Season Summary: 1956

Season 1956 produced several new records, including a third successive senior premiership, the Reserves' second successive flag, Johnny Martin's JJ Liston award and Brian Stafford's best and fairest win in the Third's competition.  The Seconds were undefeated during the season and the Thirds were just beaten in the semi-final by a point. Whilst other clubs had won three successive pennants, this was the first time that both Firsts and Seconds had won the premiership two years running.

Jack Carter was re-elected President at the pre-season annual general meeting and, on May 15, the Club mourned the passing of his predecessor, former Secretary (1929-32), Vice-President (1933-35, 1948-49 and 1955-56) and President (1950-54), Harold Hosking, who died in office as a vice-president at the age of 71 after passing away suddenly at his home in Newport. His large funeral featured the 1954 pennant adorning his casket. Later in the year, on October 1, vice-president from 1933-37, Syd Doult, passed away in Williamstown Hospital at the age of 77. 

Naturally enough, Wally Carter was re-appointed coach with Gerry Callahan captain and Alby Linton vice-captain. It is quite possible that this would be the only occasion in which a triple premiership was won by a club with the same three men in charge.

A big loss over the off-season was that of Harry Simpson, who took over as coach of Dimboola in the Wimmera League. During his 75 games for 'Town, in which he kicked 82 goals, he played a huge part in the Club's success. He was very mobile for a big man and could play in most positions as well as in the ruck. Alan Leigh, Alan Cuff (Yarraville), Ray Martini and Ian McLeod (Reserves) were others who dropped out, whilst Ken Reed (Essendon), Lindsay Murphy (Footscray Seconds), 17yo rover Daryl Ward (1955 best & fairest winner at Willi CY's), forward Bill Mathieson (Lara) and follower Frank Jones (from the Thirds) were the main acquisitions. Sid Wookey and Jack Curran both did the pre-season with North Melbourne but returned to Williamstown. 

The first match was at home against Moorabbin, and the 1955 pennant was unfurled by the wife of President, Jack Carter, before the Seagulls went on to an easy victory, 9.15.69 to 3.9.27. The next game resulted in the worse defeat for the year at Brunswick, an eventual finalist, going down 12.10.82 to 7.10.52. The team rebounded the following week at home against Camberwell, recording a 76-point win, 17.22.124 to 6.12.48 (Jack Evans 6 goals). From then until the final series the team had an almost unchecked run of victories, with the only two defeats being at Box Hill by 17 points in round 12 and at home against Yarraville by a solitary point from a goal after the siren by Jack Whallis in round 7. This was the Eagles first win at Williamstown since 1938. 'Town defeated their most formidable rival, Port Melbourne, both times although it was only accurate kicking for goal that gained a 5-point victory at Port in round 6, and by 31 points at home in round 19. The biggest win of the year was over Oakleigh at Williamstown by 96 points, 16.18.114 to 2.6.18, in round 8 while not far behind that was an 81 point victory over Sandringham at Williamstown in round 13 (Linton 8 goals). This was the seventh consecutive win against the Zebras. Camberwell was also defeated by 63 points in the return clash at Camberwell in round 16, 20.12.132 to 9.15.69 (Alan McPherson 10 goals). It was also the seventh successive victory over the Cobras. 'Town were never out of the four all season and occupied either first or second position on the ladder from round 8 onwards. 

This fine record of seventeen wins from twenty matches enabled the Seagulls to head the list at the conclusion of the home-and-away round from Port, Brunswick and Box Hill. It was Box Hill's first finals appearance since joining the VFA in 1951, and only due to a superior percentage than Preston which had the same number of wins. Box Hill was the glamour team of 1956, setting a lively pace early in winning 11 of the first 12 games before finishing fourth, and downing Brunswick in the first semi-final. Its Reserves also reached the finals for the first time and became the first Box Hill team to reach a VFA grand final. 

Williamstown went into the finals confident of becoming the first club since Northcote in 1932-33-34 to win a hat-trick of VFA flags, but Port gained some revenge by turning a half-time deficit of four points into a 14-point win in the second semi at the Junction Oval before a crowd of 20,000. Taking advantage of Port’s inaccuracy in the second quarter, ‘Town led 4.6 to 3.8 at the long break. With Bob Withers dominating the centre and captain-coach Frank Johnson winning in the ruck, Port answered the challenge by winning the third quarter and then put the game beyond the Seagulls with two early goals in the last quarter. Final scores were 12.15.87 to 10.13.73, with Alan McPherson (4) and Alby Linton (2) heading the goalkicking, while the best players were Eric Beitzel, Alby Outen, Ken Reed, Bob Jones, Linton and McPherson. This match was Max Munday's 100th senior game for the Seagulls in which he kept VFA leading goalkicker, Bob Bonnett, to three goals. Williamstown had won both contests against Port during the home-and-away rounds.  

