31 July 1940
Age at first & last AFL game
First game: 23y 261d
Last game: 27y 19d
Height and weight
Height: 179 cm
Weight: 83 kg
South Melbourne: 11, 17
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Max Papley's ostensibly lethargic approach masked a prodigious football talent. Much of his best football was played during a 98 game stint with Moorabbin which culminated in a 19.16 (130) to 9.12 (66) grand final trouncing of Sandringham. Papley skippered the victors and was best afield with a 6 goal performance from centre half forward.
The following year he crossed to VFL club South Melbourne where, playing mainly on the half forward line or across centre, he enjoyed an auspicious but fleeting 59 game league career. He also booted 66 goals, represented the VFL, and won South's 1966 best and fairest award, but in 1968 he decided to return to the VFA as captain-coach of 2nd division Williamstown.
Under Papley's command the Seagulls made the 1968 2nd division grand final, but lost a high scoring thriller to Geelong West by 2 goals. The following season, however, with Papley 'on fire' as a ruckrover, Williamstown made amends with a 15.14 (104) to 12.12 (84) grand final defeat of Sunshine. The club's good form continued in 1970 in 1st division, and it ended the year as the first ever club to reach the grand final the season after securing promotion. The Seagulls were confident, having got to within a goal of grand final opponent Prahran in the 2nd semi final, but when the chips were down it was the Two Blues who rose to the occasion, ultimately pulling away to win by a deceptively comfortable margin of 50 points.
Max Papley's significance in the history of the Williamstown Football Club was emphasised in May 2003 when he was selected as centreman in the Seagulls' official 'Team of the Twentieth Century'.
Author - John Devaney