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The complete history of the Mighty Magpies

Bill Picken

Bill Picken

1974-1983, 1986
25
Other Guernsey Nos.
2

212 CFC Games Played

46 CFC Goals

Date of Birth
7 June 1956
Recruited From
Heywood
Collingwood Debut
Round 5, 1974
Height:
185cm
Weight:
81kg

Biography

The true measure of a footballer’s worth has always come during the heat of the finals.

Some melt under the pressure; others learn to deal with it over time; and a precious few seem to thrive on the big moments.

On that score alone, Bill Picken must rank highly as far as his contribution to the Collingwood Football Club goes across 11 seasons and 212 games. For as good as he was in the home-and-away season, he always seemed to rise to the occasion when the stakes were at their highest.

No player who endured Collingwood’s string of Grand Final losses through the late 1970s and early 1980s was entitled to feel as frustrated by the absence of a premiership medal as Picken. He was the club’s best player in two of his five Grand Finals (1979 and 1981) and among the best in two others (1977 drawn game and 1980).

But there was a lot more to Picken – affectionately known as ‘Bustling Billy’ to the Magpies fans who adored him and ‘Wilbur’ to his teammates – than a footballer with an enviable finals record.

For he was, after all, a dual Copeland Trophy winner, a runner-up in three further best-and-fairest counts, and a constant on the ‘Mark of the Week’ segment on World Of Sport each Sunday, with his spring-heeled skills on show from his debut game in 1974 onwards.

Picken was a dashing defender, capable of turning defence into attack in an instant at a time when many back men still favoured safety first techniques. Yes, his awkward kicking style, and its lack of penetration could sometimes frustrate the fans, but they loved him all the same. And, importantly, he was a character when the game still coveted them. He often drove opponents – and more than a few of his teammates – to the point of distraction with his incessant banter on the field.

One teammate told Michael Roberts in A Century of the Best, “He was a fantastic bloke and a great player, but a raving lunatic … if you tried to tell him to pick up his man he would just call out ‘I’m concussed and I don’t know what I am doing’, and keep going.”

“Look out, here comes Billy” was his most favoured expression as he charged through like an unstoppable force in pursuit of, or with, the ball. His commentary was the same whether the Sherrin was in the air or on the ground, and his passion and personality endeared himself to the faithful.

Picken started his football in the tiny western district town of Macarthur. He was always a youngster playing against older players, and that continued when he ran out for Heywood as a 16-year-old in 1973, winning the club’s best and fairest and finishing second in the league award.

He came under Collingwood’s notice when he played in a Western Border Football League combined side against Collingwood’s under 19s side at Victoria Park that year. He won the best player honours – as a forward – and it led to his invitation to Victoria Park the following season.

Picken made his debut against Carlton in round five, 1974, wearing the No.25 that would soon find itself on the backs of countless Black and White jumpers and duffle coats. He kicked two goals with his first two kicks, and dragged down what looked like being the first of his spectacular marks – a one-handed grab on the back of fellow first-gamer Graeme Robertson. But while Picken had a sense of the occasion, the umpires did not: he was deemed to have infringed on his opponent and was not paid the mark.

Picken played 17 games and kicked 25 goals in his debut season. He took a remarkable specky against Richmond in round nine, in John Greening’s comeback match. Fittingly, Greening is in the foreground of the image. And he kicked a career-high six goals against Melbourne in round 17.

That mark against the Tigers was among two of his favourites. The other was a brilliant ride on the back of St Kilda’s Barry Breen in round 16, 1976, and both were considered marks of the year. But there are countless others worth recalling, including his launch on the shoulders of Mark Maclure in the mud of the 1979 Grand Final. Typically, his tongue is sticking out, like a Picken trademark.

Picken’s career stalled for a period in his second season, as he spent the first of 1975 in the reserves, albeit kicking 11 goals in one seconds game. But he re-established himself in the second half of that year, and this one-time forward would soon come to relish a new role in defence, holding down the centre half-back position. Incredibly, he won the reserves best and fairest in 1975, and still finished third in the Copeland Trophy.

