In what has been a dramatic off-season so far, the AFL will be hoping the new year brings in for a fresh change on the back of yet another off-field misdemeanour. This time, it’s Collingwood’s Marley Williams’ turn to be put in the spotlight.
The 19-year-old West Australian, who made his debut against Adelaide in 2012, had just come home from the club’s high altitude training camp in Utah. After arriving home on December 22nd, Williams travelled to his hometown of Albany to spend Christmas with his family. Five days later, he would be charged with assault at a local nightclub.
Details of the incident are scarce at this stage, but with the police handling the case, Collingwood have refrained from commenting during the investigation.
The incident comes a day after Melbourne footballers Jeremy Howe and James Frawley and ex-Demon Jared Rivers were removed from the Boxing Day Test for drunken behaviour.
Initially taken at pick 35 in the 2011 Rookie Draft, Williams was recently upgraded onto the senior list after a successful first year at the club, playing six games before suffering a season-ending shoulder injury.
Just over 12 months ago, Williams was considered a good chance to be selected in the National Draft but a few clubs were wary of his partying ways. He slipped to Collingwood in the Rookie Draft and until this incident, he had been a model citizen.
Dayle Garlett is a perfect example of how much off-field behaviour can affect one’s chances at an AFL club. Despite being considered a top 10 talent by a number of experts and arguably Western Australia’s best player at the Under-18 Championships, his off-field antics left him without an AFL club for the 2013 season.
Williams is extremely lucky that this incident comes after he has secured his future with Collingwood. In Garlett’s case, his issues before being drafted robbed him of the chance of spending an extra year on an AFL list, that being if he is able to turn things around and be selected in 2013.
While Williams is on Collingwood’s senior list and has done well to act responsible over the course of his first year, he no doubt has a lot of work ahead of him to regain the trust of the staff and fellow playing group after surely losing a great deal of it.
One can only hope that Williams and other young players soon realise that talent can only get you so far. They have received the chance of a lifetime by playing the game they love, but too many off-field misdemeanours can ruin a career before it’s even started.
With the AFL season still a couple of months away, all fans will be hoping that they don’t see their club in the papers for all the wrong reasons.