Why is Diesel never in the G. O. A. T. conversation?

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Jabba73

Brownlow Medallist
Oct 11, 2009
28,112
62,185
Echuca
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Carlton
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Vixens
Greg Williams early career:
1985 (age 21): 22 games, AFLPA MVP
1986 (age 22): 24 games, Brownlow medal
1987 (age 23): 22 games, All Australian

Greg Williams, the ‘lost years’
1988 (age 24): 17 games,
1989 (age 25): 17 games,
1990 (age 26): 11 games
1991 (age 27): 15 games
1992 (age 28): 16 games

Greg Williams second peak
1993 (age 29): 23 games, AA, robbed of Brownlow
1994 (age 30): 22 games, Brownlow
1995: (age 31): 17 games inc finals, Norm Smith medal

Greg Williams late career
1996 (age 32): 16 games
1997 (age 33): 13 games, retired

As a starting point, that’s a bizarre career. To be quite honest, his reputation suffered a lot because his prime years were in Sydney in a very different era, and interspersed with injury. He had some phenomenal games in that time that went unrecognised by both the public and the umpires, missed matches due to suspension and suspension and played for a team that ranged from mediocre to awful.

Align this with controversy. He wasn’t well liked within the footy community, and managed almost the complete set of bad boy behaviour:
- under the table salary cap payments from the Swans (11 match suspension)
- racial vilification
- pushing an umpire (9 week suspension)
- a range of other on field incidents - gouging, kneeing, etc And a reputation for verballing umpires

And add a mercenary air. Geelong took a flyer on Williams, who made a name for himself then bolted for Sydney for more cash. Then left Sydney for Carlton who made him the highest paid player in the league.

So basically, while he’s begrudgingly acknowledged as a phenomenal player, his best years were somewhat wasted, and his career was marred by the perception of him as an awful bloke and a mercenary. So yeah, not the GOAT
That 9 game suspension for pushing the umpire was a ridiculous overreaction and time hasn’t diminished how wrong it was. He wasn’t even looking at the umpire, was simply getting rid of the person who was constantly getting in his face while he was looking for that dirty flog Denham.

Fair enough on the other stuff though, got what he deserved.
 

tarczonandjane

All Australian
Oct 3, 2015
644
2,753
AFL Club
Carlton
As a starting point, that’s a bizarre career. To be quite honest, his reputation suffered a lot because his prime years were in Sydney in a very different era, and interspersed with injury. He had some phenomenal games in that time that went unrecognised by both the public and the umpires, missed matches due to suspension and suspension and played for a team that ranged from mediocre to awful.
a really interesting post, btdg. You’ve raised some great points. My only question is with regard to the bolded text where you say he wasn’t recognised by the public.

I grew up in Hobart, so our tv coverage may have been different. But in those days, there wasn’t a heap of live footy on free to air. The exception was the Swans, who almost religiously played every second Sunday afternoon at the SCG and were beamed down south. I reckon many of those Swans’ players at the time (Tony Morwood, Tony Daniher, Barry Round, Barry Mitchell, Warwick Capper, Merv Neagle, Stevie Wright, etc.) got coverage in the southern states that comparable players could only have dreamed of. I remember Williams being regarded as the best player in that team. So I’m surprised you say the public didn’t recognise his efforts at the time?
 

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Gavstar

Premiership Player
Sep 15, 2011
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My top 5 players in my time is:

1. Leigh Matthews
2. Wayne Carey
3. Tony Lockett
4. Gary Ablett Snr
5. Greg Williams

After that i have trouble seperating the, guessable by all, next 10 or 15 players. But those 5 are clear cut in my mind.

My biggest footy regret is there was very little vision of Diesel's time at Geelong. Mr Football says the footy that Williams and Ablett Snr put together, in the centre and wing respectively, down there was EASILY the best footy he has ever seen. They were young, uninjured, untagged and playing attacking footy under Hafey. Must have been a sight to see.

Diesel has 2 Brownlows, Umpire robbed him of another, and Healy has said his virtually belongs to Diesel. Made teammates better. Finished it off with 5 goals in a Premiership as a broken down old man. A footy genius and in every decent judge's best team of the past 50 years.

Not the GOAT, but in the convo for most.
I can remember Healy saying that whenever a pack formed he and his team mates would start running because they knew a Williams handball to them was coming.

I also liked him saying he never started anything but always got his own back.

Most skillfull player I've ever seen. Better player than Ablett Jnr, with 2 more possessions a game in a time that possessions where harder to get and under more physical attention.
 

Jabba73

Brownlow Medallist
Oct 11, 2009
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I can remember Healy saying that whenever a pack formed he and his team mates would start running because they knew a Williams handball to them was coming.

I also liked him saying he never started anything but always got his own back.

Most skillfull player I've ever seen. Better player than Ablett Jnr, with 2 more possessions a game in a time that possessions where harder to get and under more physical attention.
Meh, not even the best player in his family named Gary Ablett.
 

1981

Norm Smith Medallist
Oct 21, 2008
7,432
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Fair point.
Best midfielder I ever saw.
I don'tr buy the he is a flog argument. I mean Ablett and Carey are often cited, duh!
I think it is a perception thing. He doesn't look the athlete.
 

