OWAIN’S GLAD TO SEE ‘CRUEL’ SEASON END
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.
“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.”
DEFIANT: Owain Fon Williams saves a penalty for Tranmere. Inset: Joe Thompson