Former Sunderland star relishing new challenge in Northern League
Former Sunderland star Darren Williams has joined Washington for the new Ebac Northern League first division season.
The 39-year-old, who played over 200 games for the Black Cats, will be player/coach for the Mechanics.
He will work alongside the management team of Steven Hutchinson and Neil Hixon, while adding experience and stability to the playing squad,
Nissan Leisure boss Gary Collin said that he and Nissan FC chairman Graeme English targeted Williams as their number one choice to bring professional experience to the existing set-up as well as injecting some excitement for the local community.
“We were both discussing the rising price of Premier league and Championship football tickets, which has led to many fans thinking twice about putting their hands in their pockets,” he said.
“So we thought we would put a formula in place to attract football fans and their families for an affordable experience on their doorstep.
“We would urge even SAFC and NUFC season ticket holders to come and support us, inbetween their fixtures.
“Our midweek fixtures will be played on Wednesdays to avoid clashes.”
Williams, who has also played League football for York City, Cardiff City, Hartlepool United and Bradford City, is relishing his latest challenge.
“I was looking at a way of giving something back to the community and those thousands of people who supported me week-, week-out at Sunderland .
“The set-up and management here at Nissan Leisure Complex is amazing and they share my aspirations of wanting to engage with the local community and offer value-for-money experiences.
“We have pledged to support free entry to home matches for Under 16s, concessions for senior citizens, and the introduction of a heavily discounted season ticket as well as a fan club
“The football club has even introduced a club mascot to mark my arrival – how good is that!
“So I would ask all the local football fans and their families to get behind us for our first game and come and bring the kids to meet Mike the Mechanic.”
The club is hoping the arrival of Dazza will help them progress, and is hoping for a boost in support from non-league fans from the Washington and Sunderland area.
Washington won promotion into the first division of the Northern League a year ago and finished last season in mid-table.
“The standard of football and atmosphere is sure to be first class and all for the fraction of the cost,” added Collin.
Washington, who play at the Nissan Sports and Leisure Complex (SR5 3NS), start the season with an FA Cup game at home to Newton Aycliffe on Saturday, August 6 (3pm), followed by the first league game against Bishop Auckland on Wednesday, August 10 (7.30pm).
To mark Williams’ first two games, the club has arranged a free shuttle bus service from Concord Town centre (opposite the bus station) from 1pm on the Saturday and 6pm on the Wednesday, both returning to the town after the games.
Anyone interested in volunteering to take part in matchday duties or joining the club committee can contact Derek Armstrong on 4152354.