Blue Pulse

Premiership Player
Mar 19, 2014
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People rate Matthews as the GOAT, he is the only player to face assault charges at the highest level from actions on the football field, but I guess he has that Hawthorn good bloke factor?
 

Wallaby

Norm Smith Medallist
May 8, 2007
9,446
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Hi guys. Just thought I'd drop in and say I am continually baffled why Williams is not spoken about more highly. Absolutely great player - played the best individual game I have seen - the 53-possession game for the Swans. His 95 Grand Final was something else again.

He's in my best team I have ever seen (along with Jezza and Doull - don't worry, there's about 14 Richmond players in there :cool:).
 

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Metalcrusher

Bush Chook
Jan 22, 2015
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Greg Williams early career:
1985 (age 21): 22 games, AFLPA MVP
1986 (age 22): 24 games, Brownlow medal
1987 (age 23): 22 games, All Australian

Greg Williams, the ‘lost years’
1988 (age 24): 17 games,
1989 (age 25): 17 games,
1990 (age 26): 11 games
1991 (age 27): 15 games
1992 (age 28): 16 games

Greg Williams second peak
1993 (age 29): 23 games, AA, robbed of Brownlow
1994 (age 30): 22 games, Brownlow
1995: (age 31): 17 games inc finals, Norm Smith medal

Greg Williams late career
1996 (age 32): 16 games
1997 (age 33): 13 games, retired

As a starting point, that’s a bizarre career. To be quite honest, his reputation suffered a lot because his prime years were in Sydney in a very different era, and interspersed with injury. He had some phenomenal games in that time that went unrecognised by both the public and the umpires, missed matches due to suspension and suspension and played for a team that ranged from mediocre to awful.

Align this with controversy. He wasn’t well liked within the footy community, and managed almost the complete set of bad boy behaviour:
- under the table salary cap payments from the Swans (11 match suspension)
- racial vilification
- pushing an umpire (9 week suspension)
- a range of other on field incidents - gouging, kneeing, etc And a reputation for verballing umpires

And add a mercenary air. Geelong took a flyer on Williams, who made a name for himself then bolted for Sydney for more cash. Then left Sydney for Carlton who made him the highest paid player in the league.

So basically, while he’s begrudgingly acknowledged as a phenomenal player, his best years were somewhat wasted, and his career was marred by the perception of him as an awful bloke and a mercenary. So yeah, not the GOAT
Never in my lifetime have I seen a bloke that was so slow be almost everywhere the ball was, normally 1-2 steps in front of the current play. His field vision was magic like. The way he directed passages of play by FORCING players to move to a position they hadn't contemplated was phenominal.
 

Blue and Blue

Norm Smith Medallist
Jul 29, 2018
7,597
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On the glory road
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Greg Williams early career:
1985 (age 21): 22 games, AFLPA MVP
1986 (age 22): 24 games, Brownlow medal
1987 (age 23): 22 games, All Australian

Greg Williams, the ‘lost years’
1988 (age 24): 17 games,
1989 (age 25): 17 games,
1990 (age 26): 11 games
1991 (age 27): 15 games
1992 (age 28): 16 games

Greg Williams second peak
1993 (age 29): 23 games, AA, robbed of Brownlow
1994 (age 30): 22 games, Brownlow
1995: (age 31): 17 games inc finals, Norm Smith medal

Greg Williams late career
1996 (age 32): 16 games
1997 (age 33): 13 games, retired

As a starting point, that’s a bizarre career. To be quite honest, his reputation suffered a lot because his prime years were in Sydney in a very different era, and interspersed with injury. He had some phenomenal games in that time that went unrecognised by both the public and the umpires, missed matches due to suspension and suspension and played for a team that ranged from mediocre to awful.

Align this with controversy. He wasn’t well liked within the footy community, and managed almost the complete set of bad boy behaviour:
- under the table salary cap payments from the Swans (11 match suspension)
- racial vilification
- pushing an umpire (9 week suspension)
- a range of other on field incidents - gouging, kneeing, etc And a reputation for verballing umpires

And add a mercenary air. Geelong took a flyer on Williams, who made a name for himself then bolted for Sydney for more cash. Then left Sydney for Carlton who made him the highest paid player in the league.

So basically, while he’s begrudgingly acknowledged as a phenomenal player, his best years were somewhat wasted, and his career was marred by the perception of him as an awful bloke and a mercenary. So yeah, not the GOAT
Terrific post. Couldn't agree more.
 

Leigh58

Rookie
Jun 7, 2017
34
125
AFL Club
St Kilda
I know I’ll get plenty of disagreement here, but I have him as the best player I’ve seen at Carlton.

I started following the club in 1982. That means I didn’t see big Nick, Jezza, etc. Doull was towards the end of his career.

And if I put him up against SOS, Sticks, Braddles, Kouta, etc. I just think he had a way of commanding the game in a way that others didn’t. I remember when Parko compared him to a quarter back in the way he could influence the game. A magnificent player, and never underestimated in my eyes.
I am an outsider and much older, and saw a lot of the blues in their glory days. Diesel was great like many others.
From my perspective however big Nick was the most influential, especially on the big stage. As a neutral observer at a number of GF's, I can clearly remember the deafening roar at the G when big Nick and the arrogant navy blues were firing.
As has been well documented, Nicholls also had a rare presence about him, like no other player.
 

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