Season Summary: 1985
The off-season proved a very fruitful recruiting period, as Williamstown were able to add the following players to its list for the upcoming season: Ian 'Chops' Rickman (Footscray), Rob Semmens (Footscray), Rob Dimartino, Lindsay 'Cods' Cahill and Kevin 'Hap' Hughes (all from Spotswood's 1984 premiership side), Steven Weir (North Old Boys VAFA) and Wayne Muschialli (Altona City). Grant Smith also came to the Club but returned to Spotswood after six games. 1983 Gardiner Medal winner (VFL Reserves best and fairest), John Taylor, also joined the Club in late May after stints with both Footscray and St Kilda.
Rickman (1985-1993 146 games, 516 goals), Cahill (1985-1990 86 games, 133 goals), Smith (1985-1992 76 games, 79 goals) and Muschialli (1985-1991 56 games, 76 goals) would all go on to become long-serving premiership players at The 'Town, with Rickman, Smith and Muschialli playing in both the 1986 and 1990 premiership sides. Cahill would play in the 1986 flag team. Former South Melbourne player (36 games, 15 goals 1970-73), Bruce Davis, also joined the Club as assistant coach from Port Melbourne, where he had successfully coached the Under 18's to a grand final in 1984. He would also coach both the Reserves and Thirds teams at Williamstown. Bruce had also played VFA football with Yarraville and Port Melbourne. Departing the Club were Greg Towns, Colin Dell, Leigh McConnon, Jon Hummel, Steven Eather, John Sinnott (to West Footscray) and Mark Cannon (to Spotswood).
With centre half-forward Tony Dullard out for the year with a severe leg injury sustained in round 5 against Camberwell and star goalkicker Mark Fotheringham rushed to hospital suffering viral meningitis after the Coburg game in round 3, Williamstown began 1985 with three losses, including 7-goal defeats at home against Port Melbourne and Coburg and a 2-goal loss at Springvale before winning the next eight, including a 12-goal win at Werribee (Rickman 13 goals, Cahill 4 goals on debut), a 106-point victory at home over Camberwell (Fotheringham 10) and a mauling at Box Hill by 176 points (Fotheringham 12, Rickman 10). Williamstown's score of 42.18.270 was the Club's highest-ever score in the seniors at the time. This was followed by a 13-goal victory against Geelong West at Pt Gellibrand (Rickman 6 goals, Fotheringham 5). One of these wins, in round 9, was at Preston by nine points, which ended the Bullants unbeaten run since 1984 of 23 consecutive victories. By round 11, the Seagulls were out of the four by percentage only but an uneven competition meant at least 12 wins would be needed to claim fourth spot, and when 'Town lost to lowly Camberwell by five points in round 16 it faced a hard task to reach the finals ahead of Port Melbourne, now a game clear. Both clubs had a chance to boost their percentages in round 17 when they met lowly opponents. Port took advantage by beating Prahran by 76 points to strengthen its grip on fourth position, while the Seagulls had a 22-point win over Werribee. This meant that not only did Williamstown have to win well away against sixth-placed Geelong West in the last round, but rely on home side Coburg (second) inflicting a solid defeat on Port to reduce its percentage. At that stage Port had a percentage of 140.8 to Williamstown's 133.1. Williamstown did its best, kicking 14.16 to Geelong West's 8.10, including seven goals with the wind in the last quarter, but Coburg played an even bigger part by trouncing Port 21.15 to 5.9. This pushed Port's percentage down to 130.6, while Williamstown's rose slightly to 134.4. Port was out and the Seagulls were in the finals!
Accurate kicking for goal set up Williamstown's first semi-final win over Preston, which had won the previous two premierships, 16.8 to 13.15, with Fotheringham kicking five goals. This brought the Seagulls and Coburg, which won 13 consecutive matches to claim the double chance, together in the preliminary final, with Williamstown leading by three points at half-time, Coburg three points ahead at three-quarter time and 'Town eventually winning by three points, 18.13 to 17.16. Two 60-metre goals from half-forward Ian Rickman in the last quarter made the difference between Williamstown bowing out and contesting the Grand Final. A first-year player from Footscray - he was set to cross to Werribee, but Wheeler influenced him to join the Seagulls - Rickman became one of the most dynamic players to ever represent Williamstown. He could be inspirational, particularly when the going was hard, and was unfazed kicking for goal beyond 50 metres.
