Season Summary: 1966

A vice-president in 1965, Ron Marrett, licensee of the Yacht Club Hotel in Nelson Place, took over the presidency from Arthur Johnson in 1966. Johnson had been in the role for 8 years, but continued on as a vice-president for the next three seasons before resuming as president in 1969 until 1972. He was then senior vice-president from 1973-79 before finally retiring from office before passing away in 1986, aged 94. Missing from the list of vice-presidents was George Holdsworth who stepped down from the role at the end of 1965 after having served in that position since 1951. Gerry Callahan entered his ninth season as senior coach with Daryl Ward as captain again and Bob Ware vice-captain. 

Still with a largely inexperienced team on the park, the Seagulls set about to improve on their result in 1965 where they missed the finals. Recruits included Allan Anderson and Terry O'Mara, both from Fitzroy, Jeff Trotman and Bob Cohen, both from Carlton, Bernie Lee, Eddie O'Halloran, Algy Vosilaitis and Sam Magill, all from Footscray, Alan Pleitner from Kyabram, Geoffrey McCarten from Shepparton, Graeme Buchanan from the Seconds & Thirds, Barry Dodd and B. Saunders.

The season got off to a bad start with defeats in six of the first seven games, and only 17 goals were scored in the first three encounters. The only victory was a six-goal win at Dandenong, 15.13.103 to 9.13.61 (Bob Ware four goals) in round six. Wins were then achieved in seven of the next eight games to remove any fears of relegation, including victories over eventual finalists Waverley, Yarraville and Preston. Waverley were the 1965 premiers and finished runners-up in 1966. By round 15, the team was in sixth position but then lost two of the last three games, but finished the season with a six-goal win at home against the wooden-spooner, Oakleigh, 15.19.109 to 11.9.75 (Charlie Evans and George Savige six goals each). Despite the improved win-loss record at 9-9, Williamstown finished in sixth place, three games and percentage out of the four, which meant another finals series missed for the Club. In fact, for the first time in many seasons, the team never once entered the top four over the 18-match programme. The second half of the season gave confidence for the future with the victories over all the finalists bar one and a realistic prospect of reaching the final four in the closing stages of the year. Dandenong was also defeated twice in a season for the first time since they entered the competition in 1958. 

In the round 9 game at Oakleigh, field umpire Dave Jackson awarded 55 free kicks to the Oaks and 12 to Williamstown, despite the Seagulls leading all day and running out winners by 25 points. In the round 16 game between Sandringham and Williamstown at the Junction Oval, some early rough play was probably the reason umpire Chaplin proceeded to hand out 130 free kicks, a VFA record, despite there being no reports.

It wasn't all bad news for the Seagulls however, with the reserves team under captain-coach Jocka Mellis, who played his 100th game with the Seconds during the season, clinching the premiership over Sandringham by 23 points at Sunshine, 14.14.98 to 11.9.75, the eighth pennant won by the Seconds team following success in 1916, 1917, 1919 (all won as Williamstown Juniors), 1941, 1948, 1955 and 1956 (premiers and champions). They had also been runners-up in 1918 (as Williamstown Juniors), 1949, 1950 and 1954. After just making the four, they defeated Coburg in the first semi, 13.10.88 to 9.13.67, and then downed top team Port in the preliminary, 12.14.86 to 7.16.58. Arthur Lee won the best and fairest in the reserve grade. Keith Reitman was president, Bernie Johns was secretary and Ian McLeod treasurer of the Seconds in this year. 

The Thirds also played off in the first semi-final in 1966, but were defeated by Sandringham by 22 points. John McConville was coach with Les Twentyman as captain. Future senior premiership player, John Whittington, won the best and fairest in the Thirds. Doug Nicholson was again president, John Grieve secretary and John Raffle treasurer. 

The Seconds and Thirds at Williamstown at the time had always operated as separate Clubs from the Seniors with their own president, committee, secretary, treasurer, training staff, life members, etc. and a strong ladies committee which enabled them to be self-supporting throughout the season. They also had their own annual reports and seasons tickets (see below) and their own annual general meetings.

Rover Jeff Trotman won the Andy Taylor Memorial Trophy for best and fairest in his first season with the Seagulls from former Footscray players Charlie Evans and Bob Ware. Sadly, Trotman had to retire from the game in early 1967 due to a severe illness and was killed in a car accident later that year, having just turned 24yo. George Savige was the leading goalkicker with a total of 32. The team kicked a total of 178 goals and 197 behinds (1265) to the opposition's 188 goals and 209 behinds (1337). Other players to kick ten goals or more during the season were Bob Ware (18), Sam Magill (14), Algy Vosilaitis (13), Bob Cohen and Keith James (10). Savige, Cohen and Tommy Russell were the only players to appear in 17 of the 18 engagements during the year. Russell had the distinction of holding Port Melbourne full-forward, Fred Goldsmith, the 1955 Brownlow Medallist, goalless in the round 10 clash at North Port.  

