From U's to Bromley for Williams
IT IS almost a year to the day since Gareth Williams made his last league appearance for Colchester United.And while the U's have gone on to take the Championship by storm this season, sitting proudly in 10th spot, former striker Williams has had to resurrect his career down the divisions at non-league Bromley.
By Carl Marston
By Carl Marston
IT IS almost a year to the day since Gareth Williams made his last league appearance for Colchester United.
And while the U's have gone on to take the Championship by storm this season, sitting proudly in 10th spot, former striker Williams has had to resurrect his career down the divisions at non-league Bromley.
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Not much has gone right for ex-Welsh under-21 international Williams since he left Layer Road last summer.
His final league outing for Phil Parkinson's Colchester side was as a substitute in the frustrating 1-0 defeat at Barnsley on February 25, 2006. Just six days earlier, he had also come on as a substitute in the FA Cup fifth-round tie at Chelsea.
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Williams and the rest of the U's team played in front of a crowd of 41,810 at Stamford Bridge, with millions more watching on Sky TV.
By contrast, a crowd of just 238 watched Williams' latest appearance in Bromley's 4-1 win at Staines Town on February 20. The Welshman scored the fourth goal to propel his Kent team to the top of the Ryman League Premier Division - although they lost top spot to AFC Wimbledon on Saturday, due to the Dons' 3-2 win over Billericay and their own postponement at Horsham.
Williams is confident that Bromley, who are coached by another former Colchester United favourite - Bobby Bowry - will win promotion this term, even though they face fierce competition from leaders AFC Wimbledon and pursuers Chelmsford City, Margate, Billericay and Hampton & Richmond.
His long-term aim, however, is to turn professional again and sign for a Football League club.
“It's not really gone well for me since I left Colchester, and I'm not playing at the level that I would like,” admitted Williams last night.
“I had a bad pre-season. I was all ready to sign for Torquay United, but the manager, Ian Atkins, went and signed somebody else. I thought the deal was done. The manager didn't return my calls and I didn't hear from him again.
“That left me in the lurch. I trained with a few other clubs, mostly Conference clubs, but I was playing catch-up with my fitness because I didn't have a pre-season. I couldn't prove myself.
“But it's been going well for me at Bromley. People have assumed that I signed because Mark Goldberg, the old Crystal Palace chairman, was Bromley's manager. But that wasn't the case. He had left Palace before I was there.
“The main factor was Bobby Bowry. I played with him during my first loan spell at Colchester. We knew each other and I have a lot of respect for him.
“I've scored 16 goals in the league and cup this season. I see this season as a stepping stone for me to get back into the Football League, but my contract extends for next season as well. There's just an agreement that I can move if a professional club comes in for me,” added Williams.
Cardiff-born Williams is doing a lot of coaching in schools around the Bromley area during the week and, coupled with playing most weekends, he has not had a chance to return to Layer Road to watch a game this season.
But he added: “Everyone in football thought that Colchester would go down this season, but I know the quality that they have there.
“I always keep an eye on their results, and I'm not surprised that Layer Road has been a fortress for them. There was always a chance that was has happened could happen. George (Geraint Williams) has got the best out of the team.”