Season Summary: 1936
1928 Williamstown CYMS premiership vice-captain, Tommy Gubbins, joined Williamstown in 1936 after playing 17 games with Essendon in 1930-31. Gubbins had tried out with Williamstown in 1932 but then went to Carwarp, near Mildura, before returning in 1936.
Fred Brooks agreed to stand down as captain-coach when North Melbourne released Neville Huggins to take up that role in 1936 and North teammate George Jerram also arrived as his deputy. In exchange, Williamstown cleared Roy Deller and Reg 'Dodger' Taylor to North but Taylor was back at Williamstown by round 12 after having played 3 senior games with the Northeners. Other new players included Des Rowan and Jack Paterson also from North Melbourne. Paterson had won North's best and fairest award in 1932. Allan Harris from Spotswood, Charlie Bennett from Sandringham, Arthur Kaufman from Werribee, Tommy Gubbins from Carwarp, near Mildura, and formerly of Essendon, Jack Richardson from Boronia, Colin Griffiths and Bob Willett from the Essendon District League, Thomas Hay from Yarraville, Stan Green from Red Cliffs, Albert Gilby from Carlton Seconds, Peter Robertson, the amateur, from North Melbourne Seconds, Arthur Hedley from Williamstown Seconds and Stan Raeburn from Coburg were others to join the Club. Bert Jaensch returned after stints at Essendon, Woodlands and Ararat.
Roy Deller crossed to North Melbourne in 1936 after 71 games with Williamstown since being recruited from Spotswood in 1930
The season opened at Yarraville where Williamstown jumped the Villians, after the unfurling of their one and only premiership flag, to lead by 10 points at quarter time. However, the reigning premiers had regained the lead by half-time and went on to win by 61 points, 21.15 to 12.8. Stan Lawler kicked 6 of Williamstown's goals while Fred Brooks was named best player. The first home game of the year against Brighton suffered from 'heavy rain and wind, blowing with gale-like force which swept the Williamstown ground soon after the commencement of play', according to The Age. 15.31 was kicked at the Battery Road end of the ground to just four behinds to the pavilion end. Brighton led by 45 points at three-quarter time and The Villagers then proceeded to kick a wasteful 2.13, including ten consecutive behinds, to 3 behinds by the Penguins to go down by 23 points. Williamstown found themselves 64 points in arrears at quarter-time in the round 3 game at Brunswick and failed to score a goal until the third quarter and finally lost the contest by over 20 goals. The Villagers were in the familiar position of last on the ladder, this time with a percentage of 45.3%.
The Age, April 14 1936 - Cliff Cook of Williamstown, who was recruited from Yarraville in 1934, has a flying shot at goal in the round 1 game against his former team at Yarraville. The Villians were the previous year's premiers while 'Town were the wooden spooners in 1935. Although Williamstown led by 10 points at quarter-time, Yarraville outscored them 18.11 to 7.6 over the next three terms to run out victors by 61 points, 21.15.141 to 12.8.80. The other Williamstown player shown (white shorts) is Jim Thompson, who was also recruited from Yarraville.
An improved performance in round 4 at home by a Williamstown team which included 11 new players from the season before, gave hope for better times ahead. Prahran, the eventual runner-up, only got away in the second quarter by adding 6.4 to 2.1, and that deficit had been reduced to just a goal by three-quarter time, before the Two Blues got home by 10 points. Reality struck home again the following week with an 81-point thumping at Coburg, which didn't even make the finals. A goal as the final bell rang signalled the Villagers' first win for the season, against Sandringham at Pt Gellibrand in round 6. For the last 10 tense minutes, Williamstown nursed a one-point lead before newcomer, Jack Richardson, marked and goaled on the bell. Earlier the Williamstown captain-coach, Neville Huggins, and first-year player, Thomas Hay, had car trouble on the way to the game and Williamstown took the field with just 17 men and the game was delayed by 8 minutes until Huggins arrived in his football attire and went straight onto the field. Hay sat on the bench as 19th man. A second consecutive victory followed over Port Melbourne at Williamstown, this time by two goals after the Villagers led by as much as 50 points early in the last quarter before Port added 7 goals with the aid of the breeze as the game finished in semi-darkness. Stan Lawler kicked 6 goals for 'Town and full-back Fred Brooks was best player.