Picken soon became one of the best defenders in the game, with his passion, his courageous, straight-ahead approach and his endeavour noted within and outside the club. A look at his club laurels tell of his on-field achievements. He won the Copeland Trophy in 1978 (he lost on countback to Ray Shaw, but was later awarded a medal retrospectively) and again 1983. He was runner-up in 1977, ‘79 and ‘81, and was best finals player in 1975, ‘78, ‘79 and ‘81.

He was also named at half-back in Collingwood’s Team of the Century when it was announced in 1997, holding down a half-back line with Albert Collier and Nathan Buckley.

His best recognition outside the club came in 1977 when he finished third in the Brownlow Medal. Only Graham Teasdale and Kevin Bartlett finished ahead of him.

Teammate Tony Shaw rated Picken among the best 10 Magpies he had seen, saying: “As all football judges say, top players perform in the presser-cooker atmosphere of finals. This is where Billy stood out. He just had a sensational record in finals.” And Shaw described him “one of the best marks I’ve ever seen. He could take them from any position – in front, running back into packs, and over the top.”

In his book, A Shaw Thing, Shaw said the only negatives were Picken’s kicking and when his penchant for attack sometimes overrode the need to lock down on a player – “I always believe the one chink in his armour was that he wasn’t very defensive.”

Peter Daicos called him “undoubtedly, the best finals player (at the club)” and “a superb big-occasion player who played his best football when it counted.”

Picken’s ability extended to the cricket pitch as well, with the Collingwood district side, performing as always when it counted, making 88 runs in a grand final.

Sadly, a pay dispute after winning the 1983 Copeland Trophy resulted in one of the club’s most popular players moving to Sydney, much to the disappointment and frustration of Collingwood fans. He played 28 games across two seasons with the Swans, but injuries began to bite for the first time. No one was unhappy when he came home to Victoria Park for the 1986 season, and, although he wore the unfamiliar No.2, he played five more senior games. Sadly, there would be no fairytale premiership end to his time at Collingwood.

Two of his sons would show considerable talent, with Marcus playing 21 games with Brisbane, and Liam having a long and successful career with the Western Bulldogs. including the 2016 premiership. Liam had come under Collingwood’s attention with its then VFL affiliate Williamstown in 2008, but the Bulldogs took him as a rookie.

There weren’t many characters – or players – like Billy Picken. Collingwood fans who will always remember his spectacular leaps, his dashing displays across half-back and his extraordinary finals record can attest to that.

– Glenn McFarlane

Statistics

CFC Career Stats

Season played Games Goals Finals Win %
1974-1983, 1986 212 46 21 58%

CFC Season by Season Stats

Season GP GL B K H T D Guernsey No.
1974 17 25 15 173 25 198 25

1974 Season stats

Hide Season
RD VS Result GL B K H T D Guernsey No. Match Report
Round 5 Carlton W 3 3 8 2 10 25 View match >
Round 6 Melbourne W 2 1 9 1 10 25 View match >
Round 7 St Kilda W 1 3 6 1 7 25 View match >
Round 9 Richmond W 1 1 18 3 21 25 View match >
Round 10 North Melbourne W 11 3 14 25 View match >
Round 12 Essendon W 1 1 10 1 11 25 View match >
Round 13 Hawthorn W 2 10 1 11 25 View match >
Round 14 Fitzroy W 3 16 2 18 25 View match >
Round 15 Western Bulldogs W 1 2 8 8 25 View match >
Round 16 Carlton L 1 9 2 11 25 View match >
Round 17 Melbourne W 6 13 1 14 25 View match >
Round 18 St Kilda L 9 9 25 View match >
Round 19 Geelong W 1 8 1 9 25 View match >
Round 21 North Melbourne L 1 3 12 2 14 25 View match >
Round 22 Sydney L 1 9 2 11 25 View match >
Elimination Final Western Bulldogs W 1 1 13 3 16 25 View match >
Semi Final Hawthorn L 4 4 25 View match >
Legend
  • #Guernsey
  • GLGoals
  • BBehinds
  • KKicks
  • HHandballs
  • DDisposals
  • MMarks
  • TTackles
*Player goal statistics included VFA (Victorian Football Association) results.
1975 11 2 5 145 23 168 25

