Season Summary: 1939

1936 Footscray Seconds premiership player, Marty Phelan, was one of many recruits that came to Williamstown in 1939. Originally from West CYMS FC, Phelan played 3 senior games with the Bulldogs in 1935 before crossing to Kyneton in 1938, from where he was recruited by Williamstown. He played just 6 senior games with 'Town and was forced into retirement on doctor's advice during the season after suffering a serious injury in a Seconds match.

Former 134-game Melbourne & Victorian back pocket, Gordon 'Butcher' Ogden, was unanimously appointed 1939 captain-coach in February from amongst a field of 11 applicants. Ogden had captain-coached Warracknabeal the year before. Originally from Northcote CYMS, Ogden played with the VFL Demons from 1928-37 and with Williamstown from 1939 to the end of 1941, although he missed half of the latter season due to injuries, illness, business committments and a two-match suspension. He captain-coached Williamstown Seconds in 1944 when that competition resumed after the war recess and also played a further 7 senior games in 1945 to finish up with 56 appearances and one goal. He later coached Williamstown to the 1948 grand final, which was lost to Brighton, and the 1949 premiership win over Oakleigh. He was overlooked for the coaching position in 1950 and eventually ended up coaching Yarraville from 1951-55, including the 1953 grand final, which was lost to Port Melbourne by 10 goals. Ogden passed away on August 23, 2001, aged 92. 


 Club management of 1939, from left Fred 'Pop' Harsley (president), Larry Floyd (secretary), Jim McConville (treasurer) and Jack Le Brun (VFA delegate).

1939 saw the appointment of Fred 'Pop' Harsley as president and the legendary Bill Dooley first appeared as a vice-president along with the reformation of a Ladies Committee, headed up by the President, Mrs S. Rae, the secretary, Mrs Evelyn Spicer, and the treasurer, Mrs E. Hanrahan. Following the retirement of George Jerram as a player (who was appointed coach of Williamstown District), a search for a high profile captain-coach began and, in The Argus of 17 February, 1939, it was announced that former 134-game Melbourne & Victorian back pocket, Gordon 'Butcher' Ogden, had been unanimously appointed for 5 pounds a week from amongst a field of 11 applicants. Ogden had captain-coached Warracknabeal the year before, and was the son of former star Essendon rover, Percy Ogden. The committee then went after Carlton full-forward, Harry 'Soapy' Vallence, after 204 games and 722 goals for the Blues, who nearly joined up the season before. He came to wooden-spooner Williamstown for less money (2 pounds per match plus 2/- a goal and no contract) than what he was on at the VFL premiership-winning Blues but he was almost 34yo at the start of the season. More than 500 spectators turned up to watch his first night at training on March 23. From 18 shots at goal, he kicked 16.2 in the final practice match against Port Melbourne Seconds on April 8. 

Argus March 22 1939

Another star recruit was Melbourne's Eric 'Tarzan' Glass along with 6'3" Mattie Cave from Yarraville, who had played with both Footscray and St Kilda. He was brought to the Club by Yarraville teammate and Association representative, Arch Frew, who broke his finger at training and never played a senior game. 

Bill Spokes (Preston) and Doug Menzies (Footscray) along with locals Bert McTaggart jnr (Williamstown District), Norm Chisholm and Roger Hagan (both from Spotswood) and Tom Ward (Williamstown Juniors) were others to join the Club. International cricketer, Tom Leather, who had played 16 games for North Melbourne, was another newcomer along with Bill 'Jumbo' Wells from Richmond, Clive Fairbairn and Reg Outen (both Melbourne Seconds), Martin Phelan (Footscray 1936 Seconds premiership player), Jack Methven (Horsham) and Noel Sprague, who transferred to Northcote late in the season. Outen was the son of 1907 premiership vice-captain and 99-game player, Wyn Outen.

Stan Lawler headed to Preston with Vallence's arrival after 66 games and 226 goals, Pat Cahill went to Footscray without a clearance after round 1, Reg Taylor retired after 91 games when he wasn't selected in the seniors in the first three rounds and went to Williamstown District, and Keith Rae and Mick Harland went to Carlton in June, but Harland was back at Williamstown during 1940. Jack Richardson returned to Boronia after round 8 while Bill Bamford went back to Coburg but returned to 'Town in 1940. Brian Hall transferred to Queensland in his employment but was also back at Williamstown in 1940. Reg Thomas was appointed vice-captain to Ogden.   

WFC general committee of 1939

Back row (from left): Frank Mason, Alex Bond, George Rodgers, Jack Lee.

Middle row (from left): Bill Conroy, Bert Paterson, Jim McDonnell, Tom Roberts, Bill McLeay, Ern Pinckney, Bill Thomson.

Front row (from left): Harry Kershaw, Mick Moloney, Jack Le Brun (VFA delegate), Jim Foley (VFA delegate), Bert Moon.

Bobby Willett played his 50th consecutive game in the opening round against Yarraville at Williamstown. A crowd of 8,000 turned out to see 'Soapy' Vallence's debut and he did not disappoint with a haul of 5 goals, 4 of which came in the first 15 minutes of the third quarter when he was moved from centre half-forward to full-forward. After an even first half, mainly due to the Villagers kicking seven consecutive behinds in the second quarter, 'Town dominated the match after the long break and added 11.14 to the Villians' 3.8 to record a 47-point win, 18.25.133 to 12.14.86. Young ruckman, Pat Cahill, was Williamstown's best but he went to Footscray without a clearance during the following week. 

VFA Recorder for round 1, 1939 

Vallence's recruitment looked promising when he kicked 9.2, including six in the last quarter in a losing side at Camberwell in round 2 by just 3 points, 12.26.98 to 14.11.95. The wayward 'Wellers kicked only 3 goals from 15 scoring shots in the second quarter and could have had the match wrapped up at half time. Camberwell still led by 28 points at the last break before Williamstown added 7.6 to 3.5 against the wind in the final term to almost pinch the win. Tom Ward on debut marked just after the final bell within kicking distance and with the Seagulls trailing by just 3 points. Mick Harland played an outstanding game on Laurie Nash, keeping him to 4 goals and outmarking him several times. Eric 'Tarzan' Glass made his debut for 'Town in this match, kicking two goals, after being cleared by Melbourne during the previous week. This game-of-the-round attracted another crowd of 8,000. It was Camberwell's 13th consecutive victory over Williamstown.  

