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The complete history of the Mighty Magpies

Mark Williams

Mark Williams

1981-1986
21

135 CFC Games Played

178 CFC Goals

Date of Birth
21 August 1958
Recruited From
Port Adelaide (SANFL)
Collingwood Debut
Round 1, 1981
Height:
183cm
Weight:
80kg

Biography

Mark Williams had a huge impact at Collingwood in the early 1980s, but even then his teammates knew he would likely have an even bigger impact as a coach. And they were right.

The man known universally as ‘Choco’ had ‘coach’ written all over him, for he was always one who took footy extremely seriously. He didn’t drink, didn’t smoke and was ahead of his time in terms of his commitment to what was needed to play elite level football: he was totally dedicated and professional in his preparation, play and conduct. Former teammate Brian Taylor once described him as “someone who just eats, lives and breathes the game – a football junkie.”

In 1985, the club’s magazine In Black & White wrote: “There is no such thing as a light-hearted conversation with him when it comes to football. He is intense even when answering the most trivial questions about the game. His obsession with football is undoubtedly a strength. He detests losing and hates playing badly. He loves winning and performing at his peak.”

While those words conveniently ignore the lively and outgoing parts of Williams’ personality (it was he who smuggled a black cabbage patch doll into the 1985 team photo), they do neatly sum up his approach to the game back then. That approach might have owed something to his background, because he came from SA football royalty. His father, Fos, was a legend in SA football, having played more than 200 games and won two best and fairests with Port Adelaide. He then captain-coached Port for nine years, coached them for a further 12 years (in all leading them to nine Premierships), then coached West Adelaide. No wonder he and his brothers, Anthony and Stephen, (who were also fine players) were serious about their footy.

And Collingwood were the ones to benefit. After an outstanding junior career, Williams found himself playing senior football at age 17, firstly with West Adelaide, then Port. He looked likely to head to Hawthorn but the Hawks lost interest just as Williams was becoming more and more determined to try his luck across the border. That’s when the Magpies stepped in. After winning all-Australian selection and a second flag with Port in 1980, Williams was ready to move.

From the moment he stepped through the door he was right at home, both at Collingwood and also in VFL football. He won the Copeland in that debut season and was also chosen to play for Victoria, starting a brief but glorious career in the black-and-white.

The key to his success in the VFL was that, unlike many previous SA recruits, Choco played a very Victorian style of football. He was desperate, a fierce competitor, a strong tackier and a player totally committed to doing the hard, team-oriented things. He gave his absolute all for the team every time he played, and wherever he played. Mostly that was as a ruck-rover, in the centre or on the forward line, but he also spent most of his 1985 season – during which he won his second Copeland – as a run-with player assigned to stars such as Leigh Matthews and Tim Watson.

He wasn’t a pretty or stylish footballer – his kicking style was actually ungainly – but he was certainly effective. Collingwood had no more gutsy or effective contributor during the first half of the 1980s. He was also more skilled than many appreciated, and actually finished ahead of Peter Daicos in a long-running goalkicking contest the two held before and after training sessions.

Still, it was his endeavour and effort and assault on the footy that most people associate with Choco’s playing style – and which his teammates loved. “He read the play well and attacked the ball like a maniac,” wrote Tony Shaw in his book A Shaw Thing. “Desperation-wise he is a bit more along my line of thinking about how a footballer should play the game. I like a bloke who plays like Mark.”

It was no surprise when he was made captain in 1983, and he spent four years at the helm, quickly winning a reputation among his teammates as an admired and inspirational leader. In addition to his two Copelands he also won awards for most courageous (after which he remarked that “courage is an indication of the number of times you get stitches in your head”), Magpie of the Year (twice), most consistent (twice) and even leading goalkicker. Despite those achievements he was still on a relatively modest salary at the end of his second contract, but he and the club ran into a dead-end when negotiating the third. That stalemate ended up with Williams crossing to the fledgling Brisbane Bears.

It was a move that nobody seemingly wanted. Williams would much rather have stayed. His teammates wanted him to stay too. Their admiration for him was obvious when his career ended four years later, after a game against the Pies in 1990. And he remains a fan favourite, their affection for him apparent again in 2014 when news emerged that Choco had been diagnosed with lymphoma. Magpie fans were amongst the first and most vocal to support him, even though he was involved with Richmond at the time.