Neville Huggins was appointed captain-coach of Williamstown in 1936 after playing with Fitzroy in 1929 (4 games) and North Melbourne from 1931-35 (86 games). He played 36 games with Williamstown, winning the Club best and fairest in 1936 and 1937, the VFA Medal in 1936 and 1937 and the Recorder Cup in 1937. He captained a VFA representative side against the VFL at St Kilda in May 1937. He transferred to Prahran after round 8 of 1938 then to Essendon in 1939 and then to Shepparton in 1940.
Williamstown ventured out to the home of eventual premier, Northcote, the following week and returned 15-goal losers, 22.13.145 to 8.5.53. The third victory of the season came in round 9 with a thrilling 3-point win over Oakleigh at Williamstown. With seven minutes remaining, the Villagers still trailed by 3 points when Stan Lawler booted an overhead goal from a pack to give 'Town the lead. Each side added a behind and Williamstown clung to the lead. This elevated the team to ninth place on the ladder. A 76-point defeat at Camberwell was followed by two consecutive wins over Preston by 10 points and Yarraville by 16 points, both at Williamstown. The amateur, Peter Robertson, from North Melbourne seconds made his debut in the Preston game and was leading goalkicker with 3, while Stan Green's goal just before the bell secured the victory after a hard-fought last quarter. Reg Taylor returned to Williamstown from a stint at North Melbourne for the match against Yarraville, which was played in appalling conditions as the VFL called off their round of games but the Association went ahead. The Age reported that 'the Williamstown ground resembled a group of small lakes but, despite the water-logged nature of the arena, the players of both sides adapted themselves well to the adverse conditions.' The Villians failed to score in the third quarter and kicked 9 consecutive behinds in the last term to throw away a victory. The win elevated Williamstown to eighth position on the ladder, which it would maintain for the remainder of the season.
Jack Paterson came to Williamstown in 1936 after 31 games and 27 goals with North Melbourne from 1932 and 1934-35 and 14 games and 14 goals with South Melbourne in 1931. He would go on to play 77 games and kick 109 goals for 'Town up until the end of 1940, including the 1939 premiership where he was first rover and runner-up in the best and fairest award that year. He was leading goalkicker in 1938 with 31 majors, best clubman in 1937 and most consistent player in 1936. Paterson passed away on October 27, 1994, aged 83.
Conditions were little better the following week at Elsternwick Park for the round 13 clash with Brighton, where The Age described 'the ground, except in one small area near the grandstand, was in a shocking condition, the centre being a soggy mass of black mud and the remainder water-logged.' The Penguins led at every change and were 9 points in front at the end, 8.15 to 8.6. The undefeated Brunswick visited Williamstown in round 14 and led by only one point at half-time before adding 6.3 to 1.0 during the third term and eventually ran out winners by 22 points. The Villagers ended up with only 17 men on the ground in the round 15 game at Toorak Park against eventual runner-up, Prahran, after Eddie Deller was forced from the field with a shoulder injury during the last quarter after 19th man, Charlie Bennett, had replaced Des Rowan at the end of the third quarter. The Two Blues took advantage and extended a 28-point lead at the last change into a comfortable 47-point win. The last game at home for the season resulted in a surprise 3-goal victory over Coburg, which was in the four at the time. The win was set up by a commanding performance in the third quarter, when the Villagers added 5.4 to just one major by the 'Burgers. Stan Lawler booted 5 goals for 'Town while captain-coach, Neville Huggins, was best player. Best for Coburg was former Williamstown player, Cairo Dixon.
Argus, June 29 1936 - the game was the round 11 clash with Preston at Williamstown, which 'Town won by 10 points, 14.12.96 to 14.14.86.