1975 Season stats

Hide Season
RD VS Result GL B K H T D Guernsey No. Match Report
Round 3 Fitzroy W 1 3 6 6 25 View match >
Round 7 North Melbourne W 1 6 3 9 25 View match >
Round 12 Sydney W 6 4 10 25 View match >
Round 13 Carlton L 1 5 1 6 25 View match >
Round 17 Richmond L 15 1 16 25 View match >
Round 18 North Melbourne L 23 7 30 25 View match >
Round 19 Essendon W 14 1 15 25 View match >
Round 20 St Kilda W 18 1 19 25 View match >
Round 21 Hawthorn W 1 9 2 11 25 View match >
Round 22 Melbourne W 22 3 25 25 View match >
Elimination Final Richmond L 21 21 25 View match >
Legend
  • #Guernsey
  • GLGoals
  • BBehinds
  • KKicks
  • HHandballs
  • DDisposals
  • MMarks
  • TTackles
*Player goal statistics included VFA (Victorian Football Association) results.
1976 20 3 3 299 51 350 25

1976 Season stats

Hide Season
RD VS Result GL B K H T D Guernsey No. Match Report
Round 1 Carlton L 11 11 25 View match >
Round 2 Sydney L 10 2 12 25 View match >
Round 3 Hawthorn L 19 1 20 25 View match >
Round 4 Richmond W 11 11 25 View match >
Round 5 St Kilda L 17 3 20 25 View match >
Round 6 Geelong L 1 10 6 16 25 View match >
Round 7 North Melbourne W 14 2 16 25 View match >
Round 8 Fitzroy W 17 17 25 View match >
Round 9 Western Bulldogs L 16 3 19 25 View match >
Round 10 Essendon L 13 5 18 25 View match >
Round 11 Melbourne W 21 4 25 25 View match >
Round 12 Carlton W 19 4 23 25 View match >
Round 13 Sydney L 2 2 12 2 14 25 View match >
Round 14 Richmond L 1 20 2 22 25 View match >
Round 15 Hawthorn L 13 2 15 25 View match >
Round 16 St Kilda L 14 3 17 25 View match >
Round 17 Geelong L 10 1 11 25 View match >
Round 18 North Melbourne L 15 3 18 25 View match >
Round 19 Fitzroy L 15 4 19 25 View match >
Round 20 Western Bulldogs L 22 4 26 25 View match >
Legend
  • #Guernsey
  • GLGoals
  • BBehinds
  • KKicks
  • HHandballs
  • DDisposals
  • MMarks
  • TTackles
*Player goal statistics included VFA (Victorian Football Association) results.
1977 24 0 2 322 75 397 25

1977 Season stats

Hide Season
RD VS Result GL B K H T D Guernsey No. Match Report
Round 1 Western Bulldogs W 15 2 17 25 View match >
Round 2 North Melbourne L 8 2 10 25 View match >
Round 3 Essendon W 13 7 20 25 View match >
Round 4 Richmond W 14 5 19 25 View match >
Round 5 Geelong W 14 4 18 25 View match >
Round 6 Carlton W 13 3 16 25 View match >
Round 7 Fitzroy W 13 6 19 25 View match >
Round 8 St Kilda W 16 2 18 25 View match >
Round 9 Hawthorn W 15 3 18 25 View match >
Round 10 Sydney L 16 3 19 25 View match >
Round 11 Melbourne W 10 5 15 25 View match >
Round 12 Western Bulldogs W 10 1 11 25 View match >
Round 14 Richmond W 11 4 15 25 View match >
Round 15 Essendon W 11 1 12 25 View match >
Round 16 Geelong L 1 12 4 16 25 View match >
Round 17 Carlton W 15 3 18 25 View match >
Round 18 Fitzroy W 21 2 23 25 View match >
Round 19 St Kilda W 1 22 7 29 25 View match >
Round 20 Hawthorn L 16 2 18 25 View match >
Round 21 Sydney W 12 3 15 25 View match >
Round 22 Melbourne W 15 15 25 View match >
Semi Final Hawthorn W 8 3 11 25 View match >
Grand Final North Melbourne D 0 0 16 1 17 25 View match >
Grand Final North Melbourne L 0 0 6 2 8 25 View match >
Legend
  • #Guernsey
  • GLGoals
  • BBehinds
  • KKicks
  • HHandballs
  • DDisposals
  • MMarks
  • TTackles
*Player goal statistics included VFA (Victorian Football Association) results.
1978 24 3 3 371 72 443 25

