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. Fanning played in the 1976 premiership team and also the 1970 runners-up side, and won the best and fairest award in 1974.
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 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 coach Gary Ward, did bring some consolation though, winning the premiership to top off a terrific season. Captain Phil Chapman won both the league best & fairest (Gomez Medal) and leading goalkicker (Sol Alexander) awards with 132. This was his second 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. 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 Stephen Smith. Leading goalkicker in the Seniors was second-year player Paul John with 59.
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, Gordon Brown, Norm Chisholm, Bert Hodge and Dave Ross. 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.
Neil Courtot and Les Quinn 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 Syd 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).
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 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: 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