2012 VFL Finals – Borough v The Towners

Hey it doesn’t get much better than this, a fine Saturday afternoon and I’m at North Port Oval for a  game of footy between two of the oldest football clubs in Australia, as they play for the right to be in next weeks grand final.

Williamstown, established in 1864, known as the Towners or Willie, are playing the old enemy Port Melbourne Borough formed in 1874.  These teams have a history of not liking each other very much for over  130 years. There is a great feeling of tribalism at the ground, families decked out in their club colours, Port in crimson and royal blue stripes and Williamstown in royal blue  jumper with a gold diagonal sash. There is a big crowd at North Port, the Norm Goss grandstand is just about full and the crowd on that side of the ground is packed in. One of the great things about this footy is that you are right there in amongst the action. You  see and hear the bumps, tackles and collisions, you feel the pain, well almost.

Right on ten past two the main game starts  and what a breathe of fresh air that is. Fancy starting a game at such a sensible time?  And from the opening bounce it’s apparent there isn’t a lot of love between these two clubs. The tackling was ferocious, at any one time during the first quarter you would see three or four players picking themselves gingerly off the ground and leaping back into the fray.  Port appeared to slightly have the upper hand, but Williamstown were right in it and the big crowd were loving it.  Right up to half time there was only a kick in it, until Wayde Skipper kicked an important major just on the siren.

Half time and a nostalgic visit to the Port Melbourne Bar under the Grandstand. Photos dating back to the early 1900’s of Borough teams are on all the walls. Tough, strong men proudly wearing the Port jumper. These men worked on the wharves doing dangerous hard, heavy jobs all week.  No wonder a game of footy on a Saturday afternoon must have seemed like a family picnic. The team was successful then as it is now, and throughout those years Williamstown was always the great neighbouring  rival. As I was emerging from the bar I saw a photo of Frank Johnstone in a Port team of the fifties, a minute or two later there he was in real life having a chat to a group of his mates in front of the grandstand, I  should have asked for his autograph!!!

The second half starts and its a rerun of the first two quarters. Both teams are desperate for the footy , both teams tackle and pursue as if there is no tomorrow and of course for one of these teams there is no tomorrow. Port had a mountain of a man up forward in Adrian Bonaddio, who split the packs and looked dangerous without posting a major  until late in the quarter. Williamstown’s  Fletcher Roberts not as physically big, but just as dangerous, was good in front and had three.  At three-quarter time there was still only a couple of goals in it. The huge crowds around both teams for the huddle enthusiastically urged them on for the last quarter.  Loud cheers came from both camps as they prepared for the last thirty minutes.

Port had the advantage a s slight wind, but the pressure shown by both sides in the opening minutes  negated any advantage.  Ten minutes in and Bonaddio scored his second for Port, then a long bomb from Stephen Brewer  sent Borough fans through the roof. One old “wag” near me said: “Lets get a few more Port, so we can send this Williamstown crowd back home and out of here.”  The Towners only added one point to their three-quarter time score while Port added an inaccurate two goals seven mainly in the last ten minutes.

A fantastic game of footy, played between two great clubs. Long may they prosper. Long may their rivalry continue.

Port Melbourne 12.15.87 defeated Williamstown 7.11.53

Goals Port Melbourne: Burslin2 Bonaddio2 Brewer,Pinwill,Gale,OFarrell,Galea,Valenti,Scipione and Skipper

Williamstown: Roberts3,McHarg,Goodes,Conway,McCallum

Best Players Port Melbourne: Skipper, Baird, Dillon, Woffindin,Sandilands and Valenti

Williamstown: Goodes, Roberts, McCallum, Jolley, Frost and McHarg.


  1. A good story well told Rod. And I’ll bet you any money neither has a clash strip – as a battle ground or as an away jumper. Looking at the map, you had to either cross at the ferry – which I’ve done many times – or go back to Footscray Road. Glaring at each other across Hobsons Bay would have intensified the feelings. At least Richmond & Collingwood could cross Victoria Street to let off steam.

  2. Neil Anderson says

    Saw this match from the comfort of home (country Victoria). It must have been brutal watching it just over the fence. I looked for future Bulldog recruits even though Williamstown stuck with a policy of playing non-Bulldog listed players. I have been harping about the need to recruit big solid key-position players that can stand up and be counted at the end of a long season and particularly during the last minutes of a gruelling final. The slightly-built Fletcher Roberts kicked three and did reasonably well, but if there was a choice between him and Bonaddio from PortMelbourne, I would take Bonaddio every time. He wasn’t just a big-bodied lug on the forward line, he was agile as well. And he was there in the finish when it counted. Roberts didn’t have a second effort in him if he missed a mark or over-ran the ball etc. I just hope the Bulldog recruiters pick some big guys to help the young smaller developing players.

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