Hat-trick hero swaps goals for pipes
CARL MARSTON catches up with former Colchester United striker, GARETH WILLIAMS, who five years ago to the day scored a hat-trick in Phil Parkinson's first match on the Layer Road hot-seatTODAY is the fifth anniversary of Phil Parkinson's first match in charge of Colchester United.
CARL MARSTON catches up with former Colchester United striker, GARETH WILLIAMS, who five years ago to the day scored a hat-trick in Phil Parkinson's first match on the Layer Road hot-seat
TODAY is the fifth anniversary of Phil Parkinson's first match in charge of Colchester United.
Parkinson kicked off his successful managerial reign at Layer Road with a 4-1 victory over Port Vale on March 1, 2003, thanks to a hat-trick from Gareth Williams and one from Joe Keith.
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It is common knowledge what has happened to Parkinson since that unforgettable first game. After more than three years with the U's, guiding them to promotion to the Championship and several lucrative Cup runs, the 40-year-old had a nightmarish four-month stint as Hull City's manager before settling into his current role as assistant manager to Alan Pardew at Charlton.
But what of hat-trick hero Williams? There has been no fairytale story for the deadly Welsh marksman.
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Instead, he has spent the last couple of years playing in non-league with Bromley Town, and is now training to be a plumber.
“I can't believe that it's five years since that Port Vale game. I was involved in some important matches early in my career, but that has to be my best ever game,” recalled Williams.
“These days I've got used to playing part-time. I've combined this with some coaching in schools, although now I'm in the middle of an intensive plumbing course.
“I have still got ambitions to play full-time again, but it hasn't worked out yet. I went across to Oxford United to train with them a couple of weeks ago, but it just wasn't the right time for me, because I'd already paid up for the plumbing course. That should be something to fall back on,” added Williams.
Former Crystal Palace trainee Williams, who is now aged 25, initially had a couple of loan spells with the U's in early 2003 and again in the spring of 2004. He finally signed a permanent deal in September, 2004.
The Cardiff-born striker, who also played on loan for Cambridge United, Bournemouth and Blackpool during his professional career, scored a total of 15 goals in 77 league and cup appearances (40 of these as a substitute) for Colchester.
He was released by the U's during the summer of 2006, and found himself lacking a pre-season and so dropped into non-league.
And the former Welsh under-21 international has proved a big hit at Bromley, averaging exactly a goal every two games - 45 goals in 90 outings.
He helped the Kent club to clinch promotion last season, from the Ryman League Premier Division, and they are sitting comfortably in mid-table in their first campaign in Blue Square South.
In fact, he scored his 15th goal of the season in a 1-1 draw at Basingstoke Town last weekend.
Williams continued: “It's going well for me at Bromley. I'm scoring lots of goals, and I'm enjoying playing under coach Bobby Bowry (another former Colchester and Crystal Palace player).
“I still see some of my old Colchester team-mates. I went to the recent Crystal Palace versus Charlton game, and caught up with the likes of Chris Iwelumo, Neil Danns and Greg Halford.
“I also speak regularly with Kemi Izzet, and stay in touch with Pat Baldwin and Richard Garcia (now Hull),” added Williams.