Tony Williams has had a lifetime love of football – and so it’s fitting he’s received our Lifetime Achievement award.
Described as the doyen of Non-League football, his contribution to the game over many decades has been astonishing.
It began simply with a childhood love for the game and a God-given ability which allowed him to play as a scheming inside forward for top-class amateur sides like the RAF, Corinthian Casuals and Hereford United.
He also went on to be manager of Hungerford United and a director of Yeovil Town.
His involvement with Rothmans led to their valuable sponsorship of the Hellenic, Isthmian, Northern and Western Leagues and then to the creation of the Rothmans Football Yearbook for League clubs.
His good friend Ted Croker, the FA chief executive, used his expertise to produce magazines and programmes, aware he had launched the ground-breaking Non-League magazine Team Talk.
Croker also suggested a book to encapsulate all of the thousands of Non-League clubs… and so The Non-League Club Directory was born. Forty years on, it’s still going strong.
While Williams is now 79, he’s still got a childlike enthusiasm for the game and was delighted to receive our Lifetime prize.
“It’s absolutely fantastic,” he said. “I have been so lucky to have been involved in the game and I couldn’t wish for much more. Non-League is genuine and it’s the genuine football person who wants to watch it and support it. They really care and they are the people I respect. Non-League is a world of its own.”
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