By this time, Mark Williams had established himself as a big name in coaching. He’d started in the AFL with Essendon as an assistant coach, then moved to Port Power in the same role before taking over as their head coach in 1999. He stayed there until 2010, winning a flag in 2004, after which he spent time as an assistant with both Greater Western Sydney and Richmond. As a coach he became famous for his intensity, his insight into the game and his skills in educating and dealing with younger players.

The highlight of his coaching career came in 2004, when he led Port to their first AFL flag, after a couple of years of near-misses. His post-match antics (grabbing his own necktie as a middle finger to those who’d branded his team ‘chokers’, and his pointed words to club chairman Alan Scott) that day attracted plenty of criticism. But the real story was that Mark Williams’ Port Adelaide team had just beaten the Brisbane Lions, and in the process had protected the four-in-a-row record set by Collingwood’s mighty Machine teams in 1927-30. He must still get a buzz out of knowing that a Collingwood ‘insider’ was significantly responsible for protecting the club’s most cherished record. For one who still clearly loves the Pies, that is overdue reward for all that he gave while wearing the black-and-white jumper.

– Michael Roberts

Statistics

CFC Career Stats

Season played Games Goals Finals Win %
1981-1986 135 178 6 51%

CFC Season by Season Stats

Season GP GL B K H T D Guernsey No.
1981 25 21 18 388 129 517 21

1981 Season stats

Hide Season
RD VS Result GL B K H T D Guernsey No. Match Report
Round 1 Fitzroy W 1 1 17 7 24 21 View match >
Round 2 Western Bulldogs W 2 2 12 6 18 21 View match >
Round 3 St Kilda W 1 1 21 1 22 21 View match >
Round 4 Geelong W 18 5 23 21 View match >
Round 5 Melbourne W 1 3 17 6 23 21 View match >
Round 6 Carlton W 1 23 2 25 21 View match >
Round 7 Sydney W 2 13 3 16 21 View match >
Round 9 North Melbourne W 1 14 4 18 21 View match >
Round 10 Richmond W 1 14 6 20 21 View match >
Round 11 Hawthorn L 12 2 14 21 View match >
Round 12 Western Bulldogs W 1 1 12 3 15 21 View match >
Round 13 St Kilda W 11 8 19 21 View match >
Round 14 Geelong W 13 4 17 21 View match >
Round 15 Melbourne W 1 2 27 2 29 21 View match >
Round 16 Carlton W 1 17 7 24 21 View match >
Round 17 Sydney L 1 16 3 19 21 View match >
Round 18 Essendon L 8 7 15 21 View match >
Round 19 North Melbourne W 1 1 23 6 29 21 View match >
Round 20 Richmond W 1 12 5 17 21 View match >
Round 21 Hawthorn W 2 2 20 13 33 21 View match >
Round 22 Fitzroy L 1 17 6 23 21 View match >
Qualifying Final Geelong L 2 6 4 10 21 View match >
Semi Final Fitzroy W 2 13 8 21 21 View match >
Preliminary Final Geelong W 1 18 8 26 21 View match >
Grand Final Carlton L 2 0 14 3 17 21 View match >
Legend
  • #Guernsey
  • GLGoals
  • BBehinds
  • KKicks
  • HHandballs
  • DDisposals
  • MMarks
  • TTackles
*Player goal statistics included VFA (Victorian Football Association) results.
1982 22 22 14 340 130 470 21

1982 Season stats

Hide Season
RD VS Result GL B K H T D Guernsey No. Match Report
Round 1 Geelong L 1 1 17 5 22 21 View match >
Round 2 Western Bulldogs W 18 5 23 21 View match >
Round 3 Carlton L 1 17 5 22 21 View match >
Round 4 Richmond L 17 10 27 21 View match >
Round 5 North Melbourne L 16 5 21 21 View match >
Round 6 Fitzroy L 1 8 4 12 21 View match >
Round 7 Essendon L 1 16 5 21 21 View match >
Round 8 Sydney L 9 4 13 21 View match >
Round 9 Hawthorn L 13 4 17 21 View match >
Round 10 Melbourne L 1 13 4 17 21 View match >
Round 11 St Kilda W 2 10 8 18 21 View match >
Round 12 Western Bulldogs W 3 2 19 10 29 21 View match >
Round 13 Carlton L 1 2 19 4 23 21 View match >
Round 14 Richmond L 3 1 15 2 17 21 View match >
Round 15 North Melbourne L 2 1 17 3 20 21 View match >
Round 16 Fitzroy L 18 7 25 21 View match >
Round 17 Essendon L 3 1 16 3 19 21 View match >
Round 18 Sydney L 1 17 7 24 21 View match >
Round 19 Hawthorn L 2 16 8 24 21 View match >
Round 20 Melbourne L 1 2 12 6 18 21 View match >
Round 21 St Kilda L 19 14 33 21 View match >
Round 22 Geelong W 3 18 7 25 21 View match >
Legend
  • #Guernsey
  • GLGoals
  • BBehinds
  • KKicks
  • HHandballs
  • DDisposals
  • MMarks
  • TTackles
*Player goal statistics included VFA (Victorian Football Association) results.
1983 22 42 22 353 115 468 21