Unsurprisingly, Box Hill, after their win over Brunswick in the first-semi, started favourites in the preliminary final, and had proved a troublesome opponent having won five games and lost four with one draw against Williamstown since entering the competition. This could be attributed to six of the contests being played at Box Hill where the surface was less firm than at Pt Gellibrand. Box Hill had won their only encounter that season in round 12 at Box Hill by 3 goals. However, Williamstown's improvement and experience proved too much for the White Horses, as they were then known, with 'Town running out victors 12.14.86 to to 8.16.64, despite trailing by five points at half-time in front of a crowd of 16,000 and then booting 5 goals to just one in the third quarter. Nevertheless, Box Hill got to within ten points of the Seagulls when kicking with the wind in the last quarter before two late goals sealed the win for 'Town. Major goalkickers were McPherson and Linton, both with three, and best players were Wookey, Outen, Munday, Fisher, Beitzel, Smith, Laurie, Reed, Gear and Linton.

In the 136th encounter between Williamstown and Port Melbourne, which had now won five consecutive second semi-finals and was desperate to avenge its 1954-55 grand final losses to Williamstown, the Burras appeared to be well on its way by leading for most of the game. It was a much better Seagulls side that took the field against Port in the grand final, but the desperate play of their opponents prevented 'Town showing it on the scoreboard, with Port leading 5.6.36 to 3.1.19 at the first change. It appeared that Port would repeat its second-semi success but a slightly better second term brought the scores closer at the long interval, 8.11.59 to 8.5.53. The third quarter was a dour struggle with Williamstown adding only five behinds but putting up terrific resistance to Port's kicking with the breeze, and held them to just 1.3 for the quarter. Ten points down at the last change, 9.14.68 to 8.10.58, seemed to favour the Seagulls, but Port, fighting against yet another runners-up title, kept 'Town at bay for more than half the term, during which the wind died. Williamstown had plenty of chances early in the last quarter but could not convert them into goals. A further five behinds, making a total of 11 consecutive singles since half time, did at least bring the Seagulls within a straight kick. Then Alan McPherson, who had been just missing some big marks, suddenly managed to take a few and with complete control of the air thrilled the big crowd of 28,000. The deficit was gradually bridged and it appeared it was only a matter of time before Williamstown hit the front, and when Callahan goaled ‘Town led for the first time in the game by just two points. The lead was extended to seven points with another major from McPherson before Bonnett goaled for Port and, at the 19 minute mark, a rushed single to Port levelled the scores at 10-16 apiece. A long shot from first-year centre half-forward Ken Reed rolled through for a goal to the Seagulls, followed three minutes later by another from full-forward McPherson, his sixth for the game. At this point Port threw away whatever chance they had by giving away needless free kicks, and further goals to Linton and Gear, making it 3 goals in a 4-minute burst, gave ‘Town a comfortable win, in an almost exact replica of the previous year's come-from-behind victory.

The hat-trick of premierships was won with the same team which successfully contested the preliminary final, the final scores being 14.18.102 to 10.18.78. Major goalkickers were McPherson 6 and Gear 2, with best players being Martin, Ramsay, Beitzel, McPherson, Smith, Jones, Gear, Fisher and Reed. This meant that Port finished runners-up for the sixth time in seven seasons, with the flag against a weak Yarraville team in 1953 being the only consolation. It was Williamstown's seventh premiership from eight Grand Final appearances. 

Williamstown’s 1956 premiership side was:

B.    Eric Beitzel         Max Munday            John Ramsay

HB.  Allen Laurie       Len Kent                    Jack Curran

C.     Alby Outen        Johnny Martin          Frank Sims

HF.   Ray Smith          Ken Reed                   Reg Fisher

F.      Sid Wookey       Alan McPherson      Maurie Gear

Foll.  Gerry Callahan (c.)   Bob Jones

Rov.  Alby Linton (v.c.)

