Season Summary: 1989
Further structural change came to the VFA in 1989 with:
- the abolition of the Second Division - the Association once again became a single division competition for the first time since 1960, ending 28 years of partition and promotion/relegation;
- Geelong West withdrew, which reduced the competition to just fifteen teams, the lowest since 1957;
- A final five system was adopted;
- Sunshine also withdrew after eight rounds, by which time it had become totally uncompetitive, but maintained an under 19 team in the thirds competition;
- The Under 19 competition increased the numbers on the field to 18, reinstating the wings, while the Seniors and Reserves remained at 16-a-side, as it had since 1959; and
- The Fothergill-Round Medal for the VFA's most promising young player was instigated in this season.
Since the mid-1970's, Williamstown had recruited only Mal Allen, Bruce Alexander, Frank Briner and Bruce Mourney from Port Melbourne, but these names were trumped when the Seagulls acquired dual Liston Trophy winner & veteran Port player Bill Swan, who had failed to negotiate a new deal with his club, for season 1989. Port considered Swan too old to retain at the age of 33 and cleared the 219-game veteran who had given long and loyal service, chiefly as a centreman. Former Sunshine full-forward Hugh 'Butch' Litchfield, who had kicked 130 goals in 1986, also came to the Seagulls. Litchfield was seen as a possible successor to Fotheringham, with Rickman to be used on the half-forward line. Future captain, best and fairest winner, leading goalkicker and 200-game player, 19yo Saade Ghazi, also joined the Club in 1989 from Footscray under 19's via Kingsville and Albion, along with future triple best and fairest winner, Troy Mitchell, who came over from Spotswood and Peter 'Curly' Kenny, after 11 games and 20 goals with Carlton. Former Footscray big-man Robert Groenewegen also joined the Seagulls after captain-coaching Glenorchy to the 1988 Grand Final, along with Glenorchy teammate Andrew Howlett, who had played two senior games with Footscray in 1987. Another former Footscray player (67 games) to become a Seagull was Chris 'Pommy' Burton, who also played 50 games with Richmond. Roger Cordy, from Footscray under 19's via Werribee (1984-85) and Wodonga (1986-88), also came to Port Gellibrand. Another recruit was Joskun 'Jack' Aziz from Albion, who had also played several seasons with the Footscray under 19's and reserves. Greg Minett was another who joined from Strathmore and debuted in round 17 at Box Hill. Former under 19's and seconds player, Brett Gould, returned to the Club after a year at Footscray and debuted in round 1, and Marcus O'Connor also made his senior debut during the year, in round 15 against Coburg. Kevin 'Hap' Hughes also returned from a year at North Melbourne but was restricted to working in the coaches box with the match committee whilst recovering from knee surgery. He eventually returned to the field in the reserves in the round 18 annihilation of Dandenong, kicking 5 goals in a 43-possession game, but never made it back into the senior side.
Terry Wheeler's return to Footscray as reserves coach meant Williamstown had to find a replacement, but didn't have to look far as Barry Round made an admirable successor. Others to depart were four-time best and fairest winner, Kim Kershaw (Sunshine YCW), and defender Rob Dimartino, who retired due to injury and business commitments. During the year, 1986 premiership player, Larry Simmons, transferred to Sunshine, Paul 'Scoop' McKay moved to Sandringham and Mark 'Rowdy' Kennedy went to Port Melbourne when they were unable to get a senior opportunity. Peter 'Pounder' Lane retired during the year due to work commitments, after 19 senior games and the same number in the Reserves. Others who moved on were Murray Cooper (Spotswood), Gerard Robertson and Russell Webster.
John Grieve became the third Williamstown official to preside over the VFA when he took office in April 1989, following Brook Anderson's resignation after accepting a job at Footscray, leading to a conflict-of-interest issue for the Association. Grieve was vice-president and had been on the VFA executive committee since 1975. Grant Smith became the Club's first full-time general manager in 1989. Tony 'Spud' Dullard continued on as coach of the reserves team and Bruce Leighton from Spotswood took over from Larry Simmons as coach of the under 19's.
