Season Summary: 1952

Harold Hosking was re-elected President for the third time in respect of the 1952 season, and Arthur Budgen and Jim Greenfield were made life members at the annual general meeting.

The committee decided on a change of coach and appointed Billy Williams of South Melbourne, where he had played 124 games from 1945-1951, kicking 180 goals and winning the Swans best & fairest in 1946, 1947 and 1950. Adrian Dullard was persuaded to remain on as a player, which he did for two more seasons, but Gordon Williams, the equal 1951 best & fairest winner, was made vice-captain. Bob Major commenced his long reign as head trainer in this season when Fred Sutton retired and Stan Whear also commenced his 13-year journey as Club secretary in 1952.

For more information on Billy Williams, copy and paste the link below.

http://www.footyalmanac.com.au/born-working-billy-williams/

Players missing from the 1951 outfit included 100-game veteran Alf Sampson (coach of St Arnaud Stars), Keith Abberton (coach of Moe, but he returned in 1954), Reg Featherby (coach of Benalla, but he returned in 1953), Jack Danckert, who missed all of 1951 due to his work, transferred to Tooronga and Murray McRae retired due to injury but attempted a comeback in 1953 and played one further game. The biggest blow of all was the move of the brilliant Bill Gunn to South Melbourne after just one season. The transfer of coach Williams was used as leverage by the Swans to acquire Gunn, Williamstown's best first-year player in 1951, who would go on to represent Victoria twice during his first year in the VFL. 

Recruited to the Club was future Team of the Century member, Harry Simpson, also from South Melbourne, who had signed with Sandringham but was persuaded by vice-president George Holdsworth to join Williamstown, whilst the sons of former players, Johnny Martin (from Williamstown Seconds) and George Taafe (from South Melbourne Seconds), both made their debuts in 1952. John Martin senior had played in Footscray's VFA premiership teams of 1919-20 and joined Williamstown in 1923 before becoming captain-coach in 1926. George Taafe senior played with 'Town from 1928-31. George Tozer came across from Carlton, whilst full-back in the Team of the Century, Max Munday, also joined the 'Town from Footscray and Yarraville Socials in the Footscray District League. Alan Cuff (Newport), Jack Simpson (Essendon), Jack Howat (local junior), Bernie Hogan (Yarraville), Kevin Hibbert (Williamstown Seconds) and Brian Lowry (Williamstown Thirds) were also useful additions. Reg Harley returned from South mid-season after playing 61 League games, and Gordon Cameron made a brief comeback and played two games before retiring with 81 matches to his name.

Williamstown lost its opening two matches of the season for the first time in years, going down to eventual runner-up, Port Melbourne, 15.14.104 to 6.11.47 at home and then away at Preston 16.11.107 to 'Town's 14.19.103. It was Port’s first win at Pt Gellibrand since 1941 and the Seagulls lowest score for the year. A good win at Coburg in round 3 gave rise to hope of improvement, but successive defeats to Northcote, Sandringham, eventual premier Oakleigh and the inexperienced Box Hill soon put paid to that, with only one win in the first seven games and second-last place on the ladder. The Seagulls overcame the previous years premiers, Prahran, but then lost at Yarraville for the first time since 1937, the Eagles getting home by 10 points, 18.7.115 to 15.15.105. 

Just as interest in the season had almost evaporated, a magnificent win at Port Melbourne in round 14, 16.15.111 to 11.19.85, restored some pride after coming from two goals down at three-quarter time. Johnny Walker kicked 8 goals to get the Seagulls home. It was Port's first loss for the year after thirteen consecutive wins, and Williamstown's first victory at North Port Oval since 1940. It was jocularly suggested that that the home side had been too gentlemanly in front of the Governor, Sir Dallas Brooks, who was seeing his first game of Association football as guest of the Port Melbourne club. A seven-goal win over Preston at Pt Gellibrand the following week elevated Williamstown to tenth place on the ladder, the highest it would achieve all season, before successive losses to Coburg and Northcote resumed the slump.

The 1952 season was marked by some of the worse weather ever experienced, with most of the grounds becoming waterlogged very early in the season and remained that way for the best part of the year. Williamstown's oval was a notable exception but this proved of little value to the team because every second match had to be played on a mudheap.  The game at Box Hill in round 7, which resulted in a two goal defeat, was played on a ground at least half covered with water with the rest mud. These abnormal conditions, even for winter, kept crowds away and made conditions unpleasant for the players and umpires, with little drop kicking or high marking. These conditions made 'Town's efforts to make progress or even arrest the drift of the previous season all the more difficult and, at the conclusion of the home-and-away games, the side was not only out of the top four for the second successive season but was pushed down to tenth position on the 14-team ladder with just eight wins from 20 games, the worse result since 1938. Injuries to Sid Wookey, Gerry Callahan, Harry Simpson, Bill Sheahan, Noel Allanson, Reg Harley, Jack Rennie and Jack Simpson also kept them out of the game for varying periods of time during the year which didn't help.

