Season Summary: 1960
Williamstown entered the 1960's after the most successful period in the Club's history. The Seagulls won five premierships in six years during the 1950's (1954, 1955, 1956, 1958 & 1959), showcasing the dominance that the club had on the competition at the time.
The 1960 season saw a major transition at the Seagulls, with legendary ruckman Gerry Callahan deciding to pull the pin on his playing career after 171 games, taking on a sole coaching role at the club. Ray Smith was made captain with Eric Beitzel vice-captain. Others to depart included Don Matthews (19 games), John Ramsay (125), Len Kent (117), Laurie Anderson (8), Neil Whitaker (90), Alf Woods (18) and Vin Bourke (12).
Players to debut with Williamstown in 1960 were future 200-game player Tom Russell (Seconds & Thirds), Graham Clough (the Club and VFA Thirds best and fairest winner from 1959), Don Carmichael (Redan), Don Rainsford (Carlton), Ray Broadway (South Melbourne), Alan McAsey (Benalla), John Cope and Maurie Collins (Essendon Seconds).
1960 also proved to be a transition period for the Victorian Football Association itself, with the league moving some matches to a Sunday in an attempt to boost crowd attendances. This was to combat the ever-growing popularity of the then-VFL which had been impacting on the Association's audiences. The first game was played at Brunswick between the 'Wicks and Coburg on April 24 and attracted a crowd of 17,000. However, Williamstown did not play a home game on a Sunday until 1963, preferring to hold revenue-raising after-match functions on a Saturday night and treat sore and injured players on a Sunday morning. Williamstown played two Sunday games, at Yarraville in round 11 and at Coburg in round 17, winning both games comfortably. Sixteen-a-side football was continued and the finals were to be contested by the top six sides due to the large number of teams competing, as Prahran's re-admittance to the competition brought the number of teams to 17, just one short of the record number in 1887. The VFA reverted to a final four the next season when two divisions were introduced.
The season commenced with a two-goal loss to eventual finalist, Yarraville, at Williamstown after the unfurling of the premiership flag of 1959, the Eagles first victory over the Seagulls since the 1-point, after-the-siren win in 1956. They bounced back the next week to win by 4 goals at Port Melbourne and then had a 52-point victory over Preston at Pt Gellibrand in round 3. The team then found itself in unfamiliar territory in ninth place on the ladder after consecutive losses at Brunswick and to another finalist in Moorabbin at Williamstown. Some pride was restored with a big 70-point win at Sunshine and then a narrow 2-point victory against Coburg at Williamstown. After the round 8 defeat at Northcote, the Club found itself back in ninth position on the ladder with four wins and four losses and the season in the balance, especially with Leo Maloney and Ray Broadway suspended. This was the Dragons' first win over the Seagulls since 1954.
What followed was ten successive victories to round out the home-and-away season in fourth place on the seventeen-team ladder, including big wins at Prahran (69 points - Clough and McAsey four goals each), at home against Camberwell (73 points - Bob Jones 6 goals), at Yarraville (49 points), at home against Brunswick (55 points - Tom Pelly four goals), at home against Sunshine (65 points - Clough four goals) and at home against Northcote (72 points) in the final round.
Two more victories followed in the first elimination final v. Coburg (12.10.82-6.11.47) before 9,000 people at the Junction Oval, who saw the Seagulls lead all day, and in the first semi v. Yarraville (8.19.67-9.8.62). This game was also played at the Junction Oval and drew a crowd of 8,000. Once again, Williamstown led for most of the match but the Eagles hit the front late in the game before Alan McAsey goaled to regain the lead while excellent ruckwork by Bob Jones in time-on kept the ball out of play and prevented a Yarraville victory. The Seagulls then met Oakleigh in the preliminary final which was played in shocking conditions, with Williamstown registering only four goals before going down to the eventual premiers, 6.12.48 to 4.9.33, before a crowd of 8,000. Eric Beitzel, Ray Smith, first-year player Tom Russell and Bob Jones were best for the 'Town.
While Williamstown were unable to add to their premiership tally in 1960, the club still finished with a very strong 14-4 win/loss record, including twelve consecutive victories. It was the Club's eighth successive finals series, during which time five premierships were won and three third placings. The biggest milestone to come out of the season was champion player and first-year captain Ray Smith breaking the Club games record of 173 held by Colin Wilcox, in a season that saw him claim back-to-back best and fairest honours and finish fourth in the Liston Trophy. Wilcox missed three seasons during the war when the VFA went into recess. Bob Jones was runner-up in the best and fairest award with Daryl Ward in third place. Jones won the Advertiser and Chronicle awards for best player. Tom Pelly was the Club leading goalkicker with a total of 42. Team-of-the-Century back pocket and vice-captain, Eric Beitzel, played his 100th senior game for the Club during the season.
Doug Kellett won the seconds best and fairest while Allan Harris took out the thirds award. The reserves won all but three of the home-and-away rounds and two finals before ending the year in third place. The thirds finished eighth with 9 wins and 7 defeats. Former multiple-premiership rover of 1954/55/56, 1955 best & fairest winner and three times leading goalkicker, Alby Linton, coached both the reserves and thirds teams.
Eric Beitzel and Bob Jones were both selected to represent the VFA at the ANFC carnival held in Sydney and Canberra in June/July, while Gerry Callahan was selected as coach of the team.
At the conclusion of the season, a party of 28 players, officials and supporters made their way to Wagga for the annual end-of-season trip.
Former vice-president, VFA delegate and Club life member, Cyril Downes, passed away during the year. He had received his life membership, along with the now-retired Gerry Callahan, at the annual meeting in February.
The Williamstown and West Newport Marching Girls gave exhibitions during games in the 1960's
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 ...