1978 Season stats

Hide Season
RD VS Result GL B K H T D Guernsey No. Match Report
Round 1 Geelong W 15 1 16 25 View match >
Round 2 Essendon W 15 1 16 25 View match >
Round 3 Sydney L 18 2 20 25 View match >
Round 4 Hawthorn L 12 3 15 25 View match >
Round 5 North Melbourne L 17 1 18 25 View match >
Round 6 Fitzroy W 11 3 14 25 View match >
Round 7 Carlton L 25 2 27 25 View match >
Round 8 Western Bulldogs W 14 1 15 25 View match >
Round 9 Richmond W 10 3 13 25 View match >
Round 10 St Kilda W 24 8 32 25 View match >
Round 11 Melbourne W 17 5 22 25 View match >
Round 12 Geelong L 10 1 11 25 View match >
Round 13 Essendon W 14 2 16 25 View match >
Round 14 Hawthorn W 7 8 15 25 View match >
Round 16 North Melbourne L 10 1 11 25 View match >
Round 17 Fitzroy W 14 1 15 25 View match >
Round 18 Carlton L 17 2 19 25 View match >
Round 19 Western Bulldogs W 1 1 17 4 21 25 View match >
Round 20 Richmond W 17 6 23 25 View match >
Round 21 St Kilda W 2 2 15 1 16 25 View match >
Round 22 Melbourne W 13 4 17 25 View match >
Qualifying Final Hawthorn L 20 1 21 25 View match >
Semi Final Carlton W 22 6 28 25 View match >
Preliminary Final North Melbourne L 17 5 22 25 View match >
Legend
  • #Guernsey
  • GLGoals
  • BBehinds
  • KKicks
  • HHandballs
  • DDisposals
  • MMarks
  • TTackles
*Player goal statistics included VFA (Victorian Football Association) results.
1979 26 4 1 357 121 478 25

1979 Season stats

Hide Season
RD VS Result GL B K H T D Guernsey No. Match Report
Round 1 Fitzroy L 23 4 27 25 View match >
Round 2 Hawthorn W 14 3 17 25 View match >
Round 3 North Melbourne L 13 6 19 25 View match >
Round 4 St Kilda W 18 10 28 25 View match >
Round 5 Western Bulldogs W 11 7 18 25 View match >
Round 6 Essendon L 15 5 20 25 View match >
Round 7 Geelong W 12 7 19 25 View match >
Round 8 Sydney W 14 9 23 25 View match >
Round 9 Richmond W 17 2 19 25 View match >
Round 10 Carlton L 17 17 25 View match >
Round 11 Melbourne W 4 5 9 25 View match >
Round 12 Fitzroy L 1 1 10 5 15 25 View match >
Round 13 Hawthorn W 10 9 19 25 View match >
Round 14 St Kilda W 18 8 26 25 View match >
Round 15 North Melbourne L 1 14 2 16 25 View match >
Round 16 Western Bulldogs W 12 4 16 25 View match >
Round 17 Essendon W 15 6 21 25 View match >
Round 18 Geelong L 14 5 19 25 View match >
Round 19 Sydney W 14 3 17 25 View match >
Round 20 Richmond W 12 4 16 25 View match >
Round 21 Carlton W 2 9 9 25 View match >
Round 22 Melbourne W 8 5 13 25 View match >
Qualifying Final North Melbourne L 22 3 25 25 View match >
Semi Final Fitzroy W 15 4 19 25 View match >
Preliminary Final North Melbourne W 12 12 25 View match >
Grand Final Carlton L 0 0 14 5 19 25 View match >
Legend
  • #Guernsey
  • GLGoals
  • BBehinds
  • KKicks
  • HHandballs
  • DDisposals
  • MMarks
  • TTackles
*Player goal statistics included VFA (Victorian Football Association) results.
1980 26 3 5 371 95 466 25