One redeeming feature of an otherwise mediocre season was the splendid performance of Johnny Walker, who got well out in front of his rivals towards the end of the season to take the VFA goalkicking honours with a total of 103, thirty-four in front of runner-up Bob Bonnett of Port Melbourne. Over the last three matches of the season, Walker added 34 goals to his tally with returns of 14 (v. Sandringham in a 132-point win), 4 v (Oakleigh) and 16 (v. Box Hill in a 103-point victory). This very good finish to the year bolstered the team's percentage up to 112.47 from the eight victories. The Box Hill game was at home against a team the Seagulls had yet to beat, and Williamstown focused on playing through Walker in an attempt to get him the 13 goals he needed for his century. Kicking five in the first quarter and having 11 by half time, Walker was well on his way. He brought up the coveted ton early in the third quarter after missing the most easiest of shots and ended up with 16 in a score of 24.11 to 8.4. Supporters were so elated that they took up a collection after the game and presented him with 40 pounds, a not inconsiderable amount when the basic wage was just 12 pounds a week. (Refer newspaper report below) This was Box Hill's first visit to Williamstown since being admitted to the VFA in 1951. The Seagulls total of 27.14 against Sandringham was the highest score kicked by any club that season, the score against Box Hill the second highest and on four occassions during the year Williamstown kicked the highest score of the round despite winning just 8 games and finishing tenth.

Another highlight of the year was the controversy surrounding the suspensions of Lou Barker and first-year player Max Munday for 10 matches each following the round 10 game against Brunswick at Williamstown. Barker had been reported by the field umpire and two boundary umpires for allegedly elbowing Cully of Brunswick whilst Munday went into the book for allegedly striking Pat Wheeler of Brunswick by a boundary umpire. The Club immediately appealed against the decision of the tribunal on the grounds that the honorary commissioners had not been appointed annually as required under the VFA regulations. The VFA subsequently admitted the technical error and lifted the suspensions immediately, and both players could resume having served a three week ban. This also threw a cloud over other suspensions handed out earlier in the year, including a lifetime ban on a Sandringham trainer for allegedly attempting to strike an umpire and a Northcote player who had been barred for 8 matches. It was revealed later that the Club would have taken no action except for what was perceived to be the manifestly excessive penalties handed down. (Refer newspaper reports below)

Don Rogers did well to win the Club's best and fairest award, the Andy Taylor Memorial Trophy, from a back pocket, with Johnny Walker runner-up. Max Munday was best first-year player. At the annual meeting in respect of the 1952 season, held at the Town Hall in January 1953, VFA president, Dr Frank Hartnett, addressed the audience about the Association's involvement in the Australian National Football Council (ANFC). He stated that 'it was time the VFA withdrew from the ANFC so that it can bid for players that had a name in the League and, by doing so, regain some of its former power. Because of the money behind the League it dominated the ANFC to the detriment of the VFA.' Also at the meeting, life memberships were awarded to Fred Arms, a committeeman since 1945, and Len Bevis, a new vice-president and a committeeman from 1945-50. 

The Seconds, under new captain-coach Bert McTaggart jnr, the 1939 premiership player, won ten matches, lost nine with one draw to finish sixth. Charlie McLaren took out their best and fairest award.  In the Thirds competition, Williamstown missed the final four, but Peter Barnes won the Association best and fairest, whilst Fred Grubb won the Club award. Grubb did a pre-season with Footscray in 1954.

Since the VFA resumed after the war recess in 1945, Williamstown had played in 173 matches resulting in 115 wins, 56 defeats and 2 draws. 82 of these games had been played at Pt Gellibrand and only 13 defeats had been suffered. In this time two premierships had been won, once runners-up, twice third and one fourth placing together with a lightning premiership in 1946. 

Life member, 82yo Walter Warren, passed away at his home in Illawarra Street on November 30. He played for fourteen seasons from 1886 and 1890-1902 and was captain five times. His brothers, Peter and Ernie, were also grand players around the same time, with Ernie being vice-captain in 1890 and captain in 1891 during his career from 1884-1892, while Peter played from 1892-97. Other brothers Jack, Bill and Harry at one time or another also donned the blue and gold of Williamstown. Walter won the Club goalkicking 1892-1896 & 1898-99. Ernie was leading goalkicker with 30 in 1886, the most kicked by a Williamstown player in a season until Len 'Mother' Mortimer booted 48 in 1905. Ernie had died in May 1938. Three other former players, officials and life members passed away during the year, being Bobby Gibbs jnr (140 games 87 goals 1907-19, vice-captain 1915 & 1919, first rover 1907 premiership team), Arthur Prideaux (committeeman 1913, secretary 1914-18) and Jack Emmerson (committeeman 1924, treasurer 1925-28).

