Season Summary: 1977
1977 was the centenary year of the VFA, but the return to top flight football was not met with the upmost of confidence due to a lack of finances for the club to acquire new players. A fifth new President in the five years since Arthur Johnson stepped down from the role was appointed in Des Luckhurst, and players from the previous year who departed included Field Medallist Colin Boyd who went to Essendon and played 34 games over the following three seasons. In addition, premiership player Greg Boxall was injured for most of the year and played only five games as did Jeff Scott, while Peter Mildenhall and 'Rocky' Burgess did not play at all. New players included Bryan Edwards from Albion, Peter Hickman, Tony McVeigh, and John Nash and Rollo Goetz from the Thirds. During the season, a total of 70 players were played in the First and Seconds teams.
Unfortunately, the writing was on the wall very early in the campaign. Despite an encouraging effort in the opening game at Geelong West and then a one-point victory over Prahran at Pt. Gellibrand the following week, relegation was inevitable with the side unable to keep up with the rest of the competition and suffering some huge defeats to eventual premier, Port Melbourne, by 100 points in round 3 (where Collingwood star, John Greening, made his debut for Port), by 79 points to 1976 runners-up Dandenong in round 5, Port again by 63 points in round 12, Sandringham by 59 points in round 16 and Preston by 67 points in round 17. The only other victory was over Caulfield in round 9, but games were narrowly lost to Sandringham by 4 points in round 7, by 5 points to Preston in round 8, by nine points at Prahran in round 11, to Coburg by two points in round 13, to Dandenong by one point in round 14 and to Brunswick by one point in round 15, in the Magpies' first visit to Williamstown in 10 years. The Seagulls would finish last with a 2-16 win-loss record and a percentage of 75.9, three wins behind ninth-placed Preston, and were relegated back down to second division.
John Fanning played his 100th senior game during the year, while defender Frank Pocervina was awarded the Andy Taylor Memorial Trophy for the best and fairest player for the season in the seniors. Brian Lowe was runner-up with Peter Gardner in third place. Lowe and Gardner also shared the goalkicking honours for the season with a total of 41. First-year player, John Nash, won the most courageous player trophy. Tony McVeigh won the Reserves best and fairest award with Laurie Taylor in third place. The Seconds, once again coached by Tom Russell, finished last with just one victory and 17 losses while the Thirds, under the coaching of Gary Ward, finished third after the home-and-away rounds with 12 wins and 6 defeats. However, they were beaten by Brunswick, the eventual runners-up to Sandringham, on their home ground in the first semi-final. Phil Collins was senior team manager in this season, while Terry Maloney and George Bird looked after the Seconds and Tom Bell the Thirds.
A party of 17 players journeyed to Surfers Paradise for the end-of-season trip.
Captain/coach Mal Allen departed at the end of the season, along with Bob Percy (1969-1977 135 games, 63 goals, 1969 & 1976 premiership player, best & fairest 1976) who accepted the captain-coach role at West Footscray.
Former Williamstown player, Bill Thompson (67 games 4 goals 1972-75), won the Liston Trophy in this season while playing with Dandenong. He was the runner-up to Les Stillman in the best & fairest award in 1972 and took over the captaincy from Stillman during 1975 when he (Stillman) departed the Club mid-season following a fall-out with coach, Ted Whitten.
Life member and committeeman from 1967-77, Cec Page, passed away in August. Cec was the father of Williamtown players Allan and Ron Page and grandfather of Ian Fairley. Former Club secretary in 1974, committeeman and manager of the Thirds, Les Dooley, husband of Janet Dooley, also passed away as did another life member in Bill Clements. A staunch supporter and former committeeman from 1968-70, Cr Leo Hoffmann, also passed away in July at the age of 56.
The team lining up at the unfurling of the 1976 premiership flag before the first home game against Prahran on April 10 which Williamstown won by a single point, 17.17.119 to 17.16.118, over a Two Blues team containing former Richmond premiership player, Dick Clay, future four-time Carlton premiership star, Wayne Johnston, and future Fitzroy best and fairest winner, Ross Thornton. Newly-elected President of the Club, Des Luckhurst, is shown second from the right with Treasurer, George Smith, next to him. The first player on the right is captain-coach, Mal Allen, and next to him is John Fanning, Mark Cross, Frank Briner, unknown, Daryl Dixon and Glenn Townsend.
1977 playing list
Selected teams for the round 8 game at Preston, won by the Bullants by 5 points, 17.12.114 to 16.13.109. Brian Lowe booted 6 for the Seagulls and Peter Gardner kicked 4.
Williamstown's Neil Courtot is too late to prevent Dandenong ruckman Herman Van de Beek firing off a handball in the round 14 game at Williamstown, won by the Redlegs by just one point, 11.9.75 to 10.14.74. This was one of three consecutive games lost by the Seagulls by less than a goal, with the team going down at Coburg by two points in round 13, to Dandenong by one point in round 14 and to Brunswick by one point at Pt Gellibrand in round 15. The team also lost to Sandringham by 4 points at Williamstown in round 9 and at Preston by 5 points in round 10. The Seagulls did manage to win by a point against Prahran at Pt Gellibrand in round 2, in a season with plenty of anxious moments for supporters.
Team lists for the Thirds first semi-final played at Brunswick which was won by the 'Wicks, the eventual runner-up to Sandringham. The Thirds, coached by Gary Ward, was the only Williamstown side to appear in the finals.
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