Eric 'Tarzan' Glass came to Williamstown in 1939 after 78 games and 135 goals with Melbourne from 1933-38, and was the Demons leading goalkicker in 1936 with a total of 56 majors. Originally from Goomalling in the wheatbelt area of WA, 45 kms from Northam where he was born in 1910, Glass commenced playing for East Fremantle in 1927 and played 55 games and kicked 115 goals up until the end of 1932, including the 1930 & 1931 WAFL premierships. He went on to amass 82 games and 53 goals for 'Town up until the end of 1945 (excluding the war recess years of 1942-44), and was vice-captain of the team in his final season. He played in the 1939 and 1945 premiership wins for the Seagulls and was awarded the most consistent player trophy in 1940 & 1941. He was coach of Williamstown Seconds in 1946 and was selected as ruck-rover in the Club's Team of the Century and is a member of the Club's Hall of Fame. Glass enlisted in the RAAF during World War II and passed away on July 29, 1985, at the age of 75.  

Vallence kicked 5 behinds in the first quarter before registering a goal in the third round clash against Oakleigh at Pt Gellibrand, but went on to boot 8.9 in a six-goal victory, 15.26.116 to 11.15.81. Right on the bell for three-quarter time, Vallence slotted a goal that was estimated to have travelled 70 yards (64 metres). He was second on the VFA goalkicking list after this game with 22. Defender, Arthur Cutting, was best-on-ground. Oakleigh was captain-coached by former Williamstown (15 games 1927) and Collingwood (173 games 1928-37) player, Len Murphy. Williamstown now found themselves in the 'four' after round 3 for the first time in many years. Stan Lawler was cleared to Preston, one of his former clubs, after 66 games and 226 goals following round 3 when it became clear that opportunities for him would be scarce with Vallence and Glass ruling the goalsquare. Reg Taylor also resigned after 91 games when he failed to be selected in the senior team over the first three rounds and was subsequently cleared to Williamstown District. 

Vice-presidents of 1939

Back: Henry Hall and Edward Duncan 'Peter' McIntyre

Front: Fred Harden jnr, Horrie Hocking, James Hocking and the legendary Bill Dooley snr

Colin Wilcox in defence was the star in Williamstown's 9-point win at Port Melbourne in round 4, where 'Town led at every change of ends and should have won by more except for poor kicking at goal once again. Port reduced the 5-goal margin at three-quarter time to just 3 points going in to time-on before Jim Quinn snapped a goal for the Villagers to ensure the victory, 13.17.95 to 13.8.86. The crowd of 7,000 was the largest seen at the ground for many years. It was also the 100th meeting between the bayside rivals since the inaugural meeting in July 1886, the first occasion that two teams in the same competition had met that number of times. Melbourne and Carlton had achieved the feat some years before but that was a combination of League and Association contests.

 Williamstown trailed all day at Coburg in round 5 after the 'Burgers got away to a great start with the wind blowing strongly to the grandstand end and found themselves 39 points up at the first break, leading 7.10.52 to 2.1.13. In the last quarter the wind had died down but 'Town nevertheless came from several goals down to get within nine points of the lead but an ankle injury to 'Tarzan' Glass and four quick goals by Coburg consigned the Villagers to a 32-point defeat, 21.16.142 to 16.14.110. Vice-captain, Reg Thomas, returned to form by booting 6 goals and being best player for Williamstown. Des Rowan was cleared to Richmond the following week, after 30 games and 9 goals from 1936-38 after being recruited from North Melbourne.  

The two bottom teams from 1938, 'Town and Sandringham, met in the wet in round 6 at Pt Gellibrand where the Villagers led by 33 points at three-quarter time before the Zebras reduced the margin to 15 points and threatened to steal the points. Two doubtful umpiring decisions resulted in goals to Williamstown and sealed a 25-point victory, 14.22.106 to 12.9.81, 'Town's fourth win of the year. After two quiet games, 'Soapy' Vallence returned to form with a six-goal haul, giving him a total of 31 for the season and second place on the goalkickers list, three behind George Hawkins of Prahran. Jack McDonagh at full-back was best for 'Town while Norm Chisholm made his senior debut in this match. Eight Sandringham players were injured in this game and secretary of the Zebras' Seconds, Des Walls, acted as 19th man to make up the numbers. 


Williamstown travelled to Northcote the following week in the match-of-the-round, which resulted in a 3-goal victory to the top-of-the-ladder 'Cotes. Northcote led at every change of ends, albeit by small margins, and the Villagers hit the front by a point in the final quarter after a goal from Jack Paterson but the 'Cotes responded with four quick goals to lead by 20 points with ten minutes remaining. Williamstown then kicked six consecutive behinds before Vallence marked and goaled to give 'Town some hope of a miraculous victory. Northcote responded with a goal a minute before the bell to settle the issue, 11.13.79 to 7.19.61, on a ground described by a Williamstown official as a 'sludge heap with offensive odours'. Williamstown historian, Fred Critchley, described the ground as being 'like a cow paddock - it was in a shocking and disgraceful state.' After round 10, Northcote's home games were moved to Olympic Park. Paterson was best for the Villagers. There was consternation in the 'Town rooms before the match when 'Tarzan' Glass did not arrive until 10 minutes before the start of the game due to him having difficulty in locating the sodden Westgarth Street ground. 

Sporting Globe, May 27 1939 - a scene from the round 7 clash at Northcote which Williamstown lost by 3 goals.

Prahran, which had replaced Northcote on the top of the table, visited Williamstown in round 8. Vallence injured his back the previous week at Northcote and was replaced by Keith Rae who booted 5 goals. Rae, along with Mick Harland, were cleared to Carlton during the week following this game but Harland was back at Williamstown during 1940. Vallence's rival on the goalkicking list, George Hawkins, kicked 7 goals for the Two Blues in this game, Prahran's eighth consecutive win over 'Town. The Villagers kicked themselves out of the game by booting just 5 behinds in the second quarter and 2.11 with the wind in the third quarter, adding just 3 goals to the quarter-time score and 19 behinds to go down by 27 points. Over the past two matches Williamstown had kicked a total of 15.45 in losing both games. Bobby Willett was dropped for this game after 56 consecutive appearances in the seniors. Colin Wilcox was best for the Villagers. 

