Season Summary: 1972
The unpredictable start to this new decade continued as the 1972 season saw current coach Max Papley come back out of retirement to lead his troops on and off the field once again. There was no doubt that Papley was still severely hindered by his hamstring issues but he battled on to contribute on the field for his Club. Papley's return and a haul of 75 goals from rover Mick Mulligan, who had returned to the Club after national service in PNG, combined with Les Stillman's consistent form in the centre were undoubtedly the key factors in the club's ability yet again to turn around the form of their previous season. New players in 1972 included future President of the Club Tony Hannebery, Richard Radziminski from Footscray and Bill Thompson of Essendon.
The team began the season in fine form, winning the opening four games against Coburg by 89 points, Sandringham by 40 points (Mulligan 8 goals), Waverley by 16 points and Port Melbourne by six goals. The Port team included triple-Brownlow Medallist Bob Skilton who had been lured out of retirement at the age of 33. Skilton played just 11 games for the year but still managed to run third in the JJ Liston Trophy, six votes behind winner Don McKenzie of Sunshine. Ron Barassi also made four appearances for Port during the season. Williamstown won eight of the first 11 games before three consecutive losses to teams that did not make the finals. The Club recorded a fine seven-goal win in the last home and away game of the season against ladder leaders Oakleigh at Pt Gellibrand 23.22.160 to 18.9.117, with Mulligan booting another 5 goals, to secure a spot in the finals.
Finishing third on the ladder on percentage from Preston with an 11-7 record the two teams then met in the first semi-final at the Junction Oval before a crowd of 15,000. In a high-scoring encounter, the Seagulls prevailed by 20 points, 22.19.151 to 19.17.131, after the 'Town trailed by four goals at half-time. Mick Mulligan kicked 5 goals and Graeme Jarrad and Richard Radziminski four each.
The season then came to an unfortunate end in the preliminary final falling well short of Dandenong. Again played at the Junction Oval in front of 10,000 people, the Redlegs got out to a five-goal lead at quarter time, extended that to six goals by half-time and nine goals by three-quarter time to eventually run out winners by 11 goals, 22.14.146 to 11.16.82. Jim 'Frosty' Miller kicked nine for Dandenong while Bob Svorinich got six for Williamstown.
Les Stillman was awarded the Andy Taylor Memorial Trophy for best and fairest for the season by one vote from first-year player Bill Thompson with Robert Percy in third place. Tad Joniec won the Reserves award and Keith Robson the Thirds. Glenn Hancock from the Fourths was judged the best and fairest player in the Western Suburbs Football League Under 16's competition, but Neville Kerss beat him in the Club award. The Fourths, coached by John Raffle, also won the premiership in that Grade. In May, the Fourths kicked 36.30.246 to Maidstone NIL, setting a Club record high score and winning margin. Former secretary of the Club in 1933, Arch Rennie, passed away during the year.
After coming out of retirement at the beginning of the season, captain/coach Max Papley decided it was time for both him and the club to head in new directions. Papley played 54 games and kicked 108 goals for Williamstown in his five seasons at Pt. Gellibrand. Before the end of the year Carlton defender Barry Gill had been appointed as the new captain-coach for 1973 and 1974.
Match report from round 2 fixture, Williamstown 20.18.138 defeated Sandringham 14.14.98, Mick Mulligan 8 goals
Reports from the round 6 match at Sunshine, which Williamstown won by 8 points (Mick Mulligan 6 goals)
Williamstown Advertiser, May 31, 1972
Williamstown Fourths (Under 16's) won the first of three consecutive premierships in 1972, all coached by John Raffle
Back row: Steve Crossley, Alan Howie, Neil Watt, Glenn Hancock, Adrian Sims, John Sinnott, Gary Fitzpatrick, David Watt, Greg Tweedly, Terry Keating (runner)
Middle row: Geoff Sandells, John Sedgeway, Jim Doherty (captain), Ray Tyrell (manager), Doug Nicholson (manager), John Raffle (coach), Graeme Dean (vice-captain), Eddie Messina, Paul Splatt
Front row: Neville Kerss, Ron Shaw, Michael Hegarty, Brian Muldowney, Peter Hickey, John Davell, Grant McKay, Gordon Friend, Bruce Harper
Newly-appointed coach for 1973/74 Barry Gill