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.
Barry Round was again captain-coach in this season, while 1986 premiership defender Glenn Murphy succeeded Tony Dullard as captain-coach of the Seconds, and Brian Carrick took over from Bruce Leighton as coach of the Thirds. Dullard continued on as assistant coach to Round. Terry Maloney was once again team manager of the Firsts and Seconds. General manager and former Essendon and Brisbane player, Gavin Keane, departed the Club after playing two games and Sharon Walsh again took over that role as she had done in late 1990.
Williamstown, for the first time in seven seasons, failed to reach the finals. After the unfurling of the 1990 premiership pennant at home by Premier of Victoria and local resident, Joan Kirner, 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). 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. Wayne Muschialli of Williamstown and Port pair, Ken Rainsford and Brett Yorgey, were also reported in this game. 37 players were used in the seniors during 1991, with 10 of them making their senior debut.
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 who tied for runner-up, while Damien Ferris was leading goalkicker in the Seconds. Leyton Miles won the most consistent player trophy. Adam Hough was awarded the Harold Hosking Memorial Trophy for best and fairest in the under 19's, with Kevin Wilson runner-up. Ross Simmons was considered the best clubman in the Thirds. David Patterson was leading goalkicker in the under 19's. 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 and only season as coach. Treasurer since 1984, Paul Stebbing, also retired from that role at the end of the year.
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.
At the annual meeting in November, life memberships were awarded to former committeeman (1977) and treasurer (1978-81), Rob Harding, 1986 premiership defender, Alun Owen (96 games 21 goals, 1981-90), and 1986/1990 dual premiership player, Rick Slevison (140 games 105 goals, 1982-91).
Kevin 'Hap' Hughes behind the bar of the Vic Inn in Williamstown that he ran with teammate, Grant Smith, in the early 1990's.
Gavin Keane came to Williamstown as a player and also general manager in 1991 after 29 games and 18 goals with Essendon from 1987-88 and 7 games with Brisbane in 1990. He departed the Club after playing just two games and Sharon Walsh again took over the role as general manager as she had done in late 1990.
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
Former Williamstown director and VFA delegate, John Grieve, was in his third year as the Association president in 1991.
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
Williamstown's Glen Height and Port's Max Gasparoni tussle for the ball in the round 5 encounter at North Port Oval.
Grant Smith was suspended for 5 games in 1991 after he KO'd Werribee ruckman, David Allday, in the round 15 fixture.
The round 7 fixture at Sandringham turned out to be Barry Round's final game for Williamstown due to a knee injury.
The life member badge awarded to Arch Fowler, honorary legal adviser to the Club since 1942, at the annual meeting in respect of the 1961 season held at the Town Hall in February 1962. Fowler passed away in May 1991, aged 84.
Barry Round became a non-playing coach in 1991 after suffering a career-ending knee injury at Sandringham in round 7.
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
Ron Todd in his first appearance for Williamstown at Yarraville in the opening game of 1940. In 141 games from 1940-49, Todd booted 672 goals, the most ever by a Seagull, and played in the 1945 and 1949 premiership teams, the latter as captain in his final outing for 'Town. Arguably the Club's greatest-ever player, he was also captain in 1948 and vice-captain in 1946-47 and also played in the 1948 grand final. He led the Club goalkicking in 1945/46/47/49 and was VFA leading goalkicker in 1945 (188) and 1946 (114), only the second Williamstown player to head the list after Len Mortimer in 1905. He was named at centre half-forward in Williamstown's Team of the Century and was one of six players to attain Legend status in the Club's Hall of Fame. He passed away on the Gold Coast on February 8, 1991, at 74 years of age.
Harry 'Soapy' Vallence, pictured here in the Sporting Globe of May 31 1941, came to Williamstown from Carlton in 1939 and played 61 games and kicked 337 goals up until when the Second World War intervened and the VFA went into recess after the 1941 season. He played in the 1939 premiership team and was Club leading goalkicker in 1939 (133), 1940 (111) and 1941 (93), the first Williamstown player to boot 100 goals in a season and kicked a Club record 20 goals in a match against Sandringham in 1941. He is a member of the WFC Hall of Fame. Soapy passed away on July 25, 1991, at the age of 86 in Geelong Hospital and is buried in Williamstown Cemetery.
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