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As Richmond officially confirmed last week that Mark ‘Choco’ Williams would not be offered a new contract for next year the rumour mill began to immediately speculate on what club Williams could potentially end up at next. Of course former club Port Adelaide has been mentioned as an unlikely yet possible destination.
Ken Hinkley seemed to immediately dismiss the link to Mark Williams when interviewed on 5AA last Thursday evening but Port Adelaide is in the process of overhauling the current coaching structure at Alberton which will make positions available. Assistant coach Garry Hocking leaves the Power after seven years of service and Shaun Hart moves to a new role working with the Port Adelaide Academy and Development program. As a result he vacates his current position as Coaching Director. Discussion is believed to also be taking place on a possible change in role for current Midfield Manager Michael Voss. Really the only coach at Port Adelaide who gets a pass mark in 2016 is defensive coach Nathan Bassett who has done a great job with limited resources.
Every club is looking for something different in the type of coach and personality they want to bring into their club. Often the model has been to try and attract personnel from a winning team. When Ken Hinkley himself got the Port Adelaide job part of the appeal was his work as an assistant in the successful Geelong team. With Brisbane in search of a new coach the sustained success of Hawthorn will no doubt be one of the reasons Brett Ratten is expected to come into their calculations.
Players who have worked with Choco certainly speak glowingly about him. At Richmond in particular he has done a lot of work with Dustin Martin who has elevated his game this season, and Kane Cornes still to this day talks about what a profound affect Choco has had on his career. But you cannot help but think if he was doing such a brilliant job then Richmond would be extending his tenure. Then again Richmond have rewarded Damian Hardwick with a contract so who knows what logic exists at the club. Player development in general has been a long term issue at Tigerland, a role that Choco has had high input and involvement with since his arrival at the end of 2012.
When contemplating a return it is almost impossible to ignore the manner in which Mark Williams left Port Adelaide midway through 2010. The reality is the decision for Williams to move on should have been made earlier. In his last five years of senior coaching he only had a winning percentage over 50% in one of those five seasons.
There certainly is a level of romanticism involved in a Choco return but it would take a miracle. The Williams name is synonymous with Alberton after a long and proud history and one of the great moments in Port Adelaide history will forever be the 2004 premiership but that should simply remain as a distant, fond memory.
The AFL is a results driven industry and Mark Williams has not been involved at a club that has won a finals match since 2007. Those finals victories somewhat overshadowed by a losing Grand Final which is the biggest losing margin in VFL/AFL history. When a relationship breaks down and a possible reconciliation is on the cards we often hear the phrase “Never go back to an ex” It seems appropriate advice when it comes to former coaches as well.