Season Summary: 1987
The only recruits of note for season 1987 were Brunswick captain David Whillas and Andy Colenso from Coorparoo in Queensland, along with a number of players elevated from the Thirds premiership side of the previous year including Richie Raeburn, Ian Argus, Vin Dimartino, Craig Steinhardt, Glen Brooks, Frank Dimartino and Gavin Johnstone. Ricky Knight and Danny Del Re, after transferring from Footscray under 19's at the beckoning of cousin Rob Dimartino, were others to debut during the year, and Murray Nilsson returned to the Club from Glenroy. Players missing from the premiership side of 1986 were Tony Pastore (Richmond), Ron James (Footscray) and Grant Smith (Hawthorn), however Smith was back at Williamstown by round 11. Andrew Gibson went back to Spotswood during the season, as did Sandy Morrison (back to Warragul) and Craig Nankervis (Kyneton). Tony 'Spud' Dullard took over as playing coach of the reserves, while Bruce Davis continued on as coach of the thirds and assistant to Terry Wheeler in the seniors.
The season began with two defeats at the hands of Coburg, by 14 points following the unfurling of the 1986 premiership flags, and by 48 points at Brunswick, before six consecutive victories, including big wins over Box Hill by 49 points (Cahill and Fotheringham 5 goals each) in round 3, twelve goals over Sandringham in round 4 (Fotheringham 6 goals, Vin Dimartino 5, Brett McTaggart 47 possessions) and Geelong West by 101 points in round 5 (Fotheringham 10 goals). Three of the Dimartino clan (Rob, Vin and Nick) played in the seniors at Geelong West, while a fourth (Frank) played in the reserves, which won by 330 points, 53.20.338 to 1.2.8, while the thirds won by 439 points, 67.37.439 to NIL. Another 49-point victory at Frankston in round 6 (Colenso 6 goals, Fotheringham 5) and then a two-goal win over Preston at Pt Gellibrand in round 7 (Fotheringham and Rickman 6 goals each, Slevison 5) took the Seagulls to the top of the ladder. A comfortable 4-goal victory over Springvale at Pt Gellibrand (Steve Knight 6 goals) in round 8 consolidated top spot before a disastrous trip to Port Melbourne resulted in a massive 100-point loss followed by a six-goal defeat at Coburg in rounds 9 and 10. Order was restored with a 9-goal win over Brunswick at Williamstown in round 11 (Fotheringham 6 goals, Simmons 5) and a narrow victory against Box Hill in round 12 (Fotheringham 10 goals) before a surprising 6-goal defeat at Sandringham. A big win at home over the lowly Geelong West Roosters by 96 points in round 14 (Fotheringham 6 goals, Simmons 5) in Danny Del-Re's senior debut and at Preston by 20 goals in round 15 (Rickman and Vin Dimartino 8 goals each) secured a finals berth, despite losses in the last two home-and-away games, to Springvale by 3 points and Port by 50. The season was hampered by injuries during the year to key players such as Kim Kershaw (broken arm in round 2), Mark Brierty, Lindsay Cahill, Wayne Muschialli (ankle), Mark Fotheringham (knee) and Glenn Murphy (face), and illness to recruit Andy Colenso (glandular fever).
The Seagulls won 11 of their 18 home and away games including losses in the last two home-and-away rounds to leave them third on the ladder, one win behind second-placed Springvale and needing to win three finals to take the flag. This resulted in the 'Town meeting Frankston in the first semi-final, having defeated the Dolphins twice during the season, by 49 points in round 7 at Frankston and by one goal in round 16 at Williamstown. After trailing by 7 goals at quarter time, five goals at half time and four goals at the last change, Williamstown suddenly found form to add 10 goals to one in the last quarter to win comfortably, 19.15 to 14.14. The irrepressible Rickman kicked five goals for the term, giving him six for the day. The late Steven Knight kicked five. Port Melbourne, which had won both home and away games against the Seagulls that season by big margins, were only 7 points in front at half time but again proved too good in the preliminary in the 167th meeting of the two teams and 16th finals clash, winning 16.20 to 14.12 to end the Seagulls year. It was the first time the teams had met in a final since the 1964 Grand Final, and the free kick count of 29 to Port and 15 to the Seagulls caused some consternation after the siren, although Kershaw, Smith and Wheeler were all sent off during the game and subsequently suspended by the tribunal. Better players were Slevison, Hughes, Rickman, Wheeler, Cahill and Nilsson.
The 1987 season also marked the end of 30yo Mark Fotheringham's brilliant career in the VFA. After making his name at Yarraville, Fotheringham kicked 571 goals in 101 games with Williamstown to give him an aggregate of 928 goals in 174 VFA matches. His final season yielded 66 goals, which earned him equal second place on the VFA list. A deadly kick for goal, especially within 50 metres, Fotheringham left the 'Town to coach Keilor in the Essendon District League.
