Season Summary: 1917
Williamstown Juniors were minor premiers of the VJFA in 1917 with 15 wins from the 18 home-and-away rounds and then won both finals to take a second successive premiership, once again under the captain-coaching of Charlie Hardy, who returned to North Melbourne in 1918. They defeated the second-placed team, Preston, in the second semi-final at East Melbourne by 32 points, 10.11.71 to 5.9.39, after scores were level at the last break before 'Town booted 5 goals in as many minutes. Captain-coach, Charlie Hardy, and 'Snowy' Graff were best for the Villagers. 'Town then met Fairfield in the grand final at East Melbourne in front of a crowd of 5,000 and won convincingly, 11.10.76 to 6.8.44. It was the third time they had beaten Fairfield during the season. Jim Thomas kicked 3 of the goals but neither of the local newspapers named the best players.
John 'Jack' Martin snr tried out with South Melbourne this season but does not appear to have played a senior game and then went away with the Navy but returned in 1918. Future senior captain, 100-game player and life member, Hugh Munro, commenced with Williamstown Juniors in this year after crossing from Footscray Juniors.
Former spearhead, Ted Staniland, who played for Williamstown from 1900-03 after crossing from Fitzroy and led the Club goalkicking in 1900/01/02, passed away at the age of just 42 on September 1, 1917 at his home in Fitzroy. Other former players to pass away were captain-coach of 1912, former Collingwood premiership player, George'Jack' Angus, on November 16, 1917, also at the young age of 42, leading goalkicker of 1913 in his sole season with 'Town, Leslie Coward, who was killed in action in France on April 12, 1917, aged 22 and Edward Leslie Barnes Cooper aka Leslie Edward 'Leggo' Lee, who was killed in action at Messines, Belgium, on June 8, 1917, also aged 22.
The Herald, October 6, 1917 - The Williamstown Juniors grand final line-up in 1917, containing future senior Williamstown players Hugh Munro (100 games and 47 goals, 1921-30, 1925 captain, 1921 premiership, 1924 grand final, life member) and Jim 'Corker' Jamieson (43 games 8 goals 1919-22, 1921 premiership).
Williamstown Chronicle, October 13, 1917 - Williamstown Juniors won their second consecutive premiership in 1917 after finishing minor premiers at the end of the home-and-away rounds. Captain-coach of both the 1916 and 1917 premiership sides, Charlie Hardy, returned to North Melbourne in 1918 and was replaced by future Williamstown captain-coach and 100-game player, Fred Carpenter, who guided Williamstown Juniors to the grand final, which was lost to Footscray Juniors by 16 points, 7.8.50 to 3.16.34. Carpenter returned to South Melbourne in 1919 and was replaced by 1916 & 1917 Juniors' premiership player, Paddy Kenneally.
Williamstown Chronicle, October 13, 1917
High profile captain-coach, 37yo George 'Jack' Angus from Collingwood, joined Williamstown in 1912 after playing 157 games for the Magpies from 1902-11, being captain of the 1910 premiership side and also playing in the 1902-03 pennant-winning teams. He failed to see out the season due to an illness suffered after the disastrous 84-point defeat at Brighton in round 15, the Penguin's third consecutive win over 'Town. Vice-captain, Bert Reitman, stepped up to skipper the team for the rest of the season. Angus passed away on November 16, 1917, at the age of just 42.
Melbourne Leader, November 24, 1917
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 Argus, September 4, 1917
Ballarat Courier, May 5 1917 - Leslie Coward, a Ballarat native, was killed in action in France on April 12, 1917, aged 22. He played 14 games for Williamstown and kicked 25 goals in 1913, before returning to Ballarat Imperials. He led the Club goalscoring in his only season with 'Town.
The Ballarat Star, April 30, 1917
Richmond Guardian, March 2 1918 - Edward Leslie Barnes Cooper aka Leslie Edward 'Leggo' Lee played 12 games for Williamstown in 1915 after earlier playing the last two games of the 1913 season with Richmond as an 18yo. He was killed in action at Messines, Belgium, on June 8 1917, aged 22.
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