100-game milestone for reliable Roos’ defender

Cameron NewboldAlbany Advertiser
Marley Williams celebrates a goal for the Kangaroos.
Camera IconMarley Williams celebrates a goal for the Kangaroos. Credit: Getty

Albany-raised footballer Marley Williams will become one of the few local AFL players to reach 100 games, when he achieves the significant personal milestone on Saturday for North Melbourne.

Williams, who played for North Albany in the Great Southern Football League, has put aside a troubled start to his AFL career to become one of the most reliable small defenders in the competition.

Drafted from Claremont, the lockdown defender played 68 games across five seasons at Collingwood before he was traded to the Kangaroos at the end of 2016.

However, the fresh start was just what Williams needed as he produced a superb first half of 2017 and was an equal leader of the Syd Harper Medal after 10 rounds for the Kangaroos fairest and best.

A back injury sustained in round 14 ended his season early but Williams has again been a strong contributor this season, averaging 13.4 disposals per game.

North Melbourne defender Marley Williams handballs under pressure.
Camera IconNorth Melbourne defender Marley Williams handballs under pressure. Credit: Adam Trafford/AFL Media/Getty Images

The 25-year-old has played every game for the Kangaroos this season and will play a vital role in their defence in the final four rounds as they push to play finals.

Williams has beaten fellow North Albany product and West Coast Eagles star Jeremy McGovern, who is a year older, to the 100-game milestone.

Williams’ former coach at North Albany, Craig Dew, praised him for his professionalism that has allowed him to play games regularly.

“When he wasn’t injured at Collingwood he was nearly their first choice small back,” Dew said.

“Getting traded, he’s really turned him career around at North Melbourne where he’s been so valuable.

“He plays that lockdown role beautifully and rarely gets beaten.

Flashback: Williams with fellow North Albany colts Jeremy McGovern, and Josh Bootsma, the trio having all played in the AFL.
Camera IconFlashback: Williams with fellow North Albany colts Jeremy McGovern, and Josh Bootsma, the trio having all played in the AFL. Credit: Astrid Volzke

“Marley was a supremely talented junior who had his off-field dramas but he’s put that all behind him and has become a really professional footballer.

“It’s a fair achievement (100 games) and he’s in career best form in the last two years.

“He’s extremely happy at North Melbourne, loves the environment and I’m really proud of the person he’s become.”

Williams will play game 100 against Brisbane at the Gabba on Saturday afternoon.

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