Season Summary: 1951
Players departing the club after the 1950 season included Gordon 'Kisser' Cameron after 79 games (coach of Wagga North, but he returned in 1952 and played a further 2 games), Mal MacPherson (coach of East Burwood), Jack Dorgan (coach of Echuca), Norm Bernard (coach of Terang), Ken May (St. Arnaud) and Vin Morrissey (retired). MacPherson was only 22 years of age but had played 84 games and kicked 198 goals at Williamstown from 1946-1950, but felt his knee, injured the previous season at Sandringham in round 8, was still a doubtful quantity at VFA level. Also, Lou Salvas resigned at the end of June after just two senior games for the year when he was dropped off the senior list, leaving his record at 103 matches for 112 goals, including the 1949 premiership and the 1948 grand final. He played the remainder of the year with Mordialloc in the Federal League and later coached Canterbury. Dual premiership player and best and fairest winner, Fred 'Snowy' Matthews, similarly played the first two matches of the 1951 season to bring up his century of senior games with Williamstown, but injured his leg badly against Preston and then retired. He later played with Newport.
Jack Danckert, last season's best and fairest winner, dropped out during the season due to his employment after 64 games and then transferred to Tooronga in 1952, and a serious knee injury to Murray McRae restricted him to just the first two games but he returned to play one further match in 1953. Adrian Dullard was again captain-coach with Reg Featherby vice-captain, but he (Featherby) sustained a serious injury at Oakleigh in round 9 and missed the remainder of the season, and was replaced by Alf Sampson, who brought up his 100th game in royal blue and gold in the final game of the year. Doug Howard, Les Gardner, Kev Taylor, John Fowler and Arthur Vernon were others who missed large parts of the season due to injury.
Recruits included 19 year-old Bill Gunn from Seddon, who would go on to play 104 games with South Melbourne, club legend Gerry Callahan who joined from Moonee Ponds CYMS, Noel Allanson after 57 games with Essendon and promising juniors Ray Smith (Seddon, the 1951 FDFL best & fairest winner), Bob Chapman (Spotswood), and Kevin Auld, Jack Heslop, Jimmy Davies and James Paton from the Seconds. Bill 'Bomber' Wells made another of his periodical returns to the Club but found most of his old team mates had either retired or transferred elsewhere and he failed to see out the season. Jack Rennie, a nephew of former Williamstown secretary and life member, Arch Rennie, played with the Seagulls in the period 1950-52 (11 games, 3 goals) before turning his attention to boxing, and going on to train world bantamweight champion Lionel Rose in the late 1960’s. Another newcomer was Bill 'Altona/Left Footer' Williams, after 9 senior games with Richmond in 1948-49. Originally from Spotswood, where he played in the Thirds premiership in 1946, Williams also played 42 matches in the Tiger Seconds from 1948-50 before arriving at Williamstown. He was also a professional runner and would go on to win the Stawell Gift in 1956 and the Portland Gift in 1960. He had also been the Victorian Technical Schoolboy champion.
Murray McRae gave Williamstown good service from 1946-53 as a ruckman, playing 79 games and kicking 21 goals, after graduating from Spotswood under 18's and later coaching the Seagull Thirds from 1954-57, including the 1955 grand final. He was a member of the 1949 premiership team, played in the losing 1948 grand final and won the most improved player award in 1947/48. Perhaps his greatest deed for the Club was carried out at the Newport Railway Workshops where he convinced a fellow employee, Gerry Callahan, to try out at Williamstown in the 1950 practice matches, which he did but returned to his junior club, Moonee Ponds CYMS, for that season but was back at the Seagulls in 1951 and did not leave until the end of the 1967 season. An instant success, ‘Monster’ would spend the next 17 seasons at ‘Town as player, captain and coach. He became the only player to captain five VFA premiership sides (1954/55/56/58/59) and later coached the team to the 1961 and 1964 grand finals and steered the VFA representative teams from 1960-65. He was named captain of Williamstown’s Team of the Century, was selected at centre-half back and was named as one of only six Legends in the Club's Hall of Fame. He would play 171 games, kicking 75 goals and winning the best and fairest award in his first season and again in 1957. He was also named as coach of the Williamstown Team of the Decade for the 1960's. Callahan did not play football until he was sixteen due to asthma and he was essentially a battler during his early years with Moonee Ponds CYMS. He improved quickly at Williamstown due to an ability to adapt to the higher standards of the players around him, so well that he tied for the best and fairest award in 1951 in his first season at the age of 22 with Gordon 'Splinter' Williams. He started as a ruckman, was later used at centre-half back or centre-half forward and then shifted himself back into the ruck.