Williamstown started the 1989 season in dazzling form, winning its first nine games by big margins, including an 83-point victory at Oakleigh (Kenny 9 goals on debut), a 127-point win at Sandringham (Ghazi 6 goals, Rickman and Kenny 5 each), a 184-point victory at home over Prahran (Rickman and Groenewegen 8 goals, Kenny 6, Willi's 36.22 being its highest-ever score against the Two Blues), a 15-goal triumph at Williamstown over Port after trailing in the second quarter (Rickman 12 goals), a 93-point victory at Frankston (Rickman 7 goals), a 118-point win at home against Werribee (Rickman 9 goals, Delre 6), an 11-goal thrashing of the previous year's premier, Coburg (Rickman 5 goals in Hugh 'Butch' Litchfield's first senior game) and a 132-point mauling of Camberwell (Litchfield 10 goals), in the best start to a season by Williamstown since 1957. The reserves beat Camberwell by 319 points earlier in the day ('Scooter' Rowsell 10 goals, Evans 9) while the thirds were also victorious by 155 points (Ferris 11 goals). The Seagulls were held to a draw at home against Box Hill in round 11, with the Mustangs kicking the equalising point in the dying seconds of the game. It was the first time since 1954 that the Hillmen had not left the Williamstown ground empty-handed, although they often played in different divisions. The draw ended a sequence of 12 consecutive victories over Box Hill, stretching back to round 6, 1979. The Seagulls bounced back with a 98-point win at Port Melbourne in round 12 (Cahill 6 goals, Litchfield 5) and subsequent losses to Springvale (by 7 points in Barry Round's 400th senior game of VFL/VFA football), Coburg (by 26 points in Marcus O'Connor's senior debut) and Brunswick (by 21 points, Rickman 6 goals) in successive weeks and dropping from top of the ladder to third place was not of great concern to the Seagulls because of their fine start, although the lop-sided nature of the competition meant a club couldn't afford too many losses to stay in the top bracket. Victory came again in the 45-point win at Box Hill in round 17 (Rickman 7 goals, Delre 5 and 14 marks) followed by a 20-goal demolition of Dandenong at Williamstown in round 18 (Rickman 11 goals and 19 marks, Ghazi 7 goals) and then a 199-point obliteration at Camberwell in round 19 (Rickman 15 goals 10 behinds to go with 32 kicks and 23 marks, Delre 10 goals, Ghazi 6). Rickman's 15th goal brought up his 100th for the season in his best year for the Seagulls. Earlier in the day, the reserves were victorious over the Cobra seconds by 307 points, 47.31 to 1.0 ('Scooter' Rowsell 16 goals). The week before the seconds defeated Dandenong by 344 points, 55.27 to 1.7 ('Spud' Dullard 11 goals, Vin Dimartino 9). The home and away rounds were completed with a seven-goal win over Springvale. Coburg eventually headed the ladder with 17 wins and one loss - to Williamstown by 66 points - with the 'Town second on percentage to Box Hill. Both won 14 games plus the draw. Springvale and Frankston were the other finalists. The lead-up finals were all played at Port Melbourne once again.
Highlights of a game against Springvale at Williamstown can be viewed by clicking on the following link:
In a tight qualifying final against Box Hill, the Mustangs took a 3-point lead into the quarter-time break, before a 6-goal second quarter gave the Seagulls a one goal lead at the long interval. Box Hill kicked away to take a 15-point lead into the last change and, in the end, ran out 2-goal victors, 17.9.111 to 14.15.99. 'Chops' Rickman was best for the 'Town, kicking 8 goals in a losing side, including 7 in the first half. McTaggart, Howlett, Pastore, Aziz and Round were others to play well. This was a setback for the Seagulls, who now had to make their quest for the flag via the first semi-final and win the next three games to take the title.
Williamstown crushed Springvale by 12 goals, 18.11 to 6.11 in the first semi, after the 'Vales led by only two points at quarter time after kicking with a gale-force wind to the Williamstown Road end of the North Port ground. Centre half-forward Jack Aziz with four goals was best-on-ground, while Rickman with five majors, Round in the ruck, Lindsay Cahill (35 possessions), Brett McTaggart, Peter Kenny and Brett Gould in defence, David Whillas at full-back, Swan in the middle and Tony Pastore on the half-forward line led the win. Coburg soundly beat Box Hill in the second semi-final, but the Mustangs showed better form in the preliminary final to lead the 'Town narrowly at each change, by six points, 4 points and 2 points. In a strong finish to a high-scoring encounter, Williamstown, with an 8-goal final quarter prevailed by 15 points, 19.15.129 to 17.12.114. The Mustangs were only 4 points in arrears at the 27-minute mark when Brett Gould was flattened and the resultant free kick to Rickman resulted in a major to ease the pressure. Aziz kicked eight goals and Rickman five. Swan with 41 possessions, Aziz, McTaggart, Brett Gould, Andrew Howlett, Lindsay Cahill and Round were others to stand out for the Seagulls.