Barry Round became only the second player to win both the League and Association best and fairest awards after he won the Liston Trophy in 1987, six years after his Brownlow Medal win. Round emulated the feat of former Williamstown rover Des Fothergill, who won the Recorder Cup in 1941 (renamed the Liston Cup in 1945 and later that same decade the Liston Trophy), a year after his Brownlow success. It was the Club's first Liston Trophy for 30 years after centreman Johnny Martin took it out in 1956. Brett McTaggart finished in fifth position, just six votes behind the winner. Whilst Round's effort thrilled all connected with the Club, officials believed the 1987 team was the best fielded by Williamstown in the 1980's and were disappointed it could finish no higher than third place.
The Reserves, under new captain-coach Tony 'Spud' Dullard, were on top of the ladder by round 14 but finished fourth before losing the first semi-final to Brunswick by just 8 points, 16.13.109 to 14.17.101. The Thirds knocked off ladder leaders, Springvale, by 11 goals in the second semi-final and then went back-to-back premiers with victory over Preston in the grand final, again under Bruce Davis, 12.19.91 to 7.15.57. Davis went on to coach Footscray under 19's, and was replaced by 1986 senior premiership player Larry Simmons.
Barry Round won the first of three consecutive Andy Taylor Memorial Trophies for senior club best and fairest, from Brett McTaggart and Ricky Slevison. The retiring champion spearhead, Mark Fotheringham, took out his sixth consecutive Bert Hodge Memorial Trophy for senior club leading goalkicker. Legendary head trainer Kelly Brent was named the Bill 'Darkie' Raffle clubman of the year.
The Reserves best and fairest award, the Bill Sheahan Memorial Trophy, was won by Stephen Weir, with Greg Lagstrom runner-up and Philip Brook in third place. Paul McKay was leading goalscorer for the Seconds with 54 majors and second place on the list for the VFA reserves. The Under 19's best and fairest was awarded to Brett Gould, from Marcus O'Connor and Scott Daykin. For the second year running, Scott Whitzell was the leading goalkicker for the Thirds and again reached a century of goals booting 107 and was also the VFA Thirds leading scorer and finished fifth in the voting for the Alex Gillon Medal, the best & fairest award in the Thirds.
Andy Colenso joined Williamstown from Coorparoo, Queensland, in 1987
David Whillas, star recruit of 1987, lured across from Brunswick where he was captain
Murray Nillson returned to Williamstown from Glenroy in 1987
Successful premiership captain-coach of 1986, Terry Wheeler, remained at the helm in 1987
Former WFC coach, president and director, Merv Hobbs, became licensee of the Crown Hotel in Williamstown in February, 1987
Kevin 'Shark' Sait in action against Coburg in round 1
Rover Lindsay Cahill, 5 goals amongst 27 possessions (23 kicks, 4 handballs, 7 marks) v. Box Hill in round 3
1987 playing list
Brett McTaggart racked up 47 possessions (28 kicks, 19 handballs) & 7 marks against Sandringham in round 4
Three of the Dimartino clan (Rob, Vin and Nick) played in the seniors at Geelong West in round 5, while a fourth (Frank) played in the reserves
Glen Murphy in action v. Preston, round 6 at home, and with his father Lindsay, who played in the senior 1958 and 1959 premiership sides and the 1956 reserves premiers and champions team. Lindsay also played in the runner-up teams of 1961 and 1964.
Wayne 'Roo' Muschialli, best afield in the round 8 victory at Williamstown over Springvale by 26 points
Mark Fotheringham brought up his 900th VFA goal during the season, which would prove to be his last at Willi
19yo Danny Del-Re made his senior debut for Williamstown in the 96-point victory over Geelong West in round 14
Rick Slevison, best-on-ground in the 121-point annihilation of Preston in round 15 with 41 possessions (28 kicks, 13 handballs)
Willi Thirds, featuring future senior players Brett Gould (1989-1998 143 games, 31 goals), Danny Del Re (1987-1999 114 games, 246 goals), Marcus O'Connor (1989-1994 69 games, 60 goals), Ross Hodges (1988 two games, no goals) and Leyton Miles (1990-1992 20 games, 15 goals).
Barry Round, pictured in 1987, with 5yo Abbie Davis, daughter of assistant & thirds coach Bruce, and 4yo Sheridan Wheeler, daughter of coach Terry
There were four Dimartino's on the playing list at Williamstown in 1987 as well as their cousin, Danny Del Re
1987 JJ Liston Medal results
Peter Lane, who broke his leg in the second quarter of the first semi v. Frankston in his last game for Willi, has his plaster cast signed by Club president, Tony Hannebery
1987 Reserves First semi-final, which resulted in defeat for Williamstown and their exit from the finals
1987 reserves captain-coach Tony 'Spud' Dullard, son of former coach and player (1950-53), Adrian Dullard
Murray Nilsson outmarks Port Melbourne's Lindsay Sneddon while Mark Brierty looks on
Williamstown Thirds 1987 premiers, featuring future senior players Marcus O'Connor, Danny Del Re, Leyton Miles and Brett Gould
Barry Round confronted by Port's Brendan Mutimer and Harold Heatherton in the 1987 preliminary final
1987 Under 16 Spalding Cup team, featuring future senior players Matt Bury & Joey Patterson, and future President of the club, Kim Walsh (1994-95).