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Painswick Football Club chasing third successive promotion

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Posted: Thursday, 23rd December 2021, 09:00

Painswick are flying in Division Three of the Stroud League Painswick are flying in Division Three of the Stroud League

There are a good number of football managers over the years who have been only too happy to see their son play for them on a Saturday afternoon.

There have been father/son combinations at the very top levels of the game, of course, but there can’t be too many managers at any level who have been able to name not only their son but also their grandson in their team.

But that’s something that Carl Williams is able to do at Painswick and the family link-up is certainly reaping rich rewards because the club are setting a hot pace in Division Three of the Stroud League.

Williams’ son Connor and grandson Rhys Goodman are regulars in a team that are gunning for their third successive promotion and second successive title.

“It’s fantastic,” said Carl Williams. “They are there on merit, they don’t play in the team just because I’m the manager.”

Connor, 28, is a centre-back and is a decent player.

“When he was younger he played for Quedgeley Wanderers and Forest Green,” said his dad. “He was playing for Pegasus Juniors in the Hellenic League at the age of 16 and he’s also played for Newent.”

Rhys, meanwhile, is the son of Carl’s stepdaughter Nicola, and the 20-year-old can play in midfield or up front.

“He’s one of the best three players at the club,” said Carl, “he’s very, very good.”

And it’s fair to say that Carl Williams is very good too if his record since being installed as Painswick’s head coach and first-team manager is anything to go by.

“This is technically my fourth season in charge, but realistically the Covid season never happened so this is my third full season,” said Williams, who is married to Carole.

And there is certainly no shortage of confidence at a club that also runs teams in Division Seven and Division Eight of the Stroud League.

“When I first came here we were in Division Five,” said Williams.

“Now it looks almost certain we’ll get promoted for the third time in a row; in fact, I’ll say now that I think we’ll win the title.”

And if that happens it will be another major step for a club that has made remarkable strides in recent times.

“When I took over we had one team and we were just about scraping 11 players,” Williams said.

“Now we’ve got 60-odd players who play for the club, it’s good. I have no trouble persuading anyone to play for me.”

Williams has a decent footballing pedigree.

The 56-year-old was born in Liverpool – he’s a big Reds fan – but moved to Newcastle with his family when he was six months old before heading to this part of the world 20 years ago.

“I’ve still got a northern accent but it’s from the wrong side of the Pennines,” he joked.

“I played semi-pro for Marske United,” he continued. “It was a decent standard, I played left wing or striker.

“I was never technically gifted – I couldn’t do what the youngsters can do with a ball today – but I was quick, could cross a ball and I could score a goal.”

When he moved to Gloucestershire he played for Quedgeley Wanderers 3rds for a couple of seasons, a club his daughter Tekalla also played for.

“I was way past my best when I came down here but it was fun,” he said. “I carried on playing vets’ football until I was 52. I stopped when it started to hurt too much.

“My head was where the ball was but my feet were 100 yards back, it wasn’t a nice feeling!”

Williams also got involved in coaching and managing when he moved south, enjoying roles in the youth set-up at Forest Green, as well as in adult football with Newent and Lydbrook.

So how did he end up at Painswick?

“I was friends with the captain Jordan Hutchinson,” said Williams, a plasterer who lives in Gloucester. “He asked if I was interested in getting involved.

“I said it was a bit of a drop from what I was used to but I went along and watched the last five games of that season.”

And what did he think?

“I saw a group of young players with a massive amount of potential,” he said.

And many, if not all, of those youngsters are still involved with Painswick, along with Hutchinson, who is still captain of the club that is sweeping all before them.

“I love it,” said Williams, “there is no nastiness at the club. I try to be fair, I try to engage everyone.

“It’s like an extended family, I think the world of them all. I feel very honoured that they are prepared to play football for me and maintain the level of expectations at the club. It’s brilliant, it’s absolutely superb.”

It’s a great story, of course, but even Painswick, for all their success, have an ongoing problem that has not yet been solved, as Williams explains.

“After we’ve won promotion this season, as it stands, we can’t be promoted again,” said Williams.

“That would take us into Division Two of the Stroud League but our facilities aren’t good enough to allow us to play any higher.”

The next level after the Stroud League is the Northern Senior League but the club’s facilities – the first team play their home matches at Henley Bank School in Brockworth – don’t meet the necessary requirements to go beyond division two.

“The changing rooms aren’t big enough, there aren’t enough showers and there isn’t a separate changing room for the referee,” Williams said.

“We moved the first team to Henley Bank School in order to accommodate a third team – the reserves and thirds play at the Recreation Ground in Painswick – but neither the Rec nor school meet our needs and, ideally, the firsts should be playing in Painswick.”

Williams has now made it his mission to find a suitable ground for the burgeoning club.

“I’m in this for the long-term,” said Williams, who also confirmed he would like to restart a youth section at the club.

“I’m not interested in going anywhere else. I took up the mantle of developing this club and that is what I am doing.

“It would be good if we could groundshare – the 2nds and 3rds could stay at the Rec – but all we need is a field.”

For obvious reasons the club want to stay in Painswick and Williams added: “The danger is that if we moved out there would no longer be any football in the village.” 

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