/Whitten Oval, 4.2.26 to 2.9.21, in Williamstown's first triumph at that ground since round 1 of the 1907 season.
A 7-point loss at Brunswick in round 6, followed by an 8-point win over Northcote at Pt Gellibrand and a 10-point defeat by Prahran left Williamstown in fifth place on the ladder after round 8. The Villagers jumped two rungs to third after consecutive wins at Port Melbourne (by a solitary point) and at Williamstown over Brighton by 64 points (Cecil McLean 4 goals but suffered a broken collarbone 10 minutes before the end of the match), the season's biggest win and the sixth consecutive victory over the Penguins. The second loss for the year to North Melbourne, this time by four goals, was followed by two wins over Essendon Association and Hawthorn to round out the home-and-away rounds.
Williamstown was no match for North Melbourne on its home ground in the second semi-final and went down by 48 points, 11.14.80 to 4.8.32. The Northeners increased their lead at every change, by 9, 21 and 28 points, and the Villagers only managed two goals after quarter time to the eight kicked by North. Best for 'Town were Charles Dunn, Stan Mitchell, Richard Brown, J.S. Middleton, Bob Monk, Richard Anderson, Jimmy Harrison, Jack Macdonald, Bobby Gibbs jnr, Artie Adams and Fred Harden jnr. Anderson, Dunn and MacDonald played for Williamstown in this match whilst on leave from the Armed Forces. Jim 'Corker' Jamieson made his debut in this game and would go on to play in the Williamstown Junior premiership teams of 1916, 1917 and 1919, the first as vice-captain, and would also play in Williamstown's premiership team of 1921. He was the uncle of Stan 'Nugget' Jamieson who would play in Williamstown's 1939 premiership team and 1941 Seconds premiership team, both games which were played on the MCG. Captain, Ted Alley, was dropped by the match committee for the final due to his late arrival for the previous match against Hawthorn and Bobby Gibbs jnr led the team.
Williamstown Advertiser, July 31 1915 - Williamstown's selected team for the final against North Melbourne, highlighted by the selection of Jim Jamieson from Williamstown Juniors making his senior debut and the ommission of captain, Ted Alley, who paid the penalty for arriving late to Hawthorn for the last home and away game. The team was led by vice-captain, Bobby Gibbs jnr, while Richard Anderson, Charlie Dunn and Jack MacDonald were given leave from the Armed Forces to play in the match.
This was Williamstown's last match for almost four years as the Association went into recess in 1916 and 1917 due to the seriousness of the Great War and the large number of young men enlisting and could not muster a full complement of clubs when it resumed in 1918, with only Footscray, Northcote, Port Melbourne, North Melbourne, Prahran and Brunswick participating. North won the grand final by 93 points over Prahran. Williamstown, Hawthorn, Brighton and Essendon rejoined the VFA in 1919.
Leading goalkicker for 1915 was Fred Harden jnr with 14, followed by Stan Mitchell and Bobby Gibbs jnr both with 13. The Club kicked a total of 103 goals and 151 behinds (769 points) and had 89 goals and 139 behinds (673 points) booted against them. By season's end, thirteen players, including Bert McTaggart snr, one vice-president (Harry Cox) along with coach, Alex Hall, had enlisted and left for the European front. 1907 premiership player, Arthur ' Skelly' Caldwell, brother of 1921 premiership captain-coach, Jim 'Ginger' Caldwell, passed away on 26 July, 1915, at the age of just 29 in a military hospital in Malta as a result of gunshot wounds to his spine and arm received at Gallipoli. He played 84 games for Williamstown from 1902-10, and spent the 1909 season with St Kilda where he played 8 games. Assistant secretary of 1896 and 1897, treasurer of 1900 and 1904, and committeeman of 1905 and 1906, Alfred Thomas Richardson, passed away at his residence in Electra Street, on May 4, aged just 43. He became assistant secretary at the age of 24.
At the annual meeting in respect of the 1915 season, held at the Oddfellows Hall in Pasco St on May 23 1916, life memberships were awarded to president of 1912 and 1913 and VFA delegate from 1909-11, John Anthony 'Jack' Dennis, and vice-president of 1913 and VFA delegate of 1914-15, Richard Morrison.
Williamstown Advertiser, March 6 1915 - Bert McTaggart snr came to Williamstown from Werribee in 1911 and played until 1914, when he enlisted and saw action in Egypt with the Expeditionary Forces, together with Harry Cox, below. He 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, totalling 75 games and 43 goals.
Williamstown Advertiser, March 6 1915 - Harry Cox was a vice-president in 1914 and 1915 and also a trainer in 1914, before enlisting and seeing action in Egypt with the Expeditionary Forces, together with Bert McTaggart snr, above.
Williamstown Advertiser, August 7, 1915.
Former player, Arthur Edward 'Skelly' Caldwell, Private 4th Battalion Australian Infantry – played 84 games from 1902-10, including the Club's first premiership in 1907 and 8 games for St Kilda in 1909. Arthur died on active service in July 1915, aged 29. Born in Young NSW in February 1886, his family moved to Melbourne soon after. Arthur went to school at North Williamstown Primary School. His brother Jim Caldwell played 155 games with South Melbourne and was also in the Williamstown premiership team of 1907 as well as being captain-coach of 'Town's 1921 premiership team. An older brother, Bob, also played for Williamstown from 1895-1904 and was vice-captain in his final season. Arthur’s other brothers Thomas and Joseph also served overseas, Thomas winning a Military Medal for his bravery in action. On 26 July 1915 Arthur died as a result of wounds he had sustained at Gallipoli on 15 July. He had been transferred in a hospital ship to Malta. He is buried at Addolarata Cemetery in Malta.
Williamstown Chronicle, May 8, 1915
Williamstown Advertiser, May 8, 1915 - Assistant secretary of 1896 and 1897, treasurer of 1900 and 1904, and committeeman of 1905 and 1906, Alfred Thomas Richardson, passed away at his residence in Electra Street, on May 4, aged just 43. He became assistant secretary of the Club at the age of 24.
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