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Aylesbury United News Story

The Greg Williams Story

Monday 02 October 2017 - 12:31 pm | Added by: Admin to Club News, First Team | | Used tags:

'The Leader' offers a consistency that no other part of our club can lay claim to, writes supporter Ian Lowe in this special article.

For me to be able to tell the Greg Williams story is to take a stroll along a path that has spanned 16 years. I am sure that all Ducks supporters feel that elements of their life have changed dramatically in the time since Greg made his debut in green and white at Stompond Lane against Staines Town in August 2001, but to describe Greg Williams is to speak of a man who offers a consistency that no other part of our club can lay claim to. He is a link to a bygone era, a man who was part of our last appearance in the competition proper of The FA Cup in 2001, our only appearance in an FA Trophy Semi-Final in 2003, whilst also being a key member of the team that delivered the first piece of silverware for 13 years in a dramatic South Midlands Cup Final in 2013.

The name of Greg Williams first appeared on the radar of Aylesbury United supporters in 2001. Talk of Thame United having several local players had begun to spread, with the names of Perna, Louis, Joe and Williams featuring a lot in local radio reports.

Following The Ducks relegation at the end of the 1999/2000 season we found ourselves in the same league as Thame, a near neighbour that we now found ourselves playing against. Thame came to Buckingham Road on August Bank Holiday Monday, and the big match atmosphere was in evidence as an expectant Aylesbury public waited for our Oxfordshire neighbours to be put to the sword. Within 15 minutes Perna had struck an outrageous free kick against the crossbar and a certain young man by the name of Williams reacted quickest and headed the rebound into the net.

This was the first glimpse of the passion that would define him, as he ran past the massed Aylesbury support in the ‘chicken  run’ kissing the badge on his Thame shirt. I have enjoyed Greg’s company socially on many occasions over the years, and along with our good friend Lee Cotton we enjoy telling him that we may have called him a couple of names at this time. I think with 400 Ducks games to his name it’s safe to say we’re even now anyway! 

Interestingly, each of those local players playing for Thame went onto have careers of varying success with The Ducks, but the signing of Greg for the start of 2001/2002 season coincided with a season that will live long in the memory and begun an association that would span almost 2 decades.

Following a defeat on the opening day, Cliff Hercules’ men went on a run of 16 matches unbeaten, recorded double figures in an FA Cup tie against Brentwood, before strolling to a 5-0 win at Yeading in the same competition. The story of the match at Port Vale has been told repeatedly, and it was indeed a famous day for our club and a story of what could have been. The main goal of promotion was achieved in that season and Steve Cordery came in, making Greg captain so that he now had the armband to match his nickname of ‘The Leader.’

The run to the Semi-Final of The FA Trophy was as memorable as the conclusion was heartbreaking. A defining memory for me was following the warrior like display up at Altrincham to win 1-0, when Greg was high fiving and hugging the travelling Ducks supporters. Despite the way it finished the Trophy run really did make memories that will last a lifetime. The Ducks fought off a relegation scare that season and Cords moved on.

The years that followed were traumatic, with managerial changes, squad walk outs and a run of defeats that made 2003/04 a very forgettable experience. Greg stayed with The Ducks through this time, before moving on prior to the truly crushing blow of The Ducks being made homeless.

I had always hoped that the Greg Williams story had not been fully told, and I recall bumping into him in a kebab shop in town one Saturday night where I was ordering a salad. He had been away from The Ducks for a few years and he was unsure if he would return. I told him that he’d always be welcome and it was brilliant to see the leader back in green and white for the team that Tony Joyce had assembled for a tilt at promotion in 2012/13. That The Ducks achieved this with such an impressive points total, and delivered the Cup in such dramatic fashion exceeded expectations. The Ducks fans that packed onto the terraces at Berkhamsted for the final went through a rollercoaster of emotions on the night. Greg was instrumental in ensuring levels did not drop through 120 minutes of football. The following season The Ducks were back in The Southern League. Although not returning home at this time, it was an important step to recover our place in senior football.

The experience and leadership that Greg has provided in Glyn Creaser’s teams over the past few seasons has been invaluable. Through his late thirties and now into his 40s he is versatile enough to play in the midfield, or to roll back the years and play right back.

Ducks fans have memories of Greg donning the goalkeeper shirt at Buckingham Road and saving a piledriver of a shot with his chest and who knows, maybe we will see this repeated before he decides to final call it a day. Personally, I hope that he continues for a while yet. From me and every Aylesbury United supporter I want to take this opportunity to say a big thank you for the years of dedicated service. You really are ‘The Leader’ and epitomise everything that Aylesbury United stands for.

Ian Lowe pictured with 'The Leader' Greg Williams

Greg on his time with the Ducks:

Favourite manager?

Steve Cordery. He made me captain and it was a very proud moment.

Most skilfull player?

Either Dean Cracknell or Bruno Brito. I think Bruno just edges it with some of the amazing skills he brings off in training and games.

Quickest player?

Dwain Clarke - he was rapid!

Ducks player with the hardest shot?

Stacey Field. For someone so skinny to be able to strike a ball like he does was pure tekkers.

Who's the toughest Ducks player? (Besides yourself!)

Fiston Manuella. Good player and a got a well-earned England C cap whilst with The Ducks. Enjoyed playing in central midfield with the big guy.

Best Ducks GK? (Besides yourself!!)

Chris Day. Ultimate pro and still a pro at 41yrs old with Stevenage. A good friend too.

Favourite Ducks game?

Has to be either Port Vale away in the FA Cup or the Trophy semi final 1st leg at home. Buckingham Road was rocking.

Favourite Ducks goal?

Away at Braintree in the FA Cup. So wish it was caught on camera.

Favourite Ducks supporter?

Every Dcuks supporter!