Season Summary: 1979
Another change in leadership saw former Footscray player Merv Hobbs coach the side, meaning six coaches since 1972 for the Seagulls. 1976 premiership player Mark Cross was appointed captain, after 1978 captain-coach John Fanning departed for Brunswick after 126 games and 92 goals for Williamstown since 1970, but returned in 1980. Fanning played in the 1976 premiership team and also the 1970 runners-up side, and won the best and fairest award in 1974. Former senior player, Phil McTaggart, returned to the Club after a stint at Coburg to coach the Seconds and act as assistant to Hobbs. Peter Kerr was again appointed vice-captain.
Hobbs had extensive playing experience with Daylesford, Footscray, Yarraville, Brunswick and Melton and had coached Seddon, Footscray Thirds, West Newport and Newport to flags. He played in Footscray's 1961 grand final side against Hawthorn in his first season with the Bulldogs and took his famous mark over Trevor Johnson of Melbourne the week before in the preliminary final. According to Fred Critchley 'Merv was a shrewd and calculating fellow but a real friend of players, generally. However, he did a few strange things and often you found players in strange positions. It was nothing to see Tweedly, Enright and (Paul) John, all classic forwards, making up the half-back line. Supporters, at times, wondered which way we were kicking. The team in the paper each week had players everywhere but the right position - a ploy to fool the opposition but it upset supporters.'
With it seemingly impossible to have a worse season than the previous one, Williamstown started the year well with three wins from the first four games, including a 92-point victory over Sunshine at Pt Gellibrand in round 4, and the side found itself in fourth position on the ladder. By round 15 the team was in third spot after four consecutive victories, including an 86-point win at home against Box Hill. Another big win at home against Werribee in round 17 secured a finals spot, with the side finishing fourth on percentage from Northcote with a 12-6 record. The Seagulls were once again a force to be reckoned with at home, losing just one game at Pt Gellibrand for the whole year to Oakleigh in round 7.
Williamstown met Mordialloc in the first semi-final at Toorak Park on a wet day before a crowd of 3,000 and, in a dismal performance, could only manage three goals in a 68-point loss to the Bloodhounds. The Seconds also were beaten in the semi-final but the Club's Thirds, under fourth-year coach Gary Ward, brother of champion player, Daryl Ward, did bring some consolation though, winning the premiership to top off a terrific season, downing Werribee 17.15.117 to 15.10.100. Best players were John Cutajar, John Murphy, Phil Chapman, Paul Sinnott, Craig Dooley and Wayne Byrne. It was to be Ward's final season in charge of the Thirds. Captain Phil Chapman, who booted 5 goals in the grand final, won both the league best & fairest (Gomez Medal) and leading goalkicker (Sol Alexander) awards with 132. This was his second consecutive leading goalscorer trophy, and he averaged in excess of seven goals per game in his two years with the Thirds. Phil would go on to play 19 senior games from 1980-82 and kick a total of 53 goals.
Peter Kerr finished equal third in the Field Medal count for best player in the VFA second division, and also ran third behind Neil Courtot and Mark Cross in voting for the Andy Taylor Memorial Trophy as the Club's best and fairest player in the Seniors. Mal Taylor was awarded the most consistent player trophy. Jeff Dean was awarded the Reserves best and fairest player, from captain-coach Phil McTaggart and Neil Condon. Phil Chapman, in addition to his VFA competition awards mentioned above, also took out the Thirds best and fairest from Stephen Taafe and vice-captain Stephen Smith. Leading goalkicker in the Seniors was second-year player Paul John with 59. Brendan Bailey was again team manager for the Senior team, Terry Maloney was manager of the Seconds and Ray Smith manager of the Thirds.
On a more sombre note, 1969 premiership player Bob 'Penny' Lane, a policeman, was murdered on Friday the 13th of July 1979 at Wakool River, Kylalite NSW while on duty. He played 84 games and kicked 46 goals for Williamstown from 1967-1975. He was also a member of the team that was runners-up to Prahran in 1970. Other former players and officials who passed on in 1979 were Jack Le Brun (Club delegate to the VFA 1935-41 and 1948-56, Club vice-president 1946-48), Gordon Brown (committeeman 1969-73, vice-president 1974-77), Norm Chisholm (played 1939-47, 91 games 19 goals), Bert Hodge (vice-president 1967-77) and Dave Ross (ground announcer). Chisholm, who died at the age of 64 on June 13, won the 1940 Club best and fairest award and also played in the 1939 and 1945 premiership teams. The Club's leading goalkicker was awarded the Bert Hodge Memorial Trophy from season 1980 onwards.
1979 best & fairest winner and future captain, Neil Courtot, and Les Quinn, committeeman from 1970-74 and 1978-79 and vice-president from 1975-77, were granted life memberships at that year's annual general meeting.
