Senior Games: 305
Reserves Games: 8
3rds Games: 0
Senior Premiership: 1986, 1987, 1990, 2000
Team of the Century
BIG THINGS IN SMALL PACKAGES
THREE HUNDRED AND FIVE SENIOR GAMES—it rolls off the tongue pretty easily but just think about it a little. This represents at least fifteen years of continuous inclusion in the top team without any time off for injury, loss of form or changing styles of play that may make one unfashionable at the time. There is also the possibility of being regarded as too old, too small, slow or even hard to get along with as the case may be. Given that the player has to adjust to numerous different styles of coaching over such a long time, there are many ways of getting dropped.
THREE HUNDRED AND FIVE SENIOR GAMES—Only one other person in the hundred year history of the club has ever achieved this marvellous milestone—Bonnie Johnstone and in his case, the numbers are an estimate.
Willie Duff became associated with Chelsea’s Under 16 team in 1981. From there he progressed through the thirds and bypassed the seconds for inclusion in the senior team.
A lively and quick rover with an ability to find the goals, his senior debut coincided with the return of ruckman Ronnie Stubbs in 1983. Their relationship was very productive for the Gulls. Stubbs was an outstanding ruckman and quickly discovered that placing the ball anywhere in Willie’s vicinity generally resulted in a clearance.
At the tender age of 17 he had been inducted into senior football and would thrive in that domain for 18 seasons, an unbelievable performance for a lightly built player, but of course Willie was fast, very durable and able to take heavy knocks on those rare occasions that he did get caught.
Willie spent the majority of his time as a rover and proved himself to be an elite athlete as he covered huge distances every week with his on-ball duties.
It was only during his last fifty or so games that Willie was relegated to the back-pocket by a selection committee that thought he was in transition towards retirement. What a joke! Willie loved the change and proceeded to become aninvaluable part of Chelsea’s defence as he took on and thrashed many highly rated opponents during his twilight years.
At day’s end, Willie had the enviable record of having played in eight grand finals for four flags, pretty impressive by anyone’s standards. Joining the 300 club entitled Willie to Life Membership of the MPFL He was inducted in 2000.