Australian Football Celebrating the history of the great Australian game


Key Facts

Full name
William Robert Picken

Known as
Billy Picken


7 June 1956

23 July 2022 (aged 66)

Age at first & last AFL game
First game: 17y 331d
Last game: 30y 56d

Height and weight
Height: 185 cm
Weight: 81 kg

Senior clubs
Collingwood; Sydney

Jumper numbers
Collingwood: 25, 2
Sydney: 14

Recruited from
Collingwood (1984); Sydney (1986)

Family links
Marcus Picken (Son)Liam Picken (Son)Jonathan Brown (Nephew)Brian Brown (Brother-in-law)

Billy Picken

ClubLeagueCareer spanGamesGoalsAvgWin %AKIAHBAMKBV
CollingwoodV/AFL1974-1983, 1986212460.2259%13.293.665.5085

AFL: 8,657th player to appear, 325th most games played, 2,138th most goals kickedCollingwood: 745th player to appear, 30th most games played, 171st most goals kickedSydney: 1,126th player to appear, 492nd most games played, 1,396th most goals kicked

Billy Picken arrived at Collingwood from Macarthur with a reputation as a useful forward but his kicking was so wayward and lacking in penetration that he was consigned to the backlines. In time, he developed into one of the finest centre half backs in the league, with his superb aerial ability becoming his trademark. A big time player, he was a four time winner of the Magpies ‘best player in finals’ award, but sadly the closest he got to a premiership was appearing in the losing grand finals of 1977, 1979, 1980 and 1981.

Picken made his VFL debut with the ‘Pies in 1974 and his wholehearted approach to the game coupled with his penchant for taking a ‘screamer’ soon made him a firm favourite among the fans who dubbed him ‘Bustling Billy’. He was equally popular among his team mates who christened him ‘Wilbur’. A dual Copeland Trophy winner, he also finished runner-up in the award three times. He was a highly distinctive character who liked to commentate on his own performance during a match, something which endeared him to his team mates but did not sit well with some of his opponents.

In 1984 he was sold to Sydney for $155,000 but in two seasons managed just 28 senior games because of injury and overall his impact was less than hoped for. The 1986 season saw him back with the Magpies, ostensibly as captain-coach of the twos, but he also played a handful of senior games taking his overall tally to 212, and the number of goals kicked to 46.

Billy Picken’s sons Marcus and Liam both played AFL football, with Liam enjoying premiership success with the Western Bulldogs in 2016.

Author - John Devaney


Encyclopedia of AFL Footballers by Russell Holmesby & Jim Main;


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