1983 Season stats

Hide Season
RD VS Result GL B K H T D Guernsey No. Match Report
Round 1 Melbourne W 16 6 22 21 View match >
Round 2 Geelong L 1 2 17 3 20 21 View match >
Round 3 Carlton L 1 2 18 2 20 21 View match >
Round 4 Essendon L 3 1 18 5 23 21 View match >
Round 5 Hawthorn L 16 8 24 21 View match >
Round 6 North Melbourne W 1 17 6 23 21 View match >
Round 7 Western Bulldogs W 4 11 3 14 21 View match >
Round 8 Richmond W 6 1 21 4 25 21 View match >
Round 9 Sydney L 2 2 11 2 13 21 View match >
Round 10 Fitzroy L 2 2 21 4 25 21 View match >
Round 11 St Kilda W 2 18 9 27 21 View match >
Round 12 Melbourne W 2 14 5 19 21 View match >
Round 13 Geelong L 1 18 6 24 21 View match >
Round 14 Carlton W 2 5 4 9 21 View match >
Round 15 Essendon W 2 18 7 25 21 View match >
Round 16 Hawthorn L 3 9 3 12 21 View match >
Round 17 North Melbourne L 4 1 22 3 25 21 View match >
Round 18 Western Bulldogs W 1 13 5 18 21 View match >
Round 19 Richmond W 2 2 18 7 25 21 View match >
Round 20 Sydney W 3 2 17 13 30 21 View match >
Round 21 Fitzroy L 1 3 16 4 20 21 View match >
Round 22 St Kilda W 3 19 6 25 21 View match >
Legend
  • #Guernsey
  • GLGoals
  • BBehinds
  • KKicks
  • HHandballs
  • DDisposals
  • MMarks
  • TTackles
*Player goal statistics included VFA (Victorian Football Association) results.
1984 23 53 31 257 113 370 21

1984 Season stats

Hide Season
RD VS Result GL B K H T D Guernsey No. Match Report
Round 1 Melbourne W 1 6 8 14 21 View match >
Round 2 St Kilda W 3 15 5 20 21 View match >
Round 3 Essendon L 2 11 8 19 21 View match >
Round 4 Sydney L 2 17 8 25 21 View match >
Round 5 Carlton W 5 3 16 1 17 21 View match >
Round 6 North Melbourne W 2 2 10 2 12 21 View match >
Round 7 Geelong W 1 5 14 12 26 21 View match >
Round 8 Richmond L 1 3 9 8 17 21 View match >
Round 9 Fitzroy W 1 4 12 4 16 21 View match >
Round 10 Western Bulldogs L 14 9 23 21 View match >
Round 11 Hawthorn L 7 2 13 1 14 21 View match >
Round 12 St Kilda W 3 1 8 4 12 21 View match >
Round 13 Essendon L 4 3 11 2 13 21 View match >
Round 14 Sydney W 3 3 11 5 16 21 View match >
Round 15 Carlton L 2 9 3 12 21 View match >
Round 16 North Melbourne W 1 14 9 23 21 View match >
Round 17 Geelong W 21 6 27 21 View match >
Round 18 Richmond W 3 16 9 25 21 View match >
Round 19 Fitzroy L 1 2 2 21 View match >
Round 21 Hawthorn L 3 10 4 14 21 View match >
Round 22 Western Bulldogs W 3 2 9 9 21 View match >
Elimination Final Fitzroy W 6 1 7 5 12 21 View match >
Semi Final Carlton W 1 2 2 21 View match >
Legend
  • #Guernsey
  • GLGoals
  • BBehinds
  • KKicks
  • HHandballs
  • DDisposals
  • MMarks
  • TTackles
*Player goal statistics included VFA (Victorian Football Association) results.
1985 22 16 13 341 134 475 21

