Season Summary: 1988
Players to depart over the summer included Mark Fotheringham (coach of Keilor), Kevin Sait (retired, after 94 games, 137 goals and the 1986 premiership), Andy Colenso (returned to Queensland) and Kevin Hughes (North Melbourne), whilst the recruits included Bruce 'Oysters' Mourney (from Port Melbourne via West Adelaide), Murray Cooper (Spotswood), Matt Johnson (Altona City), Wayne Morrisey, Gerard Robertson (Essendon) and Darrin Rowsell (Riddells Creek). Peter Shorthouse returned after a year playing in Queensland, and Wayne Muschialli went to Western Australia but was back at Williamstown by the middle of the season. Ross Hodges, Scott Whitzell, Ross Jackson & Craig Kelly were promoted from last year's Under 19's premiership side. 1986 Norm Goss Medallist, Tony Pastore, returned after a year at Richmond where he played one senior AFL game and won the Tigers Reserves best and fairest. Steven Knight transferred to Brunswick during the season. Larry 'No Legs' Simmons took over as coach of the Club's under 19 team after Bruce Davis moved on to Footscray as their Third's coach, but was left with only three players from the previous year's premiership side.
The Association contracted further over the summer with Northcote (after 80 years and 7 premierships), Mordialloc (30 years and one premiership), Waverley (28 years and one premiership), Berwick and Caulfield all leaving for various reasons. For the first time since 1981, VFA football was broadcast on a weekly basis by the ABC.
The season started badly with a scoreless first quarter which culminated in a ten-goal loss to the eventual minor premier, Coburg, followed by a 13-goal victory over Frankston in the first home game for the year. It was the Seagull's fifth consecutive win over the Dolphins. A two-goal loss at Pt Melbourne in round 3 (newcomer Robertson 6 goals from 6 free kicks all in the third quarter) led to three successive victories to set up the season, including a 6-point win over Springvale in round 4, a 9-goal defeat of Brunswick in round 5 and a 50-point victory over Sandringham in round 6 (Mourney 5 goals in his senior debut).
Some footage of the round 3 game between Williamstown and Port Melbourne can be seen at the following link
The Seagulls surprisingly went down at Toorak Park in round 7 by 3 goals to Prahran, who were on the bottom of the ladder and coming off six successive losses, before bouncing back to defeat Box Hill at Pt Gellibrand by 15 goals in round 8. 1986 premiership player, Sandy Morrison, appeared for the Mustangs in this game. Barry Round took 15 marks and kicked 7 goals in the 11-point win at Preston in round 9. After 10 rounds Williamstown had recorded seven wins and three losses, including the defeat of ladder-leaders, Coburg, by 22 points at Pt Gellibrand in round 10 to secure second place on the table. Four consecutive defeats in rounds 11-14 to Frankston (by 28 points in Tommy McGowan's first senior game), Port Melbourne (by just 4 points), Springvale (by 30 points in the mud) and Brunswick (by 16 points in the wind and rain) were a setback, but a finals spot was ensured with four successive victories to round out the home-and-away games, including a 5-goal win at Sandringham in round 15 (Rickman 5 goals), a 52-point defeat of Prahran in round 16 and a huge 114-point win at Box Hill in round 17 (Rickman 7 goals). This was the season's biggest haul to date for Rickman, who had taken over the full-forward position from Mark Fotheringham. The home-and-away rounds were completed with a 28-point victory over Preston at Williamstown (Rickman 6 goals) after trailing by a goal at three-quarter time.
In a particularly even season, Coburg headed the ladder with 13 wins, one more than Preston, then came the Seagulls with 11 wins and Port Melbourne with 10, which edged out Springvale on percentage. Wooden-spooner Prahran still managed to win five of the 18 home and away games. Williamstown was certainly a premiership contender despite having to make its assault from the first semi against Port on their home ground. After playing all First Division finals at the Junction Oval for 18 years, the VFA were forced to make a change in 1988 after the MFB declared the grandstands a fire hazard. The semi-finals and preliminary were played at Port Melbourne, with the Grand Final at Windy Hill, Essendon.
