Season Summary: 1925
Argus, January 7 1936 - 21yo Allan Geddes went to Richmond without a clearance in 1925 and would go on to play 182 games for the Tigers, including the 1932 and 1934 VFL premierships and captaining the Club in 1927-28 and 1930. He was also equal second in the 1926 Brownlow Medal. He played 51 games and kicked 7 goals for Williamstown from 1922-24, including the disastrous grand final in his final year, after being recruited from North Melbourne Juniors.
Coburg joined the VFA in 1925 making it an 8-team competition, the lowest number of clubs since 1899, after Footscray, North Melbourne and Hawthorn departed for the VFL, ending one of the brightest chapters in the Association's history. 1924 captain-coach, Fred Carpenter, crossed to Port Melbourne after 108 games and 235 goals following a slight disagreement with several members of the old committee following the previous year's grand final disaster. He had also purchased a business there and was living in Port. 21yo Allan Geddes went to Richmond without a clearance and would go on to play 182 games for the Tigers, including the 1932 and 1934 VFL premierships and captaining the Club in 1927-28 and 1930. He was also equal second in the 1926 Brownlow Medal. Vice-captain of 1924, Aub Holten, went to Oakleigh, then playing in the Sub Districts Association, as coach. 1921 premiership full-forward, Jim McAuliffe, also departed as playing coach of Dunkeld, then St Arnaud and later on Swan Hill before returning in 1929 for one final season. Bob King had retired during 1924 and Dick Condon, after 112 games, did not continue, along with Herb Miles and Harry Dussell. Stan Mitchell was another to drop out after 115 games and he was playing for Brighton, where he resided, by round 10 of the season. Soon after the start of the year, Norm McDonald transferred to Footscray while ruck-rover in the 1924 grand final side, Gerry Britt, transferred back to North Melbourne during the year but returned in 1929. Phil Lee and Les Stone were others to drop out.
Sun News Pictorial, 27 April, 1925 - Norm McDonald transferred to Footscray during 1925 and was in the senior team by round 7. He had played 72 games and kicked 71 goals with 'Town since 1919 after being recruited from Yarraville. He played only the first six games with Williamstown in 1925 but topped the goalkicking with a total of 13. McDonald played 51 games and kicked 67 goals from 1925-28 with the Bulldogs before returning to 'Town in 1929 as vice-captain and playing a further 37 games and booting 59 goals up until the end of 1932. He was first rover in Williamstown's 1921 premiership side and second rover in the losing 1924 grand final team. He later coached Newport Juniors in 1934 and was non-playing coach of Williamstown Seconds from 1937-40. He passed away in Footscray on 31 January 1976 at the age of 77.
With all the transfers and retirements, many new faces appeared in 1925, including a new coach in George King, a follower from North Melbourne. The players preferred Hughie Munro as captain and the new coach was only second in charge on the field as vice-captain, a most unusual arrangement. Other new players were locals Harold Johns, Bertie Crellin, Harry Stock and Bert Warren, C. Porter from Bannockburn, Bill Roberts from South Melbourne, Jack Ferguson from Kingsville, R.L. Malberg from Northcote, George Tory from Hawthorn VFA, De Frocq from Yarraville, A. 'Mussels' McKellin from Yarraville Juniors and Phil Smith from North Melbourne VFA. Alf Merton, who played on the wing in Footscray's 1924 premiership team which defeated Williamstown also came across. Arthur Whitburn returned from Collingwood early in the season after 4 games and one goal for the Magpies during 1924.
North Melbourne VFA ruckman, George King, was appointed coach in 1925 after a long career that started at Fitzroy in 1913, Port Melbourne in 1914 then Fitzroy again in 1915-16 before he enlisted and served in Europe during World War I. After the war he played for Essendon Association from 1919-21 and then shifted to North Melbourne from 1922-24. In an unusual arrangement, the Williamstown players preferred Hughie Munro as captain and the new coach was only second in charge on the field as vice-captain.
The season got off to a rocky start with a 75-point defeat at the hands of eventual premier, Brunswick, and should have been more except for the 'Wick's shocking inaccuracy, kicking 12.28 to Williamstown's 3.7, perhaps due to the fact that the Villagers played with no fewer than 11 new men, although 'Mussels' McKellin and Phil Smith were both named in the best players. The team bounced back to down Brighton at Williamstown narrowly by 5 points in round 2 before losing to Port Melbourne by 21 points and then downing eventual wooden-spooner, Geelong Association, by 10 points at Kardinia Park. The loss to Port at Williamstown was the first of what would be ten consecutive wins by the Borough over 'Town up until the end of 1929.
