SOME numbers mean more than others.

At Port Adelaide, there is:

No. 1, reserved for the captain since Clifford Keal led the team in 1926 (with a few extraordinary exceptions at a club that had no guernsey numbers for the first three decades).

No. 7, forever to be remembered for the club's longest-serving and most-decorated player, Russell Ebert.

And No. 9.

In the past week there has been both sombre reflection and more celebration with two men who have carried the number with honour and pride for the Port Adelaide Football Club across the past 50 years.

Stephen Williams last week posted on social media seven photographs and eight words written with emotion (and a tearful emoji) that read with the sadness that extends beyond the Williams family.

"34 years without you, heart is still broken"

More than three decades have passed since Anthony Williams, aged 29, died in a building accident in suburban Adelaide.

It was Stephen, then aged 27 and the youngest of the Fos and Von Williams' four children, who went to rescue Anthony after a wall fell on him during a renovation project.

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Anthony Williams' tribute game: RND 4, 1988 - PTV

John Cahill and Tim Ginever reflect on one of the most emotional wins in Port Adelaide's history - the day after the tragic death of Anthony Williams.

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Anthony Williams wore the No.9 guernsey at Port Adelaide while continuing a family dynasty across 101 SANFL league games from 1979-1985. After his death on April 29, 1988, Anthony Williams became the spirit within many Port Adelaide victories, starting with that emotion-driven fightback from a five-goal deficit at half-time against Norwood at The Parade.

Stephen Williams made his own name in South Australian football, in particular as a coach with three league premierships (1996, 1998 and 1999) when the SANFL conditions on Port Adelaide's entry to the AFL in 1997 forced the club to split - and disassociate - its State league and national competition operations and interests.

This did not stop Anthony Williams' spirit being part of Port Adelaide's AFL story, however. His twin brother, Mark, while coaching Port Adelaide in the AFL from 1999-2010 repeatedly spoke of how he looked for players with special appeal to don the No.9 at Alberton.

Just as the Port Adelaide Football Club reflects in late April each year with a home-game tribute to the Anzacs who paid the ultimate sacrifice at war, Stephen Williams does - and many more of the Port Adelaide family should - take that emotional moment to remember Anthony Williams.

Lest anyone forget. His spirit does live on.

From Season 2013, the No. 9 jumper has been worn by a generational player who will definitely be hailed in club and national halls of fame: Robbie Gray (who wore No. 17 for 70 senior matches during his first six seasons at Alberton).

Robbie Gray in a 2013 clash with Richmond, the year he adopted the No. 9 guernsey. Image: AFL Photos.

Gray took on the No. 9 when he was coming back from a horrific leg injury. He has lived up to everything that guernsey should represent from the white panel at the back - regardless of whether there are black-and-white bars or a teal and white V neck line on the front of the jumper.

Yet again, Gray has won four much-needed premiership points for Port Adelaide with the last score of the game, this time a behind against St Kilda at Cazalys Stadium in Cairns on Saturday night.

The list of Gray's late or after-the-siren match-winning kicks grows - 2021: For second spot (and home finals) against the Western Bulldogs in round 23 at the Docklands; and from a challenging angle, 45 metres from goal at Adelaide Oval after out-positioning Richmond defender Jayden Short; 2020: The "ice cold" goal on the boundary after the siren at the Gabba against Carlton; 2017: The smooth exit from a boundary throw-in taking the tap from Patrick Ryder to score the winning goal against St Kilda at Adelaide Oval, while wearing long sleeves.

There also were the last-quarter goals that put Port Adelaide in front - and on the path to victory - against Richmond in 2020, Carlton in 2014, Sydney in 2013 and Hawthorn in 2009.

No AFL player has had so many match-winning moments for his club.

Robbie Gray celebrates with his teammates after kicking the winning goal against St Kilda in the dying seconds in 2017. Image: AFL Photos.

As modest as he is brilliant, 34-year-old Gray is true to everything Mark Williams meant when he spoke of the care he took in assigning the No. 9 guernsey to a young player at Alberton.

Much more than a graceful footballer, Gray has battled horrific injury with the broken leg suffered in his last game in the No. 17 jumper in round 2, 2012 against Collingwood at the Docklands; and he has overcome cancer diagnosed at the end of the 2017 season.

In calling Gray at No. 55 in the 2006 AFL national draft - with its fourth pick after starting with future captain Travis Boak - Port Adelaide claimed a rare footballer who merits first-round draft status and stands as a first-grade mentor as a player and human.

Williams coached Port Adelaide's inaugural Showdown skipper Brayden Lyle, the Showdown specialist Josh Carr, Magarey Medallist James Ezard and the energetic Jacob Surjan in the No. 9 guernsey at Port Adelaide.

Mark Williams' part in his family's Port Adelaide dynasty is celebrated for the breakthrough 2004 AFL premiership. Stephen Williams' held together his club's rights as a foundation member of the SANFL when the Port Adelaide Football Club was being torn apart by political battles between the AFL and SANFL and men seeking to settle old scores.

Many have wondered how Anthony Williams would have made his mark on the Port Adelaide Football Club had tragedy not denied him on April 29, 1988. The legacy is very clear today in that spirit that lives in the No. 9 jumper and is so respectfully honoured by Robbie Gray.