Video of the 1985 preliminary final can be seen by copying and pasting the following link into your internet browser:
Sandringham, which had headed the ladder and then won a high-scoring second semi-final against Coburg by 90 points, started clear favourites for the Grand Final at the Junction Oval in perfect conditions, the first meeting of these two bayside Clubs in a Grand Final. Although the underdog, Williamstown, in its only First Division play-off since 1970, was by no means out of contention and began the game with a sensational team selection. After much thought, Wheeler selected Thirds rover Ron James for his debut at the age of 14 years and 10 months.
For more stories on the selection of Ron James from some of the Club identities of the era please click on the following link to one of Bruce Davis' productions
James looked like goaling with his first kick, but the shot slewed away for a behind. Playing with much purpose and tenacity, the Seagulls trailed by only a behind at quarter-time and at half-time scores were level, 8.6 apiece. One factor in Williamstown's favour was the sound form of Fotheringham and Rickman in attack, which contrasted the form of Sandringham forwards Morrison, Brewer and Gorozidis who were all well checked. Fortunately for the Zebras, big man Mark Eaves gave a best-afield performance across the half-forward line and finished with five goals. The game was rugged yet free of spite and was still evenly balanced when Sandy led by nine points at three-quarter time. After Rickman missed a deliberate shot for goal early in the last quarter, Sandringham goaled twice to open up a handy 21 point lead with seven minutes played. It was the biggest gap between the two sides for the day and, in view of the way the two defences were playing, it seemed the Zebras had the game all but won. Fifteen minutes into the term Rickman goaled from close range to cut the difference to two goals and a long shot from Sait was rushed for a behind. Eaves steadied Sandy with a goal, but Fotheringham goaled with a snap to leave the Seagulls 11 points down with about ten minutes to play.
The match was moving towards a thrilling climax as play swung between the back lines. Then Rickman goaled with a prodigious kick, which lifted the 'Town and it stormed forward with renewed zest. Time-on started and only a goal separated the two sides. Davidson had a chance to score, but the kick was smothered. Williamstown mounted another attack and this time Kershaw, who wasn't far from goal, tried to mark. He got his hands to the ball and, given another second or two, he might have gathered it in for a mark. Field umpire Barry Fitzpatrick, who was not far away, was not convinced Kershaw had it under control and called play on. Sandringham cleared the ball and held on to win a fine game, 14.16 to 13.16. Defenders Wheeler and Swann, Rickman, rovers Sait and Cahill, ruck-rover Hughes and Fotheringham (five goals) and Rickman (three) headed the Williamstown effort.
Williamstown's 1985 Grand Final side was:
Backs Alun Owen Greg Swann Robert DiMartino
Half Backs Terry Wheeler Glen Murphy Steve Weir
Centre Stan Davidson
Half Forwards Ian Rickman Mark Brierty Wayne Muschialli
Forwards Larry Simmons Mark Fotheringham Ron James
Followers Kim Kershaw Kevin Hughes
Rover Kevin Sait
Interchange Lindsay Cahill Craig Nankervis
Captain/Coach: Terry Wheeler
Video of the 1985 grand final can be seen by clicking on the following links
The game was played at the Junction Oval before a crowd of 22,300.
Kim Kershaw was awarded his third consecutive Andy Taylor Memorial Trophy for Club best and fairest, from Greg Swann and first-year player Lindsay Cahill. Mark Fotheringham again won the Bert Hodge Memorial Trophy for Club leading goalkicker. Fotheringham finished the season with 106 goals, earning him equal second place on the VFA list, while Rickman, in his first year with the club, booted 71 to run fifth. Lindsay Cahill, one of the many quality recruits the Club had gained from Spotswood, finished seventh in the Liston Trophy. John Clifton was awarded the Bill 'Darkie' Raffle Memorial Trophy for best clubman.
The Reserves best and fairest was won by first-year player, Wayne Hodges, from recruit Wayne Muschialli and Peter Shorthouse. Frankston recruit, Roger Horton, was runner-up in the Todd Medal for the VFA Reserves best and fairest, while Gary Brook kicked 73 to end up third on the VFA Reserves goalkicking list. The Thirds best and fairest was taken out by Richie Raeburn, from Ron James and Tommy McGowan, all future senior players. James was controversially selected in the grand final side, as detailed above, while vice-captain McGowan kicked 143 goals for the season to finish runner-up in the competition award to Daryl Taylor of Werribee (151). Vin Dimartino also booted 97 majors for the year in the Thirds.
