Season Summary: 1969
The beginning of the 1969 season came on the back of a losing grand final against Geelong West in 1968, seeing the Seagulls remain in Divison Two for another season but with a greater determination than ever to spend only one more year in the lower division. Sunshine and Coburg also had strong ideas of quick promotion and both these clubs established an early grip on the top two positions and Williamstown just could not get above third to secure the double chance in the finals. The season also saw a change in Club president with long-serving committee member, Arthur Johnson, returning to the role left vacant by the departing Ron Marrett who had moved to Tasmania to run a hotel at Mole Creek. He had served the club as president for the previous three seasons. Max Papley was automatically re-appointed captain-coach with Norm Alvin as his assistant. Ruckman Ken Barnes was appointed vice-captain with full back Tom Russell deputy vice-captain.
The selling of superstar rover Ian Nankervis to Dandenong after 35 games and 92 goals over two seasons would leave the club in a compromised position for the season ahead, compounded by the loss of Jimmy O'Toole (86 games, 15 goals), Bob Ware (60 games, 57 goals) and Bob Cohen (51 games, 12 goals). Eddie Szyszka played a few unsuccessful games away from his normal full-forward position and retired soon after the start of the season. Even with an influx of new players to the Club, many with recognised experience in the VFL, such as Footscray trio Kevin Jackman, Bob Percy and Brian Harvey, plus Ron Viney (South Melbourne) and Bert Johnson (North Melbourne), the season started slowly for the Seagulls with a 25 point loss to Sunshine in the opening round and a 46 point defeat by Coburg in round 3, both at Williamstown. An easy 77-point victory at Box Hill (Camilleri 4 goals) was between these two defeats. The Club would then hit its straps however, storming home with only one more narrow loss (by six points at Coburg in round 12) to finish third on the VFA ladder and primed for a finals assault. The team claimed third position after round 5 and remained there for the rest of the season. Williamstown also inflicted ladder-leader Sunshine's only loss in the home-and-away rounds with a 34-point victory at Skinner Reserve in round 10 (Dallas Patterson 4 goals). Other good wins were a 12-goal victory over Camberwell in round 5 (Jackman 5 goals), a 10-goal win against Caulfield also at Pt Gellibrand in round 13 (Dallas Patterson 6 goals), a 20-goal victory at Camberwell in round 14 (Jackman and Papley both 5 goals), another 20-goal win over Mordialloc at Williamstown in round 16 (Patterson 11 goals) followed by yet another 20-goal victory at Pt Gellibrand against Frankston in round 17 (Patterson 10 goals).
Entering the first final, Williamstown were in a good position to advance, playing Box Hill who had scraped into the final four managing only nine wins, six behind the 'Town. The gap in quality was evident with the Seagulls recording a resounding 20-goal victory before a crowd of 6,000 at Toorak Park, 26.18.174 to 7.11.53 (Patterson 8 goals, Mick Mulligan 5) to advance. This was a record score for a VFA first semi-final, boosted by a 12-goal third quarter, and Dallas Patterson had kicked 35 goals from his last 4 outings. The preliminary final loomed as a much tighter contest when the Seagulls went up against Coburg and, after trailing 4.2 to 2.4 at quarter time, were able to come out victorious by the comfortable margin of 43 points, 14.12.96 to 8.5.53 (Patterson 5 goals, Mulligan 4) with sole ruckman Ken Barnes leading the way against the 'Burgers four big blokes. The Lions were kept scoreless in the second quarter while the Seagulls added 7.4. Coincidentally the reserves and thirds also met Coburg in their respective preliminary finals, and were also victorious.
