Folkestone Invicta’s long-serving physio Dave Williams is handing over to a new set of healing hands at the Ryman South champions.
Known by all at the Fullicks Stadium as ‘Willo’, the popular medic and former reserve team player has announced he will be “gradually winding down” next term after nearly three decades as veteran manager Neil Cugley’s right-hand man at Hythe Town, the old Folkestone Town, Ashford Town and Invicta.
A former shift electrician at the Dungeness A power plant before retiring two and a half years ago, Willo is handing over the reins to his very capable assistant Abi Winstanley, in what will virtually be a role reversal on the bench from August when Invicta make their debut in the Ryman League’s top flight.
He said: “I’ve had this in mind for a while. Something tells you when it’s time to slow down a bit – so I’ll be taking a lower profile , though I’ll be around if needed. I’d spoken to Neil about it, and then Abi, and I had a long chat after the first training session last weekend. I’m delighted to say that she’s happy to go along with what I had in mind.
“Abi’s a excellent physio with her own business who is already very well liked at the club. She has other commitments, of course, and I know for a fact that she won’t be there for the first game of the season, so I’ll step in.
“There are ten or a dozen other dates I know she can’t make because of courses and the like, and I will of course step in. But she’ll be the boss from now on and I’ll have to do what I’m told! I want her to be able to stamp her own identity on the role.”
Willo, who hopes to use the extra spare time he will have to visit his son and daughter in Canada and New Zealand respectively, was with Folkestone reserves as a player during Alf Bentley’s days before becoming a player, coach and then player-manager at Hythe. After seven good years with Cugley at Ashford Town and now 19, coming up to 20 together at Invicta, last term will live longest in the physio’s memory.
He added: “Over the years I’ve covered the whole spectrum, I suppose. As much as anything, though, my relationship with Neil has been as a good friend – I reckon I know him better than my missus! There have been some plenty of really good times but I don’t think anything has been quite as enjoyable as last season when we won the league in such fine style. Things don’t get any better than that.”
Cugley said: “You cannot put a price on the loyalty and friendship that I’ve had from Willo. I’m pleased that we’ll still be seeing him but fully appreciate everything he’s done for both myself and the football club and accept his reasons for handing over to Abi. He’ll always be a terrific friend to so many people in football.”