Season Summary: 1991
The membership of the VFA continued to diminish in 1991, as more clubs departed the league with the struggling Camberwell withdrawing shortly before the start of the season after two consecutive winless seasons and Brunswick-Broadmeadows quitting after the first three rounds. This caused a redraw for the 12 remaining clubs, the fewest in the Association since 1950.
New recruits for the season included David Ackerly (138 games for South Melbourne/Sydney & 53 games for North Melbourne), Dale Height (Footscray under 19's), Steve Symons (South Bendigo), Jason Williams (Spotswood), Matthew Bury (Williamstown under 19's), Ashley Koenig (North Melbourne under 19's), Brenton Vilcins (Footscray) and Vin Turcinovich (Spotswood). Liston Medallist Saade Ghazi returned from a year in South Australia during the season. Players departing the Club after 1990 included Vin Dimartino (East Reservoir), Matt Johnson (South Fremantle) and long-serving defender and life member, Alun Owen (Sebastopol), after 96 senior games, including the 1986 winning grand final. Nick Dimartino left half-way through the season.
Williamstown, for the first time in seven seasons, failed to reach the finals. After the unfurling of the 1990 premiership pennant at home followed by a sound win by six goals over Springvale in the opening game (Jack Aziz 4 goals), and then a four-goal victory at Frankston in round 3 (Rickman 6 goals and Saade Ghazi's return), the season quickly fell away for the Seagulls with four successive losses to Coburg, Port (Chris Burton 5 goals), Dandenong by 80 points (Burton and Ghazi 5 goals each) and Sandringham, by just 3 points after an inspiring 11-goal third quarter (Turcinovich 5 goals in his senior debut game), in what turned out to be captain-coach Barry Round's last-ever game for Williamstown. Wins at home by ten goals against Box Hill in round 8 (Joe Patterson 4 goals) and 97 points over Oakleigh (Vinnie Turcinovich 10 goals) in round 10 followed by a 5-goal win in the mud at Preston in round 11 revived hopes, but a draw at Prahran in a low-scoring game after being three goals up at three-quarter time in round 12 (the first draw with the Two Blues since 1927 and only the second in their history), preceded another run of three defeats to Springvale, Werribee (by 5 points in Andrew Howlett's 50th game) and Frankston (by 8 points in Bill Swan's 50th game for Williamstown) to put the finals out of reach for the first time since 1984. A win over Port by 50 points at Pt Gellibrand in round 17 (Ghazi 5 goals) and two further victories in the last two home-and-away games at Coburg in Brett McTaggart's 150th senior game (Burton 5 goals) and at home against Sandringham by 83 points (Burton 5 goals again) added some respectability to the season for Williamstown to eventually finish seventh with only eight wins, nine losses and a draw, six points and considerable percentage out of the final five. Five of the defeats were by eight points or less (including to Werribee twice, by 4 points in round 2, in Wayne 'Roo' Muschalli's 50th senior game, and by 5 points in round 15), and Grant Smith (13 games played for the year) and Jack Aziz (10 games) both missed a large part of the season due to suspensions. Aziz was rubbed out for 5 weeks following the round 4 clash with Coburg for assaulting the Lion's Gary Sheldon, allegedly due to severe provocation, and Smith also for 5 games after he KO'd Werribee ruckman, David Allday, in the round 15 fixture. Aziz was again suspended for 5 weeks after the violent round 17 game against Port at Williamstown, a match the Borough coach Doug Searl described as 'the toughest and ugliest game' he had seen in a career which spanned three decades.
Rover Saade Ghazi, back from a year in South Australia, was the Club's leading goalkicker with 31 and won the Bert Hodge Memorial Trophy, whilst Rickman managed just 29 in an indifferent season, although he did bring up his 400th career goal during the year. Ghazi's was the lowest total by a Williamstown player since Jim Jenkinson's 29 majors in 1965. Veteran Bill Swan added further note to his career by winning the Andy Taylor Memorial Trophy as Club best and fairest at the age of 35, an honour he had shared with Round two years earlier. Ghazi was runner-up to Swan, even though he played only 10 senior games. Recruit David Ackerly ran third and also won the Ron James Memorial Trophy for most valuable player.
Rick Slevison took out the Bill Sheahan Memorial Trophy for best and fairest player in the Reserves, even though he played 10 senior games, from Bill Dooley and Tommy McGowan, while Damien Ferris was leading goalkicker in the Seconds. Adam Hough was awarded the Harold Hosking Memorial Trophy for best and fairest in the under 19's, with Kevin Wilson runner-up. David Patterson was leading goalkicker in the Thirds. Long-serving timekeeper Graeme Crocker was awarded the Bill 'Darkie' Raffle Memorial Trophy for best clubman.
Tony Dullard stepped down as assistant coach and Glen Murphy, coach of the Reserves, retired from playing at the end of the season. The Seconds made the preliminary final in Murphy's first season as coach.
Some footage of a game between Williamstown and Prahran from 1991 can be seen by clicking on the following link:
In February of 1991, the great Ron Todd passed away at the age of 74 on the Gold Coast, where he had lived for many years after leaving the Pacific Hotel at Lorne, the freehold of which he purchased in May, 1951. Another legendary full-forward, Harry 'Soapy' Vallence, passed away in July at the age of 86. He played at Williamstown for 3 seasons, totalling 61 games and 337 goals (113-111-93), including the 1939 premiership when he kicked 7 goals in the first semi, 8 in the preliminary and 5 in the grand final.
One of the new recruits in 1991, 21yo Jason 'Square' Williams from Spotswood
another newcomer was 20yo Ashley Koenig from North Melbourne under 19's
one of the boom recruits in 1991 was 22yo full forward from Spotswood, Vinnie Turcinovich
Dale Height, son of director Barry and brother of Glen, joined Williamstown from Footscray under 19's in 1991
Tony Hannebery & Joan Kirner unfurl the 1990 premiership flag at the round 1 encounter with Springvale
1991 playing list
Steve Symons, from South Bendigo via Footscray Reserves, debuted for Williamstown in round 1
1991 recruit, Dale Height, was named in the best players in his round 1 senior debut game and was one of only two players to appear in all 18 home-and-away games for the season.
Saade Ghazi was back from SA and back in the Williamstown side by round 3 for the Frankston clash
The round 7 fixture at Sandringham turned out to be Barry Round's final game for Williamstown due to a knee injury
Vinnie Turcinovich kicked 10 goals against Oakleigh at Pt. Gellibrand in June.
Scott Perry was named the second-best player in the round 11 victory at Preston
Liston Medallist, dual best & fairest and four-time premiership player, Johnny Martin, pictured in 1991.
The Williamstown v. Springvale fixture was, in fact, round 14 and NOT round 11, as depicted.
Stephen Sells kicked 6 goals for Werribee in the round 15 clash, the second time in 1991 that they defeated the Seagulls by less than a goal.
Supporters at Coburg in the round 19 game, from left Vera McKay, Lois Marshall, Janet Dooley and Jean Hammond
Brothers-in-arms after the round 20 victory over Sandringham at Williamstown, 25.15.165 to 11.16.82, from left Marcus O'Connor, Troy Mitchell, Ian Rickman, Jason Williams, Ashley Koenig and Vinnie Turcinovich
1991 Spalding Cup team
Brownlow medallist Nathan Buckley made his return from a hamstring injury through the VFL with Williamstown in 2007 in a best on ground performance.Read more ...