Season Summary: 1980

Among changes introduced by the VFA from 1980 was the order-off rule for senior games after it had been used in Thirds matches for a number of years, and the playing of Seconds fixtures as curtain-raisers to Senior games. This new rule allowed umpires to order a player to leave the field as punishment for high severity indiscretions for fifteen minutes of game time and could not be replaced, so that the team played one man short over this time period. When the Seconds competition was established in the 1920s, scheduling was such that the Reserves played at the same time as the Firsts, with the Seconds playing at home when the Firsts played away and vice versa. In the 1960s, as the Firsts gradually migrated from a Saturday competition to a Sunday competition, the Seconds had remained a Saturday competition, still playing at home on alternate weekends to the Firsts but on different days. Now, for the first time, the Seconds were played as curtain-raisers and, also for the first time, the Seconds became a Sunday competition. As a result, the Seconds finals became curtain-raisers to the Firsts finals, which had happened previously when both competitions were Saturday competitions. However, one consequence was that the lightning premiership, which had been the finals curtain-raiser since 1972, was discontinued. One further change was that the Association trialled the use of two field umpires for the first time during the finals matches in both divisions, but home-and-away matches continued to be controlled by a single field umpire through the year.

For the first time since 1972, Williamstown commenced the season with the same president and coach as the previous year, albeit with a new captain in 1979 best and fairest winner Neil Courtot. The captain of 1979, Mark Cross, had moved to coach Mildura after 5 years at Williamstown, where he played 74 games and kicked 125 goals. Peter Kerr was appointed vice-captain for the third consecutive season while Alan Kennedy was made deputy vice-captain. 

The first victory of the campaign came in round 3 with a 10-point win over Brunswick at Pt Gellibrand in just the second encounter between the two clubs since 1967. Five consecutive victories were to follow, including a win over Werribee by 101 points in round 6 at Williamstown (Peter Enright 7 goals). This was the Club's 1500th VFA game. By round 8 the Seagulls were sitting in third position on the ladder, two games and percentage clear of Mordialloc in fifth place.  Five losses in the next six games saw the team slip to sixth, before the round 16 senior debut game against Box Hill of Ian Fairley at the age of only 15 years and 10 months, where he kicked eight goals from full-forward to help the Seagulls win 25.15 to 8.9, a victory of 108 points and the highest winning margin in any game in Second Division for the year.

Senior Williamstown coach, Merv Hobbs, had invited Fairley to train and play with the Williamstown Football Club, and, in an amazing year, he played the first half of the year in the Under 19’s under coach Dave Hughes, then 4 or 5 games in the Reserves under Phil McTaggart, debuting at Oakleigh in round 9. One week later Ian was selected for his first VFA senior game as a Year 9 student at Williamstown High School and was presented with the number 1 jumper by coach, Merv Hobbs. Ian played 43 senior games with Williamstown in the VFA, kicking 69 goals. In 1983 he played the first 3 games at Williamstown before officials from North Melbourne came calling. Fairley, a nephew of 1969 Williamstown premiership centre-half back Ron Page, went on to have a distinguished 217-game career with North Melbourne. The family connection runs even deeper as the trophy awarded to the third place-getter in Williamstown's best & fairest award is named after Fairley's maternal grandfather,  long-serving committeeman (1967-76) Cec Page. 

Williamstown remained in fourth place on the table at the conclusion of the 1980 season. Before the final round, Mordialloc was third on the ladder with 10 wins, Waverley fourth with 10, Williamstown fifth with nine and Oakleigh sixth with nine. Williamstown was at home to Oakleigh and Mordialloc at home to Waverley. This meant the winner of the Williamstown game would displace the loser of the Mordialloc match. The Williamstown game was a thriller, with the Seagulls desperately defending a narrow lead to win 13.12 to 12.13, with the lead changing seven times during a hectic last term. A fine second quarter, in which it kicked 8.4 to 0.2, set up Williamstown's win.

Waverley, which won by 10 points at Mordialloc, was too accomplished for 'Town in the first semi-final and won 21.13 to 13.18. The game was decided in the first quarter when the Panthers got out to a six-goal lead at the first break, 8.5 to 2.3, aided by the breeze. The Seagulls were never able to reduce the deficit by any great margin and went down by 7 goals in the end, with forward Neil Coates missing many easy shots. The match was played at Toorak Park and was the first in the VFA under two field umpires. Greg Tweedly kicked three goals, while better players were Eudey, Kerr, Tweedly and Fairley.  

