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Anglesey/Ynys Môn football greats past and present – No1 Viv Williams
Viv Williams (left) with Osian Roberts (furthest right)

As a player Spanish giants Atletico Madrid wanted to sign him and his managerial career included a stint with “the most influential man in Welsh football” as his assistant.

It would certainly be fair to describe Vivian Williams as a legend of the beautiful game on his native Anglesey.

Probably the Ynys Môn village of Llannerchymedd’s most renowned son, Viv attended Ysgol Syr Thomas Jones in Amlwch, but perhaps would have to accept second billing on that school’s fame roster, with the late Lemmy from rock band Motorhead reportedly having been a pupil there in the late 1950s.

Viv showed considerable sporting talent from a young age, and it was little surprise when the striker was snapped up in his teens by Bangor City of the Northern Premier League.

He made his Citizens debut against Buxton in 1984-85, and at the end of that season Bangor qualified for the European Cup Winners’ Cup after finishing runners-up in the Welsh Cup, England-based winners Shrewsbury Town being ineligible to compete in Europe.

This was to be only City’s second European venture up to that point, the previous having been rather a memorable one with Tommy G Jones’ Welsh Cup heroes beating Italian giants AC Napoli 2-0 at Farrar Road in the first leg of a Cup Winners’ Cup tie, losing the return 3-1 (under modern-day rules the Welsh team would have progressed on away goals) and then finishing up beaten 2-1 in a play-off at Arsenal’s Highbury Stadium.

Not much to live up to then!

City did Wales proud again, beating Fredrikstad of Norway on away goals over two legs, Viv starting both games, before being drawn against the great Atletico Madrid in the next round.

The Citizens producing a fine performance against a team packed with internationals, Viv came on as a substitute in the first leg – a 2-0 loss at Farrar Road – and started in the return at the Vicente Calderon stadium in front of 18,000 where Atletico edged a 1-0 victory.

Such was the impression Viv made, he was the subject of a £10,000 bid from the Spanish icons, who went on to lose in the ECWC final to Dynamo Kiev, but the deal never materialised.

A superb attacking talent with acceleration and a thunderous shot, Viv’s other Bangor claim to fame in that 1985-86 season was producing a memorable display in goal in a 2-0 Welsh Cup defeat at Hereford United.

Viv Williams (third right – back row) celebrates with his Bangor City team-mates after beating Fredrikstad in the 1985-86 European Cup Winners’ Cup. Photo kindly supplied by Bangor Comrades 1919 Facebook page

Viv later went on to play for Caernarfon Town.

Fast forward to 1997-98 and Viv was in a highly successful Amlwch Town side which won the Gwynedd League treble of title, Cwpan Gwynedd and the Eryri Shield.

That season saw him score 43 goals and land the league’s golden boot award.

Going on to represent Amlwch in the Welsh Alliance, then later Cymru Alliance Porthmadog, Viv took over as manager from Colin Hawkins at the Traeth in 1999-2000.

Together with assistant-manager Osian Roberts, now fulfilling the same role with the national team and a figure described as “the most influential man in Welsh football”, the pair went on to rebuild Port with great success.

The 2002-03 campaign proved to be one of the best in the history of the club. Every home game was won and the only two away defeats came after Port had already gained promotion. 

They returned to the Welsh Premier League with a 19 points advantage over their nearest rivals and also lifted the League Cup and North Wales Coast Challenge Cup. 

Port initially held their own in the top flight, and in 2006-07 the management team reversed roles, Osian becoming number one and Viv the assistant.

With the departure of Osian to a senior coaching position at the FAW and Viv deciding to call it a day after seven years at the helm, the club entered a period of uncertainty and results consequently suffered.

The 2007-08 season was looking grim for the Traeth club and Viv was persuaded to return to tackle the challenge of their relegation escape.

He found himself back in temporary charge of Port in October 2007 after the sacking of former Wales and Manchester United midfielder Clayton Blackmore.

And Viv succeeded in his mission, a 1-0 win over Rhyl on the final day of the campaign keeping Porthmadog in the top flight.

Viv immediately stepped down, his job was done.

The often stated phrase ‘a great player does not always make a great manager’ was certainly proved wrong in Viv’s case.

A top quality striker who attracted the interest of a massive European name in the 1980s, he went on to rattle in goals at a lower level before then turning to management and shaping one of Porthmadog FC’s greatest sides, as well as one of the finest to win the Cymru Alliance.

 

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