1980 Season stats

Hide Season
RD VS Result GL B K H T D Guernsey No. Match Report
Round 1 Carlton L 14 3 17 25 View match >
Round 2 North Melbourne W 16 1 17 25 View match >
Round 3 Hawthorn L 14 6 20 25 View match >
Round 4 Richmond L 13 1 14 25 View match >
Round 5 Essendon W 20 4 24 25 View match >
Round 6 St Kilda W 16 1 17 25 View match >
Round 7 Sydney L 14 3 17 25 View match >
Round 8 Fitzroy D 16 12 28 25 View match >
Round 9 Geelong W 10 3 13 25 View match >
Round 10 Western Bulldogs W 10 1 11 25 View match >
Round 11 Melbourne W 1 12 1 13 25 View match >
Round 12 Carlton L 12 7 19 25 View match >
Round 13 North Melbourne W 20 5 25 25 View match >
Round 14 Richmond L 12 7 19 25 View match >
Round 15 Essendon W 14 2 16 25 View match >
Round 16 Hawthorn W 15 2 17 25 View match >
Round 17 St Kilda W 10 4 14 25 View match >
Round 18 Sydney W 19 1 20 25 View match >
Round 19 Fitzroy W 16 1 17 25 View match >
Round 20 Geelong L 17 2 19 25 View match >
Round 21 Western Bulldogs W 16 1 17 25 View match >
Round 22 Melbourne W 8 8 16 25 View match >
Elimination Final North Melbourne W 10 8 18 25 View match >
Semi Final Carlton W 16 3 19 25 View match >
Preliminary Final Geelong W 13 7 20 25 View match >
Grand Final Richmond L 3 4 18 1 19 25 View match >
Legend
  • #Guernsey
  • GLGoals
  • BBehinds
  • KKicks
  • HHandballs
  • DDisposals
  • MMarks
  • TTackles
*Player goal statistics included VFA (Victorian Football Association) results.
1981 24 2 3 308 86 394 25

1981 Season stats

Hide Season
RD VS Result GL B K H T D Guernsey No. Match Report
Round 1 Fitzroy W 9 1 10 25 View match >
Round 2 Western Bulldogs W 17 7 24 25 View match >
Round 3 St Kilda W 20 3 23 25 View match >
Round 4 Geelong W 16 5 21 25 View match >
Round 5 Melbourne W 1 17 6 23 25 View match >
Round 6 Carlton W 10 1 11 25 View match >
Round 7 Sydney W 11 3 14 25 View match >
Round 8 Essendon L 9 3 12 25 View match >
Round 9 North Melbourne W 8 4 12 25 View match >
Round 10 Richmond W 18 3 21 25 View match >
Round 11 Hawthorn L 17 3 20 25 View match >
Round 12 Western Bulldogs W 17 4 21 25 View match >
Round 13 St Kilda W 16 7 23 25 View match >
Round 14 Geelong W 12 12 25 View match >
Round 17 Sydney L 9 3 12 25 View match >
Round 18 Essendon L 5 1 6 25 View match >
Round 19 North Melbourne W 10 10 25 View match >
Round 20 Richmond W 1 14 4 18 25 View match >
Round 21 Hawthorn W 7 6 13 25 View match >
Round 22 Fitzroy L 13 4 17 25 View match >
Qualifying Final Geelong L 1 2 7 3 10 25 View match >
Semi Final Fitzroy W 14 4 18 25 View match >
Preliminary Final Geelong W 15 7 22 25 View match >
Grand Final Carlton L 0 0 17 4 21 25 View match >
Legend
  • #Guernsey
  • GLGoals
  • BBehinds
  • KKicks
  • HHandballs
  • DDisposals
  • MMarks
  • TTackles
*Player goal statistics included VFA (Victorian Football Association) results.
1982 15 1 1 180 70 250 25

