CHEER LOYAL SON

From the 1933 grand fi­nal on this su­per fan has had the Bloods run­ning through his veins, writes Neil Neil Cordy Cordy

The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - - SPORT -

THERE are fa­nat­i­cal sup­port­ers, the guys you see decked out in war paint, wav­ing their flags with ma­ni­a­cal grins on their faces. Then there’s Kenny Wil­liams — as syn­ony­mous with the Swans as Bob Sk­il­ton, Adam Goodes and War­wick Cap­per’s short shorts.

Wil­liams was one of the 75,754 fans who at­tended South Mel­bourne’s 1933 grand fi­nal vic­tory over Richmond, cheer­ing on the likes of club greats Bob Pratt and Lau­rie Nash.

It took an­other 72 years be­fore the Swans tasted premier­ship suc­cess again, but this time Wil­liams was at the heart of cel­e­bra­tion, lead­ing them in one of the loud­est ren­di­tions of “cheer, cheer, the red and the white” ever heard in the bow­els of the MCG.

He was back again in 2012, roar­ing his lungs out as Swans play­ers grinned from ear to ear after vic­tory over Hawthorn.

Hav­ing turned 89 this month, time may be slow­ing the Swans’ most pas­sion­ate fan but, like any age­ing vet­eran of the game, he still des­per­ately craves one more flag.

The part-time drink mixer and full-time Swans fa­natic thinks this group of tal­ented play­ers should snare one more flag to se­cure their legacy.

“I’m like Bob Sk­il­ton, we both want one more (premier­ship),” Wil­liams said. “I hope we can get one. We were stiff a cou­ple of years ago against the Bull­dogs. This might be the team, we’ve got some good young blokes and you only need a few of them. You don’t need a lot, just some good ones.”

Wil­liams has seen some very good ones over the years.

He was there when Tony Lock­ett kicked 10 against the Swans play­ing for St Kilda in 1994.

Wil­liams rose to fame when Plug­ger tried to take his head off with a low kick from the goal square.

It was aimed in his di­rec­tion when he sat in his usual spot in the front row of the No­ble Stand.

When the big bloke switched to the Swans in 1995, they be­came in­stant friends. Lock­ett changed ev­ery­thing for Syd­ney and now Lance Franklin is do­ing the same.

Wil­liams grew up in Port Mel­bourne and when he wasn’t sup­port­ing the Swans he rode track work at Flem­ing­ton. He mixed with plenty of colour­ful per­son­al­i­ties at the track but few could match his re­mark­able fam­ily his­tory.

His fa­ther was half Chero­kee Na­tive Amer­i­can and an Amer­i­can ser­vice­man who jumped ship to be with his mother in the late 1920s.

Wil­liams had two sib­lings, a sis­ter who died in in­fancy and a brother who died in the 1970s.

He thought he was an or­phan but in 1999 his daugh­ter Diane dis­cov­ered he had 15 broth­ers and sis­ters liv­ing in Louisville, Ken­tucky. He cel­e­brated his 70th birth­day with a re­union in the US in 2000 and was thrilled to find they shared his love of horses and were in­volved in the rac­ing in­dus­try.

Wil­liams moved to Syd­ney in 1949, with the Swans fol­low­ing him in 1983. He en­trenched him­self with the team in the early 1990s when Ron Barassi asked him to come and help out.

“He said ‘come on Kenny, why don’t you get off your arse and do some work’,” Wil­liams said.

“I ran wa­ter and what­ever else the club wanted me to do. When Rocket Eade came along, he looked after me and took us from the bot­tom to the grand fi­nal in 1996. He started me singing the vic­tory song.”

He’s led the cho­rus at ev­ery home win since with the ex­cep­tion of one match in Eade’s first sea­son.

“This day, the Swans had won but they weren’t very good,” Wil­liams said. “Rocket said to me, ‘Kenny, don’t worry about com­ing into the rooms we’re not go­ing to sing the song’. He was right be­cause they were aw­ful.”

Wil­liams’ wife Yvonne has also played a key role with the Swans, host­ing din­ners for gen­er­a­tions of play­ers. Like his chil­dren and grand­chil­dren, Wil­liams loves all Swans play­ers equally but there a cou­ple more ‘equal’ than oth­ers.

“I don’t have favourites but Paul Kelly and Wayne Sch­wass were two of the nicest peo­ple you could meet,” Wil­liams said. “I’ve been in­volved all these years and have been treated very well by the club. Yvonne and I were made life mem­bers in 2000. I’ve seen some good play­ers come and go.

“When Wayne re­tired, he wrote me a nice let­ter and gave me his boots after his last game.”

Ken Wil­liams leads the cel­e­bra­tions after the 2012 grand fi­nal and (be­low) at the SCG on Fri­day night. Pic­tures: Alex Cop­pel, Phil Hill­yard

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