Werribee has kicked off its post-season activity with a major coup, securing AFL premiership coach Mark Williams as its senior coach for 2019.
Williams, best known to the football world as “Choco”, arrives at Avalon Airport Oval on a three-year deal as the replacement for outgoing senior coach John Lamont.
Werribee football operations manager Stuart Balloch hailed the signing as a huge coup for the club given Williams’ achievements and reputation for the development of young talent.
“It’s not every day you get an AFL premiership coach join your club,” said Balloch.
“It’s a massive appointment for our club, and I trust that Mark’s experience, profile, and drive for success will carry our club to new and exciting levels.”
A legend of the AFL landscape, Williams is best known as the senior coach of Port Adelaide, the club he led for 274 games from 1999 to 2010 and took to its first and so far only AFL flag in 2004.
He steered the Power into finals in seven of his 12 seasons at the helm, which included a 2007 grand-final appearance and minor premierships in 2002 and 2003 in addition to his 2004 triumph.
After departing Alberton, he spent two years as a senior assistant under Kevin Sheedy – whom he had previously worked with as an assistant at Essendon – before taking on a four-year stint as a development coach under Damien Hardwick at Richmond, where he played a crucial role in mentoring star players such as Dustin Martin and Alex Rance.
Williams said the combination of the facilities and the newly redeveloped Avalon Airport Oval and the opportunities presented by Werribee’s move to standalone status this year made the senior coaching role an exciting prospect.
“The truth is I love coaching, and with Werribee taking such a professional approach by inviting me down and showing me what I can only describe as a top-class training facility and oval, I thought this is as good as it gets,” Williams said.
“I’ve seen how terrifically Williamstown and Port Melbourne have done as standalone clubs, and I thought this was a great opportunity with Werribee being the only standalone team in the outer western suburbs.
“For any kid who misses the draft I’m really looking forward to trying to help them to get into the AFL, and I encourage them to come down to Werribee and show us what they can do.”
Since stepping away from the AFL system two years ago, Williams has been heavily involved in community football as senior coach of Victorian Amateur Football Association side Ajax, part of a broader role as director of coaching and development with Jewish sporting body Maccabi Victoria.
He said he was looking forward to the chance to continue to develop community connections in the Werribee area, particularly given his family’s historic ties with the VFA/VFL competition.
“My father-in-law [Johnny Martin] actually won a Liston Trophy at Williamstown, so I’ve been following the VFA/VFL forever,” Williams said.
“The idea of the community-based club is terrific, so it’s great to get this opportunity. I know a lot of local supporters will get behind the club, and I’d love to meet them and would encourage them to get out, buy a membership, and support us as much as they can.”
In addition to his impeccable coaching credentials, Williams has a storied history as a player, racking up an incredible 380 league games from 1978 to 1992.
He registered his greatest playing successes in the black and white, featuring in four SANFL flags with Port in addition to winning two Copeland Trophies and serving a three-year stint as captain at Collingwood.
Werribee president Martin Carter said the club was thrilled to secure its new coach for 2019.
“The board is delighted with the appointment of Mark Williams and excited by the future direction of the club,” Mr Carter said.
“We share a vision with Mark for the development of our club on and off the field.”