The Reserves side, coached by Bruce Davis, finished in sixth position with nine wins from their 18 matches, whilst the Thirds (Under 18's), also coached by Bruce Davis, finished in fourth spot on the ladder with 15 wins from their 18 games before being defeated in the first semi-final.
One of the other highlights of season 1985 was the launch of the unique, insightful and informative "Dogtown Dialogue" in April, produced by the eccentric Stuart Brown. The publication was to run for the next decade, only ending with Stuart's sad passing in June 1995. 1950's ruckman Jack Evans passed away a few days before the preliminary final. Evans played 171 games, kicking 92 goals and played in the 1955, 1956, 1958 and 1959 premiership teams and the 1961 grand final side. He was only 53 years old. Eric 'Tarzan' Glass, who played in the 1939 and 1945 premiership sides, also passed on in July at the age of 75. He played 82 senior games in the royal blue and gold.
The Williamstown Backers Group, another fund-raising arm of the Club, was formed in November by supporters Geoff Dougall, Kevin Bury, Gary Evans and Dal York.
Players departing at the conclusion of 1985 included future President of 1995-1998 Greg Swann (1982-1985 62 games, 3 goals) who went overseas for work, Paul Sinnott (1982-1985 39 games, 5 goals) and Stan Davidson (1984-1985 34 games, 18 goals) who retired.
Williamstown brains trust 1985, from left President Tony Hannebery, Rod Williams, Paul Stebbing (treasurer), Bob Pearman (secretary), Barry Height, Barry Wright and John Grieve
Rob Semmens, originally from Tasmania, came to Williamstown in 1985 after 5 games for Richmond and 7 for Footscray, interspersed with a year at Norwood in the SANFL.
Robert Dimartino joined Williamstown after playing in Spotswood's 1984 premiership team
Kevin 'Hap' Hughes was a teammate of Rob Dimartino in Spotswood's 1984 premiership team
Terry Wheeler entered his second year as captain-coach in 1985
Bruce Davis joined Williamstown in 1985 as assistant coach and also coach of the reserves and thirds teams. Bruce played 36 games with South Melbourne from 1970-73 and then went to Port Melbourne, where he played 16 games in 1974.
Wayne 'Roo' Muschialli came to Williamstown from Altona City in 1985
Lindsay 'Cods' Cahill, four goals on debut at Werribee in a 73-point victory in round 4
Kevin 'Hap' Hughes also transferred to the Seagulls from Spotswood in 1985
The cover of the first edition of Dogtown Dialogue, first published in April 1985
Stuart Brown, founder and editor of the Dogtown Dialogue, which ran from 1985 to 1995, pictured here at the Steam Packet Hotel
President, Tony Hannebery, entered his third season in the role in 1985
Twins Craig and Ron James, aged 14yo, started out together in the Thirds in 1985 after transferring from West Newport juniors. Ron would be sensationally selected to make his debut in the senior grand final team later in the year.
1985 playing list
Legendary trainer, Kelly Brent, with first-year player, Lindsay Cahill, recruited from Spotswood via South Melbourne
High-profile media personality, Mark Day, was Williamstown's No. 1 ticket holder in season 1985
Williamstown coaches gather in June for a Sportsmens Night, from left Max Papley, Wally Carter, Terry Wheeler, Gerry Callahan & Barry Gill
After losing the first three games of 1985, the team bounced back to win the next eight, including these three huge wins in rounds 4-6
Scoreboard at Box Hill, round 6 1985, Williamstown's highest-ever score ....... until 1986
The team's good form continued into round 7 with another big win, this time by 13 goals
Premiership defender of the 1950's, Jack 'Narra' Curran, pictured here in 1985. Jack joined the Seagulls from Newport in 1953 and went on to play 74 games, mainly on a half-back flank, until the end of 1956, after which he was cleared to Dimboola as playing coach. Jack played in the 1954, 1955 and 1956 premiership teams and was awarded the Most Improved Player award in 1954. Jack passed away in July 2019 at the age of 86.