Res.   Frank Jones        Jack Evans

Coach: Wally Carter

Supporters were in a good mood early in the day when the Seconds became premiers and champions by beating Box Hill 14.16.100 to 4.7.31, and Johnny Martin was presented with his JJ Liston Trophy, Williamstown's first since Des Fothergill's win in 1941, before the senior match began. Again captain-coached by best and fairest winner Lou Barker, the Seconds were undefeated in the 20 home-and-away rounds, then narrowly defeated Box Hill in the second-semi, 8.15 to 8.10, to advance to the grand final, with Max Hughes starring and Bill Mathieson kicking 5 goals. Other good players were Barker, Eric Phillips, Jack McTaggart and Frank Jones. This was Box Hill's first appearance in a VFA Grand Final in any grade. The grand final victory was Williamstown Reserves' 25th consecutive win. Best players were Thirds ruckman Harry Wragg, Max Hughes, Wal Muldowney, Jack McTaggart, Lindsay Murphy, Arthur Hewitt, Reg Ogden, John Turner and Bill Mathieson.

The Thirds, once again under coach Murray McRae, made the finals for the second consecutive year, finishing behind Port and Preston before losing the first-semi to Brunswick by a point, 7.6.48 to 6.11.47. Brunswick went on to win the premiership, defeating Port Melbourne 3.10 to 2.5, in a very low-scoring match. Harry Wragg won the Club best and fairest, while vice-captain and centre half-back, Brian Stafford, won the VFA Thirds competition best and fairest, the Alec Gillon Medal.

Team of the Century members Max Munday and Gerry Callahan both brought up their 100th game during the season, and Alby Linton's 59 majors for the year won him the Club goalkicking award and placing him fourth on the VFA list. Johnny Martin took home the Andy Taylor Memorial Trophy for Club best & fairest from Len Kent to sit alongside his JJ Liston Trophy, which he won by 13 votes from Camberwell captain Ken Ross. He also won the Advertiser and Chronicle awards. Lou Barker won the Seconds best and fairest and Harry Wragg won the Thirds award. Wragg was also best player in the Reserves grand final victory. 

Gerry Callahan, Jack Curran and Alby Outen were selected to represent the VFA at the ANFC carnival held in Perth in June.

Williamstown once again were awarded the VFA Club Championship over Port Melbourne, to go with being runners-up three times (to Port) since the inauguration of the award. 

At the conclusion of the season, a party of 30 players, officials and supporters travelled to Broken Hill for five days.

Life memberships were awarded to the president of the Ladies Committee since 1952, Elsie Flett (grandmother of Les Twentyman), and to committeman since 1952 and fund raiser, Vic Davies, at the annual meeting held in December.  

The Williamstown Old Players and Officials Association (the forerunner of Club 1864) was founded by former Club president and secretary, Harold Hosking, who unfortunately passed away later in the year. The initial president was 1907 premiership player and 1913 captain-coach, Bert Reitman, Con Sheehan (1928-31, 77 games) was secretary and Lou Salvas (1941-51, 103 games) was elected treasurer. Vic Truman (1921-25 & 1929, 57 games) succeeded Reitman as president of the Association.   

Former player from the early 1950’s, Bill ‘Altona or Leftfooter’ Williams (so named to differentiate him from then captain-coach Billy Williams) won the 1956 Stawell Gift. A half-forward, Williams played 36 games and kicked 23 goals in Royal Blue & Gold from 1951-53. Former Club vice-president and licensee of the Hobsons Bay Hotel, Syd Doult, passed away in October.

Williamstown Advertiser, June 8 1956

The Argus, June 5 1956

                                    The VFA Recorder, 1956 Preliminary Final, Williamstown v. Box Hill 

 

 

Johnny Martin waiting to receive his Liston Medal from VFA president, Alex Gillon, before the 1956 grand final v. Port Melbourne at St Kilda's Junction Oval on September 29. Standing behind are, from left, Eric Bietzel, Maurie Gear, Alan McPherson, Jack Curran, Ray Smith, John Ramsay, Sid Wookey, Allen Laurie, Bob Jones, Ken Reed and Frank Sims.

Johnny Martin receives his JJ Liston Trophy from Alex Gillon, President of the VFA, before the 1956 Grand Final

                                           The Age, October 1, 1956

Johnny Martin receives his JJ Liston Trophy from Alex Gillon, President of the VFA, before the 1956 Grand Final, from the Martin family collection.

