Malcolm Macpherson played for VFA club Williamstown in the 1940’s. Making his debut in Round One of the 1946 season, he soon became one of the Association’s most dangerous and effective small forwards, a prolific goal-kicker often combining brilliantly with the sensational Ron Todd in a potent Williamstown forward line. Macpherson was near best on ground in the 1948 Grand Final loss to Brighton and a key member of the Seagulls’ 1949 premiership side. A serious knee injury at the start of the 1950 season played havoc with his playing career thereafter. He turned to coaching, firstly with East Burwood in the Eastern District League, and then with Brighton Thirds in the VFA. Macpherson was also an accomplished batsman with District cricket clubs North Melbourne and Northcote.

For a brief period in the 1940’s it was possible for VFA administrators to believe their own competition could eventually rival and overhaul the VFL for crowd support and spectacle. As an independent body scorning affiliation to the Australian National Football Council, the VFA introduced new rules – such as the spectacular ‘throw pass’ – and ‘poached’ with impunity some of the ‘greats’ of League football. Williamstown led the way, enticing first Harry ‘Soapy’ Vallence from Carlton and then Collingwood champions Ron Todd and Des Fothergill. Aged 85 when this interview was conducted, Mal Macpherson recalls in vivid and acute detail some of the highlights of the VFA’s ‘Golden Era’.

Interview with Mal Macpherson conducted by Ken Mansell, Camberwell, March 31, 2014. Ken was introduced to Mal Macpherson by former North Melbourne Football Club administrator Bill Liddy (born 1935) who was present at the interview and contributed his own valuable memories. Recorded, transcribed and edited by Ken Mansell. A special thank you to Marc Fiddian whose book Seagulls over Williamstown was an important source of background information about the Williamstown Football Club and its history.

Mal McPherson - by Jane La Scala
Mal McPherson - by Jane La Scala

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Becoming a footballer


  • A triumph for ‘Town – another Seagull premiership
  • Ron Todd – 188 goals


  • Williamstown Football Club
  • Preliminary final heartache – Zebras by a point!
  • The throw pass
  • Ron Todd – the skills of a champion
  • Forgotten arts: drop kick - stab kick - place kick - torpedo
  • Port Melbourne – rugged!


  • Again the throw pass
  • Another preliminary final Zebra nightmare
  • Macpherson – 60 goals


  • Again the drop kick
  • More heartache for Williamstown - another premiership slips through the fingers
  • Macpherson – 59 goals


  • Dr Hartnett’s strange decision – the end of a ‘golden era?’
  • A flag at last – defeating the Purple and Golds in a nail-biter
  • Concussion in the big one



  • The knee





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