Williamstown Reserves, under second-year captain-coach Phil McTaggart, signalled that better days were ahead for the Club by finishing on top of the ladder with 15 wins and 3 losses during the home-and-away rounds. Yarraville were defeated in the second semi-final, 21.20.146 to 12.11.83, to advance to the grand final. The team then went on to take the premiership, defeating Brunswick 21.22 (148) to 19.13 (127) in the Grand Final, played as a curtain-raiser to the Senior second division Grand Final on 7 September at Toorak Park. Frank Pocervina kicked 6 goals, Kevin Yates 4 and Phil Chapman 3. Best players were Paul Eudey, Chapman, Pocervina, Laurie Taylor, Neil Condon, Bob Jones and Kevin Yates. Brunswick led by 4 goals at the 10-minute mark of the third quarter before Williamstown kicked 9 goals to lead by 27 points at three-quarter time, and went on to win by 21 points. 

The Thirds were coached by first-year mentor, Dave Hughes, father of future senior player, Kevin 'Hap' Hughes, and had a young player straight out of the undefeated Williamstown United under 15 team of 1979, namely Ian Fairley, whose senior debut in round 16 of 1980 was mentioned above. They won 12 games for the year and were unlucky to miss the finals, going down to eventual premiers Northcote at Williamstown by just two points in the second last home-and-away game. Remarkably, only two players from the previous year's premiership side were regulars during the season. Mark Aceri, who would go on to play VFL/AFL football with North Melbourne, Carlton and St Kilda, also played in the Thirds in this season. 

Over the course of the season, 37 players were used in the senior team, 57 in the seconds and 36 in the under 19's. 

1976 premiership player and vice-captain for the last three seasons, Peter Kerr, made his 100th senior appearance for Williamstown in round 4 at Mordialloc, while Alan Kennedy (round 7 at Box Hill), Paul John (round 15 at Werribee) and Geoff Bebend (round 16 v. Box Hill at Williamstown) all played their 50th games during the year. Paul John also took out the Andy Taylor Memorial Trophy for best and fairest player in the Seniors on a countback from Greg Tweedly and John Cutajar, while Peter Enright was awarded the inaugural Bert Hodge Memorial goalkicking award with a total of 52. Geoff Bebend won the most consistent player trophy. 

The Reserves best and fairest was won by Paul Eudey from captain-coach Phil McTaggart, with Greg McRae in third place. Phil Chapman was leading goalkicked in the Seconds with a total of 35, just one in front of John Clark. Best and fairest in the Under 19's went to Chris Sandells, with Ian Fairley runner-up and Mark Arceri third. Both of the latter players would go on to play League football. The goalkicking award in the Thirds went to Ricky Slevison who booted 48 majors and would became a Senior premiership player at Williamstown in 1986 and 1990 and also play in the 1988 grand final. Best clubman for the under 19's was awarded to Denis Selvidge

Bob Pearman was senior team manager, Terry Maloney managed the Seconds while Ron Black was manager of the Thirds. Margaret Jackson, the Club's first female trainer, commenced duty in this season. 

President Sid Wookey was transferred to Canberra in his employment with the public service late in the year and was forced to step down from that role which he had carried out for the last three seasons. Also, Bill 'Darkie' Raffle passed away early in the year. He held many positions with the Club over a great period of years including as a committeeman from 1957-62 and from 1968-73, as assistant secretary 1963-67, as vice-president in 1974/75 and senior vice-president in 1979. The Best Clubman award was instigated in 1980 in his honour, which continued until 2017 when it was renamed in honour of Janet Dooley. It was awarded to Phil McTaggart in this season. The committee also instigated the Bert Hodge Memorial Award which went to the Senior's leading goalkicker, which was Peter Enright in 1980. 

John 'Jack' Lord, captain-coach of the Club and best and fairest winner in 1927, also passed away on 14 August, aged 80. Non-playing coach of 1931-32, Jim Toohey, passed away on April 11 aged 93. 

Dr Louis Joel, Club medical officer since 1931, stood down at the end of the year after 50 seasons in the role. 

The selected teams for the round 5 clash at Williamstown, won by the Seagulls by 50 points, 23.20.158 to 17.6.108. Peter Enright, the Club leading goalkicker in 1980 with 52, kicked 6 for the winners while Colin James booted 5 for the Crows. Future Williamstown 1986 premiership player, Larry Simmons, was also amongst the goals for Sunshine with three. 