The Grand Final was again played at Essendon before a crowd of 23,000 and Coburg was once more Williamstown's opponent, the fourth time the two clubs had met in a Grand Final in their 110th clash. Naturally the Seagulls were anxious to reverse the result of the 1988 Grand Final, and they had beaten the Lions by 11 goals at Coburg in round 8. Williamstown's score of 24.14 in that game was the first time it had ever kicked 20 goals in a game against the Lions and beat its previous highest score against Coburg of 19.18 set in 1973. As in 1988, the 'Burgers got away to a good start and led by two goals at quarter time, despite Williamstown kicking with the wind and registering its lowest first quarter score of the season. This was extended to three goals by the long break in a low-scoring encounter. The lead was out to 27 points by the last change, almost double the score of the Seagulls. Williamstown outscored Coburg in the last quarter but still went down by 20 points, 10.13.73 to 7.11.53. They struggled all day to match Coburg and was especially below par in attack, with the dangerous Rickman held to three goals, and Aziz only managed a solitary major. Coburg's half-back line constantly repelled the 'Town whenever they threatened to set up a scoring chance. Rickman kicked 3.5, including two posters, to give him 125 goals for the season and the honour of heading the VFA goalkicking. McTaggart (27 possessions), Round (40 hitouts), Smith, Vin Dimartino, Gould, Kenny, Ghazi and Murphy were others to play well in a beaten side.
Williamstown's 1989 Grand Final side was:
Backs: Greg Minett David Whillas Peter Kenny
Half-Backs: Andrew Howlett Glen Murphy Brett Gould
Centre: Bill Swan
Half-Forwards: Jack Aziz Danny Del Re Grant Smith
Forwards: Tony Pastore Ian Rickman Lindsay Cahill
Followers: Barry Round Brett McTaggart
Rover: Saade Ghazi
Interchange: Vin Dimartino Murray Nilsson
Captain/coach: Barry Round
Some footage of the 1989 grand final can be seen at the following link
The Reserves, once again captain-coached by Tony Dullard, finished 3 games clear on top of the ladder with a percentage of 297% at the end of the home-and-away series and had lost only two games for the season with the second-semi against Frankston being one of them, going down by 9 points, 15.10.100 to 13.13.91 (Rowsell 5 goals). They bounced back to defeat Werribee in the preliminary final, 17.22.124 to 14.11.95 (Litchfield and Smith 4 goals each), but were defeated by Frankston, 17.16.118 to 11.14.80, in the Grand Final earlier in the day in the curtain-raiser, despite having nine players who had been in the seniors during the season. Wayne Morrisey was named best player in each of the finals while 'Butch' Litchfield kicked 5 goals in the Grand Final. Other good players in the decider were Troy Mitchell, Nick Dimartino, Leyton Miles, Marcus O'Connor and Matt Johnson.
The Thirds, under coach Bruce Leighton, won just seven games for the season and finished in tenth position, the highlight of which was beating Preston, which played off in the Grand Final. Sheldon Bryan ran third in the Alex Gillon Medal for the competition best & fairest, despite missing six games during the year.
Whilst Williamstown again failed to gain the ultimate prize for its season's work, it did have the satisfaction of providing the Liston Trophy winner for the third consecutive season, meaning that there were a remarkable four Liston Trophy winners in the Seagull ranks, including Bill Swan who won his at Port Melbourne. This time it was 20yo, first-year rover Saade Ghazi, who had been reported during the year in just his second game, against Preston at Pt Gellibrand, but escaped suspension due to a technicality and was still eligible to win. Ghazi, who also kicked 57 goals for the year and was picked to represent the VFA after just 4 games, was beaten in the Andy Taylor Memorial Trophy for Club best and fairest by Round and Bill Swan, who tied for the award, with Danny Del Re runner-up. Ian Rickman won the Bert Hodge Memorial Trophy for leading goalkicker in the seniors. There was also a tie in the Reserves for the Bill Sheahan Memorial Trophy for best and fairest between Wayne Morrisey, for the second year in succession, and Marcus O'Connor, with Troy Mitchell in second place. Darrin Rowsell was leading goalkicker for the Seconds. Similarly, the Under 19's featured a tie in the Harold Hosking Memorial Trophy for best and fairest between Wade O'Toole and Mark Tkocz, with Sheldon Bryan runner-up. Damien Ferris was leading goalscorer in the Thirds.