The grand final was set to be a match for the ages with Williamstown coming up against western-suburban rivals Sunshine, with the events leading up to the fateful game being nothing short of controversial. Firstly, in the week leading up to the preliminary final a gratuitous telegram was received by the Seagulls from Sunshine exclaiming, 'We kept you in third place. Hope to see you in the First Division some time.' Such words came back to the Crows with severe repercussions however when it was Williamstown who they were to face in the grand final, and not the highly fancied Coburg. Secondly, on the Monday night after training, captain Max Papley was driving home from training with fellow players Dallas Patterson and Bert Johnson when what was believed to be a large dog ran onto the road, forcing the car to swerve and hit a telephone pole on Footscray Road, near the old fruit and vegetable market. Papley and Patterson both went through the windscreen and received head and rib injuries whilst Johnson was unharmed. Such an event was very unsettling as the Club's captain and leading goal scorer were no certainty to play in the biggest match of the season, while rover Andy Camilleri had been seriously injured in the preliminary. All three players were not named in the initial team with the Club allowing them as much time as possible to be right for the game. Come game day, both Papley and Patterson were confirmed fit and ready to take the field, while Camilleri took his place on the bench. Papley was heavily bandaged while Patterson wore a guard to protect his face.
With the telegram, the injuries and the intense rivalry between the two western suburbs neighbours, it was little wonder that players were jostling and shoving one another before VFA president Alex Gillon had even finished presenting Field Medal winner, Jim Sullivan of Coburg, with his medal. It was obvious that umpire McMaster would have his hands full during the game as he had to speak to several players before he had even bounced the ball. The game itself was played on a blustery Sunday afternoon at Toorak Park in front of 6000 fans. Sunshine took a slender lead early in the game as a result of kicking with the wind in the first quarter to lead 4.3 to 2.2 at quarter time. Both teams traded leads as they kicked with the wind, but the Seagulls were able to provide the fans with a sterling final quarter performance, coming from nine points down at the last change, kicking 5.5 to a solitary goal to run away with a 20-point premiership win, 15.14.104 to 12.12.84, on the back of a resounding performance from injured captain Max Papley, who kicked three goals. Rover Kevin Jackman booted four majors for the day and Bob Smith also scored 3 goals. Patterson kicked only one goal and was replaced by Ron Viney after several futile attempts to mark. Camilleri was given a run in the last quarter. Best on the day were Jackman, Smith, Papley, Ken Barnes, Terry O'Mara and Tom Russell.
Williamstown's 1969 premiership team was:
B. Brian Harvey Tom Russell Bill Mitchell
HB. Ian Johnson Ron Page John Whittington
C. Terry O'Mara
HF. Paul Hayward Bob Lane Mick Mulligan
F. Robert Percy Dallas Patterson Bob Smith
Foll. Ken Barnes Max Papley
Rov. Kevin Jackman
Res. Andy Camilleri Ron Viney
Coach: Max Papley
Some rare footage of this game can be seen by copying and pasting the following link into your internet browser:
On top of the incredible efforts from the first team, both the seconds and thirds at the club were also able to come away victorious in their grand finals, beating Sunshine by 25 points and Mordialloc by five points respectively, meaning Williamstown was the first in VFA history to win all three pennants in the one season. The reserves, like the seniors, finished third on the ladder with just the three defeats, equal with Coburg and Sunshine while Frankston made up the four. Williamstown easily accounted for the Dolphins in the first semi, 25.17.167 to 12.6.78, and then met Coburg in the preliminary, which was a curtain-raiser to the same two teams in the seniors. The Seagulls were again victorious, 20.20.140 to 12.3.75, and went on the following week to defeat Sunshine in the grand final, 16.8.104 to 11.13.79, under captain-coach Jocka Mellis. Robert Young kicked 4 goals and best players were Graeme Buchanan, David Madigan, Mel Tisdale, Rowlands, Gary Fitch, Bertie Johnson and Ron Wilson.
The third's task was a little easier as they finished second on the ladder to Mordialloc after the home-and-away rounds had been completed. As in the seniors and seconds, Coburg and Sunshine made up the final four. The Bloodhounds defeated Williamstown in the second semi, 17.14.118 to 13.14.92, and, as in the seniors and reserves, the Seagulls then met Coburg in the preliminary final and were also victorious, 7.17.59 to 4.9.33. In a thriller, Williamstown took out the pennant, 15.12.102 to 14.13.97, inflicting Mordialloc's second defeat for the season. Dean Humphries kicked 6 goals and best players were David Stark, Dean Humphries, Trevor Claughton, Rod Lawerson, Phillip Humphries, Paul Foster, Ian Barker, Jeff Kendall and Gary Craddock. Des Hosking was the successful coach and Paul Foster was captain. John Grieve doubled as secretary and team manager of the thirds while Doug Nicholson was a de-facto president.