Training staff 1939

Bob and George Major were brothers, and Bob became head trainer from 1952 until 1957 and from 1959 until 1970. He acted as treasurer in 1958. Kelly Brent took over the role as head trainer from Bob in 1971 - photo enhancement 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.

Williamstown were victorious at Preston for the first time since 1911 in the round 9 clash with the Bullants. Vallence returned to the team and booted 7 goals in the 35-point win to take his tally for the season to 41, twelve behind George Hawkins. Stan 'Snowie' Lawler kicked 4 goals for Preston in his first encounter with his former team. Defender, Arthur Cutting, was best for 'Town in his 95th senior outing. 1938 runner-up, Brighton, visited Williamstown in round 10 and 'Town were victorious over the Penguins for the first time since 1933, with a 31-point win as the match ended in semi-darkness. Vallence kicked another 7 goals as the Villagers returned to the top four for the first time since round 3. Centreman, George Fitch, was best player for Williamstown. Jim Quinn, who worked for a local baker, was late arriving for the game due to the horse on his breadcart bolting. Former Williamstown player of 1932-33 (38 games, 2 goals), Cyril Williamson, played for Brighton on newcomer from Melbourne Seconds, Clive Fairbairn, in this match.  

The Williamstown team pictured before the round 9 game at Preston, which was won by 'Town by 35 points, 18.17.125 to 14.6.90, the first victory at Preston since round 2, 1911. 'Soapy' Vallence kicked 7 goals.

Back row: Charlie Walsh, Bert McTaggart jnr, Eric Glass, Ossie Maloney, Jack McDonagh, Matt Cave, Eddie Deller, Clive Fairbairn, Colin Wilcox

Centre row: Jack Methven, Harry Vallence, Reg Thomas, Gordon Ogden (captain-coach), Stan Jamieson, Arthur Cutting, George Fitch

Front row: Norm Chisholm, Jack Paterson, Marty Phelan

Williamstown travelled to Brunswick without captain, Gordon Ogden, due to influenza the week after the top-of-the-table 'Wicks scored 31.15.201 against Oakleigh, just 10 points short of the VFA's highest-ever score to date of 30.31.211 kicked at Glenferrie by Hawthorn against Prahran in round 15, 1922. Reg Thomas skippered the team with Arthur Cutting acting vice-captain. The Magpies were led by former Williamstown player of 1927-29 (50 games, 3 goals), Roy McKay. 'Town recovered from a 32-point quarter-time deficit to level the scores by half-time, but the 'Wicks booted 13 goals to just 5 by the Villagers in the second half to run out victors by 54 points, even outscoring Williamstown in the last quarter when kicking into the wind. After booting 16 goals the week before in Brunswick's huge score, Harold Jones added another 9 majors in this encounter while 'Soapy' Vallence kicked 7 goals for the third week in a row. One of Vallence's goals was the result of a one-handed mark during the second quarter followed by a 70-yard (64 metre) torpedo punt, one of his 4 goals in a 7 minute period. He now had 55 goals for the season. Centre half-back, Colin Wilcox, was best for Williamstown despite leaving the ground in the third quarter with a hip injury. It was the 'Wick's 7th consecutive win over 'Town and left the Villagers with a winless record at Brunswick since round 15, 1923. The crowd was estimated at 8,000.  

Herald, May 26, 1939

Doug Menzies, who played 14 games with Footscray from 1937-39, debuted for Williamstown in the round 12 game at Yarraville. Cliff Johnson, who was suspended for 12 matches after being reported for kicking a Camberwell opponent in the round 13 clash of the previous season, also returned to the team. A comfortable victory was expected for the 5th-placed 'Town against 9th-placed Yarraville but the Villians surprised to lead by 17 points at quarter-time. The game evened up over the next two quarters before Williamstown unleashed a withering burst of 11.3, including 5 goals in 6 minutes, in the last term to Yarraville's 2.5 to romp home by 78 points. 'Soapy' Vallence had been held to only two goals before booting 6.1 in the last quarter to give him 8 for the match and 63 for the season but suffered a knee injury late in the game. Colin Wilcox was again best for the Villagers. The Herald reported on July 10 that 'amusement was aroused among the crowd at Yarraville when Gordon Ogden had his pants torn in two during the third term. Quite unconcerned, the Williamstown skipper played on and took a beautiful one-handed mark while waiting for the trainers to re-clothe him.' The Villagers score of 23.19.157 was the highest yet attained by the Club, yet would be exceeded just two weeks later. 

With seven victories, Williamstown went into its clash with Camberwell at Pt Gellibrand in round 13 with its equal best win-loss record since 1930 and having lost only one game at home, to Prahran in round 8 and that was due to shocking inaccuracy in front of goal. The blustery wind spoilt the match as a spectacle but the pace of the game and the generally good marking of both sides kept the large crowd of 9,000 entertained, the biggest at Williamstown for many years. After the Tricolours led by 3 goals at half-time, the Sporting Globe reported that 'the crowd at Williamstown was kept in a constant roar during the third term when the home team staged a glorious revival. At the interval, Camberwell appeared certain to win easily, but Williamstown crept up to take the lead, in spite of rugged opposition from the Tricolour defenders.' Laurie Nash kicked 8 goals, including 4 from free kicks, to lead the 'Wellers to a 20-point victory. Reg Thomas kicked 5 goals and Cliff Johnson was Williamstown's best. 

Mattie Cave came to Williamstown in 1939 from Yarraville after earlier playing with Footscray (1932-33 10 games 1 goal) and St Kilda (1933-34 14 games 3 goals). Originally from Yarraville, he played a total of 64 games with the Villians. At Williamstown he played 42 games and kicked 18 goals up until the end of 1941, although he spent most of his last season before the war recess in the Seconds due to injuries and work committments with Mobil. He died suddenly at his home in Yarraville in January 1975, aged 64. 

