What exactly is it about Tom Williams that leads him to be so universally despised by Gills fans? After all, we’re talking about a player who was only here for about half a season and played less than 20 games.
Obviously, being an integral member of the worst Gillingham team in 11 years didn’t help his cause any. But then I’m sure if the likes of Tony Bullock, Paul Shields or Steve Hislop stumbled out of whatever dingy Scottish bar they frequent long enough to make it onto a football field and into an opposition team they would not meet the level of scorn that is directed at the errant Mr Williams.
So clearly we are dealing with more than a general lack of ability here. In fact, when he first broke into the side the initial reaction was `he looks quite good`. Clearly Williams does possess some semblance of footballing ability, although this admittedly comes in the shape of crossing and passing, rather than defending, which could possibly be seen as something of a disadvantage for some who is employed as… err… a defender.
No, what sets the allegedly almost Cypriot international (well, he did reputedly nearly train with the Cypriot squad whilst at Priestfield) is that he is, not to mince words, a bounder of the highest order. Tom Williams is to good sportsmanship what The Cheeky Girls are to high quality popular music. He is nasty piece of work. Tom Williams is a cheat.
Twice during his Gills career he was responsible for getting opponents sent off. Both times this was achieved by crumpling to the ground and holding his face when challenged. Even more unforgivably one of these occasions came in the Leyland Daf Vans first round encounter with Crawley – clearly such a high profile encounter that it required the execrable Williams to cheat in order to get us through the tie (well, actually, now you mention it….)
Against Southend he narrowly failed to get one Mark Bentley dismissed, getting involved in an off the ball incident which ended with Bentley appearing to push Williams to the ground. The benefit of hindsight allows me to add the word `appearing` to that sentence, but of course at the time we were all fooled by Williams’ actions, and outraged that Bentley stayed on the pitch (particularly as he went on to score Southend’s goals).
That’s the thing with cheating little shits like Williams though. They get a reaction from the crowd, they influence referees, they get fellow professionals sent off. Seasoned observors of the lesser spotted Williams soon noted that everytime he went in for a challenge he appeared to be trying to make something unsavoury occur. A flailing arm here, a leg left in there, a tortured look and rub of the head when sure the ref is looking, and his piece de resistance, the dramatic tumble to the ground with hands over face. Stand up and take a bow Mr Tom Williams – because you, sir, represent everything that is wrong with the modern professional footballer.
In many ways it is heartening to witness the abuse meted out to the former Gills prima donna, because it demonstrates that if there’s one thing we cannot stand it’s an out an out cheat. Most fans are prepared to put up with a little gamesmanship every now and then (i.e. Saint Hessy goading fat Aussie strikers into getting themselves sent off), but no true supporter likes to see someone like Williams constantly causing mischief.
From a personal point of view, I detest Tom Williams more than any other former Gillingham player (yes, even more than Gary Breen!). I’ve only been supporting the club for 34 years mind!