The fourths, playing in the Western Suburbs League under 16's, started badly but recovered to make the finals but did not progress any further.
The win in the seniors also saw the Seagulls return to the top flight of VFA football in first division. Ken Barnes won the Club best and fairest award from Paul Hayward and Bob Percy, while Dallas Patterson was the leading goalkicker for the season with a total of 58. Kevin Jackman booted 42 and Papley 40.
Davey Utber won the best and fairest in the Reserve grade from Bertie Johnson and David Madigan, while Phil Humphries won the thirds best and fairest from David Stark and Brian Kenny.
Secretary, Alec Bell, thirds secretary, John Grieve, and head trainer, Kelvin John 'Kelly' Brent, were all made life members at the annual general meeting held earlier in the year. Tom Russell was also accorded the honour as he had served 10 years as a player. George Holdsworth stepped down as vice-president in this year after having served in that role since 1951.
During the year the Club lost life member and and vice-president, Mick Maloney, who had been involved in the Club since the early 1930's as a committeeman and a vice-president from 1956. Club treasurer for over 20 years and fellow life member, Jim McConville also passed away in June. McConville was Club secretary in 1940-41 and was a signatory to the contract that enticed Ron Todd away from Collingwood. Another former vice-president, Henry Hall, who was also a former licensee of the Rose of Australia Hotel in Ferguson Street, was another who died during 1969.
Kevin Jackman was recruited from Footscray in 1969 after 33 games with the Bulldogs
Record from 1969 Second Division first semi-final v. Box Hill
Sunshine's Grand Final Prayer 1969
'The Sunshiners Prayer'
One night a Sunshine supporter
Knelt down beside his bed
This silent prayer he muttered
His hands clasped to his head.
Oh dear and Holy Mary
Please listen to my prayer
and make the Sunshine team like Willi
A team beyond compare.
Make 'Allen' just like 'Percy'
As agile as a cat
Make 'Kenny Dean' like 'Smith'
'The Dirty Little Rat'.
And 'Hipworth' just like 'Kenny Barnes'
With courage, class and speed
A ruckman incomparable
That what Sunshine needs.
Make 'Benson' like 'Tommy Russell'
The hardest player of all
Who never stands for nonsense
And always plays the ball.
Make 'Ibrahim' like 'Ronnie Page'
A wonder it is true
On second thoughts dear Mary
Half as good will do.
A 'Shiner like 'Max Papley'
Would fill our hearts with joy
For surely no-one could surpass
This mighty wonder boy.
'I've listened to your prayer my child
I'd like to help you too
Your only chance of lasting joy
BECOME A SEAGULL TOO!'
Jubilant Williamstown supporters at the 1969 Grand Final against Sunshine played at Toorak Park
Umpire McMaster runs in to break up a scrimmage between Williamstown and Sunshine players in the 1969 Grand Final
Players celebrating after the 1969 Grand Final victory, from left Ian 'Hucky' Johnson, Kevin Jackman, Ron Viney, Ken Barnes, Dallas Patterson, Terry O'Mara
Bobby Smith chaired from the ground after the 20-point Grand Final victory over Sunshine
Players celebrating after the 1969 Grand Final victory, clockwise from left Paul Hayward, Robert Percy, Ron Page, Bobby Smith, John Whittington, Mick Mulligan, Kevin Jackman, Brian Harvey
1969 premiership team
Back row: Dean Humphries, Dallas Halemba, Graham Jarrad, John McAleese, Denis Watson, David Stark, Ian Barker, Rod Lawerson, Jeff Kendall, Gary Richards
Middle row: Neville Brent, Wally Clark (trainers), Terry Humphries, Neil Jamieson, Jim McNeilage, Murray Townsend, John Grech, Tim Malberg, Wayne Cavender, Ray Lawerson, John Grieve (Secretary/Manager), Doug Nicholson (Thirds President)
Front row: Gary Craddock, Phillip Humphries, Trevor Claughton, Paul Foster (captain), Des Hosking (coach), Brian Kenny (vice-captain), Russell Schultz, Billy Tobin
Mascot: Paul Johns