Season Summary: 1926
John 'Jack' Martin returned to Williamstown as captain-coach in 1926 after coaching Williamstown CYMS in 1924-25. Martin was the father of the Williamstown Liston Medal winner of the 1950's with the same name.
Enhancement and colourisation kindly provided by Adrian Newington, grand-nephew of Tom Newington (head trainer 1933-46) and John Martin snr. (captain-coach 1926 and player 1923 and 1927) and first cousin, once removed, of 1956 Liston Medallist, John Martin jnr.
The Age, March 18, 1926.
Preston and Camberwell were admitted to the VFA in 1926, restoring it to a 10-team competition, and both finished above 'Town on the ladder at the conclusion of the home-and-away rounds. It was Preston's first appearance as a stand-alone entity since the merger with Nortcote in 1912. Williamstown won only four games and all by narrow margins at home, to finish last for the first time since 1892 and just five years after being premiers. Johnny Martin, who started out with Williamstown Juniors in 1916 before starring with Footscray as a rover in the Tricolours' 1919 & 1920 premiership teams and the team that finished runner-up to Williamstown in 1921, had been appointed captain-coach after returning from stints as coach of Kingsville and Williamstown CYMS with Sid Conlon vice-captain. Martin had played with Williamstown earlier in 1923.
New players included local juniors Alex Mather and Tom Kenny, Tom 'Nuggett' Joyce after 28 games with South Melbourne, Ted Clauscen from St Kilda Seconds, McAulay from Prahran, Alex Quinn from Williamstown Shell, Bob 'Tiger' Lyons from Williamstown District and Frank Rigaldi from Oakleigh District. Rigaldi had played with Williamstown in 1912 before stints at Carlton, Richmond and Hawthorn VFA. Another recruit was Arthur 'Porky' Sykes from Tasmania via Parksides Juniors, who would go on to play 125 games, win three consecutive best and fairests, finish runner-up in the Recorder Cup in 1930 and become one of Williamstown's greatest players in the inter-war years as well as one of the best half-backs in the Association. Bertie Crellin transferred to Footscray, where he played two senior games, but returned in 1928 while Vic Truman crossed to Fitzroy, where he played 10 senior games, before transferring to Footscray in 1928 and then returning in 1929 for one final season with 'Town.
The season commenced with a 39-point loss to eventual premier, Coburg, in only its second season in the competition, at Williamstown even though the Villagers had more scoring shots but kicked appallingly, booting 2.22.34 to 10.13.73, including 1.11 in the third quarter. The windy conditions meant that 11.27 was kicked at one end while just 1.8 was scored at the other.
Two further losses at Brunswick and Prahran saw Williamstown on the bottom of the ladder. Things improved with a 2-point win at Pt Gellibrand over eventual runner-up, Brighton (Frank Rigaldi 7 goals), before two further defeats at the hands of Northcote and Port Melbourne. Another narrow victory at Williamstown by 2 points over Geelong Association, 5.16 to 6.8, preceded four consecutive losses, including the season's biggest defeat by 97 points at Coburg and losses to newcomers Preston and Camberwell. The third narrow victory of the year, this time over Prahran by 3 points at Pt Gellibrand (newcomer Tom Kenny 5 goals), was followed by 5 consecutive losses including an 88-point defeat at Preston and a 6-goal loss at Geelong. The home-and-away rounds concluded with the fourth narrow victory of the year, over Camberwell by 3 points at Williamstown, 10.9.69 to 9.12.66, thanks to a mark and goal by Jack Munn a few minutes before the bell.
Frank Rigaldi was leading goalscorer with 20, while recruit Tom Kenny kicked 17, Jack Munn 15 and Hugh Munro 10. The team scored 122 goals and 182 behinds (914 points) to 216 goals and 228 behinds (1524 points) kicked by opponents. At the annual meeting in respect of the 1926 season, held at the Mechanics Institute in February 1927, VFA life membership was awarded to Jack MacDonald who had played 155 games with Williamstown from 1911-24, interrupted by war service during the period 1916-18, and including the 1921 premiership after commencing as a 14yo from Warragul. Alex Mather won a trophy for best first-year player, Jack Munn was best all-rounder and 'Mussels' McKellin was awarded the most consistent trophy. Arthur 'Porky' Sykes commenced with 'Town in this season and was to become one of the best half-backs in the VFA and a multiple Club best and fairest winner.
The Herald, April 9, 1926 - Allan McColl was appointed secretary in 1926 and 1927 after being a committeeman in 1925 but had to resign the post early into the 1927 season due to ill health and was replaced by assistant secretary, Joe Black. McColl was also the Club's VFA delegate and G.H. Mills took over that role.
Representations to the Council regarding the dilapidated state of the pavilion at the cricket ground commenced in April 1926, when the various sporting groups that used the oval, including the football club, cricket club, tennis club, baseball club and harriers, complained of dripping taps and unsewered lavatories. According to the Williamstown Chronicle of May 1, 1926, concerned citizens, including a doctor, pointed out that, apart from the lack of sanitation, 'the smell was appalling and the ventilation poor. Water from the showers runs into the players dressing room, and there would be serious consequences in the event of a thyphoid outbreak.' Another said 'the conditions at the ground were a scandal. The present structure wanted burning down. It was a disgrace to invite visitors to such a place. There were no conveniences for ladies.' Residents of Morris Street had 'made complaints of the stagnant pool that existed there.' The Mayor, and president of the football club, Cr J.J. Liston, said that it would be advisable for Councillors to visit the ground and see for themselves the condition of the pavilion, which was constructed during 1887 and officially opened in December of that year in time for the football club's move to the ground from the Gardens Reserve.
Captain Gordon Liley was a vice-president of the Football Club in 1926 -1927, 1930 - 31, 1939 - 41 and the again from 1945 - 52. He received life membership in 1950.
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