‘I re­alised how im­por­tant it was. I stayed on and saw it through’

Cynon Valley - - YOUR VIEWS -

with­out know­ing there was some­one will­ing to lead the team as the club righted it­self, it wouldn’t have been so forth­com­ing. He had made a pledge not to walk, and so many of the play­ers did the same.

The morn­ing af­ter the news of the sit­u­a­tion broke, as sud­den as it was se­ri­ous, it was Wil­liams – not a club spokeper­son or of­fi­cial – that went pub­lic with a state­ment that vowed to fight on. It didn’t point fin­gers, it just pointed for­ward.

“I had to bury a lot of feel­ings,” he said.

“I wasn’t an­gry, more just re­ally dis­ap­pointed. I’d felt we’d built a squad to at least get to the play-offs again and having worked so hard to­gether, to see it all ripped away like that was hard be­cause, al­though we weren’t do­ing as well as we would have liked (Merthyr were sixth and nine points off the top at the time), I hon­estly be­lieve we could have achieved what we were aim­ing for.

“To have all that taken away was dif­fi­cult to stom­ach, let alone what we would face to try and put it right, but it wasn’t anger and the dis­ap­point­ment was less about my­self, it was for the sup­port­ers – who’ve been first class – and the play­ers who I’d brought to the club. I’d felt I’d let them down.

“I did think would it be best if I walked away, but I knew that would just cause more chaos. I re­alised how im­por­tant it was. I stayed on and saw it through.”

Yet it’s a sense of duty and be­long­ing to Peny­dar­ren Park that hasn’t al­ways been there for Wil­liams.

“It wasn’t part of my think­ing to be here,” he ex­plains, 18 months into his man­age­rial reign that came within a penalty shoot-out of a play-off fi­nal in his first full sea­son.

“My dad, Glyn, had passed away. I still had two years on my con­tract at Wok­ing but it was a tough time and I was in a bad place.

“I just wanted to come home and my re­ac­tion was to quit foot­ball. I didn’t want to play, didn’t want to be in­volved.

“I think I must have been home about a month and Gary Shep­herd, the man­ager at the time, rang and asked if I fan­cied a game.

“I told him I wasn’t in­ter­ested. No dis­re­spect, but I didn’t need to be play­ing for Merthyr, I just wanted to be home.

“The calls kept com­ing and even­tu­ally I thought I’d just go along to train­ing.

“All I’d known since a kid was foot­ball, it’s all I can do, it’s all I want to do. I got the love back straight away and I signed.”

Pro­mo­tion fol­lowed, as did an­other af­ter a spell as Steve Jenk­ins’ as­sis­tant be­fore tak­ing over in 2016.

With the club seem­ingly on the way up, prob­lems emerged when the Mar­tyrs ap­peared to start to get ahead of them­selves off the field.

“They tried to get me to tell the play­ers,” Wil­liams re­calls of that night.

“I wouldn’t. It wasn’t my mis­take. We hadn’t over­spent – in fact the bud­get had been slightly cut – and it wasn’t the play­ers’ fault.”

Yet Wil­liams ral­lied enough of them to stay and avoid more Che­shams.

“They’ve been amaz­ing, some of the play­ers,” he says. “Even the ones who left, about six or seven of them, all of­fered to stay for free, but they had of­fers from other clubs and they had to take them; they wanted to stay on the un­der­stand­ing the club would turn it around but I couldn’t guar­an­tee that, at least not this sea­son.

“I couldn’t give them that car­rot.

“The ones who’ve stayed have had crazy of­fers from the Welsh Premier League but have all said no and want to see this through.”

All who’ve stayed have taken re­duced wages, Wil­liams tar­get­ing those from the lo­cal area, both for team spirit but also be­cause it puts less pres­sure on trav­el­ling.

» turn to page 24

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.