During the year, Brett McTaggart played his 100th senior game in the round 7 clash with Werribee at Williamstown, while Barry Round played his 400th game of VFL/VFA football in the 7-point defeat at Springvale in round 14, the Seagulls first loss of the season.
The Gulls supporter coterie group, which was active in the 1970's and early 1980's, was revived in late 1989 by directors Rod Williams, Bob Pearman and Tom Webster. Bob became president of the group, Rod treasurer and Kevin Bury vice-president.
In July, long-time canteen volunteer of 32 years, Jean Roberts, passed away at the age of 77. Life member and Club doctor for more than 40 years, Dr Leonard Joel, passed away in August at the age of 86. He commenced with the Club in 1931. Former player from 1960, Don Rainsford, also passed away in August.
Brett McTaggart, Lindsay Cahill, Ian Rickman, Danny Del Re and Saade Ghazi all represented the VFA at the Queen's Birthday carnival in Tasmania, competing for the National Football League Shield. McTaggart, captain of the team, was awarded the Frank Johnson Trophy for best VFA player at the carnival, which the Association won by defeating NSW (by 95 points), Queensland (by 55 points) and Australian Amateurs (by 126 points) in the final.
At the start of September, Seagull players Grant Smith and 'Hap' Hughes took over as licencees of the Vic Inn in Williamstown. Smith's role of general manager at the Club was taken over by Ray Maloney.
Playing coach of 1984-88, Terry Wheeler, returned to Footscray as reserves coach in 1989 & was replaced by Barry Round
John Grieve became VFA President in April 1989
Kevin 'Hap' Hughes returned to Williamstown from North Melbourne with a knee injury & did not resume playing until round 18 in the reserves side
Recruits to Williamstown in 1989 included, from left, Jack Aziz from Albion, Peter Kenny from Carlton and Saade Ghazi from Kingsville
The late Hugh 'Butch' Litchfield, star Sunshine full-forward, moved across to Williamstown for the 1989 season
Bill Swan joined Williamstown after 219 games with Port Melbourne from 1976-88, winning 4 premierships, 2 best & fairests, 2 Liston Trophies and was club captain from 1986-88
Former Footscray big-man, Robert Groenewegen, joined the Seagulls after captain-coaching Glenorchy to the 1988 Tasmanian Grand Final
Brett Gould returned to the Club in 1989 and made his senior debut at Oakleigh in the round one 85-point victory
Marcus O'Connor made his senior debut in the 26-point loss to Coburg in round 15, gaining 26 possessions (16 kicks, 10 handballs) and being named best player for the Seagulls
Leyton Miles would not make his senior debut until 1990 despite good form in the reserves during 1989
Rob Dimartino finished up at Williamstown after the 1988 season, but brother Vin took over his number 5 guernsey
1989 playing list
Vice-captain, Brett McTaggart, 30 possessions (23 kicks, 7 handballs) and 2 goals in the 57-point victory over Preston at Williamstown in round 2
Richie Raeburn, 23 possessions (14 kicks, 9 handballs) and one goal in the 57-point victory over Preston at Williamstown in round 2
Box Hill ran out 2-goal victors over Williamstown in the qualifying final, 17.9.111 to 14.15.99
Williamstown crushed Springvale by 12 goals, 18.11 to 6.11 in the first semi-final
Williamstown Reserves lost the second semi against Frankston, going down by 9 points, 15.10.100 to 13.13.91
Williamstown Reserves defeated Werribee in the preliminary final, 17.22.124 to 14.11.95
Williamstown Reserves were defeated by Frankston, 17.16.118 to 11.14.80, in the Grand Final earlier in the day in the curtain-raiser
VFA leading goalkickers before the Grand Final - Rickman kicked three to give him 125 for the season. Darrin Rowsell finished runner-up in the Reserves goalkicking & Vin Dimartino 5th.
First-year player Peter Kenny leads the Seagulls out onto Windy Hill in the 1989 Grand Final
Liston Trophy winner, Saade Ghazi, kicks the ball forward in the 1989 grand final v. Coburg at Essendon
The Mail/Advertiser, Wednesday 27 September, 1989
The Mail/Advertiser, Wednesday 27 September, 1989
The Mail/Advertiser, Wednesday 27 September, 1989
Some footage of the 1989 grand final can be seen at the following link
Fanatical Williamstown fan, Pat Thorogood, shows her disappointment at the Grand Final
Canteen volunteer of 32 years, Jean Roberts, passed away at the age of 77 in July.