After Williamstown's grip on the top position was loosened in 1950, the team failed to recover in the season that followed and slipped down to seventh position, its lowest finish since 1938. Loss of star players and a bad run with injuries were the physical reasons for the decline, but five consecutive victories to start the season against Yarraville, Preston, Northcote, Brunswick and Coburg, none of which made the finals, gave 'Town great optimism, and saw it sitting on top of the ladder. Two narrow losses, at home to Brighton by two points and away at Sandringham by four points, saw the Seagulls tumble to fifth position by round 7. The game at Sandringham drew a crowd of 11,000. Rounds 9-19 saw seven defeats, five of which were by two goals or less, and a draw at Box Hill in the first encounter with the newcomers, saw the team slide to eighth on the ladder despite a 94-point win over Camberwell in round 12.
A loss to Coburg at Williamstown in round 17 by 7 points settled the team's last chance four matches before the end of the home-and-away round of games. Sandringham won at Williamstown for the first time since 1933 in round 19 with a 12-point victory in Ray Smith's first senior appearance. Brighton also won at Williamstown for the first time since 1937 with a two point victory in round 6 and Northcote similarly triumphed at Williamstown for the first time since 1938 with a 13 point win in round 15 and 'Town lost to Preston for the first time since 1941 with a 20 point defeat in round 14. Four home ground losses in this season was the most since 1938 and doubled the number of defeats at Williamstown since the resumption in 1945. Some pride was restored with a 20-point defeat of Prahran, the eventual premiers, in the last match of the home-and-away rounds. The runners-up, Port Melbourne, also lost at Williamstown during the season in round 10 by 15 points, 13.9 to 9.18, with Johnny Walker kicking six goals. 'Town finished with ten wins, nine losses, the draw with Box Hill and seventh place on the ladder.
Box Hill and Moorabbin both gained admittance to the VFA for the 1951 season, the first inclusions since Oakleigh, Sandringham and Camberwell joined the VFA in 1925. Moorabbin won three games whilst Box Hill's only points for the season came as a result of the draw with Williamstown in the round 13 game at Box Hill, played on a sodden oval, ankle-deep in mud in places. Despite the wet conditions, ‘Town led by a goal at quarter-time and two points at half-time. Box Hill was five points ahead at the last change before Williamstown regained the lead, only to lose it again, and with time running out scores were level at 8.8. Johnny Walker, who had kicked five goals, marked about 40 metres from goal on an angle in the final minute but his kick failed to make the distance due to the heavy ball and Box Hill cleared to earn its first points in the competition.
The Seconds again made the finals but were eliminated by Yarraville in the first semi-final, 10.18.78 to 11.7.73. There was some drama before the game when it was discovered that the player's jumpers had been left behind at the Morris Street ground, delaying the start of the game by 18 minutes. Joe Lyon was still captain-coach with dual Seconds best and fairest winner of 1948/50, Leo Tweedly, vice-captain while Jack Heslop won the Club best and fairest award for the Reserves. Lyon kicked 13 goals at Camberwell in round 12, including eight in the first quarter and four in the second to have 12 by half-time, although Camberwell Seconds had only 17 players take the field. There was a change of president for the Seconds in this season when Harry Dyson took over from Claude Tomkins, who had been in the role since 1945. Dyson would retain the presidency of the Seconds until the end of 1961, when he, Gordon Drew (secretary since at least 1941) and Dave Palmer (treasurer since at least 1944) all stood down.
The Club fielded a Third eighteen for the first time in 1951 in the VFA Sub-Districts Association and played curtain-raisers to the seniors instead of baseball, which then played before the Reserves on the opposition’s home ground. The Thirds, under coach Ken Bravo and captained by Brian Lowry, made the finals in their inaugural season but were defeated in the first semi. The Thirds best and fairest was won by Don Carter, son of future Club president, Jack Carter. John Le Brun, who had been the Club's VFA delegate from 1935-56, excepting 1945 and 1946/47 when he acted as vice-president, was the inaugural president of the Thirds with Peter Hamment the secretary and Jim McConville treasurer.