Arthur Cutting played his 100th senior game for Williamstown in the round 14 clash at Oakleigh and celebrated with an 86-point victory. 'Soapy' Vallence booted a Club record 18 goals in this match, 10 more than his previous best outing since joining 'Town from Carlton. He also became just the second 'Town player to kick 10 or more goals in a game, joining Bob Briggs who booted 10 against North Melbourne at Arden St. in 1908. He also passed the most goals in a season by a Williamstown player, previously held by Stan Lawler who booted 69 majors in 1937, as he moved to 83 for the year but still trailing Prahran's George Hawkins by nine majors. Eight of the goals came in the third quarter as the Villagers added 11.8 to 1.3 by the 'Oaks. The Argus reported that 'he was guarded by three Oakleigh players in the last quarter and, after kicking two goals within the first three minutes of play, had to leave the field with a groin injury.' The bottom-of-the-ladder 'Oaks were no match for the Villagers and trailed by 17, 28 and 93 points at the respective breaks, before outscoring 'Town in the last quarter to eventually go down by more than 14 goals, 25.24.174 to 12.16.88, Williamstown's highest score since gaining Association senior status in 1884. The previous highest score was set just two weeks previously against Yarraville. This was the 8th victory for the season and the best return since 7 wins were registered in 1936. It was also the first time that Williamstown had defeated Oakleigh twice in a season since the 'Oaks joined the VFA in 1929 and the first victory at Oakleigh since 1932.                                                            

The Age, July 24, 1939

Williamstown hosted Port Melbourne before a crowd of 7,500 in round 15 which witnessed an even struggle in the first half, with Port leading by 4 points at the first change of ends and 'Town 2 points ahead at the long break. However, the Villagers ran away with the game in the second half, adding 11.8 to 3.6 to run out winners by 52 points. Vallence added another 6 goals to his season tally, with 5 of them coming in the last quarter. Arthur Cutting was best player for Williamstown. This was the first occasion Williamstown had kicked 20 goals in a game against Port. 

Fifth-placed 'Town was at home again the following week against finals rival, the sixth-placed Coburg, with only one win separating the two teams. After an even first half, the visitors had edged ahead by just 6 points by the long break. However, the 'Burgers added only 2 goals in the second half to go down by 35 points, 16.16.112 to 10.17.77, thereby avenging the five goal defeat at Coburg earlier in the year. This was 'Town's third successive victory, a feat not achieved since 1932 when it occurred twice. Ten wins also meant that the Villagers were experiencing their best season since 1930. Camberwell's defeat by Northcote saw Williamstown enter the top four for the first time since round 10. Vallence added a further five goals to his tally giving him 94 for the season. Wingman, Doug Menzies, was best-on-ground. Coburg were without their star full-forward, Lance Collins, who was third on the goalkicking list behind Hawkins of Prahran and Vallence but missed this game due to a back injury.  

Bert McTaggart jnr came to Williamstown in 1939 from Williamstown District, played at centre half-forward in the premiership side, won the best first-year player award and then went to Carlton the following season. After playing 9 games and kicking 6 goals for the Blues he returned to Williamstown in early 1941. McTaggart then went to Footscray in 1942 and played 59 games up until the end of 1945. He then went coaching in Tasmania with Clarence and passed away in Hobart on August 11, 1997, aged 81. McTaggart played a total of 36 games and kicked 32 goals for Williamstown and later coached the Seconds in 1952. His father, Bert McTaggart snr, played 75 games and kicked 43 goals from 1911-14 and 1919 after the recess for World War I. His uncle, Bobby Gibbs jnr, played 140 games and kicked 87 goals with 'Town from 1907-15 and 1919 and was first rover in the Club's first premiership team in 1907.

Williamstown's run of success continued with a 4th consecutive victory at Sandringham in round 17, which hadn't occurred since 'Town last made the finals in 1930. It was also the first time that the Villagers had won at Sandringham since 1934 and the first time the Zebras had been defeated twice in a season since 1930. Vallence required six goals for his first century at any level and had five of them before half-time, including 4 in the second quarter, but the Zebras' full-back, Dave Withers, held him goalless in the second half despite 'Soapy's' teammates making every effort to get him the goal that he needed and wasting many scoring opportunities. Sandringham reduced the three-quarter time deficit of 27 points to just 14 before Bill Spokes, 'Tarzan' Glass and then Jack Paterson goaled to ensure a 30-point victory, 16.13.109 to 12.7.79. The Age reported that 'at the conclusion of the Sandringham game, when umpire Parris was entering the race, the crowd surged around him in a threatening manner, and it is alleged that a woman struck him. The appearance of a constable quickly cleared the crowd.' Williamstown wrote to the VFA the following week complaining about the performance of the umpire, and at a hearing Parris confirmed that he had received a blow on the back of the neck after the match, and when he looked around he saw a woman. The Williamstown Chronicle also noted that 'bad umpiring upset the temper of the crowd and only the good nature of the players prevented the game developing along the wrong lines.' Colin Wilcox, who had debuted on this ground the previous season, was best for 'Town. 

'Soapy' Vallence was reportedly suffering from a cold heading into the round 18 game at Williamstown against Preston but took his place in the team, requiring just one further major to register his first-ever century of goals in a season. Former 'Town forward, Stan 'Snowy' Lawler, kicked 4 goals for the Bullants in their clash earlier in the season but had since been relegated to the Seconds. Vallence became the first Williamstown player to boot 100 goals in a season at the 12-minute mark of the first quarter after a relayed free kick downfield. He was presented with a trophy by President, Fred 'Pop' Harsley, of a silver football and goal posts during the half-time break which had been donated by vice-president, Bill Dooley. Scoring was difficult with a strong breeze blowing straight across the ground, and the Villagers booted seven consecutive singles during the second quarter. Williamstown led at every change of ends before Preston managed to reduce the three-quarter time deficit of 23 points down to 10 before former Preston player, Bill Spokes, and Vallence goaled to make the game safe for the Villagers, with the final scores 10.12.72 to 7.6.48. Centreman, George Fitch, was best player, especially in the second half. Matt Cave and Ingy Norman of Preston were reported in this match for striking each other. Wally Miller of the Bullants was also reported for kicking 'Town's Reg Thomas and was subsequently suspended until late June, 1940. This was the first time that the Bullants had been defeated twice in a season since 1911. 

 Herald, August 19, 1939

Harry 'Soapy' Vallence being congratulated by captain-coach, Gordon Ogden, after kicking his 100th goal of the 1939 season in the game against Preston at Williamstown in round 18. He became the first 'Town player to boot a century of majors and it was the first time he had achieved the personal milestone at any level of football, despite kicking over 700 goals for Carlton in 204 games. The photo appeared in the Argus on Monday, August 21, 1939. 

