Port Adelaide premiership coach Mark Williams has revealed that he was offered the Essendon coaching job the week before the 2007 Grand Final.
‘Choco’, who previously worked at the Bombers as an assistant coach under Kevin Sheedy, revealed the approach came in the week leading up to the Power’s Grand Final clash that year against Geelong.
Williams also went through his near-miss at St Kilda for the senior job, eventually being overlooked for recently sacked coach Alan Richardson.
Williams told the Herald Sun’s Sacked podcast of the events that transpired.
“St Kilda were certainly trying to get me and Essendon, the week before the 2007 Grand Final (Dons CEO) Peter Jackson offered me the job and I said, “We need to wait”.
“And that week he announced Matthew Knights as the coach and I just couldn’t believe it … Couldn’t believe it.”
“I have spoken to people who know Mark Thompson, He thought he was going to coach there as well. (Essendon said) ‘we want you to be the coach’. I was thinking (waiting) was the respectful thing to do.
“I have no idea what happened anyway but that’s a bit of history.”
Williams also came notoriously close to the Essendon job in 2010, following the sacking of Matthew Knights.
Having been sacked by the Power only months prior, Williams applied for the role at Windy Hill, which was eventually landed by Bombers legend James Hird, who had originally applied for a senior assistant role at his former club.
Williams says he suggested that the club secure the likes of Simon Goodwin, Dean Wallis and Sean Wellman, who all ended up at the club in 2011.
“It is really interesting that one because I went to a three-hour interview where I gave them my heart and soul, they then brought me back for another three-hour interview where they wanted me to answer all these questions. It was extensive, lots of questions, I am basically saying all these things should happen,” Williams said.
The 61-year-old says he pitched a succession plan scenario to James Hird, in which Hird would take over from Williams as senior coach after a few years.
“I rang James Hird up, ‘James, I will do this for two or three years and you can take over’.
“Now remembering that James and I are very good friends, I went to his wedding, and unfortunately he never said to me that things were happening in the background.
“I actually said that to them (Essendon) in the interview … ‘Am I wasting my time here because this is what I am hearing’.
“They said, ‘No. That’s not (the case)’.”
Williams told of how he learned his fate over the Dons’ top job, learning the news after flying home following interviews with the Bombers’ selection committee.
“I was thinking that I was going to get that job, I got on a plane and by the time I got home from the plane flight of the second (interview, Hird had the job).”
In a broad-ranging interview, Williams also spoke at length about his departure from the Power, as well as his iconic celebrations immediately in the aftermath of the 2004 premiership victory over Brisbane.