Gerry Callahan played sixteen matches in his debut season and tied with Gordon 'Splinter' Williams for the best and fairest award, which from this season until the year 2000 was named the Andy Taylor Memorial Trophy. Sid Wookey finished in second place. Shortly before the end of the 1949 season, Taylor had died suddenly at the age of just 25. He had played 26 games, including one in 1949, but he was held in such high regard by the Williamstown community that the Club named its best and fairest after him. He had joined the Club as a 16 year-old in 1940 from Williamstown High School and, in between RAAF duties during the war recess, he went to Carlton seconds with Harry Vallence. A knee injury sustained in the war stopped him playing regularly with Williamstown after the resumption, and he put his leg in irons for twelve months in an attempt to regain fitness. During 1949 he played some games in the Seconds and appeared ready for senior football, but after being selected in the seniors at Coburg he was forced off early in the game with a recurrence of the knee problem and passed away two months later. It was not only the football world that was shocked by his passing but many youth and church organisations lost one of their best workers. Bill Gunn was awarded the best first-year player, Alf Sampson the most consistent player, John Molyneaux the most serviceable player, Keith Abberton most effective player, Cliff Poole most improved player while Johnny Walker and Don Rogers received trophies for special services. Molyneux also received the Williamstown Advertiser and Chronicle best player awards.
Williamstown scored 252 goals and 276 behinds (1788) to the opposition's 214 goals and 244 behinds (1528) over the course of the year. Johnny Walker bettered his goal scoring of the previous season and kicked a total of 84 to finish third on the VFA list behind Bruce Harper of Sandringham with 104 majors. Walker notched his 200th career goal in the final home-and-away match at Williamstown against Prahran. Others to kick more than ten goals for the year were Adrian Dullard (31), Johnny Molyneux (25), Bill Gunn (24), Kevin Auld (17), Kev Taylor (16) and Keith Abberton (16). 34 players represented the senior team in 1951 and only Abberton, Dullard, Gunn, Walker and Sid Wookey were the only players to appear in all 20 matches. Gordon Williams represented the VFA in games against Tasmania at North Hobart on 30 June, which the Association won by almost 15 goals, and against the Australian Amateurs at Manuka Oval, Canberra, on July 14, which the Association won by 9 goals. Captain-coach Dullard polled best in the J.J. Liston Trophy, which was won by Cec Hiscox of Northcote.
Since the VFA resumed in 1945, Williamstown had played 153 matches for 107 wins, 44 losses and two draws. Of the 72 games played at Pt Gellibrand, only 8 resulted in defeats, 4 of which took place in the 1951 season. Over that time, 2 premierships had been won, once runner-up, twice third, one fourth and the lightning premiership of 1946.
At the annual meeting in respect of the 1951 season, held at the Town Hall in February 1952, life memberships were awarded to committeeman since 1946, Jim Greenfield, and committeeman since 1947, Arthur Budgen. Both remained on the committee until the end of 1957. Greenfield had also been on the general committee in 1921-22 and 1941-42 and had been involved with Williamstown Juniors before his time with the Seagulls. Harold Hosking was re-elected as president for the 1952 season.
Four former officials and one former player passed away during the year, namely:
- former committeeman of 1939-46, Ern Pinckney, in April, who was also chairman of selectors in the 1945 premiership season;
- treasurer of the Club from 1914-19, Charles Ernest Tabley, passed away suddenly at his residence in Strathmore on May 22 aged 70;
- former player of 1892-97, Peter Warren (45 games and 34 goals), who was one of six brothers to play for Williamstown, passed away on February 25 at the age of 78;
- ex-committeeman of 1936 and property steward, Bob Hope; and
- vice-president from 1933-50, Edward Duncan 'Peter' McIntyre, who was also licensee of the Bristol Hotel, on January 9 at the age of 45. McIntyre had received life membership of the Club at the annual meeting in respect of the 1950 season which was held just six weeks before his passing. The runner-up in the best and fairest award from this season onwards was given the Peter McIntyre Memorial Trophy. He was also president of the Seconds in 1944 when that competition resumed after the war recess. His brother, Don McIntyre, was also a vice-president from 1940-46.