A virtual play-off for fourth position on the ladder and a finals spot occurred at Elsternwick Park in the following round against 5th-placed Brighton, which was 4 points and considerable percentage behind Williamstown but had won the last eight matches at home. This game had been postponed by a week because of torrential rain as were all other League and Association fixtures for the first time since July 1936. 'Town led at every change of ends and eventually ran out victors by 44 points, 14.23.107 to 9.9.63, but inaccuracy in front of goal meant the margin should have been greater. In the second and third quarters the Villagers added a total of 4.15. Vallence kicked another 5 goals to bring his season total to 107 while full-back, Jack McDonagh was best-on-ground. Williamstown were in the finals for the first time since 1930 when it lost the semi-final to Oakleigh. 'Town had scored more than 2,000 points in a season for the first time in the Club's history. Due to the escalating situation in Europe, Arthur Cutting was detained on duty by the Air Force and was unavailable for the Brighton encounter. Australia declared war on Germany the day after this game, September 3, and entered World War Two. 

The final home-and-away game was at Williamstown opposed to Brunswick, who had kicked a Victorian senior football record score of 37.16.238 the previous week against Oakleigh, overtaking the VFA's previous highest-ever score to date of 30.31.211 kicked at Glenferrie by Hawthorn against Prahran in round 15, 1922. The winning margin was 186 points while their full-forward, Harold Jones, kicked 20 goals, the highest tally of the season. There was drama before the game when repairs had to be made to the ground fence which had blown down in a gale the night before the game. A crowd of 9,000 witnessed 'Town get away to a good start with the wind advantage and led the top-of-the-table Magpies by 26 points at the first break which the 'Wicks had reduced to a goal by half-time. This was extended to 16 points at the last change of ends but Brunswick again narrowed the margin to just 5 points during the last term before late goals to Bert McTaggart jnr and 'Soapy' Vallence secured a 23-point victory, Williamstown's seventh successive win, and fourth place on the ladder with 14 wins and 6 defeats, the same as third-placed Northcote. Prahran headed the ladder followed by Brunswick who dropped one place due to the loss to the Villagers, the first since 1934. Arthur Cutting, back in the team after being released from Air Force duties, was best for Williamstown while Harold Jones was blanketed by Cliff Johnson and Jack McDonagh and kicked only one behind for the match. Vallence booted 6 goals which gave him 113 for the season. 


Doug Menzies joined Williamstown from Footscray in June after 14 games and 3 goals from 1937 after being recruited from West Footscray. He played on the wing in the 1939 premiership team and was named in the best players. Menzies enlisted in the Royal Australian Navy in September 1940, was discharged in March 1945 and returned to play two further games with 'Town that year at the age of 30. He played a total of 28 games and kicked 2 goals in the gold and blue. Menzies passed away on February 23, 1999, aged 84.  

Only one change was made to the selected team for the first semi-final against Northcote, which Williamstown had not defeated since 1933, at Toorak Park, 'Town's first final since 1930, with the injured wingman, Doug Menzies (ankle), being replaced by Tom Ward. However, Reg Outen's car broke down on the way to the ground and he was replaced as 19th man by Bob Willett due to his (Outen's) late arrival and he was relegated to emergency. Northcote won the toss and kicked with the wind to the southern or High Street end of the ground and had 2 goals quickly on the board from free kicks and the 'Cotes were 10 points in front at the first break. Jim Quinn sustained a broken finger in the first quarter and was replaced by Willett at quarter-time. The Villagers led for first time 5 minutes before half-time after goals from Thomas and Vallence, his fourth, and took a 3-point lead into half-time. The wind dropped in the third quarter and the lead changed several times before Northcote found themselves up by just 2 points at the last change of ends. McDonagh's marking and other defensive work at the start of the last quarter stopped the 'Cotes from taking a commanding lead and were 9 points up in a low-scoring match before Vallence, Paterson and Vallence again goaled to put Williamstown in front by 10 points. Frank Seymour of Northcote goaled to reduce the margin to only 4 points which had the crowd of 10,000, the biggest first semi-final crowd since the pre-depression days, in a frenzy. Stan Jamieson added two further behinds to make the difference at the end just one goal, 11.14.80 to 10.14.74. This was Williamstown's first semi-final win in 15 years and the 8th victory in succession. It was also 'Town's first win at Toorak Park since 1933 and the first victory over Northcote in their last ten encounters. Rover, Jack Paterson, with 3 goals was best afield while Vallence's seven for the game game him 120 for the year. Other good players were McDonagh, Deller, Ogden, Cutting, Wilcox, Chisholm, Willet, Fitch, Jamieson and Thomas. The Villagers had seven injured players as a result of this clash - Quinn (dislocated finger and chipped bone) was the worst of them but recovered in time for the preliminary final. Glass (thigh), Wilcox (knee), Ogden (thigh), Jamieson (wrist), Cave (cut above an eye) & Cutting (ankle) were others under a cloud. 

Sporting Globe, 16 September, 1939

VFA Recorder of September 23, 1939, with the list of goalscorers after the first semi-final. 

After Brunswick snatched victory from Prahran in the last few minutes of the second semi-final to win by 4 points after trailing all day, Williamstown met the Two Blues in the preliminary final at Toorak Park for the right to play the Magpies in the grand final. There was one change to the team with Tom Ward relegated to 19th man, replaced by Bob Willett. This would be 'Town's biggest game since the 1924 grand final. The venue for the final was in doubt all the week leading up to the game due to a Supreme Court case over use of the ground. Prahran Cricket Club had sought an injunction to restrain Prahran Council, owners of the ground, from using it for football as the cricket club feared it was in danger of losing its affiliation with the VCA by not having the ground ready for the start of the cricket season. It was alleged that the Council had physically prevented the curator from preparing the centre wicket which, under the terms of the lease, the Council was not entitled to do, according to the cricket club. The injunction was eventually refused late on Friday and the game went ahead as planned the following day.

Harry 'Soapy' Vallence outmarks Phil Murray of Prahran during the 1939 preliminary final.