Johnny Martin making his acceptance speech after receiving the 1956 Liston Medal prior to the grand final against Port Melbourne, from the Martin family collection.

Johnny Martin's Liston Medal and 1956 premiership medal, from the Martin family collection 

                                                                                                        Williamstown Advertiser, October 5, 1956

The team lining up before the 1956 grand final, from left Alby Outen, Reg Fisher, Eric Beitzel, Maurie Gear, Alan McPherson, Jack Evans, Jack Curran, Max Munday, Ray Smith, Len Kent, John Ramsay, Sid Wookey, Frank Jones, Allen Laurie, Bob Jones, Ken Reed and Frank Sims. 

                                                                                               The Argus October 1, 1956

                                                                                                  1956 Premiership team 

Back row: Reg Ogden, Maurie Gear

Second back row: Frank Sims, Alf Woods, Alby Outen, Johnny Martin, John McTaggart, Ray Smith, Eric Bietzel

Second row: Daryl Ward, John Turner, Max Munday, Jack Evans, Bob Jones, John Ramsay, Ken Reed, Allen Laurie

Front row: Alan McPherson, Sid Wookey, Jack Curran, Wally Carter (coach), Gerry Callahan (captain), Frank Jones, Len Kent

                     The VFA Recorder, 1956 Grand Final, Williamstown v. Port Melbourne 

 

 

 

 

                                                                   The Age, October 1, 1956

                                                                                      The Age, October 1, 1956

                                                                                  Williamstown Advertiser, October 5, 1956

                                             Williamstown Advertiser, October 5, 1956

                                                                              Williamstown Advertiser, October 5, 1956

                                                   Williamstown Chronicle, October 5, 1956

                                                                        Williamstown Chronicle, October 5, 1956

                                                                          Williamstown Chronicle, October 5, 1956

                                                                    Williamstown Chronicle, October 5, 1956

                                                                   Williamstown Chronicle, October 5, 1956

                                                              Williamstown Chronicle, October 5, 1956

                                                                       Williamstown Advertiser, October 5, 1956

                                                                                          The Age, October 1, 1956

                                                                              Williamstown Advertiser, October 5, 1956

                                                               Williamstown Advertiser, October 5, 1956

Williamstown Chronicle, October 5, 1956

WFC Reserves premiers and champions of 1956, defeating Box Hill in the grand final 14.16.100 to 4.7.31

Back row: Syd Gething (trainer), Ian Boyall, John McTaggart, John Turner, Lindsay Murphy, Harry Wragg, Arthur Hewitt, Eric Liley, Bill Mathieson, Gordon 'Tichy' Horner, Fred Bell (trainer)
Middle row: Ian McLeod, Bobby Dalgleish, Lou Barker (captain-coach), Max Hughes (vice-captain), Wally Muldowney
Front row: Jack 'Tooka' Orr (trainer), Daryl Ward, R. Evans, Brian Auld, Ian Barker (mascot-son of Lou Barker), Peter Barnes, Alf Woods, Reg Ogden

Harold Hosking, secretary of the Club from 1929-32, vice-president from 1933-35 and 1948-49 and president 1950-54, passed away suddenly at his home in Newport on May 15 aged 71.

The Argus, May 17, 1956
The Argus, May 17, 1956

                                              Williamstown Chronicle, October 5, 1956

The Argus, October 2, 1956 - Syd Doult was a vice-president of the Club from 1933-37.

Players and officials enjoying some refreshments during the end-of-season trip to Broken Hill, from left Bob Jones, Ken Reed, Eric Bietzel, John Ramsay, Gerry Callahan and Sid Wookey. Front from left, Jack Carter (president), George Bindless (minute secretary), Dave Sturrock, Frank Sims, Bill Raffle and Tom Orange (vice-president - behind Bill Raffle). 

The Williamstown Old Players and Officials Association (the forerunner of Club 1864) was founded in 1956 by former Club president (1950-54) and secretary (1929-32), Harold Hosking, who unfortunately passed away in May. The initial president was 1907 premiership player and 1913 captain-coach, Bert Reitman (1907-14, 126 games 10 goals), Con Sheehan (1928-31, 77 games 58 goals) was secretary and Lou Salvas (1941-51, 103 games 112 goals) was elected treasurer. Vic Truman (1921-29, 57 games 21 goals) succeeded Reitman as president of the Association from 1961-68.   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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