1980 playing list

15yo Williamstown High School student, Ian Fairley, made his senior debut in the round 16 game against Box Hill at Williamstown and impressed onlookers with 8 goals from full-forward in a 108-point victory, 25.15.165 to 8.9.57, the highest winning margin in any game in Second Division for the year. Fairley was presented with the Williamstown number one guernsey prior to the game by coach, Merv Hobbs.

1976 premiership player and J. Field Medallist, Colin Boyd, pictured here in 1980 as captain-coach of Leongatha

Senior team list, 1980 first semi-final v. Waverley at Toorak Park, including 15yo, 187cm (6'2") Ian Fairley (#47), who kicked two goals on the day. Williamstown lost by 43 points, 21.13.139 - 13.18.96

1954 premiership half-forward flanker, Ian McLeod, was groundsman at Williamstown in 1980. McLeod played 17 senior games in 1954/55 after being recruited from South Melbourne Thirds and was awarded the best first-year player in 1954 and played in the Seconds premiership teams of 1955 and 1956. He also played cricket with Williamstown Cricket Club.

1980 Second Division Reserves premiership squad

Back row: Terry Maloney (team manager), Harold Jackson (timekeeper), Kelly Brent (head trainer), Bob 'Bona' Jones (trainer), Clinton McRae, Paul Sinnott, Shane Braddy, Neil Condon, Bob Jones, John Sinnott, Paul Eudey, Simon Philpot, Stephen Wright, Graeme Crocker (interchange steward), Brendan Bailey (secretary), Neville Brent (trainer), Don Gabriel (trainer)

Middle row: Steve Williams, Ian Fairley, Romeo Montebruno, Ian Wickson, Phil McTaggart (captain-coach), Frank Pocervina, Kevin Yates, Chris Sandells, Steve Masters, Andy Daly

Front row: Tony McVeigh, Jeff Ind, Laurie Taylor, Phil Chapman, Luke Evans (mascot), Mick Barrie, Greg McRae, John Cutajar, Chris Nolan 

 Phil McTaggart, captain-coach of the 1980 reserves premiership team 

Dr Louis Joel, Club medical officer since 1931, stepped down from the role at the end of 1980

Bill Raffle, pictured here in The Weekender after the 1970 grand final, passed away early in the year. He held many positions with the Club over a great period of years including as a committeeman from 1957-62 and from 1968-73, as assistant secretary 1963-67, as vice-president in 1974/75 and senior vice-president in 1979. The Best Clubman award was instigated in 1980 in his honour, which continued until 2017 when it was renamed in honour of Janet Dooley.

Jack Lord, depicted here in The Herald of April 29 1927, was captain-coach of Williamstown in 1927 and played 17 games in his one season with the Villagers, winning the Club best and fairest and being runner-up in the Recorder Cup. He transferred to Prahran in 1928 as captain-coach and played there until the end of 1931. Lord passed away on 14 August, 1980, aged 80. 

Jim Toohey, pictured here in a VFL Record from 1914, coached Williamstown from June 1931 until the end of 1932, after the original appointee in 1931, Jim Shanahan, was unable to continue due to his employer, the police department, prohibiting paid outside employment. His replacement, Gordon Helwig, was similarly employed by the Air Force and found himself having to also stand down. Toohey was the first appointee to coach for more than one season since Jim Caldwell in 1921/22. He began his football career in WA and was recruited by Fitzroy in 1913 from North Fremantle, playing until 1917 when he enlisted and served in France during World War I. He continued on with Fitzroy in 1920, playing just the opening game against Richmond to eventually finish up after 78 games and 102 goals before transferring to Prahran as captain-coach. He played for Prahran and briefly for North Melbourne in 1921 before becoming captain-coach of Williamstown Juniors. He played with the Juniors in 1922 when Bob King was captain-coach, and became captain-coach of the Juniors again in 1923 at the age of 37 when King returned to Williamstown. Toohey played in Fitzroy's 1913 premiership side and their 1917 runner-up team. He was re-appointed coach of Williamstown for the 1932 season in December 1931. He also played with and/or coached Stawell, Kalgoorlie, Subiaco, Balwyn and Kingsville. Toohey passed away on April 11, 1980, aged 93.