For the sixth time since 1945, the Club went on an interstate end-of-season trip, this time to Hobart. 40 players, officials and supporters made the 9-day trip aboard SS Taroona, sailing from Melbourne on October 18.
Former secretary and vice-president, Larry Floyd, was appointed Carlton FC's first full-time secretary in July 1951, a position he would hold until May 1955 when he was elected to the Victorian State Parliament.
Dual premiership coach of Williamstown in 1939 & 1949, Gordon Ogden, was in charge of Yarraville in this season, while 1945 premiership full-back, Reg 'Dodger' Ryan, had the reigns at Preston but resigned before the end of the season.
Membership stood at 1099 adults and 179 students in this season.
Gerry Callahan joined the Club in 1951 from Moonee Ponds CYMS, tying for the best and fairest in his first season and winning it again in 1957. He was made captain in 1954 and was skipper of the 1954/1955/1956/1958 and 1959 premiership teams before retiring as a player. He also coached the 1958 and 1959 sides. He played 171 games, kicking 75 goals and coached 202 games from 1958-67, the longest reign in the Club's history, including the 1961 and 1964 Grand Finals. Gerry passed away in March 2018 at the age of 89.
Reg Featherby joined Williamstown from Altona in 1945 and played 123 games and kicked 5 goals up until the end of 1953. He played in the 1945 and 1949 premiership teams and the 1948 grand final and won the Club best and fairest in 1949. Reg also tied for the Seconds' best and fairest in 1945 and was captain-coach of Benalla in 1952 before returning to Williamstown for one final season. He later coached Altona to a premiership in 1964 and received life membership of Williamstown in 2011.
Essendon's Noel Allanson joined Williamstown in 1951 and played 26 games and kicked one goals up until the end of 1952. He was awarded the most effective player trophy in respect of the 1952 season as well as taking out the Williamstown Chronicle best player award. He then turned his hand to cricket and represented Victoria in a match against Tasmania in 1957. Allanson had played 57 games for the Bombers from 1947-51, including the 1947 grand final and the 1950 premiership.
Hobart Mercury January 19, 1951
1951 Argus badge
Williamstown Chronicle January 19, 1951
1951 Argus newspaper badge
1950 best and fairest winner Jack Danckert did not play in 1951 due to a change in his employment, and transferred to Tooronga in 1952.
Williamstown Chronicle, March 9 1951
Sporting Globe, June 13 1951
Fred 'Snowy' Matthews played the first two matches of the 1951 season to bring up his century of senior games with Williamstown, but injured his leg badly against Preston and then retired. He later played with Newport.
Ray Smith joined the Club late in 1951 from Seddon and played in the last two games of the season after winning the Footscray District Football League best and fairest award. He went on to play 205 games and kicked 162 goals, playing in premierships in 1954, 1955, 1956, 1958 and 1959, being captain in 1960 and 1961, and winning three best and fairest awards in 1959, 1960 and 1961. He finished third in the JJ Liston Trophy in his final season in 1961 as well as captaining the VFA representative team in Tasmania. He was selected on a half-forward flank in the Williamstown Team of the Century and the 1960's Team of the Decade.
Williamstown Chronicle, May 18 1951
Former Williamstown superstar, Ron Todd, took over the freehold of the Hotel Pacific in Lorne in July 1951 and coached the Lorne football team in 1952
The Argus, July 3 1951
Bill Sheahan, star winger 1948-53, 82 games, 10 goals, member 1949 premiership team and 1948 runners-up, later coached WFC Thirds to the 1958 premiership, the Club's first. The Club's Reserves best & fairest award was also named after him up until 2017.
Williamstown Chronicle 15 June, 1951
Reg Featherby, who was replaced as vice-captain by Alf Sampson after sustaining a serious injury at Oakleigh in round 9 of the 1951 season, played 123 games and kicked 5 goals from 1945-1951 and 1953 (he coached Benalla in 1952), won the 1949 best and fairest award and played in the 1945 & 1949 premiership teams.
The Herald, September 15 1951
Jack Heslop, pictured here in the 1960's, won the Seconds' best and fairest award in 1951, despite playing just 10 games, and the Williamstown Advertiser best player award the same year. He would go on to play 16 senior games with Williamstown in 1951 and 1952 without kicking a goal and was voted the Seconds' most consistent player in 1952.