In a high-scoring encounter, Port led by 20 points at the first break, 7.8. to 5.0, and, had they kicked accurately in the first half, the season for Williamstown may well have been all over. The home team had 16 more scoring shots but led by only 21 points at the long break, 9.16 to 8.1. Twelve minutes in to the third term and Williamstown trailed by just one point and by three-quarter time the margin was only three points, 13.21.99 to 15.6.96. Port's Greg 'Biff' Dermott flattened Rickman and was sent off, and Williamstown took the lead from the resultant free which heralded a nine goal to one final quarter which was reminiscent of the previous year's first semi-final victory over Frankston. Rickman kicked nine goals in Williamstown's 51-point victory, but Port had just one less scoring shot in the 24.15 to 14.24 scoreline. Ruck-rover Grant Smith was judged best afield to go with his three goals and 30 possessions. Round, Raeburn and Wheeler were also prominent.
A goalless first quarter had the Seagulls trailing by 15 points at quarter time in the preliminary final against Preston, before a similar withering burst of nine goals to one in the second term had Williamstown 33 points up at the long break. An even third quarter and a 5-goal final term resulted in a 50-point win, 18.17.125 to the Bullant's 11.9.75, with Barry Round booting six goals in a dominant display. Rover Lindsay Cahill chimed in with four. Best players on the day were Murphy, Kershaw, Raeburn, Cahill, Round, Rob Dimartino and Pastore.
The first-ever VFA Grand Final at Essendon's Windy Hill, before a crowd of 22,000, was also the first VFA game played at that ground since 1921, when it was still home to the Essendon Town Association Club. Coburg got away to a good start and led 6.3 to 3.5 at quarter-time, but Williamstown fought back, adding three goals in the first 8 minutes of the second term to take the lead, but were still trailing by eight points at the main break. The issue was well and truly settled in the third quarter when Coburg added 7.6 to 1.3 to jump out to a 47-point lead at the last change. Williamstown outscored the 'Burgers in the final quarter, and were just 16 points in arrears at the 21-minute mark of the final term, but still went down 16.18.114 to 12.15.87. Rickman kicked three goals in the 27-point defeat, and Cahill scored two. Better players were Cahill, Rickman, McTaggart, Murphy and Wheeler. The Seagulls had improved marginally by reaching the Grand Final in 1988 although on the day it never looked like beating minor premier Coburg. The game marked the end of the playing career of captain-coach Terry Wheeler after 94 games for Williamstown, who was to return to Footscray as coach of the reserves in 1989.
Williamstown's 1988 Grand Final line-up was:
Backs: Laurie Taylor Robert Dimartino Murray Nilsson
Half-backs: Terry Wheeler Glenn Murphy Brett McTaggart
Centre: Rick Slevison
Half-forwards: Mark Kennedy Barry Round Tony Pastore
Forwards: Danny Del Re Ian Rickman Richie Raeburn
Followers: Kim Kershaw Grant Smith
Rover: Lindsay Cahill
Interchange: Darrin Rowsell Vin Dimartino
Captain/coach: Terry Wheeler
While the Grand Final wasn't a success for the 'Town, the Club did provide the Liston Trophy winner when half-back flanker Brett McTaggart tied for the award with Coburg's Gary Sheldon. The pair finished one vote ahead of the previous year's recipient, Barry Round, while Richie Raeburn finished equal fifth. McTaggart, the team's vice-captain, was the son of former Williamstown player Jack McTaggart, who later joined Yarraville where he captained the 1961 premiership side, which defeated the Seagulls in the grand final.
The reserves side, under Tony Dullard, were on top of the ladder nearly all season but lost the second semi-final to Springvale by 3 goals, 21.14.140 to 19.8.122 (McKay and Simmons 6 goals each) in a spiteful game where 5 Seagulls were reported and sent off but only one was subsequently suspended. The seconds then went down badly to Coburg in the preliminary final, losing by 54 points (Rowsell 4 goals) to end their season. The under 19's lost the final home-and-away game of the season to Preston by 4 goals and finished in fifth place on the ladder and missed the finals.
Despite his Liston success McTaggart did not win the Club's Andy Taylor Memorial best and fairest award, which went to Barry Round for the second year running, with Lindsay Cahill and Grant Smith tied for second and McTaggart third. Leading goalkicker for the year was Ian Rickman with 49. Ruckman Wayne Morrissey took out the Reserves' Bill Sheahan Memorial Trophy for best and fairest in that grade from Larry Simmons and Peter Shorthouse tied in second place and Ross Hodges in third spot. Scott Whitzell was leading goalscorer in the seconds. Scott Evans was leading goalkicker and also won the Under 19's award from a three-way tie for second placing between Anthony Langham, captain Joe Zahra and Marcus O'Connor, with Ian McCullagh and Mark Tkocz also tied in third place. The late Terry Maloney was named the Bill 'Darkie' Raffle Memorial best clubman for the year.