In the penultimate round Williamstown travelled to Sandringham, and the Zebras got away to a good start with the breeze to lead by 5 goals at quarter-time and were never headed for the remainder of the match, although 'Town managed to reduce the margin to just one goal in the second quarter. A wasteful last quarter effort of 2.7 to Sandringham's 3.0 resigned the Villagers to a 22-point defeat. Stan 'Snowie' Lawler recovered from a bout of 'flu to return to the side for the final home-an-away game of the year at Port Melbourne and booted 5 goals in the second term and 7 for the match. Wooden-spooner for the first time since 1909, Port lost the game in the first quarter when, kicking with what The Age described as a 'howling gale', they managed just 6 behinds from more than a dozen shots at goal. The Villagers had a 6-goal lead at half-time and extended that to a 9-goal victory, 11.11 to 2.11. Port's first goal was not scored until the third quarter. Captain-coach, Neville Huggins, was best-on-ground. It was the first time in 12 seasons that 'Town defeated Port twice during the year.
Captain-coach Neville Huggins won the VFA Medal from Bert Hyde of Preston and also the Club best and fairest award from Fred Brooks and newcomer Jack Richardson. Huggins also finished equal third in the Recorder Cup and captained a VFA team against the VFL under lights at Olympic Park on September 24. The League won, 14.15.99 to 10.10.70, and Huggins was awarded a trophy as the best player. Other first-year players in Bob Willett (most unselfish player), Jack Paterson (most consistent player) and Allan Harris (most improved player) also had good seasons.
Improved form saw seven victories, all at home except for the win at Port Melbourne in the last round, and an eighth finish. Stan 'Snowie' Lawler had another good season in front of goals and kicked 49. Newcomer, Jack Richardson, was next best with 20, while Jack Paterson with 18 and Roy Raeburn with 15 were the others with tallies in double figures. The team kicked 160 goals and 225 behinds (1185 points) to 1632 points scored by the opposition. Huggins, Fred Brooks, Jim Thompson and Jack Richardson were the only players to feature in all 18 home-and-away matches.
Membership doubled in this year from the previous season, reflecting the improvement in on-field performance. The end-of-season trip was to Maryborough in this year.
North Melbourne's Neville Huggins was captain-coach of Williamstown in 1936/37.
An extract from Larry Floyd's book on the history of the VFA and Williamstown - the games played and goalscorers of 1936.
Bobby Willett joined the Club in 1936 from the Essendon District League and played in 17 of the 18 home-and-away games in his debut season and was awarded the most unselfish player trophy. He would go on to play a total of 61 games and kick 8 goals up until the end of 1939, and was 19th man in the premiership team in his final season. Tragically, he was selected to play his first senior game in 1940 in the round 7 match at Sandringham but was electrocuted on the morning of the match and passed away at the age of 25. He was an SEC linesman and touched some live wires in a street in North Essendon. He left behind a widow and three children.
1936 team photo showing captain-coach, Neville Huggins, in the middle of the second row holding the football. To the left of him is secretary, Larry Floyd, and to the left of Larry is the 1935 captain-coach, best and fairest winner and VFA Medal recipient, Fred Brooks. To the right of Huggins is Club president, John Bell, who became Mayor of Williamstown in August 1937 and passed away in December of that year at the age of 49. To the right of Bell is vice-captain, George Jerram, who would become captain-coach of the Club in 1938. To the right of Jerram is Club treasurer, Charles Ferguson. Second from the right of this row is Arthur Cutting, who commenced with Williamstown in 1931 and played a total of 159 senior games (the Club record at that time) up until the end of 1945, including the 1939 and 1945 premierships. He won the VFA Medal in 1938/39, tied for the Recorder Cup in 1938 and was runner-up in 1939. Cutting also won the Club best and fairest award in 1938/39. In the second back row, second from the left, is Eddie Deller, who played 130 senior games from 1933-45, excluding 1935 when he played with Spotswood. He played in the 1939 premiership team and later became a trainer with the Club for many years. He is the father of former VFL field umpire, Bill Deller.
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