It was estimated that 700 people watched Williamstown's final training session on the Thursday night before the game as excitement grew in The Village. Captain-coach, Gordon Ogden, won the toss and kicked with the wind to the Toorak Road end of the ground. 'Soapy' Vallence kicked three successive goals within the first 15 minutes of the match, which helped Williamstown to lead by 23 points at quarter time, 4.8 to 1.3. The Two Blues' prolific full-forward, George Hawkins, booted four goals in the second quarter to have Prahran in front by 9 points at the long interval, 6.13 to 5.10. The breeze picked up in the third quarter and 'Town had scored within 30 seconds of the start and found themselves 4 goals up at the last change of ends, 11.16 to 7.16. 15 goals out of the 18 scored in the match to that point had been kicked to the Toorak Road end. Goals to Vallence, Spokes and Jamieson at the start of the last quarter had 'Town 43 points in front and in a seemingly unassailable position. However, three goals to Hawkins and two others from free kicks had Prahran two goals down with 14 minutes to go and with the breeze at their backs. Vallence hit the post before Prahran goaled again and were now only trailing by 7 points. Another goal off the ground to Hawkins had the Two Blues only 1 point in arrears when Ian Fleming of Prahran was free-kicked within scoring distance. Willett appeared to go over the mark but the umpire took the ball off Fleming for time-wasting and, from the resultant free kick, Fitch passed to Vallence who goaled followed by a behind from Jamieson. In time-on, goals to Prahran's Doug Rolfe and Hawkins again had them 5 points in front with two minutes remaining as the crowd went frantic. With 20 seconds remaining Vallence marked and goaled to regain the lead (for which he received the princely sum of 5 pounds from vice-president Bill Dooley) and then Jamieson goaled again as the bell rang to end the epic match with The Villagers in front, 17.19.121 to 16.18.114. It was claimed by some that neither central umpire Hayes or the boundary umpires could hear the siren due to the crowd noise and that Jamieson's kick actually came after the final bell. In a miraculous final term, 15 goals were kicked, 9 by Prahran and 6 by Williamstown. It was the first time 'Town had beaten the Two Blues in their last 9 encounters, and the first win at Toorak Park since 1933. Two of the defeats during that period were by over 100 points and another by 99 points. It was 'Town's 9th win in a row since being defeated by Camberwell at Pt Gellibrand in round 13 by 20 points. Ruckman, Bill Spokes, was best for Williamstown while fellow ruckman, Mattie Cave, Eric Glass, Jack Paterson, Bert McTaggart jnr, Harry Vallence (8 goals), Reg Thomas, Stan Jamieson, Colin Wilcox, Gordon Ogden, Jack McDonagh, Jim Quinn, George Fitch, Norm Chisholm and Arthur Cutting were other good players. Prahran's George Hawkins kicked 9 goals (4 in the second quarter and 5 in the last) for a season total of 164, an Australian senior goal-kicking record, which would be broken by South Melbourne legend, Bob Pratt, just two years later when playing with Coburg with 183. The crowd was 15,000. Rover, Jack Paterson, collapsed in the rooms after the game following a severe blow to the head early in the last quarter. Williamstown became the first team in League or Association football to come from last the previous year to play off in the following year's grand final, although Footscray did it in 1919 after finishing last in 1918, a season where only 6 teams competed over 10 home-and-away rounds in a truncated resumption after World War I.

Williamstown full-back, Jack McDonagh, misjudges the ball in this contest but 'Town prevailed by 7 points in the 1939 preliminary final against Prahran at Toorak Park to advance to the grand final.   

'Soapy' Vallence (#8) flies for a mark against Bill Johnson of Prahran in the 1939 preliminary final at Toorak Park which 'Town won by 7 points, 17.19.121 to 16.18.114. Vallence kicked 8 goals.

The 1939 Williamstown and Brunswick grand final squads and starting positions for the grand final at the MCG on Saturday, October 7.

Grand Final day 1939 was Williamstown's first appearance on the MCG since round 5 1896 v. Melbourne, the final year before the formation of the VFL. It was Brunswicks's sixth time since admittance to the VFA, having featured there in 1897, the 1908 grand final, the 1909 first semi-final, 1911 and 1928. They were the previous year's premiers. It was also the 82nd time these two teams had met, 'Town and Brunswick's both having 40 wins with one draw but it was their first meeting in a play-off. This game was the first VFA final at the MCG since the 1929 grand final between Northcote and Port Melbourne.

There was just one change to Williamstown's team - Doug Menzies, who injured his ankle in the final home-and-away round against Brunswick, came into the side on the wing and Bob Willett was relegated to 19th man. Emergencies were Ossie Moloney, Reg Outen and Tom Ward. The teams had only met in a final once before, the 1924 first semi-final, which Williamstown won by 11 points. 'Town had only appeared in two grand finals previously, in 1921, which they won, and 1924, when they lost badly to Footscray. They finished on top of the ladder in 1907, won the final against West Melbourne and a challenge was not necessary. Brunswick had played in many grand finals, the last three including this one for one flag in 1938 and a defeat by just two points by Prahran, and won three premierships. Brunswick was captain-coached by former Williamstown player, Roy McKay (1927-29, 50 games and 3 goals).

There was a slight breeze favouring the Punt Road goals and light showers half an hour prior to the game made the surface slippery. Arthur Cutting was presented with his VFA Medal prior to the game, the first VFA player to receive the Association's main award on the MCG and the fifth Williamstown player in succession to win the medal. Brunswick had two quick goals on the board and led at quarter time, 4.5 to Williamstown's 3.2., with two of Brunswick's goals coming from free kicks. The Magpies got out to a lead of 28 points in the 2nd quarter after taking 15 minutes to kick the first goal of the term while Williamstown kicked 7 behinds. Jack Paterson kicked 'Town's only goal for the quarter as the Villagers trailed at half-time 8.7 to 4.9. Heavy rain fell as players left the ground and during half-time and made the surface even more slippery.

Brunswick was captain-coached by former Williamstown player, Roy McKay (1927-29, 50 games and 3 goals).

