Williams eyes Newtown record ahead of 300th appearance
Craig Williams admits he would be delighted to surpass Colin Reynolds as Newtown AFC’s most capped player, but insists he remains focused on helping the Robins secure a strong finish to the Welsh Premier League season.
The 29-year-old is expected to make his 300th domestic appearance for his hometown club when Cefn Druids visit Latham Park on Saturday, bringing him to within 20 games of Reynolds’ record.
But while delighted with the latest milestone, Williams insists he and his team-mates will be treating the encounter like any other game.
“If I can get anywhere near it [the record], and if my legs hold out long enough for me to break it, then that would be fantastic and it would probably be the next target. But at the moment it’s all about this season and getting the three points on Saturday.
“After the game, it will obviously be nice to celebrate playing 300 games for Newtown as not many players get to do it, so I’ll be grateful if it happens, but up until the final whistle the main focus is on the game.”
Such a level of focus is really the mark of a man that has seen it all since he broke into the first team set-up in 2005, although he still has time to pick out a few individual highlights.
“I think last season when we got into Europe we had a really, really good run in the league and we got to the cup final, so that was probably a standout memory,” he added.
“We also beat TNS away a few seasons ago and I think it was the first time they had lost at home for a number of years. I even managed to score in that game, which was one of the highlights of my league career.
“That game is definitely up there, just because they’re the ones that everyone aspires to beat, they’re the best team in the league and they’ve been fantastic in recent seasons.
“I think it was during my first season after coming back from Aberystwyth so it was nice to cement my place in the team again.”
Williams spent two years at Park Avenue before returning in 2012, and while he admits he jumped at the chance to come back, he insists there are no regrets.
“At the time it was a good decision to go. Newtown were near the bottom of the league and Aber were very close to qualifying for Europe. But I had a few injuries and didn’t really play as many games as I wanted to, so when the opportunity arose to come back I grabbed it with two hands.
— Newtown AFC (@NewtownAFC) April 4, 2017
“Being from Newtown, this is the club I’ve always really wanted to play for, so it was only the league positions of the two clubs that made me leave in the first place. To come back and help the club rise up the table again alongside some great players and great managers is fantastic.
“It did help me [going away] in terms of getting experience but it was nice to come back.”
While the defender is likely to be a the centre of the build-up to Saturday’s game, there is little doubting that striker Jason Oswell is likely to be the man to watch again.
The former Crewe and Inverness hitman was named the Welsh Premier League’s Player of the Month for March, and sits top of the league’s goalscoring charts with 28 strikes to his name, with Williams one of a seemingly neverending list of admirers.
“Jason is playing some unbelievable football at the moment,” he said. “Whenever you give him a chance he seems to score. When he’s playing like he is and when we’re playing to suit him, he’s a dream to play with and makes everyone else’s job so much easier.
“I’ve played with a lot of good strikers and Jason’s definitely up there. He’s a tremendous player for us.”
Nevertheless, Williams believes Cefn will prove a difficult proposition, with the previous league meetings yielding a win apiece and a draw.
“They’ve given us some really tough games this season and they’re a tricky side to play against. They’ve got some good players and they play some nice football when they get the chance, but if we can keep playing the way we have been playing then hopefully we can pick up three points.”
Such professionalism has undoubtedly been the key to Williams’ success in a Newtown shirt. If it continues, then a club record would surely be a just reward for one of the Robins’ most loyal servants.