1982 Season stats

Hide Season
RD VS Result GL B K H T D Guernsey No. Match Report
Round 2 Western Bulldogs W 14 5 19 25 View match >
Round 3 Carlton L 19 3 22 25 View match >
Round 4 Richmond L 1 12 11 23 25 View match >
Round 5 North Melbourne L 1 12 2 14 25 View match >
Round 6 Fitzroy L 6 3 9 25 View match >
Round 10 Melbourne L 10 4 14 25 View match >
Round 11 St Kilda W 10 3 13 25 View match >
Round 15 North Melbourne L 17 17 25 View match >
Round 16 Fitzroy L 13 1 14 25 View match >
Round 17 Essendon L 7 2 9 25 View match >
Round 18 Sydney L 11 8 19 25 View match >
Round 19 Hawthorn L 11 7 18 25 View match >
Round 20 Melbourne L 12 5 17 25 View match >
Round 21 St Kilda L 13 9 22 25 View match >
Round 22 Geelong W 13 7 20 25 View match >
Legend
  • #Guernsey
  • GLGoals
  • BBehinds
  • KKicks
  • HHandballs
  • DDisposals
  • MMarks
  • TTackles
*Player goal statistics included VFA (Victorian Football Association) results.
1983 20 1 4 251 146 397 25

1983 Season stats

Hide Season
RD VS Result GL B K H T D Guernsey No. Match Report
Round 1 Melbourne W 8 10 18 25 View match >
Round 2 Geelong L 13 19 32 25 View match >
Round 3 Carlton L 1 8 7 15 25 View match >
Round 4 Essendon L 8 4 12 25 View match >
Round 5 Hawthorn L 13 4 17 25 View match >
Round 6 North Melbourne W 12 7 19 25 View match >
Round 7 Western Bulldogs W 13 3 16 25 View match >
Round 8 Richmond W 11 7 18 25 View match >
Round 9 Sydney L 14 4 18 25 View match >
Round 10 Fitzroy L 18 8 26 25 View match >
Round 11 St Kilda W 16 5 21 25 View match >
Round 12 Melbourne W 21 6 27 25 View match >
Round 13 Geelong L 12 7 19 25 View match >
Round 14 Carlton W 15 6 21 25 View match >
Round 15 Essendon W 13 2 15 25 View match >
Round 18 Western Bulldogs W 15 11 26 25 View match >
Round 19 Richmond W 8 15 23 25 View match >
Round 20 Sydney W 9 8 17 25 View match >
Round 21 Fitzroy L 8 8 16 25 View match >
Round 22 St Kilda W 1 3 16 5 21 25 View match >
Legend
  • #Guernsey
  • GLGoals
  • BBehinds
  • KKicks
  • HHandballs
  • DDisposals
  • MMarks
  • TTackles
*Player goal statistics included VFA (Victorian Football Association) results.
1986 5 2 41 11 52 2

1986 Season stats

Hide Season
RD VS Result GL B K H T D Guernsey No. Match Report
Round 1 Essendon L 2 6 1 7 2 View match >
Round 8 Hawthorn L 12 4 16 2 View match >
Round 9 Richmond W 14 2 16 2 View match >
Round 10 St Kilda W 3 2 5 2 View match >
Round 18 Melbourne L 6 2 8 2 View match >
Legend
  • #Guernsey
  • GLGoals
  • BBehinds
  • KKicks
  • HHandballs
  • DDisposals
  • MMarks
  • TTackles
*Player goal statistics included VFA (Victorian Football Association) results.
Totals 212 46 42 2818 775 3593
Avg/Game   0.22 0.20 13.29 3.66 16.95
Legend
  • GPGames Played
  • GLGoals
  • BBehinds
  • KKicks
  • HHandballs
  • TTackles
  • DDisposals

Key Facts

CFC Debut Number

746

Total AFL Games
240
Total AFL Goals
46
CFC Debut
Round 5, 1974
CFC Last Game
Round 18, 1986
Recruited From
Heywood
Full Name
Bill Picken

Awards

  • All Australian
    1983
  • Life Members
    1986
  • Most Determined Player
    1978
  • Reserves/VFL Best and Fairest
    1975
  • x4
    Best Finals Player (Bob Rose Award)
    1975, 1978, 1979, 1981
  • CFC Hall of Fame
    2006
  • CFC Team of the Century
  • x2
    E.W. Copeland Trophy (Best and Fairest)
    1978, 1983
  • x3
    Runner up Best and Fairest (R.T. Rush Trophy)
    1977, 1979, 1981
  • Third Best and Fairest (J.J. Joyce Trophy)
    1975
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