Season Summary: 1919
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.
Williamstown Juniors 1918 coach, Fred Carpenter, returned to South Melbourne in 1919 and was replaced by 1916 & 1917 Juniors' premiership player, Paddy Kenneally. Footscray finished on top of the VJFA ladder undefeated after the 16 round home-and-away season with Williamstown in second place. 'Town inflicted the Tricolours' first defeat of the year with a 3-point win in the semi-final, 6.7.43 to 5.10.40. These two teams played off again for the title in 1919, but this time Williamstown Juniors were successful, winning by just 5 points, 6.6.42 to 4.13.37 and taking off the John Wren Shield, donated by the legendary Collingwood benefactor, and personally handed over to the new captain-coach Kenneally at a celebratory dinner. 1916-19 was one of the most colourful periods in the history of Williamstown Juniors which saw three premierships and a runners-up in 1918, and the senior team ultimately benefited by the transfer of both ready-made players and officials who played a big part in the successes of the 1921-24 period.
Footscray Independent, October 25 1919 - the Williamstown Juniors team in the 1919 VJFA grand final, featuring future Williamstown senior players Hugh Munro (100 games 47 goals, 1921-30, 1921 premiership and 1924 grand final, captain 1925), Jim 'Corker' Jamieson (43 games 8 goals, 1919-22, 1921 premiership) and Pat Kennedy (11 games 4 goals, 1919-20).
Williamstown Chronicle, October 25, 1919
The Australasian, October 25 1919 - Williamstown Juniors won their third flag in four years after a rugged encounter with Footscray Juniors at East Melbourne, where the field umpire, Henry Beaumont, was knocked unconscious as was Williamstown player, Bert 'Baby' Graf, in the second quarter. He took no further part in the game. A resultant brawl amongst the players resulted in about 1,000 spectators and 17 police and a mounted trooper enter the field and play was suspended for 10 minutes until the ground was cleared and the game could be resumed. Although 'Town played one man short for two and a half quarters of the game, the scores were level with four minutes to go in the match. According to the Footscray Independent 'Alf Graf picked the ball up on the boundary and with a hasty left-foot kick snapped a lucky goal and won the premiership for Williamstown', the final scores being 6.6.42 to 4.13.37.
Williamstown returned to the VFA in 1919, with Alex Hall again non-playing coach and Bert Amy, who had played with Port Melbourne in 1918, captain and Bobby Gibbs jnr vice-captain. Pre-war skipper, Ted Alley, transferred to Hawthorn and took Reg Wallis with him. In total, 23 people connected to the Club had enlisted and served on the European front during the war, the most of any of the VFA clubs. Of these, former players, Leslie Coward (leading goalkicked 1913) and 1907 premiership player, Arthur Caldwell (84 games, 1902-10), failed to return as did Les 'Leggo' Lee (12 games, 1915). An honour board was commisssioned by the Club to commemorate the sacrifice made by all those who volunteered. 38 players from Williamstown Juniors also enlisted. Recruits for the 1919 season included Pat Kennedy from Williamstown Juniors via St Kilda, Norm McDonald also from Williamstown Juniors, Jim McAuliffe from Yarraville, Bert Sutton from Yarraville Juniors, Les Stone from Northcote, Jack Stephenson from Brunswick, E.A. Fairless and K. Webster.
23 people connected to the Williamstown Football Club had enlisted and served on the European front during World War I, the most of any of the VFA clubs. Of these, former players, Leslie Coward (leading goalkicked 1913) and 1907 premiership player, Arthur Caldwell (84 games, 1902-10), failed to return as did Les 'Leggo' Lee (12 games, 1915). An honour board was commisssioned by the Club to commemorate the sacrifice made by all those who volunteered. 38 players from Williamstown Juniors also enlisted.
The return to the field got away to a flying start with a 92-point victory at Brighton in round 1, with Williamstown having 40 scoring shots to 8 by the Penguins. Rover, Stan Mitchell, booted 5 goals. Two defeats at the hands of eventual runner-up, North Melbourne, and the greatly improved Hawthorn, were followed by wins over the lowly Port Melbourne and Essendon Association. Four consecutive losses, to eventual premier, Footscray, by 50 points at Williamstown in the season's biggest defeat, as well as to other finalists in Northcote and Brunswick, saw the Villagers in 8th place in the 10-team competition by round 9. Five victories in the next 6 rounds, including the ninth consecutive win over Port Melbourne, elevated 'Town to 5th place on the ladder and a finals appearance was realistic. The two-point win at North Port Oval was highlighted by an incident in the desperate last quarter when first-year umpire, Alex McKinnon, awarded a free kick to Williamstown right in front of goal. The Port Melbourne Standard reported that 'one indignant supporter of Port ran onto the ground to expostulate. Others hopped the fence, but the demonstration was never more than one of wild words.' The Australasian reported that 'the ground was rushed by onlookers who wanted the umpire's scalp. A free fight seemed imminent until a few constables and a trooper intervened'. The Age reported that 'as a sequel to the trouble which took place on the ground in the last quarter, a number of roughs tried to force an entrance into the dressing room after the match. Here they were finally stopped by the police, but later they gathered outside the ground. They waited for the umpire and players from the visiting team and pursued them to the North Port railway station where the mob were stopped by another band of police, which quickly expelled them from the platform.'
John Anthony 'Jack' Dennis, pictured here in the 1937 Williamstown Centenary booket, became president of the Football Club for the 1919 and 1920 seasons in addition to being the Club's VFA delegate, a post he held from 1909-34.
7-goal losses at Footscray and then Northcote made the finals an impossibility and the home-and-away rounds were concluded with a 13-point win over Prahran at Williamstown. Captain, Bert Amy, was the best of the goalkickers with a modest 16 in his final year, in a season that saw nine wins and nine losses and fifth place on the ladder, 3 wins out of the final four. 116 goals and 220 behinds (916 points) were kicked by 'Town to 125 goals and 187 behinds (937 points) by opponents over the course of the season.
Membership in respect of the 1919 season showed a decrease on pre-war numbers, with only 295 male members, 72 ladies and 34 youths. At the annual meeting in respect of the 1919 season which was held in early 1920, Bert Amy, who played 129 games and kicked 118 goals from 1908-19 and was captain in 1919 and for part of 1911 and was vice-captain in 1913, received life membership. He was also leading goalkicker on three occasions in 1911, 1912 and 1919, his final season. There were reports once again that some members of the committee were anxious to return to the Gardens Reserve.
Former vice-president of 1913-14 and general committeeman of 1910-12, Vernon Martin, passed away suddenly on June 24 at Richmond, aged just 33.
North Melbourne extended their winning sequence since July 18 1914, including the war recess, to 49 by finishing atop the ladder after the conclusion of the 18 home-and-away rounds before losing the first final to Brunswick by 9 points. Syd Barker, North's great captain and follower and a former Williamstown player, played in every game of that record-breaking sequence as well as playing for Ascot Vale during the recess. Footscray then downed North in the final to deny the Northeners their fourth consecutive pennant.
Williamstown Chronicle, June 28, 1919
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