A GOALKEEPING coach with Wrexham AFC’s women’s team has been hailed a hero by colleagues at the care home where he works as a maintenance whizz.
David Williams was surprised with a three cheers fanfare from work pals at Pendine Park in Wrexham who spotted his beaming smile alongside that of movie star Ryan Reynolds in an Instagram photograph which went viral.
The celebratory picture scored a staggering 1.9 million views after it was taken during the jubilant open-top-bus victory parade celebrating the promotion of both the Wrexham AFC’s men’s and women’s teams.
More than 40,000 fans lined the procession route, turning the streets of Wrexham into a sea of red.
David said the triumphant spectacle netted some of the best memories of his life.
He was on the Women’s team bus along with Wrexham AFC celebrity owners Rob McElhenney and Ryan Reynolds.
David, 43, said: “Never in all my days did I ever think I’d be part of such an unforgettable cavalcade. Everyone did the club proud, the players, the owners, management, staff, volunteers and all those fans who turned out to celebrate with us.”
When he was next in work at Hillbury staff had the Wrexham scarves out, waving them high in the air.
They wanted to pay tribute to David, all the players and everyone who works so hard at the club and has firmly put the Racecourse Ground on the global map.
As well as the promotion of the men’s team back into the Football League, David was celebrating after hearing the Wrexham youth team had lifted the National Youth Alliance Division H championship trophy.
It means Wrexham have won four league titles out of four in 2022/23 across the men’s and women’s senior first teams and Under-19s teams.
David has been goalkeeping coach with Wrexham AFC women for about five years and says he feels honoured to be with them this season – their best to date.
The women secured promotion to the Welsh women’s top-flight, the Adran Premier, in an historic 1-0 promotion play-off victory over Adran South champions Briton Ferry.
In a testament to his coaching the invincible team scored 71 league goals this season and conceded just six.
But although he plays a key part in the training regime David says their success is down to rock-solid team effort.
He insisted: “I really am just a small cog in a great big wheel.
“Since Rob and Ryan took over the club everyone has been so energised. They have such enthusiasm and passion and they have completely rejuvenated the club. We are all motivated and inspired in a way that we haven’t been for many years and that is showing with every game.
“The girls have been brilliant on the pitch and off, they have the ambition and the talent to go so much further.
“It feels exhilarating to be part of such an exciting new chapter in Wrexham’s incredible story.”
David started his footballing career aged 14 as a Wrexham Youth player before going on to join Everton FC youth squad as a goalie and later playing for Runcorn.
Today the six feet, four inches tall dad of two lives in Acton and works 40 hours a week as a maintenance operative at Pendine Park’s Hillbury care home where workmates say they are proud to have him on their own team.
Deputy manager Patsy Swift said: “David is a great character and we all love him. Even if we weren’t football fans before this season we are now. It’s been a sheer delight following Wrexham’s story and knowing that one of our ranks is playing such an important part in it.”
Pendine Park Artist in Residence Sarah Edwards said: “We’re all so proud of David and all that he and his fellow coaches have achieved.
“He is a whizz as our maintenance operative and we’re so excited to hear about his successes in the football arena too. He is our local hero. We feel, having him here, that we’re all playing a little part in Wrexham’s brilliant story. It’s so great to cheer on the whole team and hear about their victories.
“I went to the parade in Wrexham and I was amazed at how many people were there. When the bus went by David saw me and waved and he even got Ryan Reynolds to wave at me too. It was like some kind of extraordinary dream. What a fabulous time it is for the whole club.”
For David that dream gets even more extraordinary next season as he is also a coach with Colwyn Bay which were crowned this year’s JD Cymru North champions. The win takes them into the Cymru Premier League next season.
He said: “With both teams I’m involved with now in the premier leagues it’s going to be one of my busiest years ever, but also super-exciting as they both strive for even more success.”
Among David’s own biggest fans are his son Jackson, 16, who is following in his dad’s footsteps as a young player with Rhosddu FC, Wrexham, while David’s daughter, Ella, 13, is a loyal follower of Wrexham AFC.
David said that it’s been such an incredible year, it could easily have been pitched as the rip-roaring plot to a Hollywood movie.
He added: “Who knows what is yet to come? There is such positivity in the air. We might be the oldest club in Wales, but there is lots more life in us yet!”