Season Summary: 1937
North Melbourne's Neville Huggins was captain-coach of Williamstown in 1936/37.
Neville Huggins was re-appointed captain-coach for the 1937 season, as was his deputy, George Jerram. New players included Reg Earle from Port Melbourne, Keith Rae and Gordon 'Mick' Harland from Williamstown District, Tom De Zoete from Newport, Mick Henderson from South Melbourne Juniors, Arthur Bedson from Flemington, Reg Goodwin from Little River, Bill McLeod from West Footscray, and Bill Tyrrell, Laurie Hosking, Joe Cavanagh, Jack McCallum, Keith McIntyre and Charlie Matheson from Williamstown Seconds and Henry from Parkside. Another first-year player was George Miller, who was suspended for 10 weeks for kicking an opponent in the round 15 game against Sandringham. 18yo Allan Hird snr crossed from Hawthorn Seconds before clearances closed on 30 June.
Norm McDonald, the 1921 premiership rover and 1924 grand final player, was appointed non-playing coach of Williamstown Seconds. McDonald played for The Villagers from 1919 until mid-1925 when he transferred to Footscray and played 51 games kicking 67 goals until the end of 1928. He returned to Williamstown as vice-captain in 1929 and played until the end of 1932. He finished with 106 games and 148 goals for the Villagers from 1919 until 1932. Players missing from 1936 included Bert Jaensch, who went back to Ararat, and Allan Harsley returned to Williamstown District.
The season commenced as usual with the 'neighbourly' round of games which saw Yarraville visit Williamstown where the crowd of 4,500 saw 'dropped marks, haphazard kicking, inaccurate passes and much scrambling play' according to The Age. An inaccurate Villians side booted 9.19 to 7.6 by the 'Town, although Williamstown got within 2 points of the lead in the last quarter after a goal from Stan Lawler. Peter Robertson kicked 4 goals from centre half-forward for the Villagers and was best-on-ground.
Sporting Globe, April 14 1937 - Williamstown president from 1923-30, John James Liston became president of the VFA from 1929 until his death on April 12 1944, during the war recess, at the age of 71.
'Town ventured out to Preston the following week and trailed by just 2 points at half-time before the Bullants piled on 13 goals to 4 in the second half to win easily by 56 points, although Williamstown were just 8 points down early in the final quarter after George Hedley and Bob Willett goaled. Hedley kicked 5 goals straight in his first full game. This defeat left the Villagers in last position on the ladder.
Eventual runner-up Brunswick visited Williamstown in round 3 and left victors by just 7 points. In a wind-affected match, 17.25 was kicked at the Gellibrand Fort end of the ground and just 1 goal, kicked by Colin Boyd of Brunswick in the third quarter, at the grandstand end. 'Town led by 17 points at the last change, despite having 12 more scoring shots, but failed to score in the final quarter while the 'Wicks added 3.6, hitting the front just 3 minutes before the final bell. Future VFA president, Alec Gillon, kicked 4 goals for Brunswick in this game, including the major which secured the victory.
The game at Camberwell in round 4 commenced with the home side not having a 19th man until half-time, and Williamstown took advantage to lead by 3 points at quarter-time. In fact, 'Town led at every change before finally going down by just 8 points, the second narrow defeat in a row. Stan Lawler kicked 9 of the Villagers' 14 goals for the game without a miss, despite sustaining a dislocated finger. It was Camberwell's ninth consecutive win over Williamstown.
The Age, May 14, 1937
Due to accurate games records not being kept prior to 1935, champion full-back and former captain-coach, Fred Brooks, became officially the first Williamstown player to reach 100 senior Club games in the round 5 match at Williamstown against Brighton, although it is known that others had achieved this milestone earlier. It has been noted elsewhere that the following players had all played a century of games for 'Town prior to Brooks:
Bobby Gibbs snr (1885-99) between 171-185 games,
Ted 'Dinah' Griffin (1886-97) between 167-173 games,
Ted Alley (1905-15) 160 games,
Jack MacDonald (1911-24) 155 games,
Ernie Warren (1884-92) between 134-149 games,
Bobby Gibbs jnr (1907-19) 140 games,
Bert Amy (1908-19) 129 games,
Johnny Fribbs (1886-97) between 125-128 games,
Bert Reitman (1907-14) 126 games,
'Jasper' Jones (1884-93) between 118-129 games,
Harold Johns (1925-34) 125 games,
Arthur 'Porky' Sykes (1926-34) 125 games,
Stan Mitchell (1914-24) 115 games,
Tom Geisler (1921-26) 113 games,
Dick Condon (1921-24) 112 games,
Fred Carpenter (1920-24) 108 games,
Gus Brownfield (1889-95) 107 games,
Tom McKinley (1897-1904) 107 games,
'Yorky' Dyson (1890-98) between 107-109 games,
Norm McDonald (1919-32) 106 games,
Billy Sprintall (1897-1906) 105 games,
Walter Warren (1886-1902) between 102-103 games,
Alf 'Ginger' Worroll (1884-90) between 100-106 games and
Hughie Munro (1921-30) 100 games.
