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by Lisa Albergo reporting for AFANA from Chicago

Just one day before Port Adelaide was to play Collingwood, Port Coach Mark Williams was summoned to meet club chairman Brett Duncanson at his home. A long discussion took place in which Duncanson pointed out the toll the club's poor performances - the club has lost eight straight games - has taken on Williams and his family. In the end, Williams agreed with Duncanson that it was time to step down as coach after 15 years. The end came so suddenly and swiftly that none of the coaching staff was aware of it until the announcement was made.

This comes after a split board decision last year to reappoint Williams until the end of next season. However, with the club in dire financial straits, the board cut his salary, believed to have been $800,000 a year, in half. Williams, the son of SANFL legend Fos Williams, fronted the media for an emotional, tearful press conference. The meeting with the playing group to make his announcement was apparently even more emotional. During the press conference, Williams had to abandon part of his prepared statement. He told the media that the time had come to step aside for the good of the club. He thanked the club, the players and the supporters, saying it had been a great journey.

Duncanson praised Williams for his caring, saying that Williams had always put the club ahead of himself. He also said, "Great leaders leave places better than they found them, and this is the case with Mark Williams." Williams, at one point, managed to crack a joke saying he was leaving due to illness and fatigue, that "the supporters have become sick and tired of me".

Williams, whose wife is from Melbourne, plans to return to Melbourne and is hopeful of finding another coaching position within AFL ranks. However, a speculated move to join Kevin Sheedy at the Greater Western Sydney team is not likely to be on the cards as it is believed neither he nor his family want to shift to Sydney.

Retired ruckman and current assistant coach Matthew Primus will step into the senior role for the remainder of the season. It is believed Dean Laidley was Williams' first choice to take over. However Laidley told club officials he does not want the job now or next year. He said he was not interested in coaching another financially embattled club. Laidley quit as coach of North Melbourne, which is also having financial difficulties, in mid-season last year.

MARK WILLIAMS
1979 - Plays in SANFL premiership with Port Adelaide.

1980 - Wins All-Australian selection and plays in another flag with Port Adelaide (SANFL).

1981 - Debuts for Collingwood, wins the club Best and Fairest, represents Victoria and plays in the Magpies’ losing Grand Final side.

1983 - Appointed Collingwood Captain.

1984 - Leads Collingwood's goal kicking with 53 goals.

1985 - Wins his second Collingwood Best and Fairest.

1986 - After 135 games and 178 goals, Williams leaves Collingwood to join the newly formed Brisbane Bears and is appointed Vice-Captain.

1987 - Member of the first ever Brisbane Bears side.

1990 - Becomes the first SANFL player to play 200 games at VFL/AFL level. Retires from Brisbane after 66 games and 58 goals. Returns to Port Adelaide in the SANFL to play in his third Premiership.

1992 - Retires as a player after another Port Adelaide SANFL flag.

1993 - Appointed senior coach of SANFL club Glenelg.

1995 - Leaves Glenelg to become an assistant coach to Kevin Sheedy at Essendon.

1997 - Joins new AFL club Port Adelaide Power as an assistant coach under Coach John Cahill.

1999 - Williams succeeds John Cahill as senior Coach for Port.

2002 - Port Adelaide finishes in first place. They lose to Collingwood in a qualifying final, defeat Essendon in a semi-final, but lose to a rampaging Brisbane in the preliminary final.

2003 - Again Port finishes in first place. They lose to Sydney in a qualifying final, again lose a semi-final to Essendon and go down to Collingwood in the preliminary final.

After consecutive finals losses, Port Adleiade picked up the dubious reputation of being finals "chokers". That all changed the following year.

2004 - Port again finishes on top, but this time they win their two finals games against Geelong and St Kilda to make it to the Grand Final. Coach Mark Williams famously made a choking gesture as he made his way on to the boundary line to watch the final few minutes of the game, in which Port defeated Brisbane for their first AFL Premiership. Williams is named All-Australian Coach.

2007 - Port is humiliated to the tune of 119 points (a record margin) by Geelong in the Grand Final.

2009 - After much conjecture about his future, Williams comes to an uneasy truce with Port by signing a two year coaching deal.

2010 - Publicly announces after the Round 14 debacle against Fremantle that he is unlikely to be re-signed as Port coach unless he can deliver a premiership this year or next. One week later, Williams steps down as coach.

His record at Port was 151 wins from 273 games with a 55% winning percentage.

Source: Herald Sun, Melbourne Age, afl.com.au

Article last changed on Monday, July 12, 2010 - 8:16 PM EDT


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