1985 Season stats

Hide Season
RD VS Result GL B K H T D Guernsey No. Match Report
Round 1 North Melbourne W 2 2 15 5 20 21 View match >
Round 2 Geelong W 1 12 7 19 21 View match >
Round 3 Melbourne W 6 10 16 21 View match >
Round 4 Essendon L 20 9 29 21 View match >
Round 5 Sydney W 7 4 11 21 View match >
Round 6 Richmond L 18 3 21 21 View match >
Round 7 Fitzroy L 1 18 8 26 21 View match >
Round 8 Hawthorn W 14 4 18 21 View match >
Round 9 St Kilda W 1 21 11 32 21 View match >
Round 10 Western Bulldogs L 1 14 3 17 21 View match >
Round 11 Carlton L 18 4 22 21 View match >
Round 12 North Melbourne L 2 1 16 9 25 21 View match >
Round 13 Geelong L 1 1 18 7 25 21 View match >
Round 14 Melbourne W 14 3 17 21 View match >
Round 15 Essendon L 17 9 26 21 View match >
Round 16 Sydney W 1 20 9 29 21 View match >
Round 17 Richmond W 1 20 4 24 21 View match >
Round 18 Fitzroy L 1 13 6 19 21 View match >
Round 19 Hawthorn L 11 3 14 21 View match >
Round 20 St Kilda W 5 3 11 2 13 21 View match >
Round 21 Western Bulldogs L 2 14 9 23 21 View match >
Round 22 Carlton L 2 1 24 5 29 21 View match >
Legend
  • #Guernsey
  • GLGoals
  • BBehinds
  • KKicks
  • HHandballs
  • DDisposals
  • MMarks
  • TTackles
*Player goal statistics included VFA (Victorian Football Association) results.
1986 21 24 20 269 139 408 21

1986 Season stats

Hide Season
RD VS Result GL B K H T D Guernsey No. Match Report
Round 1 Essendon L 1 20 8 28 21 View match >
Round 2 Sydney L 2 6 7 13 21 View match >
Round 3 North Melbourne L 2 13 7 20 21 View match >
Round 4 Geelong W 2 1 12 14 26 21 View match >
Round 5 Western Bulldogs L 1 12 14 26 21 View match >
Round 6 Melbourne W 13 4 17 21 View match >
Round 7 Carlton L 11 4 15 21 View match >
Round 8 Hawthorn L 1 10 10 20 21 View match >
Round 9 Richmond W 1 4 10 4 14 21 View match >
Round 10 St Kilda W 2 4 16 9 25 21 View match >
Round 11 Fitzroy W 2 3 16 3 19 21 View match >
Round 12 Essendon W 1 10 6 16 21 View match >
Round 13 Sydney L 2 2 12 5 17 21 View match >
Round 14 North Melbourne W 1 13 4 17 21 View match >
Round 16 Fitzroy W 3 1 17 5 22 21 View match >
Round 17 Western Bulldogs W 13 3 16 21 View match >
Round 18 Melbourne L 7 6 13 21 View match >
Round 19 Carlton L 1 14 9 23 21 View match >
Round 20 Hawthorn L 1 12 6 18 21 View match >
Round 21 Richmond W 4 1 22 3 25 21 View match >
Round 22 St Kilda W 1 10 8 18 21 View match >
Legend
  • #Guernsey
  • GLGoals
  • BBehinds
  • KKicks
  • HHandballs
  • DDisposals
  • MMarks
  • TTackles
*Player goal statistics included VFA (Victorian Football Association) results.
Totals 135 178 118 1948 760 2708
Avg/Game   1.32 0.87 14.43 5.63 20.06
Legend
  • GPGames Played
  • GLGoals
  • BBehinds
  • KKicks
  • HHandballs
  • TTackles
  • DDisposals

Key Facts

CFC Debut Number

815

Total AFL Games
201
Total AFL Goals
236
CFC Debut
Round 1, 1981
CFC Last Game
Round 22, 1986
Recruited From
Port Adelaide (SANFL)
Full Name
Mark Williams
Nickname
Choco

Awards

  • All Australian
    1980
  • x2
    Most Courageous Player
    1982, 1985
  • Most Consistent Player
    1981
  • Leading Goalkicker (Gordon Coventry Trophy)
    1984
  • x2
    E.W. Copeland Trophy (Best and Fairest)
    1981, 1985
  • x4
    Team Captain
    1983, 1984, 1985, 1986
  • Life Members
    2014
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