|V/AFL Clubs||Collingwood, Brisbane|
|SANFL Clubs||West Adelaide, Port Adelaide|
Prior to his accomplishments as coach of Port Adelaide in the AFL Mark Williams enjoyed a rich and varied career as a player with four different clubs. He began at West Adelaide under the coaching of his father Fos in 1976. After 66 games there he made the perhaps inevitable transfer to Port Adelaide in time to star in the centre in the club?? 31 point defeat of South Adelaide in the 1979 SANFL grand final. In the following season's premiership decider Williams was similarly impressive, again in the pivot, in assisting the Magpies to a hard fought 18 point victory over Norwood.
Scarcely what you would call elegant in his approach, with one of the most ungainly kicking styles imaginable, Mark Williams pre-eminently demonstrated that such factors count for nothing when it comes to playing effective, match-winning football.
The 1981 season saw Williams on the move to Collingwood, where he was an immediate success, helping the club reach a grand final, representing Victoria, and winning the first of two Copeland Trophies for Collingwood best and fairest. In all, he played a total of 135 games in six seasons with the Victorian Magpies, captaining them from 1983-6. An unfortunate contract dispute at the end of the 1986 season saw Williams reluctantly make the move north to join the fledgling Brisbane Bears, but any initial uncertainty soon dissolved as he put in a series of high quality, influential performances for the newcomers.
Midway through the 1990 season, after 66 games for the Bears, and 201 in all in the VFL, Mark Williams 'retired' - or, at least, that was how the Melbourne media described it. In actual fact, he had returned home to help Port Adelaide to another premiership, a feat which was repeated two years later, following which Williams genuinely did retire.
Having served a coaching apprenticeship with Glenelg (the team against which he had contributed to two premiership wins as a player) and as assistant to, first, Kevin Sheedy at Essendon, and then John Cahill at Port Adelaide, Mark Williams took on the Port Adelaide senior job full time in 1999, and in September 2004 piloted the club to its first ever AFL premiership. As a result of this, and his numerous other accomplishments, a prominent place in football's roll of honour seems assured. In 2012, Williams was senior assistant coach to Kevin Sheedy in Greater Western Sydney's inaugural AFL season.
Author - John Devaney
Full Points Footy's SA Football Companion