During the season the club mourned the loss of former presidents Alf Urban (1947-49) and Jack Carter (1955-57), while Maurie Gear, a rover in the 1955 and 1956 premiership teams, passed away on December 29 at the age of just 54. He played 68 games and kicked 81 goals.
No. 1 season ticket for 1988 awarded to George Mazouris, 1958 & 1959 premiership rover
1988 playing list
Vin Dimartino in action during a pre-season practice match against Springvale
Alun Owen and a Springvale opponent during the pre-season practice match at Williamstown
Bruce Mourney arrived at Williamstown in 1988 from West Adelaide after playing previously with Port Melbourne (13 games in 1986)
Canteen volunteer, Jean Roberts, was KO'd by an errant kick from Peter Shorthouse early in the season
Nick Dimartino in action in the round two clash with Frankston in the first home game for the season, won by Williamstown by 13 goals
Robert 'Bertie' Dimartino in action against Frankston in round two at Williamstown
Some footage of the round 3 game between Williamstown and Port Melbourne can be seen at the following link
Captain-coach Terry Wheeler captured during the game against Springvale at Williamstown in round 4
Murray Nilsson is caught by a Springvale opponent during the round 4 game at Williamstown, won by the Seagulls by 6 points
Brett McTaggart takes a great mark over Brunswick's Neil Connell in the round 5 clash won by the Seagulls by 56 points
Mark Kennedy with Bob 'Bumper' Jones, seniors property steward who first came to Williamstown in 1912 at the age of four to watch his uncle, Bobby Gibbs, who played in Williamstown's first premiership team in 1907
Bob 'Bonah' Jones, son of 'Bumper', was at Williamstown as a player (1958-63 53 senior games, 36 goals), trainer and runner for more than 30 years
Vin Dimartino and Barry Round both kicked 5 goals against Box Hill in the round 8 game at Williamstown, won by the Seagulls by 15 goals
First-year Spotswood recruit, Murray Cooper, applies a tackle against Box Hill in the round 8 game at Williamstown
Grant Smith marks against Coburg in the round 10 game at Williamstown, won by the Seagulls by 22 points
Lindsay 'Cods' Cahill applies a tackle against a Coburg opponent in the round 10 game at Williamstown, won by the Seagulls by 22 points
Laurie Taylor in action against Coburg in round 10 at Williamstown
Bruce 'Oysters' Mourney sets himself for a mark against Coburg full-back, Robbie Evans, in round 10
while the Lions' captain, Brad Nimmo, looks on
Barry Round and Port's Brett Chadband do battle in the round 12 game at Williamstown, won by the Burra by 4 points
David Whillas, named in the best players against Port Melbourne in the round 12 game at Williamstown, won by the Burra by 4 points
Richie Raeburn, 3 goals and named second-best for the Seagulls against Port Melbourne at Williamstown in round 12
Rob Dimartino takes a fine grab against Port at Williamstown in round 12, 1988
Barry Round in action in round 15 at Sandringham, a game won by the Seagulls by 5 goals
The late Bob Pearman stepped down as Club secretary at the end of 1988, after 5 years in the role
Mark Kennedy, came to Williamstown from Footscray under 19's and played in the 1986 reserves premiership team in his first year at Pt Gellibrand
1988 JJ Liston Medal results, showing the tie between Williamstown's Brett McTaggart and Gary Sheldon of Coburg, with Barry Round one vote behind & Richie Raeburn in equal fifth place
1988 Liston Medal co-winner Brett McTaggart
Ian Rickman, 9 goals in the first semi-final against Port Melbourne
Barry Round being interviewed by the ABC TV's Ross Booth
Kim Kershaw battles with Coburg's Greg Reynoldson in the 1988 grand final at Windy Hill, Essendon. This was Kershaw's last game for Williamstown.
Dejection after the 1988 Grand Final, from left Rick Slevison, Darrin Rowsell, Vin Dimartino and Glenn Murphy
Williamstown representatives in the VFA team for the Australian Bi-Centennial Football Carnival in Adelaide, March 1988
Standing: Kelly Brent (trainer), Bruce Mourney, Barry Round, Brett McTaggart, Ian Fairley, John Grieve (chairman of selectors)
Kneeling: Tony Pastore, Terry Wheeler (coach), Ron James, Ray Green (fitness advisor)
WFC president of 1955-57, Jack Carter, passed away in 1988