Williamstown's 1921 premiership defender, Charlie Stanbridge, commenced his VFL career with South Melbourne in 1925. He crossed to Port Melbourne in 1922 and played in the Borough's premiership team that year before moving on to South in 1925. After 69 games and 12 goals up until the end of 1929 with the Swans, Stanbridge then returned to Port from 1930-32 before being appointed captain-coach of Williamstown in 1933. In an amazing year, he won the Recorder Cup, the Club best and fairest and tied for the VFA Medal. He then moved on to Camberwell as assistant coach during 1934 and then captain-coach of South District in 1935.
The Villagers then lost their very first encounter with Coburg by 2 goals in a spiteful match, both on and off the field, at Williamstown in round 5. The Argus reported that 'some bitter feelings were shown between some of the players, and tripping and kicking were far too prevalent.' As regards the crowd, The Argus continued that 'disputes occurred frequently among the spectators. Blows were exchanged freely and several constables were busily engaged in quelling the disturbances. Towards the end of the game feeling ran high among the partisans, and a fight, which for a time assumed serious proportions, occurred near the goal posts. As the field umpire was leaving the ground after the match under the protection of a constable a bottle was thrown, evidently at the umpire, who was almost surrounded by a hooting, jeering, mob. The bottle missed the umpire and struck the constable on the helmet. As the crowd left the ground a party of larrikins followed .... supporters of the Coburg team towards the railway station. Stones were thrown and several people were struck.'
Sun News Pictorial, May 4 1925 - scenes from the round 1 clash between Brunswick and Williamstown at Brunswick Park on May 2, 1925. Brunswick were victorious by 75 points, 12.28.100 to 3.7.25. 'Town played with no fewer than 11 new men, although 'Mussels' McKellin and Phil Smith were both named in the best players.
Despite kicking the first two goals of the match in the opening 10 minutes, an 11-goal defeat at Northcote followed which had 'Town in sixth place on the eight-team ladder. Northcote's score of 18.15.123 was the highest kicked in the VFA in this season. The Argus the Monday after the game described the performance as 'so bad that old supporters of the team cannot recall such an inglorious display.' This loss at Northcote brought the issue of the divided control of the team to a head when captain Hugh Munro did not play due to injury and coach George King led the team. When directing a player during the match, King was given an offensive reply which called into question the discipline and morale of the side. In an attempt to quell the disharmony, a meeting of the players was held on the Thursday evening before the next match against Prahran where the matter was frankly and openly discussed. The majority of the players recommended that the services of the coach be dispensed with, but the committee would not agree. The Club's financial position was then explained to the players, who unanimously decided to continue on even if there were no further payments for the season. Future Williamstown captain-coach, Gordon Helwig, played for Northcote in this game.
Tom Hernan played 7 games for the Villagers in 1925 before heading to Williamstown Juniors during the season, but returned to Williamstown as a committeeman in 1940-42 and from 1946-51, receiving life membership in 1950 before passing away in 1966.
The fifth home game in the initial seven rounds resulted in a 33-point win over Prahran, with coach King booting 4 goals and being named second-best player and captain Munro third best. Three consecutive defeats followed to put paid to any finals prospects, including the second losses for the season to Brunswick and Port Melbourne. The defeat by Brighton in round 9 was the first suffered in 19 encounters with the Penguins going back to 1913. The only win in the last seven games came in round 11 with a 45-point victory at Williamstown, 7.14.56 to 1.5.11, over the lowly Geelong Association. Geelong's score was the lowest kicked in the VFA in this season.
The final ladder for the 1925 season. After Footscray, North Melbourne and Hawthorn defected to the VFL, the Association was left with just eight clubs after Coburg was admitted so it was a short season with each club playing the others twice, resulting in just a 14-game season. Brunswick won the premiership.
