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A raise of the bat for Marley

Luke Mason  July 1, 2015 11:44 AM

B&W Show: Marley Williams What would Steele Sidebottom do for a job if he wasn't a footballer? Marley Williams found out that and more when he also spoke to Ben Reid, Adam Oxley, Brent MaCaffer, Paul Seedsman.
Marley Williams will play his 50th senior game against Hawthorn on Friday night.

Marley Williams will play his 50th senior game against Hawthorn on Friday night.

It’s easy to forget that Marley Williams is a product of the rookie list.

The 21-year-old has been a feature of Collingwood’s senior outfit for the majority of Nathan Buckley’s time as coach.

Now, on the eve of his 50th game, he is one of eight players currently on the senior list who began their careers on the rookie list.

Williams, who debuted alongside Jamie Elliott in round nine, 2012, rose from the rookie list to seventh in Collingwood's best-and-fairest in the space of two seasons and quickly became a fan favourite in the process.

He plays an eye-catching brand of football, mainly due to his ability to break the lines, his evasiveness and long left foot kicking. Importantly, Williams does not take a backward step and has already shut down several of the AFL's better small forwards.

Handed the honour of wearing fellow left-footed defender Ben Johnson's old No. 26 at the end of only his second season, Williams has done a fine job at replicating Johnson's success across half back and through the wings in recent years and is set to remain a fixture in the side in the years to come.

Marley Williams – The Story So Far

Moved from Albany to Perth in January and played for the Claremont Colts for most of the year. Managed two senior matches for Claremont where he impressed with his hardness and attack on the ball. Represented Western Australia in the U18 National Championships where he averaged 16.3 disposals and impressed with his long left foot kicks. Was working as a fencer when he discovered he’d been rookie listed by Collingwood with pick No. 35.

The tough ex-Claremont player impressed in the NAB Cup when he booted two goals against the Western Bulldogs. Was elevated to the senior list in place of Luke Ball ahead of the round nine clash with Adelaide and played six games before he required a shoulder reconstruction after landing heavily in the loss to Carlton in round 15. Was promoted to the senior list at season’s end and, with a solid pre-season under his belt, is expected to play more senior football in 2013.

Started the year on the fringe of Collingwood’s best 22 but ended it ranked seventh in the Copeland Trophy.

It was a wonderful season for the 21-year-old who improved markedly with each match. He received a taste of the senior action during the NAB Cup but began the season proper in the VFL where he quickly showed he meant business with 22 possessions and seven tackles against Frankston in round three.

Two more consistent weeks that saw him average 19 disposals and 5.5 tackles meant he was the first man chosen to fill the void left by the injured Ben Johnson and Alan Toovey.

Williams made a cautious start against Geelong in round eight but grew in confidence as the weeks went by, laying seven tackles against the Power in round 14 and collecting 20 or more disposals in four of the six games between rounds 17 and 22.

He earned a Rising Star nomination in round 18 that rewarded his consistent form in the back pocket as well as his 10 bounces in the game against the Giants the previous Saturday.

Williams was solid in the Elimination Final loss to Port, kicking his second goal of the season and laying four tackles. His ability to win his position most weeks saw him poll enough votes to place seventh in the Copeland Trophy less than two years after being plucked from country Western Australia and added to the club’s rookie list.

Much was expected of the 21-year-old after he ended the 2013 season ranked seventh in the Copeland Trophy, but he was forced to put his on-field aspirations on the back burner as a much publicised court case played out in Western Australia.

Once he returned to football, Williams spent just one week in the VFL before earning a call up to the senior side to tackle Carlton in round seven.

He won 17 disposals against the Blues and held his place for the remainder of the year, missing just one game – the return match against Carlton – through injury.

A consistent performer in the back pocket, Williams lifted his disposal average to 17.4 (up from 16.8 in 2013) and illustrated his ability to move into the midfield late in the season when given an opportunity in the wet against Greater Western Sydney in round 22.

2015 Statistics (averages in brackets)
Disposals: 245 (20.4), Marks: 42 (3.5), Tackles: 32 (2.7), Rebound 50s: 51 (4.3), Spoils: 20 (1.7)