The Williamstown Chronicle of October 14 reported that 'a fighting address by the coach at the interval, interspersed by massage and shampoo treatments, sent the side into the field again practically as fit and fresh as at the start.' The third quarter was played in continual rain, but Thomas goaled twice followed by Menzies, and when Vallence kicked his second for the game from a free kick 50 yards out Williamstown led by a point. The 'Wicks scored a point to level the scores at 9.11 each and then captain-coach McKay goaled again before Jamieson and Vallence both added majors. Williamstown added 4 behinds and then Vallence's 4th right on the siren put the Villagers 16 points up at the last change, 12.15 to 10.11. Vallence had kicked three goals in the quarter, including one from 70 yards (64 metres) out on the boundary. Heavy rain fell in the last term, but when Paterson goaled Williamstown were up by 19 points halfway through the quarter. Harold Jones replied with 2 goals for Brunswick, after which Paterson missed from a few yards out after marking and then Dowling of the Magpies goaled from a free, which made the difference just 1 point. Reg Thomas then kicked to Vallence who marked in front and goaled. Two further behinds were added, including a poster, and 'Town led by 9 points, 14.20.104 to 14.11.95, when the final siren sounded. The best players were centre half-back Colin Wilcox, winger Doug Menzies, Reg Thomas, Jack McDonagh, Eddie Deller, captain-coach Gordon Ogden, rover Jack Paterson, Bill Spokes, Mattie Cave and Stan Jamieson. Harry Vallence was leading goalkicker on the day with 5, giving him a total of 133 for the season. He was one of 5 century goalkickers in the VFA that year, the others being George Hawkins of Prahran (164 - a senior Australian record), Lance Collins of Coburg (108), Harold Jones of Brunswick (103) and Laurie Nash of Camberwell (100). Vallence announced his intention to retire following the game after 14 seasons of senior football. He had played on the MCG in consecutive grand finals for two premierships with different clubs in different competitions. He was persuaded to continue and would play two more seasons with the Villagers until the war intervened. 

Williamstown's 1939 premiership team was:

B.    Eddie Deller     Jack McDonagh     Cliff Johnson

HB. Arthur Cutting     Colin Wilcox          Gordon Ogden (c.c.)

C.   Doug Menzies    George Fitch       Norm Chisholm

HF. Stan Jamieson   Bert McTaggart jnr  Jim Quinn

F.    Bill Spokes         Harry Vallence      Reg Thomas (v.c.)

Foll.Matt Cave           Eric Glass

Rov.Jack Paterson

Res.Bob Willett

Emergencies: Ossie Maloney, Reg Outen, Tom Ward

It was the 10th consecutive win by Williamstown, and heralded 'Town's first premiership since 1921. The crowd of 47,098 was the biggest VFA attendance since 41,000 witnessed the 1908 grand final between Brunswick and Footscray and the attendance and gate takings were both VFA records. It was the 'Wicks third successive grand final for just one premiership in 1938 and losses by two points in 1937 and 9 points in 1939. Since the 'Page' system of finals had been introduced in 1933, no team other than those finishing first or second on the ladder after the completion of the home-and-away rounds has won the premiership in League or Association football until this season. 'Town were the third team to reach the finals after finishing last the previous season, following Richmond (last in 1897 and fourth in 1898) and Camberwell (last in 1931 and third in 1932).  Williamstown was also the first Association or League team to go from last to premiers in one year, although Footscray did it in 1919 after finishing last in 1918, a season where only 6 teams competed over 10 home-and-away rounds in a truncated resumption after World War I. 

The Australasian reported on October 14 that 'the first half of the game on Saturday was most uninteresting and disappointing. It was a muddling, scrambling game, much below the standard of senior football. The players may have been over-anxious.' Constrastingly, the Sporting Globe's Hec De Lacy on October 11 reported that 'the second half was the most thrilling display of Australian Rules football, played through continual rain, that the Victorian public has ever seen.' It went on to say that the game was 'the greatest display of football entertainment seen on the Melbourne ground for years.' It continued 'after half-time it was entirely different. The pace increased, and with it the skill. The thrilling third quarter, in which Williamstown scored 8.2 to 2.4 had stirred the crowd to a high pitch of excitement. I have not seen a crowd so roused in many years.'

Sporting Globe October 7, 1939 - Ted Fay (#15 Brunswick) punches the ball clear of 'Soapy' Vallence during the grand final. 

Sporting Globe October 7, 1939 - Brunswick defenders, including Charlie Challenger (#9) close in on the ball to repel a Williamstown attacking move during the grand final. 

The Age, October 9, 1939 - Charlie Challenger (Brunswick) tackles Jack Paterson of Williamstown while teammate Mattie Cave and Brunswick captain-coach and former Williamstown player, Roy McKay, look on during the grand final.

The Age, October 9, 1939 - 'Soapy' Vallence flies for a mark with Brunswick's Jack Davis during the grand final. Davis injured his shoulder during the second quarter and was replaced at half-time by Bert 'Bluey' Powell.

                                                                        Bill Spokes' 1939 premiership medallion.                                                               

Bill Spokes came to Williamstown in June 1939 after earlier playing with North Fitzroy, Collingwood Seconds (1 game 1 goal 1932), Preston (1933), Brunswick (1934-35), captain-coach Fitzroy District (1936-37) and Preston (1938). He played 27 games and kicked 15 goals for 'Town up until the end of 1940, including the famous 1939 premiership victory. He returned to Preston in 1941 and later played 5 games and kicked 3 goals for Fitzroy in 1943-44, and was full-back in the Fitzroy Seconds premiership team in 1944. He was also a boxer of some note. Spokes passed away on October 31, 1985, aged 71.

Williamstown's 1939 premiership squad

Back row: Martin Phelan, Rodger Hagan, Ossie Moloney, Tom Ward, Reg Outen, George Fitch*, Stan Jamieson*

Third Row: Eric 'Tarzan' Glass*, Jim Quinn*, Bert McTaggart jnr*, Mattie Cave*, Jack McDonagh*, Colin Wilcox*, Clive Fairbairn, Doug Menzies*

Second row: Cliff Johnson*, Eddie Deller*, Harry 'Soapy' Vallence*, Gordon Ogden (captain-coach)*, Reg Thomas (vice-captain)*, Arthur Cutting*, Bill Spokes*

Front row: Norm Chisholm*, Jack Paterson*, Bob Willet*, Maurice Hartney

 *= played in grand final v. Brunswick, Saturday October 7, 1939

Williamstown 1939 pennant

It was reported in The Herald on December 15, 1939, that Gordon Ogden had been reappointed captain-coach of the team for the next two seasons at a salary of 5 pounds per week. It was also reported in The Age on December 18 that Ogden had stated in a speech made two days earlier at a smoke night at the Williamstown Town Hall, put on in appreciation of the players winning the premiership, that 'the Association should keep the throw-pass, which had made the game such an attractive spectacle, even to the extent of patenting it. If the League were to adopt the throw pass, it would follow that many unattached patrons, now attending Association matches as onlookers, might be attracted to League matches.'