The second loss for the year to newcomer, Coburg, this time by 10 goals and two narrow defeats to Northcote at Williamstown and at Toorak Park rounded out a miserable season. This was the first time that the 'Cotes had defeated Williamstown on the Pt Gellibrand oval. Only 4 matches were won out of 14 and sixth place obtained in the 8-team competition. The Club scored 94 goals and 138 behinds (702 points) to 126 goals and 173 behinds (929 points) kicked by opponents. Norm McDonald took out the leading goalkicker award by scoring 13 before he crossed to Footscray, followed by Phil 'Snowy' Smith with 12. Gerry Britt was the stand-out performer before returning to North Melbourne at the end of June and finished third in the VFA's best and fairest award, the Recorder Cup, despite playing just nine games.
The Herald, March 31 1939 - Bob Daval was head trainer at Williamstown in the 1920's before crossing to Richmond in 1927, became head trainer there in 1936 and received life membership of the Tigers in 1947 after 19 years of service.
The defection of North Melbourne and Footscray, in particular, to the VFL in 1925 affected Williamstown greatly due to both club's proximity geographically whereby support dropped to the extent that membership in 1925 was only a third of what it had been just the year before due to Williamstown supporters following these clubs to the VFL. The financial strain of this development was allegedly responsible for the departure of six or seven of the most promising players from the Club and led to the Club requesting that the VFA allocate 50 pounds out of reserve funds to all of the seven older clubs in the Association, excluding newcomers Coburg.
President from 1903-06 and vice-president in 1907-08, Alex Ramsay, passed away on August 2, aged 61. Thomas Haslam, who played for Williamstown in the 1870's, passed away on October 8 at the age of 70. He was a former councillor and has a street in the town named in his honour. Popular property steward, Wally Williams, also passed away on April 2 at the age of 42.
A local, Harold Johns came to Williamstown in 1925 and played until the end of 1934, registering 125 games and 47 goals. He was captain for part of 1931 and vice-captain in 1933. He was suspended for 10 weeks in 1931 for elbowing a Prahran opponent. He received life membership belatedly in 2019.
The biggest personal tragedy of the year occurred on Saturday, November 28, during the opening day of the sailing season when the 50yo Ellen Dennis, wife of the Club's long-serving VFA delegate and life member, John Anthony 'Jack' Dennis, was swept overboard from Worane, the boat of the Hobson's Bay Yacht Club commodore, local undertaker Ernest W. Jackson (who would become the football club president in 1938), during a sudden squall about 5.30pm and drowned along with another local couple, Michael and Isabella Ward, both aged 62. Geoffrey Hall, son of the football club president of 1894-1902, James Hall, attempted to save all three but was ultimately unsuccessful. Michael Ward was a brother of Jack Ward who played for Williamstown from 1885-86, 1888-89 & 1891-93, who himself met a grisly death in WA in March 1939 from the self-administration of poison following a visit by police to his home in Perth. Jack Dennis, who was a city councillor at the time, was also swept overboard but managed to hold onto the side of the boat and was hauled back on board by Jackson and the Yacht Club secretary, Edmund Chidgey, and a crew member and survived the ordeal. The Wards ran a drapery business located at 183 Nelson Place and Mrs Dennis resided with her husband at the Customs House Hotel, where she was the licensee.
Fred Carpenter, pictured here in 1929, was Williamstown's captain-coach in 1924 and a member of the 1921 premiership team and 1924 runner-up side. He was the Club's leading goalkicker in 1923 with 63 majors, the equal highest tally in the history of the Club to that point in time, which gave him second place on the VFA list behind George 'Toots' Taylor of Port Melbourne who booted 65. Carpenter crossed to Port Melbourne as captain-coach in 1925 after 108 games and 235 goals with 'Town following a slight disagreement with several members of the old committee following the previous year's grand final disaster. He had also purchased a business there and was living in Port. He was captain-coach of the Borough again in 1926 and continued to play until 1929 when he was the oldest player in the Association at the age of 39 after completing 21 years of senior football.
Williamstown Chronicle, August 8, 1925
The Australasian, October 17, 1925
The Age, April 4, 1925
The Age, November 30, 1925
The Herald, November 30, 1925
The Herald, November 30, 1925
The Argus, November 30, 1925
Geelong Advertiser, November 30, 1925
The Argus, November 30, 1925 - perished in the Worane yachting disaster of November 28, 1925.
Williamstown Chronicle, December 5, 1925
Weekly Times, December 19, 1925 - Geoffrey Hall, son of the football club president of 1894-1902, James Hall, attempted to save all three people who were swept overboard from the deck of the Worane but was ultimately unsuccessful and they all perished in the waters of Hobsons Bay.
Have a look to see how the VFL side wentRead more ...