The end-of-season trip was a more modest affair in this season, with a long weekend train trip to Albury by 42 members, officials and supporters on October 10.

                          Stan Whear commenced his 13-year reign as Club secretary in 1952

                                                    

 

                                                                                Williamstown Football Club ladies committee 1952

From left: Beverley Whiffin, Betty Whear, unknown, unknown, Jean Hately, secretary Evelyn Spicer, Hilda Jean Pohl, unknown, president Elsie Flett, Edie Nicholson, Betty Bury, Mrs K. Campbell, unknown, unknown, unknown, unknown

Harry Simpson came to Williamstown in 1952 after 16 games with South Melbourne and went on to become the premier ruckman in the VFA, winning the Club best and fairest in 1953 and 1954 and being runner-up in the JJ Liston Trophy in 1954. He was first ruck in the 1954 and 1955 premiership teams, before leaving in 1956 after 75 games to captain-coach Dimboola. He was selected in a forward pocket in the Williamstown Team of the Century. 

                                    Emerald Hill Record, February 22 1952 

                              Emerald Hill Record, February 22 1952 

                                                         

South Melbourne star of the 1940's and 50's, Billy Williams, came to Williamstown as captain-coach in 1952 in exchange for 1951 best first-year player, Bill Gunn. Williams played 124 games with the Swans from 1945-1951, kicking 180 goals and winning the Swans best & fairest in 1946, 1947 and 1950.

          The Argus February 20, 1952

Williamstown Chronicle February 22, 1952

Full-back in the Team of the Century, Max Munday, joined 'Town from Footscray and Yarraville Socials in the Footscray District League in 1952 and went on to play 120 games, finishing in 1958 after playing in the 1954, 1955 and 1956 premiership sides.

   The Age March 25, 1952

                 Williamstown Chronicle, March 28 1952

   The Argus April 3, 1952

    The Age April 12, 1952

Williamstown Chronicle, April 4 1952

 

 

                                       Williamstown Chronicle August 1, 1952

Williamstown's Johnny Walker was the VFA leading goalkicked in 1952. Over the last three matches of the season, Walker added 34 goals to his tally with returns of 14 (v. Sandringham in a 132-point win), 4 v (Oakleigh) and 16 (v. Box Hill in a 103-point victory). The Box Hill game was at Williamstown against a team the Seagulls had yet to beat, and Williamstown focused on playing through Walker in an attempt to get him the 13 goals he needed for his century. Kicking five in the first quarter and with 11 by half-time, Walker was well on his way and ended up with 16 in a score of 24.11 to 8.4. 

Reg Harley returned from South Melbourne early in the 1952 season.

Johnny Martin made his senior debut in 1952 and went on to play 133 games, mainly across the centre, winning Club best and fairests in 1956 and 1958 and was runner-up in 1955, and the JJ Liston Trophy in 1956. He played in the 1954/1955/1956 and 1958 premiership teams, and was selected on the wing in the Williamstown Team of the Century. He went to Wentworth as playing coach in 1959 at the age of 25. 

1952 best and fairest winner, Don Rogers, recruited from Brunswick in 1950

                                          Williamstown Chronicle, June 6 1952 

                                                                     The Age, June 23 1952 

                                                               The Age, June 28 1952

                                                             The Herald, July 19 1952

                                                             The Herald, July 21 1952

                                                             The Herald, July 22 1952

                                                         Sporting Globe, July 23 1952

                                                Williamstown Chronicle, July 25 1952

Ray Smith, most improved player in 1952.

                                              Williamstown Chronicle, September 12 1952

                                                                     Williamstown Chronicle, October 31 1952

                                         Williamstown Chronicle, December 19, 1952

Life member, 82yo Walter Warren, passed away at his home in Illawarra Street on November 30. He played for fourteen seasons from 1886 and 1890-1902 and was captain five times (1895, 1897-1899 & 1901) - a record until the great Gerry Callahan came along. His brothers, Peter and Ernie, were also grand players around the same time, with Ernie being vice-captain in 1890 and captain in 1891 during his career from 1884-1892, while Peter played from 1892-97. Other brothers Jack, Bill and Harry at one time or another also donned the blue and gold of Williamstown. Walter won the Club goalkicking seven times (1892-1896 & 1898-99). Ernie was leading goalkicker with 30 in 1886, the most kicked by a Williamstown player in a season until Len 'Mother' Mortimer booted 48 in 1905. Ernie had died in May 1938. 

 

 Ernest 'Dick' Warren, played 1884-92, 134 games, 52 goals, captain 1891, vice-captain 1890, leading goalscorer 1884 & 1886 

 

 

 

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