Ian 'Hucky' Johnson, pictured here in 1985. Beginning his career in 1967, 'Hucky' played 72 games for Williamstown primarily as a tough and uncompromising backman under coach Max Papley. Johnson played in three consecutive grand finals for the Seagulls in 1968, 69 (premiership) and 70, before finishing his career in 1973. He was admitted to the WFC Hall of Fame in July 2019, but sadly passed away shortly after.
1985 Thirds Elimination Final, featuring future senior players Tommy McGowan (1988-1997 83 games, 51 goals), Richie Raeburn (1987-1989 22 games, 19 goals), Ronnie James (1985-1986 10 games, 10 goals), Vin DiMartino (1987-1990 37 games, 69 goals), Gavin Johnstone (1988 two games, no goals) and Glen Brooks (1988-1990 8 games, 8 goals)
Williamstown's 1985 preliminary final line-up
1985 Grand Final record cover
Back row: Wayne Muschialli, Alun Owen, Philip Brook, Tony Price, Roger Horton, Peter Shorthouse, Rollo Goetz, Paul Ross, Chris Sandells
Second back row: Rob Dimartino, Craig Nankervis, John Taylor, Kim Kershaw, Tony Dullard, Mark Brierty, Greg Swann
Third back row: Laurie Taylor, Kevin Sait, Bill Mitchell, Larry Simmons, Paul John, Robert Semmens, Paul Lowden, John Barnett
Seated: Stan Davidson, Glen Murphy (deputy vice-captain), Bruce Davis (assistant coach), Terry Wheeler (captain/coach), Mark Fotheringham (vice-captain), Ian Rickman, Wayne Hodges
Front row: Lindsay Cahill, Rick Slevison, Steven Weir, Anthony Slattery
VFA goalkicking list before the Grand Final - Fotheringham booted 5 in the final to finish with 106 while Rickman got 3 to finish on 71 in his first season. Gary Brook kicked 73 to end up third on the Reserves list.
22yo Wayne Hodges won the best and fairest award in the Reserves in 1985 in his second season with Williamstown
Full back in the 1985 Grand Final team, Greg Swann, moved overseas for work at the end of the season.
Williamstown Football Club - 1985 Third XVI - Under 18 First Semi-Finalists
BACK ROW: Russell Gardiner, Craig James, Bill Rashid, Ross Jackson, Ray Arandez, Craig Dawson, Charlie Zarafa, Amer Rohayem
MIDDLE ROW: Vin Dimartino, Gary Cockerill, Gavin Johnstone, Scott Daykin, Leslie Cavanagh, Glenn Evans, Craig Steinhardt
FRONT ROW: Glen Brooks, Ron James, Tom McGowan (Vice Captain), Bruce Davis (Coach), Robert Purves (Captain), Greg Stevens, Richie Raeburn
Thirds (Under 18's) leading goalkickers for the 1985 season - vice captain Tommy McGowan was runner-up
Richie Raeburn won the under 18's best and fairest award in 1985
The Club's financial turn-around from the dark days of 1982 was partly helped by the weekly bingo sessions at St Mary's school hall, which was run by Graeme Curtis, Barry Wright, John Grieve, Keith McKay and a number of other volunteers
The Williamstown Backers Group, another fund-raising arm of the Club, was formed in November by supporters Geoff Dougall, Kevin Bury, Gary Evans and Dal York
1985 Under 14 Sherrin Cup team
Back Row: Steven Harrison, B.Johnston, Derek Horsburgh, Brad Hooke, Glen Reid, Chris Curtis, A.McColl
Third Row: Duncan Russell, Craig McDonald, Adrian Ilich, Darryl Lester, J.Hobson, W.English, Paul Reid, Damian Grigg
Second Row: Tommy Russell (team manager), Scott Mayman, Sheldon Bryan, A.Holdsworth, A. Black, M.Bohner, Joe Patterson, James Johnson, R.Reid (runner)
Front Row: John Hogg (trainer), Brian Bourchier, Geoff East (team manager), Dale Height, Nathan East, Damian Martin (coach), Chris Moses, Wayne Palmer (community development officer)
Two members of this team went to play senior football for Williamstown in later years - Joe Patterson and Dale Height.
Team manager, Tommy Russell, played 200 senior games for Williamstown while the coach, Damian Martin, is the son of multiple WFC premiership player & Liston Medallist, Johnny Martin.