Bob Ware also took out both the Williamstown Advertiser and Footscray Mail awards and was selected to represent the VFA at the ANFC carnival held in Hobart in June, which was a disaster for the Association. Barry Dodd was the recipient of the best first-year player trophy, while Tom Russell was voted most consistent. Graham Clough made his 100th senior appearance for Williamstown during the season. 

Life memberships were awarded to vice-president from 1959 and long-serving timekeeper, Vic Hately, and former player of 1958-61 (55 games)  and committeeman since 1961, Col Colquhoun, at the annual meeting held in respect of the 1965 season at the Town Hall in February. Janet Dooley, who joined the Ladies Committee in 1953 and served as secretary since 1959, along with Phyllis Howell, also received life membership. 

At the end of the season, life member, committeeman from 1937-66 and property steward from 1938-66, Bill 'Digger' Thomson, and fellow life member, Bill McLeay, a committeeman from 1939-56 and 1961-65 and the Club's VFA delegate from 1957-60 both announced their retirement after a combined total of 54 years service to the Club.  

North Melbourne returned to Arden Street after just one year at Coburg, allowing the Lions to return to their traditional home ground in 1966. Meanwhile, Sandringham played home games at the vacant St Kilda ground and the finals also returned there after two years at Port Melbourne.  

Captain-coach of 1930, John Daniel 'Jack' O'Brien, passed away on May 30 at the age of 67. O'Brien played 35 games and kicked 84 goals from 1929 until early 1931, and was Club leading goalkicker in 1929 with 32 goals and booted 50 majors in 1930. Life member, committee member from 1940-42, 1946 and 1948-51 and assistant secretary in 1945 and 1947, Tom Hernan, also died during the year. Second rover and vice-captain of Williamstown's 1939 premiership team, Reg Thomas, passed away on December 5, 1966, aged just 57. Thomas came to Williamstown in 1938 after 23 games and 16 goals with South Melbourne in 1931 & 1932 and 9 games and 10 goals with Footscray in 1933 & 1934. He came across without a clearance from the Swans where he was captain-coach of the Seconds. Thomas went on to play 63 games and kick 119 goals with 'Town from 1938 up until the end of 1941, although a broken foot and war-related employment restricted Thomas to just 5 games in his last season. He was awarded the most effective player trophy and best attendance at training in 1938, and was the most improved player in 1940. 

Terry O'Mara arrived at Williamstown in 1966 after playing 20 games and kicking 1 goal with Fitzroy in 1963-65. He played 101 games without kicking a goal for the Seagulls from 1966-1971, including the 1969 premiership and grand finals in 1968 and 1970. He was awarded best clubman in 1969 and was selected at centre half-back in the WFC 1960's Team of the Decade. He passed away on August 13, 1998, aged just 57.

Another recruit from Fitzroy in 1966 was Allan Anderson, who had played 4 games without kicking a goal for the 'Roys in 1963. He played 15 games and kicked one goal in his sole season with the Seagulls. Anderson passed away on November 2, 2013, aged 69. 

                                                                                A view of the Williamstown Cricket Ground during the 1960's on a match day

Selected teams for the round 15 game at Williamstown against Dandenong, won by the Seagulls by 5 points, 10.14.74 to 9.15.69.

Second rover and vice-captain of Williamstown's 1939 premiership team, Reg Thomas, passed away on December 5, 1966, aged just 57. Thomas came to Williamstown in 1938 after 23 games and 16 goals with South Melbourne in 1931 & 1932 and 9 games and 10 goals with Footscray in 1933 & 1934. He came across without a clearance from the Swans where he was captain-coach of the Seconds. Thomas went on to play 63 games and kick 119 goals with 'Town from 1938 up until the end of 1941, although a broken foot and war-related employment restricted Thomas to just 5 games in his last season. He was awarded the most effective player trophy and best attendance at training in 1938, and was the most improved player in 1940. 

An extract from Larry Floyd's book on the history of the VFA and Williamstown - the games played and goalscorers of 1966. The second column in the games played and goals scored records is the player's cumulative total.

Seconds captain-coach, John 'Jocka' Mellis, with ruckman, Jimmy O'Toole, before the 1966 first semi-final against Coburg at the Junction Oval.

From left, Arthur Lee, Gary Page, vice-captain Des Hosking and John Raffle pictured prior to the 1966 Seconds' first semi-final against Coburg at the Junction Oval. 

Head trainer, Kelly Brent, attends to Merv Williams before the 1966 first semi-final against Coburg at the Junction Oval. Ron Leonard is closest to the camera.

From left, Alan Page (brother of Ron Page) and Ken Collins prepare for the 1966 first semi-final against Coburg. On the right is Seconds treasurer and 1954 senior premiership half forward flanker, Ian McLeod. Originally from South Melbourne Thirds, McLeod was best first-year player in the seniors in 1954 and played in the Seconds' premiership teams of 1955 and 1956, the latter being premiers-and-champions under captain-coach, Lou Barker. 

 Arthur Lee (left) and John Raffle celebrate the Seconds' first semi-final victory over Coburg. In the background is 1949 premiership rover John Molyneux.

