Former Port Adelaide premiership player and coach Mark Williams joined his father Fos in the Australian Football Hall of Fame last Tuesday night, becoming the third father-son duo to take their place in the exclusive club.
The pair joined the Bunton family (Haydn Snr and Haydn Jnr) and the McMurray family (Jack Snr and Jack Jnr) as the only families to have two members in the Hall of Fame.
Announced as the last inductee of the night, Williams said it was nerve-racking, waiting for the news to be publicly announced.
“I can’t believe they left me last! I thought I was like third or something and then to go on after Bruce [McAvaney], that was gonna be a tough act to follow,” Williams said.
“It was great to get through, it was wonderful to see everyone, and I am honoured to be part of it all.”
The 64-year-old achieved more throughout his footballing journey than your average footballer, winning four SANFL premierships as a player and an AFL flag as coach. However, Williams says that the off-field recognition is a greater accomplishment.
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“On-field [achievements] you know what you’ve done, and it’s been recent, whereas [being inducted into the Hall of Fame] is over 60 years [in the making], that’s a long journey,” Williams said.
His lifelong attachment to the game of Aussie Rules was influenced by the legacy of his later father Fos who won nine SANFL premierships over the course of his 21 years at Port Adelaide. The recent inductee says that the impact the legendary coach had on him is evident in the way he went about his footy career, in particular his coaching career.
“It was all about his work ethic and his care. The way that he bought people into the house, the way he encouraged people to be better is a reflection of how I coach and learnt from him,” Williams said.
Now Head of Development at Melbourne, Williams has been in the professional football caper for 45 years and says that he still gets the same thrill he did when he arrived at Collingwood in 1981.
“The excitement of still walking out on the ground and having a kick before the game with the boys looking around, you could go back in time to ’81 when I was first there and it’s a great joy and one of the things I’m grateful for,” Williams said.
Williams joined triple-premiership players Jimmy Bartel and Corey Enright, current Hawthorn coach Sam Mitchell, legendary sports broadcaster Bruce McAvaney, as well as South Australian greats Michael Aish and Tom Leahy in the class of 2023.
AFL Chairman Richard Goyder also revealed that Nick Riewoldt will be formally inducted into the Australian Football Hall of Fame in 2024.
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