It was also reported in The Herald on 8 February, 1940, that secretary of the past 5 seasons, Larry Floyd, was retiring due to business reasons. Under his watch, the Club had a record income of 3,000 pounds, credit balance of 282 pounds at the end of the season and membership of 1,000 in 1939, made up 899 adult members and 105 youths. 65,000 spectators attended matches at the Williamstown ground, second only to Toorak Park, the venue for the three finals preceeding the grand final, which attracted 85,000. 34 players took the field in the 23 senior encounters, with 18 being old players and 16 newcomers. 

At the annual meeting held in respect of the 1939 season at the Town Hall in February 1940, trophies were presented to Arthur Cutting for best and fairest winner, Jack Paterson as runner-up and Jim Quinn for third place. Most consistent was captain-coach, Gordon Ogden, most effective Mattie Cave, Jack McDonagh for best attendance at training, Colin Wilcox for best player in the grand final, Jack McDonagh and Arthur Cutting for best in the final series. Harry 'Soapy' Vallence received three trophies for leading the Club goalkicking, for becoming the first Williamstown player to kick 100 goals in a season and for kicking a Club record 18 goals at Oakleigh in round 14. The Club's highest-ever score of 25.24.174 was kicked in that game. Vallence also received a trophy decided by public vote for being the most popular player in the VFA.

Best first-year player was awarded to Bert McTaggart jnr, most improved Stan Jamieson and most reliable Cliff Johnson. Most useful was awarded to George Fitch. Long service awards were given to Reg Taylor (91 games, 1932-38) and Eddie Dellar (78 games, 1932-34 & 1936-39). Best and fairest of the Seconds was Tom Ward while Eric 'Tarzan' Glass received a trophy for 'special service'. Committeeman, James 'Swimmie' McDonnell, received life membership. Jim Ward, brother of Tom, was runner-up in the VFA Seconds best and fairest award, the Angus McDonnell Cup. 

An extract from Larry Floyd's book on the history of the VFA and Williamstown - the games played and goalscorers of 1939. The second column in the games played record is the player's cumulative total.

Harry 'Soapy' Vallence booted 133 goals from his 22 games in his first season with Williamstown, the first Seagull player to kick a century of goals, and he also scored a Club record 18 goals at Oakleigh in round 14. 

It was the first time in the Club's history that three of the team kicked over 40 goals and four over 30 (vice-captain, Reg Thomas 43, Stan Jamieson 41 and Jack Paterson 36 were the others). Bert McTaggart jnr (12), 'Tarzan' Glass (11), Jim Quinn (11) and Jack Richardson (10) were others to kick more than ten goals during the season. The team kicked 346 goals and 402 behinds (2478 points), a Club record aggregate, as against 292 goals and 304 behinds (2056 points) scored by the opposition. Of the 23 matches played during the season, the century was kicked on 14 occassions. There were 5 century goalkickers in the Association in this season, the only time this had occurred - Prahran's George Hawkins with 164, Vallence 133, Coburg's Lance Collins 108, and Camberwell's Laurie Nash and Brunswick's Harold Jones who both scored 100 majors. Reg Thomas, Colin Wilcox, Jack McDonagh, George Fitch and Stan Jamieson featured in all 23 games played during the season.

Arthur Cutting won his second VFA Medal (beating Camberwell's Laurie Nash), the fifth consecutive such award for a Williamstown player. He was also equal runner-up in the Recorder Cup.

Life member and former captain of 1911 and 1919, Bert Amy, who played 129 games and kicked 118 goals from 1908-1919, passed away during the year, as did former player from 1883, 1885-86, 1888-89 & 1891-93 (between 58-62 games & 7-8 goals), Jack Ward, in WA at the age of 72 on March 20. Ward died from the effects of self-administration of poison following a visit from police (refer press articles below). Ward had also played for South Williamstown in 1887 and Footscray in 1890 prior to becoming a VFL umpire. 

Tom Ward won the best and fairest award for the Seconds in 1939, in addition to playing four games with the senior side and was an emergency for the 1939 premiership team. He was a true local, having played previously with Williamstown Juniors, Williamstown CYMS and Williamstown District. He was a brother of Jim Ward, who played from 1929-38 after debuting as a 15yo and suffering a broken collarbone. Tom Ward transferred to Yarravile in 1941 where he played 7 games prior to the recess in respect of World War II. 

3XY, featuring Wallace 'Jumbo' Sharland, broadcast the VFA's match-of-the-round weekly for the first time in this season.

A proposed end-of-season trip to Tasmania, which would have been the Club's first interstate, with an exhibition match against Coburg at Devonport, was abandoned in August when the prospect of a finals berth became a reality. A party of 60 players, officials and supporters went to Bairnsdale for a weekend in mid-October. 

The Club's VFA delegate, Jim Foley, formed a Ladies Committee for the first time in this season under the presidency of Mrs Rae, with Evelyn Spicer as secretary and Mrs Hanrahan as treasurer. The group gave the Club 140 pounds at the end of the season. 

The West Australian, March 21, 1939

The Daily News WA, March 21, 1939

The West Australian, March 21, 1939

Williamstown Chronicle, March 25, 1939

Reg Outen, son of Williamstown's 1907 premiership vice-captain, Wyn Outen, played 3 games in his only season with 'Town, after earlier playing with Collingwood and Melbourne's Seconds teams. He played just one game with Collingwood Seconds in 1932 after being recruited from Collingwood District, and then played with Melbourne Seconds from 1935-38, including the premiership in 1935, after coming from Abbotsford. Outen was selected as 19th man in Williamstown's 1939 first semi-final team against Northcote at Toorak Park but his car broke down on the way to the ground and he was replaced by Bob Willett due to his (Outen's) late arrival and he was relegated to emergency. He never made it back into the team and was again emergency on grand final day. 

The legendary Bill Dooley began his long association with the Club in 1939 when he became a vice-president before rising to the role of president in 1942. He remained in that position until the end of 1946, when Alf Urban succeeded him. Dooley reverted to vice-president in 1947 and remained in that role until the end of 1963.









































































































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