THE DECISION THAT DIVIDED THE CLUB!
In 1961 the VALA asked Williamstown, Malvern and Caulfield to enter two teams in A grade in an attempt to even out the competition. Malvern and Caulfield entered one strong and one weak team whilst Williamstown split the teams down the middle and entered two teams of equal strength. This practice continued at Williamstown until the end of 1964.
In hind sight this was one of the most divisive decisions that the Club had ever made and it took more than the end of that season to clear the bad feelings which grew between the members of the Fearons and the Cities.
The Fearons were coached by Alf Evans, an ex Malvern player and coach, and the Cities were coached by Frank Hogarth, a past Williamstown player. The teams met three times during the season and the Fearons won each of those games, but by less each time. The Fearons finished third and the Cities fourth so the two teams met in the first semi-final, which finished 6 all, the Fearons went on to play in the preliminary final as there was no provision for playing extra time in those days in the event of a draw. Considering the tribal nature of our great game these matches were as brutal encounters as could be imagined in the modern era of the game.
The competition between the Fearons and the Cities was resurrected in 1970 and Williamstown again had two teams competing in A grade. A significant amount of animosity developed as a result of these games and many were brutal conflicts, but perhaps any stories or folklore are best left unsaid!
Players from that 1955 team were the building blocks upon which the 1963 A grade premiership team was founded. Players such as Peter Hogg, Graham Hill, Michael Orr and Alan Chiron came out of that team and others who followed including Rod Cordell, Alan Rolley, Eddie Toomey, John O’Keefe, Ron Twomey, Richard Speakman, Phil Pearson, Peter Bellette, plus younger players like Robert Speakman and Alec Inglis, who were emergencies in the grand final, were added, over the late 50’s and early 60’s, to the old heads of Les Goding and Ian Jewitt to the team that won the first senior A grade premiership in the Club’s history”.
Above are the players from a 1961 Williamstown masters game.
Back row (L to R): Colwyn “Pud” Martin, Kevin Hope, Leeton Titter, Mick Titter, Keith West, Frank Hogarth, John Brotheridge, Lionel Burgoyne, Arthur Pearson (Partly hidden), Berry Newgreen, Keith Preston & Bob Anderson Front row: Bert Ferris, Mal Taylor, Alf Evans & Ken Speakman.