The Seconds again made the finals with 14 wins and 6 losses but were eliminated by Yarraville in the first semi-final, 10.18.78 to 11.7.73. There was some drama before the game when it was discovered that the player's jumpers had been left behind at the Morris Street ground, delaying the start of the game by 18 minutes. One of the defeats, at the hands of Coburg, was the first time that Williamstown Seconds had been downed on the home ground in four years. Another home game was lost to Prahran by three points later in the season. It was the fifth year in succession that the Seconds made the finals and the seventh time in the last nine seasons. 47 players represented the Seconds during the year, consisting of 32 former players and 15 first-year players.
Joe Lyon was still captain-coach with dual Seconds best and fairest winner of 1948/50, Leo Tweedly, vice-captain while Jack Heslop won the Club best and fairest award for the Reserves with Tweedly runner-up and R. Thomas in third place. Jim McCarthy was adjudged best first-year player, Joe Lyon best utility, Laurie Gunn best clubman, Sid Gething most improved, C. Burkett most consistent and Jack Rennie best in the final. There was a change of president for the Seconds in this season when Harry Dyson took over from Claude Tomkins, who had been in the role since 1945. Dyson had been involved with the Seconds for the past 17 years as a player, committeeman and vice-president. Dyson would retain the presidency of the Seconds until the end of 1961, when he, Gordon Drew (secretary since at least 1941) and Dave Palmer (treasurer since at least 1944) all stood down. The Seconds' end-of-season trip was to Adelaide on the Overlander train, with a side trip to Victor Harbour.
Williamstown's 1951 best first-year player, Bill Gunn, pictured here at South Melbourne's Lake Oval during the 1950's. Gunn's move to the Swans was used as leverage to get Billy Williams as Seagulls captain-coach in 1952.
Alf Sampson retired from Williamstown at the end of 1951 after playing exactly 100 games from 1947-51 after being recruited from Footscray, where he played 60 games and kicked 4 goals in 1935-36, 1938-42 and 1946. He played at full-back in 'Town's 1949 premiership team and the 1948 grand final side. He was voted the equal most effective player in 1948 and was runner-up in the Club best and fairest in 1949. He also won the Williamstown Chronicle best player award in 1949 and was voted most consistent player in 1950 and 1951. He was appointed vice-captain of the side in his last season when Reg Featherby was severely injured during the season. He was transferred in his job with the Post Office to St Arnaud after the end of the 1951 season and became captain-coach of the St Arnaud Stars. Alf passed away on January 17, 2001, at the age of 88.
An extract from Larry Floyd's book on the history of the VFA and Williamstown - the games played and goalscorers of 1951. The second column in the games played and goals scored records is the player's cumulative total.
Sporting Globe, January 10, 1951 - vice-president from 1933-50, Edward Duncan 'Peter' McIntyre, who was also licensee of the Bristol Hotel, died suddenly on January 9 at the age of 45. McIntyre had received life membership of the Club at the annual meeting in respect of the 1950 season which was held just six weeks before his death. The runner-up in the best and fairest award from this season onwards was given the Peter McIntyre Memorial Trophy. His brother, Don McIntyre, was also a vice-president of the Club from 1940-46.
The Age, January 10, 1951
Williamstown Chronicle January 12, 1951
Peter McIntyre's Bristol Hotel in the 1970's/1980's
Peter McIntyre's Bristol Hotel in Ferguson St., circa 2006
Keith 'Boots' Abberton finished with Williamstown after the 1951 season, having played 64 games and kicked 52 goals since 1947. He was a member of the 1949 premiership team. He went to Moe as captain-coach for the 1952 and 1953 seasons, returning to Williamstown for the 1954 premiership year, where he added a further 19 games and 18 goals to finish up with 83 games and 70 goals over six seasons.
The Argus, July 26 1951 - Larry Floyd became Carlton's first full-time secretary in 1951 and served in that role until May 1955 when he was elected to the Victorian State Parliament where he remained as the Labor member for Williamstown until 1973.
The Herald, July 24 1951
Sporting Globe, July 25 1951
Parkin James Krygger was a Williamstown committeeman in 1951 and 1952.
The Argus, February 26, 1951 - former player of 1892-97, Peter Warren (45 games and 34 goals), was one of six brothers to play for Williamstown.
The Herald, May 23, 1951 - Charles Ernest Tabley was treasurer of the Club from 1914-19.