Greg Williams – Retired Australian Rules Football Player
One of the best midfielders to have ever played in Australian Rules, Greg Williams was known for his hand passing skill during his era.
Born on September 30, 1963, Greg Williams was one of the most popular players of his time.
He played for three different clubs and during his time, he was the highest paid player. Through 1990s, he was involved in a number of scandals but barring those black spots, Greg was known for his extraordinary hand passing skills. He used to be very aware of his nearby teammates. Not only was his hand passing extremely accurate but he also had brilliant ball winning and kicking skills. His skills helped him to survive the game because his skills outweighed negative characteristics of his physique. For instance, he was short and a slow runner.
During his early career, he was also overweight and restricted his movements. Because he was slow but had extremely reliable skills set, he earned the nickname “Diesel” just like slow but reliable diesel engine.
Greg William’s playing career was pretty interesting. Before playing in VFL, he played in Bendigo Football League for Golden Square Football Club and in 1980, represented Victoria in Teal Cup. Just before the 1982 VFL pre-season, Greg trained with Carlton but was rejected by the club because of poor physique and slow on-field movement. He went back to Golden Square and won the Michelsen Medal as best and fairest of the league.
This attracted Carlton’s attention and the club once again invited Greg for a second try before 1983 pre-season. He was once again rejected and had to return to Golden Square where he once again won the Michelsen Medal.
VFL Career with Geelong
Since Carlton did not select Greg Williams, Geelong took the opportunity and recruited him for 1984 VFL season. He made his debut in Round 1 and gathered 38 disposals – the highest ever in the recorded history of Australian Rules by any debut player.
For the first season, he could play only 12 matches and was benched because of a knee injury. In the second season however, he played all matches and went on to win Carji Greeves Medal and VFL Players Association MVP Award. For the entire season, he recorded 399 hand passes. The record was broken only in 2006. Particularly in Round 22, he set a record of 28 hand passes, which was broken in 2008.
VFL Career with Sydney Swans
After Geelong coach Tom Hafey was sacked, Hafey joined Sydney Swans for 1985 season. Greg Williams followed Hafey after receiving a sizeable contract. Greg moved to Sydney Swans against a transfer fee of $120,000. Greg maintained his good form with Sydney and went on to win the Brownlow Medal in 1986 but it was actually a tie with Robert Di Pierdomenico of Hawthorn.
The same season he was also included in All Australian team. In 1987 season, he was once again included in All Australian team and ended up in the third position for the Brownlow Medal in 1989. In 1989 season’s Round 19, Greg gathered 53 disposals – a record which is yet to be broken.
VFL Career with Carlton
Greg Williams decided to return to Melbourne in 1991. St Kilda and Carlton were the two potential club but because of AFL Draft introduced in 1986, Greg’s move was possible in form of a trade and not in form of a transfer fee. St Kilda did not agree to Sydney Swan’s requested trade but Carlton did. It is being said that Greg was on a contract of $300,000 a year – the highest ever in the history of VFL/AFL.
The 1992 season for Greg was good but Greg was at his career best in seasons 1993 and 1994. In 1993, he finished second in the Brownlow Medal but the following season he won the medal and became the 10th player in the history of the sport to win the medal twice.
He also became the third player in the history of the sport to win the medal from different clubs. In 1994, he also won AFL Players Association MVP Award. It was the second time he won the award. Both for 1993 and 1994 seasons, he was included in All Australian team. In 1993, he was the vice-captain of All Australian team and in 1994; he became the captain of the All Australian team. The 1995 season was his first ever premiership with Carlton.
In the Grand Final of the season, he kicked five goals and won the Norm Smith Medal, becoming the first ever player to win Norm Smith Medal, Premiership Medallion and Brownlow Medal throughout his career. Greg retired after 1997 season. By that time, he had played 109 senior games with Carlton, 107 senior games with Sydney and 34 senior games with Geelong. In State of Origin matches, he also played 9 games for Victoria.
Awards And Achievements
Greg Williams was a much-decorated player of his era. He bagged numerous awards and achievements throughout his career, which will continue to inspire new players. Here is a quick list of his awards and achievements:
- Greg Williams was a member of AFL Team of the Century, South Melbourne/Sydney Team of the Century and Carlton Team of the Century.
- In 2001, he was inducted into Australian Football Hall of Fame.
- In 2009, he was inducted into South Melbourne/Sydney Football Hall of Fame.
- In 1999, he was inducted into Carlton Hall of Fame.
- He won Brownlow Medal in 1986 and 1994.
- He won VFL/AFL Players Association MVP Medal in 1985 and 1994.
- He was the winner of Geelong and Carlton Best and Fairest in 1985 and 1994 respectively.
- He was a premiership player for 1995 season.
- In 1995, he won the Norm Smith Medal.
- He was a member of All Australian Team in years 1986, 1987, 1993 and 1994.
- In 1993, he was the vice-captain of All Australian Team.
- In 1994, he was the captain of All Australian Team.
- He played as a Victorian representative in 9 games and 1989 he played as a captain for Victoria.
Greg Williams was a legendary player of his time and his fame will outlive him. His awards and achievements speak of his skills that helped him to reach the peak of popularity during his VFL career.