Australian Football Celebrating the history of the great Australian game


Key Facts

Full name
William Griffith

Known as
Billy Griffith

26 December 1880

7 May 1949 (aged 68)

Age at first & last AFL game
First game: 18y 138d
Last game: 32y 184d

Height and weight
Height: 175 cm
Weight: 76 kg

Senior clubs
Essendon; Essendon Association

Jumper numbers
Essendon: 8, 29

Recruited from
Essendon (1915)

Billy Griffith

ClubLeagueCareer spanGamesGoalsAvgWin %AKIAHBAMKBV
Essendon AssociationVFA1915
Total1899-1913, 1915187130.07

AFL: 435th player to appear, 779th most games played, 4,453rd most goals kickedEssendon: 48th player to appear, 40th most games played, 396th most goals kicked

Aged just 16 when he arrived at Essendon from Essendon District, William Griffith went on to enjoy an eventful and highly illustrious 16-season, 187-game VFL career that saw him participate in three premiership teams. He also represented the VFL in both 1901 and 1902. An immensely reliable footballer who kicked superbly, Griffith played for most of his career as a full back, despite weighing only 76kg. He could also rove, and it was as a rover that he starred in the Same Old's 6.7 (43) to 2.4 (16) defeat of Collingwood in the 1901 premiership decider. A decade later, in 1911, he was at full back when Collingwood was again vanquished on Grand Final day, and the following year saw him play in his third flag-winning team, again at full back, as South Melbourne was vanquished. 

Although he was a highly respected figure at Essendon, and indeed served as club captain between 1907 and 1909, Griffith often courted controversy. In 1905, for example, he attempted to procure a clearance to Carlton, while four years later he fought off an attempt by the club committee to strip him of the captaincy after he was involved in a somewhat embarrassing fracas with teammate Len Bowe. During the 1912 season, he was dropped from the Essendon team after demanding higher match fees.

William Griffith rounded off his senior career in 1915 when he served as captain-coach of Essendon Association, but the Dreadnoughts endured a poor year to finish eighth in a 10-team competition, after having contested the finals in each of the previous seven seasons.

Author - John Devaney


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* Behinds calculated from the 1965 season on.
+ Score at the end of extra time.