129. Paul Williams

AFL 2006 Rd 8 - Western Bulldogs v Sydney SwansLEGEND – Player Inductee

North Hobart/Collingwood/Sydney, Midfielder, 1989-2006

189 games, 223 goals, Collingwood, 1991-2000
117 games, 84 goals, Sydney Swans, 2001-06
Sydney premiership, 2005
Sydney best and fairest, 2001 and 2002
All Australian, 2003
Brownlow Medal (third highest scorer from Tasmania)

Paul Williams, who retired as a player at the end of the 2006 season, enjoyed a fine career with three clubs, highlighted by an AFL premiership with Sydney in 2005. When the Swans beat West Coast in that year’s grand final Williams was playing his 294th senior AFL game, making him the longest serving player ever to break through for a debut flag.

Originally from North Hobart, Williams impressed as a dynamic, long-kicking centreline player and on-baller who was capable of turning a match off his own boot. He was recruited by Collingwood and made his AFL debut as an eighteen-year-old in 1991. In ten seasons with the Magpies he played a total of 189 games and kicked 223 goals, and at his best was widely acknowledged as one of the finest running players in the game. His ability to kick prodigious distances while moving at full pelt was arguably the most distinctive feature of his play. Williams was badly hampered by ankle problems during the mid-nineties but recovered to play some of his best football towards the end of the decade.

In 2001 Williams crossed to Sydney where his impact was immediate and considerable; he won consecutive club best and fairest awards in 2001 and 2002, and in 2003 was included in the AFL All Australian team. However, his most noteworthy achievement was his participation in the aforementioned 2005 premiership team. After kicking two vital goals in the preliminary final win over St Kilda, Williams produced a typically effervescent, hard-running performance on grand final day to amass 18 telling disposals and prove a constant thorn in the side of the opposition.

Williams went on to play a dozen games in his final season to take his match tally at retirement to 306. He was only the second Tasmanian to reach the magical 300 game mark at the highest competition level in the game. Williams also booted 307 goals in the course of his career.

Paul Williams was recognised by his home state in 2004 when selected for the official Tasmanian Team of the Century.