OWAIN’S GLAD TO SEE ‘CRUEL’ SEA­SON END

The Football League Paper - - NEWS - By Jamie Holt

OWAIN fon Wil­liams says offfield dis­trac­tions were a con­tribut­ing fac­tor to Tran­mere’s rel­e­ga­tion – a sea­son he de­scribes as the tough­est of his ca­reer.

The for­mer Wales U21 in­ter­na­tional watched on as boss Ron­nie Moore was sus­pended in Fe­bru­ary, and then sacked by the club in April, for breach­ing the FA’s bet­ting rules.

Be­fore that, fon Wil­liams had seen close friend and Rovers team­mate Joe Thomp­son di­ag­nosed with cancer in Novem­ber.

That did al­low the 27-year-old to put Tran­mere’s rel­e­ga­tion to League Two – which was con­firmed af­ter last Satur­day’s loss at home to Brad­ford – into some sort of per­spec­tive.

But the keeper con­cedes the last six months have seen a “dark cloud” gather over Pren­ton Park.

“It’s been the hard­est sea­son I’ve had as a pro­fes­sional, with­out a doubt, but it’s a learn­ing curve I guess,” said fon Wil­liams. “You have to grow from it and put it down to ex­pe­ri­ence.

Neg­a­tive

“It’s cruel, it’s been a tough sea­son at times be­cause it’s had a bit of ev­ery­thing, but we were still hop­ing we would be al­right.

“It’s dif­fi­cult to say one thing did us, but ev­ery­thing played a part. Things do hap­pen in a sea­son but there seems to have been a hell of a lot of things.

“You have your ups and downs every­where, but there was more than nor­mal off the pitch this sea­son for us, but it’s hap­pened.

“There’s been a dark cloud hang­ing over the club and it’s sad to see, it’s been a neg­a­tive sea­son but as play­ers, coaches and staff we tried to re­main pos­i­tive right to the end, it just wasn’t enough.

“Pos­si­bly (off-field dis­trac­tions got the bet­ter of the play­ers), but nu­mer­ous things hap­pened across the sea­son.

“See­ing a close friend of mine, Joe (Thomp­son), come into train­ing one day and then to be told he won’t be com­ing in be­cause he’s start­ing chemo­ther­apy was a tough one to take.”

The bright news is 25-year-old Thomp­son, who has nodu­lar scle­ros­ing Hodgkin lym­phoma, is on the mend and com­pleted his six-month course of chemo­ther­apy ear­lier in the week.

“Thommo’s do­ing well now, he ac­tu­ally fin­ished his course of chemo on Tues­day, but what he has been through is amaz­ing and it puts things into per­spec­tive,” added fon Wil­liams.

“You can put a price on rel­e­ga­tion, but not on some­one’s life. Fin­gers crossed he can get some good news.”

With re­gards to his own fu­ture at Tran­mere, who re­turn to the fourth tier af­ter 13 sea­sons in League One, fon Wil­liams is un­sure. He is un­der con­tract for next term but 29-year-old striker Jean-Louis Akpa Akpro has been let go as prepa­ra­tions be­gin for next year.

Ian Goodison’s ten-year spell with the club is also over, but Ja­son Koumas, Steve Jen­nings, James Wal­lace, Ash Tay­lor and Ja­son Mooney have all been of­fered con­tract ex­ten­sions. Fon Wil­liams, how­ever, re­fused to rule out a move to any po­ten­tial suit­ors in League One or above.

“I’m un­der con­tract for an­other sea­son, but I don’t know if I’ll be here to be hon­est,” con­tin­ued the for­mer Rochdale keeper.

“I have re­ally en­joyed my time at the club, but I’d like to play at the high­est level pos­si­ble.

“Tran­mere will kick on again, it’s a big club that is ex­pected to do well.”

PIC­TURES: Ac­tion Im­ages

DE­FI­ANT: Owain Fon Wil­liams saves a penalty for Tran­mere. In­set: Joe Thomp­son

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