Seconds training staff of 1966, from left Neville Brent, Kelly Brent (head trainer) and John Hunt. Kelly and John were also on the general committee while Kelly was also on the match committee and John was a VFA delegate. Kelly Brent joined the senior training staff in 1968 and became the senior head trainer in 1971 after the retirement of Bob Major, who had been senior head trainer since 1952. Kelly remained in the role until 2001.

Seconds captain-coach, John 'Jocka' Mellis, before the preliminary final against Port Melbourne at Skinner Reserve, Sunshine.

Denis Blainey and Gary Fitch before the preliminary final against Port Melbourne at Skinner Reserve, Sunshine.

Captain-coach, Jocka Mellis, and head trainer, Kelly Brent, look ahead to the grand final following the win in the preliminary final over Port Melbourne.

Seconds committeeman and timekeeper, Ernie 'Bilko' Pearce, celebrates the 28-point preliminary final victory over Port Melbourne. 

From left, Seconds vice-president, Ernie Dwyer, secretary Bernie Johns, vice-president and licensee of the Terminus Hotel, John Sexton, and assistant secretary, Bob 'Bumper' Jones, celebrate the victory in the preliminary final over Port Melbourne. 

From left, captain-coach, Jocka Mellis, vice-captain, Des Hosking, and defender, Jimmy O'Toole, before the 1966 Seconds grand final at Skinner Reserve, Sunshine, against Sandringham.

Gary Page (left) and Tom Robson prior to the 1966 Seconds grand final at Skinner Reserve, Sunshine, against Sandringham.

Kevin Rogan preparing for the 1966 Seconds grand final at Skinner Reserve, Sunshine, against Sandringham.

John Murrie (left) and Ron Leonard prior to the 1966 Seconds grand final at Skinner Reserve, Sunshine, against Sandringham.

Alan Pleitner before the 1966 Seconds grand final at Skinner Reserve, Sunshine, against Sandringham.

Gary Fitch and Ray Bamford before the 1966 Seconds grand final at Skinner Reserve, Sunshine, against Sandringham.

Ken Collins prepares for the 1966 Seconds grand final against Sandringham at Skinner Reserve, Sunshine.

Action from the 1966 Seconds grand final against Sandringham at Skinner Reserve, Sunshine.

Action from the 1966 Seconds grand final against Sandringham at Skinner Reserve, Sunshine.

Action from the 1966 Seconds grand final against Sandringham at Skinner Reserve, Sunshine.

Action from the 1966 Seconds grand final against Sandringham at Skinner Reserve, Sunshine.

Action from the 1966 Seconds grand final against Sandringham at Skinner Reserve, Sunshine.

Scenes after the final siren of the 1966 Seconds grand final with the scoreboard in the background reading Williamstown 14.14.98 to Sandringham's 11.9.75 

Gary Fitch, son of 1939 premiership centreman George Fitch, in the rooms in a Sandringham opponent's jumper after the grand final at Sunshine.

From left, David Johnson, Warren Collinder, Dennis Blainey and Roger Anderson celebrate the grand final victory over Sandringham. At the rear of the group is Brian Spence who came from Port Melbourne and played on the half-back flank in the 1964 senior grand final against his old club. 

Kelly Brent (nearest the camera) and John Sexton celebrate the 1966 Seconds grand final victory. In the background is Johnny Wright leaning over to talk with captain-coach, Jocka Mellis.

Fred Critchley's report in the Williamstown Advertiser on the Reserves' 1966 premiership win.

1966 Reserves

Back row: Roger Anderson, *Alan Page, Gary Jeremiah, *John Raffle, *Ron Leonard, *Ray Bamford, *Des Hosking (vice-captain), *Arthur Lee, *Gary Page, Merv Williams, Dick Pittard, *Kevin Rogan, *Jocka Mellis (captain-coach)

Front row: *Bobby Smith, *Dennis Blainey, *Alan Pleitner, Paul John (mascot), *Jimmy O'Toole, *John Murrie

Absent: *Gary Fitch, *David Johnson, *Ken Collins, *Tom Robson.

*Member of premiership-winning grand final side

Wally Clark (trainer), John McConville (Thirds coach), John Grieve (Thirds Secretary) and Doug Nicholson (Thirds President), pictured in 1966

                                                   Williamstown Thirds committee 1966

Back row: Wally Clark (trainer), Brian Hately, Bill Hynes, John McConville (coach), Jim Whittington, unknown 

Front row: Alan Crocker, John Raffle, Doug Nicholson (President), John Grieve (secretary), Tom Carrick  

                  Thirds vice-captain and best & fairest winner, John Whittington, in 1966

                                         Thirds player, John Coffey, in 1966

Williamstown Thirds, finalists 1966

Back row: Richard Borradale, Ray Titter, John Coffey, Richard Lewczuk, Alan Page, Rod Collinder, Micky Kizan, Graeme Budgen

Middle row: Davey Utber, Daryl Outen, Jeff Rollason, M. Good, R. Cruikshank, Gary Twentyman, Dowell Crocker, Serge Beani

Front row: D. Grey, Les Twentyman (captain), John McConville (coach), John Whittington (vice-captain), Andy Carrick

Mascot: Alan Whittington

                                     1966 Thirds mascot, Alan Whittington