A raid on a Club fundraising venture by the Victorian Licensing, Gaming and Vice Squad in August 1978 had its sequel in court in May when President Sid Wookey, Reserves team manager Terry Maloney and former player Ian "Hucky" Johnston fronted court on charges of selling liquor without a licence. Each received a 12-month good behavior bond (refer newspaper article below).
Bob King, best-on-ground at centre half-back in the 1921 premiership victory, passed away on 23 February 1979, aged 84. King came to Williamstown from Fitzroy during 1921 and made his debut against Footscray in the round 10 match at Williamstown aged 26 in a 5-goal defeat. He transferred to Williamstown Juniors as captain-coach in 1922 before returning to Williamstown in 1923. He played a total of 29 games for 'Town, after having played 63 games for Fitzroy from 1916-21 including a premiership in his first season. He never kicked a goal for either club.
Merv Hobbs' famous mark in the 1961 preliminary final.
The selected team for the round 5 clash at Mordialloc, won by the Bloodhounds by 5 goals, 20.9.129 to 13.21.99. Paul John kicked 5 goals for the Seagulls.
Vice-captain, Peter Kerr, tackles Yarraville's Colin Sampson in the round 10 clash at Williamstown which was won by the Seagulls by 119 points, 27.22.184 to 9.11.65.
1979 playing list
Paul John was leading goalkicker in 1979 with a total of 59. He also won the best & fairest in 1980 and the Reserves' best & fairest award in 1984.
1979 senior squad
Back row: Rob Harding (treasurer), Ian Callander, Rollo Goetz, Steve Masters, Shane Smith, Simon Philpott, Rocky Burgess, Alan Kennedy, Gary Simpson, Tony Philpott, Mark Sheahan, Neil Condon, Brian Gannon, Wayne Burns, Greg Tweedley, Peter Enright, Graeme Crocker (timekeeper), Bobby Evans (match committee), Terry Maloney (reserves team manager, front)
Middle row: Ernest 'Junior' Jackson (secretary), Greg Mather, Craig Eldridge, Laurie Taylor, Phil McTaggart (assistant coach), Mark Cross (captain), Merv Hobbs (coach), John Cutajar, Kevin Hughes, Paul John, unknown, Peter Letting (trainer)
Front row: Tony McVeigh, Peter Kerr (vice-captain), Hans Pocervina, Frank Pocervina, Luke Evans (mascot - son of Bobby Evans), Neil Courtot, Geoff Dean, Glen Smith
1979 Thirds (Under 19's) squad
Back row: Graeme Crocker (timekeeper), Tony Davis (trainer), Stephen Smith (vice-captain), Paul Cannon, John Murphy, Andrew Gurkin, Steve Chandler, David Kenwery, Stuart Vines, Craig Dooley, Wayne Byrne, Neville Brent (trainer), Norm Whetton (trainer)
Middle row: John Neenan, Duane Doyle, John Cutajar, Kevin Hughes, Steven Taafe, Gary Ward (coach), Phil Chapman (captain), David Jordon, Ray Smith (team manager)
Front row: Paul Sinnott, Dennis Selvidge, Mick Barrie, Mario Desantana, Luke Evans (mascot), Kevin Yates, Mark Sheedy, Damian Martin (assistant coach)
1979 VFA Thirds goalkicking award
1969 premiership player Bob 'Penny' Lane, a policeman, was murdered on Friday the 13th of July 1979 at Wakool River, Kylalite NSW while on duty. He played 84 games and kicked 46 goals for Williamstown from 1967-1975. He was also a member of the team that was runners-up to Prahran in 1970. He also played two games for Carlton in 1966.
Bob King, pictured here in 1964, best-on-ground at centre half-back in the 1921 premiership victory, passed away on 23 February 1979, aged 84. King came to Williamstown from Fitzroy during 1921 and made his debut against Footscray in the round 10 match at Williamstown aged 26 in a 5-goal defeat. He transferred to Williamstown Juniors as captain-coach in 1922 before returning to Williamstown in 1923. He played a total of 29 games for 'Town, after having played 63 games for Fitzroy from 1916-21 including a premiership in his first season. He never kicked a goal for either club.
Long-serving wingman, Norm Chisholm, passed away on June 13, 1979, at the age of 64. He played his last game for Williamstown in the round 9 match at Preston in 1947 which the Seagulls won by two points, 13.12.90 to 12.16.88, before crossing to Newport as coach. Originally from Spotswood, Chisholm played three seasons with Williamstown from 1939-41 before the recess in respect of World War II. He went to Footscray and played 29 games and kicked two goals in 1942 & 1943 before returning to Williamstown in 1945. He played a further two and a half seasons, finishing up with 91 games and 19 goals. He played on the wing in both Willamstown's 1939 and 1945 premiership victories and took out the Club best and fairest award in 1940 and the most consistent player trophy in 1945.