A brilliant mark who came from Macarthur as a forward and made an immediate impression, Picken developed into one of the League’s best centre half-backs and even though he played in four losing grand final sides he maintained a reputation as a finals performer.
He won the award for the club’s best finals player four times and his spectacular marking meant that no centre half-forward could expect an easy time against him.
He was tremendously popular at Collingwood because he never stopped trying. Not the greatest kick in the world, a defect that led to him being placed in defence.
A great character, Picken was known to shout “it’s yours Billy” as he leapt for a mark.
Picken came third in the 1977 Brownlow and ran second in the club’s best and fairest four times and came third once before winning it outright in 1983.
It was a surprise when Collingwood overlooked him for a leadership position in 1983, a year in which Picken won the Copeland Trophy.
The following year he was snapped up by the Swans for a $155,000 transfer fee in their recruiting splurge, but for the first time in his career was hit by a succession of injuries and in his second year he moved back to Victoria to live and train with the Swans’ Melbourne group.
After two years he returned to his beloved Victoria Park as reserves captain-coach and played a few more senior games.
Picken’s two sons, Marcus and Liam, later went on to carve out senior careers with Brisbane and the Western Bulldogs. Ironically, Liam had developed under Collingwood’s nose with its VFL affiliate Williamstown before he was added to the Bulldogs’ rookie list ahead of 2009.