In his six seasons with the Club, Brooks had missed just one game, against Prahran in round 21 of 1933, with influenza. Brighton didn't join in on the celebrations and had three goals on the board before 'Town opened their scoring. This margin was maintained for most of the game and the Penguins ran out winners by 21 points. 19yo Keith Rae made his senior VFA debut for 'Town in this match.
Argus, May 3 1937 - former captain-coach, best & fairest winner and VFA Medal recipient, Fred Brooks, played his 100th senior game for Williamstown in the round 5 match against Brighton, which was lost by 21 points.
The season's 6th successive defeat occurred the following week at Sandringham when Williamstown failed comprehensively, going down by 57 points in the year's biggest loss, despite leading by 8 points at quarter time. The Zebras kicked 16 goals to 'Town's 5 goals over the last three quarters, with the Villagers kicking just two behinds against the wind in the second term and 1.4 in the last. Stan Lawler continued his good form with another 6 goals.
The season's first victory came at Williamstown in round 7 against eventual wooden-spooner, Oakleigh, by 62 points. The Oaks kicked the first 4 goals of the game but 'Town was in front by 8 points by half-time after limiting the visitors to just one behind when kicking into the wind in the second quarter. The breeze dropped a little after half-time and the Villagers outscored Oakleigh in the third quarter to lead by 3 goals at the last change before unleashing a 7 goal to NIL last quarter to win comfortably and almost kick the highest score of the round. Lawler's 6 goals took his total for the year to 31 and he became the first Williamstown player to lead the VFA goalkicking list for many years.
The season's third defeat by eight points or less occurred at Coburg in round 8 against the equal-second side, when the home team got home, 8.20.68 to 9.7.61, in a closely-contested game. Captain-coach, Neville Huggins, sustained a knee injury and was carried from the ground with 10 minutes remaining in the match, and the 'Burgers were able to add a goal in the temporary disorganisation. Stan Lawler, starring in his 50th Club match, replied with his 6th major of the game to get the Villagers back within 7 points by the final bell. Williamstown centreman, Keith Rae, was best-on-ground.
The Villagers ventured out to Westgarth Street the following week to take on the equal second-placed team, Northcote, and led at every change of ends before the 'Cotes booted 7.2 to 0.3 in the final quarter to run out 38-point winners. This was Northcote's ninth win out of the last ten encounters with Williamstown and kept 'Town in second last place on the ladder. The Villagers recorded their second win for the year with a third consecutive victory over Port Melbourne at Williamstown in round 10 by 20 points, with Stan Lawler's 6 goals taking his season tally to 45. Recruit, Keith McIntyre, was reported for kicking MacBeth of Port Melbourne during the first quarter, but when MacBeth failed to appear at the tribunal the charge was dismissed. Two consecutive defeats followed, by 15 points at Toorak Park and by 26 points in the wet at Yarraville against the ladder leaders.
The Herald, May 21 1937 - Councillor John Anthony 'Jack' Dennis was one of the Club's delegates to the VFA from 1909 until 1934. He then served as a vice-president in 1935 and also had a stint as president in 1919 & 1920. Dennis also had a lengthy role as VFA treasurer and was Mayor of Williamstown in 1918-19 and 1933-34.
Williamstown returned to the winners list in round 13 with a 39-point victory over Preston at Pt Gellibrand after leading all day, which enabled 'Town to leapfrog both Port and Preston and move up to 9th position on the ladder. When Preston defeated the Villagers in the second game of the year they kicked the highest score of the round, but on this occassion they managed the lowest score of round 13 and had kicked only 1.5 by half-time. Stan Lawler steered through 5 goals from 10 shots on a windy day. Another windy day greeted Williamstown when they ventured to Elsternwick Park to take on Brighton, where 16.30 was kicked to one end of the ground and just 2.9 at the other. The Penguins kicked 5.10 to NIL with the aid of the wind in the first quarter and still led by 25 points at half-time. This lead was extended to 57 points by the last change despite Brighton playing with 17 men for part of the third quarter after a player was injured. The game petered out to a 39 point victory for the eventual preliminary finalist. This was Brighton's 7th consecutive win over Williamstown.
The final win for the season came in the penultimate home-and-away round at Pt Gellibrand against Sandringham with a comfortable 28-point victory after taking the lead in the second quarter and never being headed, 'Town's fourth successive triumph at home for the year. Like two weeks previously against Preston, Sandringham also kicked the lowest score of the round even though they received 49 free kicks to Williamstown's 30. Fred Brooks was best-on-ground while 'Town's George Miller was suspended for 10 weeks after being reported for kicking an opponent late in the game. He was one of six players suspended as a result of this encounter. The season concluded with a 7-goal defeat at Oakleigh to the eventual wooden-spooner who won the same number of games as Williamstown but had an inferior percentage.
Jim McConville became treasurer of the Club in 1937 and remained in the role until the end of the 1939 premiership year. He then became secretary from 1940-42 before returning to the treasurers position in 1945 after the war recess. McConville remained in the role until the end of 1957, when he then became a vice-president in 1958/59 before ending his official involvement with the Club.
Captain-coach, Neville Huggins, missed 4 games following a knee injury suffered at Coburg in round 8 but played well enough to win the Recorder Cup with twice the number of votes of the runner-up and tied with Jack Lowry of Prahran for the VFA Medal. Huggins also won the Club best and fairest for the second time with Fred Brooks runner-up. Brooks also received a trophy for best attendance at training. Huggins also captained the VFA representative side in a game at St Kilda on May 12 against the VFL which the Association lost by 104 points before a crowd of 11,000. Stan 'Snowie' Lawler, who finished third on the VFA goalkickers list, continued to play brilliantly in front of goals and broke the Club record of 63 jointly held by Jim McAuliffe (1921) and Fred Carpenter (1923) with 69 majors for the season and also brought up his 200th career goal in the last home-and-away game. This was a superb effort in a team that finished 10th of 12 with just 4 wins from 16 games, a fall of two rungs from the 8th place in 1936 but there were two less matches in 1937. George Jerram with 15 and Peter Robertson with 14 were the only other players to kick more than ten. The team scored 164 goals and 193 behinds (1177 points) to 192 goals and 218 behinds (1370 points) kicked by opponents, which resulted in a creditable percentage for a tenth-placed side of 88.91%. A total of 36 players were used over the course of the season. Brooks, Harland, Willett, Lawler and Deller played all 16 home-and-away games. Stan Green was awarded the most consistent player trophy, while Eddie Deller won the most effective player award and Jack Paterson was best clubman. Keith Rae was best first-year player. At the annual meeting in respect of the 1937 season, held in January 1938, life membership was awarded to long-serving volunteer, Joe Connery.
The incumbent president of the Football Club and Mayor of Williamstown, Cr John Robert Bell, passed away in the Williamstown Hospital at the age of 49 after a long illness on December 3 and was succeeded by Cr Ernest Jackson for the 1938 season. John 'Jack' Le Brun acted as president after Bell's demise. Former player, Miles Alexander 'Bob' Monk, passed away in the Alfred Hospital on January 19, 1937, at the age of 51. Monk was recruited from Melbourne in 1915 after 125 games from 1907-14 and debuted for 'Town in round 3 at Essendon in a 7-goal victory. He would play 12 games and kick 2 goals with 'Town before enlisting in the Army and going off to France in 1916.
The end-of-season trip was by train to Maryborough on August 14 by a party of 30.
An extract from Larry Floyd's book on the history of the VFA and Williamstown - the games played and goalscorers of 1937. The second column in the games played record is the player's cumulative total.
The Herald, August 7 1937
Williamstown Chronicle, August 14, 1937
The Herald, September 4 1937
Argus, September 6 1937
Argus, December 4, 1937 - Williamstown Mayor and President of the Williamstown Football Club in 1936 and 1937, John Robert Bell, passed away at age 49 on December 3.
The Age, December 4, 1937
Williamstown Chronicle, December 11, 1937
Williamstown Chronicle, December 11, 1937
Miles Alexander 'Bob' Monk passed away in the Alfred Hospital on January 19, 1937, at the age of 51. Pictured here in the VFL Record of round 2 1914, Monk was recruited from Melbourne in 1915 after 125 games from 1907-14 and debuted in round 3 at Essendon in a 7-goal victory. He would play 12 games and kick 2 goals with 'Town before enlisting in the Army and going off to France in 1916.
The Age, January 20, 1937.
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