Today I interview one of my favourite players growing up, even though I was very young at the time I remember players such as Kevin Phillips, Niall Quinn and Darren Williams, today I had the pleasure interviewing Darren on his time at Sunderland and his playing career.
Darren Williams was born in Middlesbrough and started his career at York City before eventually moving to Sunderland in October 1996.
He played there for 8 years and was part of one of the best Sunderland’s sides of all time under Peter Reid, and he made over 250 appearances for the team scoring 4 goals. After Sunderland he had spells at Cardiff, Hartlipool, Bradford and Whitby Town just to name a few. He also had a go at management while at Whitby, unfortunately he was sacked after 4 years during the 2015-16 season.
PD: Do you think you will go back in to management?
DW: Yeah I believe I will go back into management when the time and right club with ambition like mine come up , I’ve jumped into to many things where you are made false promises but I’ve learned a lot from my time in management and believe it’s harder at part level .
PD: Is there a big difference in terms of how training, individual coaching, player development and diet is with a youth team in comparison to the first team?
DW : No I think the comparison is very similar now as they like everything at a club to be run the same from top to bottom .
PD: Why did you stay at Sunderland for so long? In today’s game, its rare to see players stay at a club for more than 3/4 seasons.
DW: I love the club and fans it’s amazing passion , desire from all , I had chances to move for good money but Peter Reid didn’t want me to go . I felt a big part of the club I was settled and happy with my football , so in my head I wanted to be there .
PD: How did you feel when Mick McCarthy said he wasn’t going to extend your contract?
DW: I was gutted club were struggling financially and it was a sad time , I didn’t feel like going at all and as was one of the lowest paid at time so hurt even more . But my career was never about money I fell in love with club and was happy to be there.
PD: Who would you say was the best manager to work under in your playing career?
DW: Peter Reid , bobby Saxton , words can’t describe how much they made the club a place everyone wanted to be, amazing 2 blokes with passion , desire and pride and they made me a player with same beliefs .
PD: How did the Whitby Town player/manager role come about?
DW: A few of my mates where there playing so I went to play , and then the manager was let go so the lads requested to the chairman to give me the job . I was taken aback by the request but as I’m ambitious I thought right I can do this , we were rock bottom and 13 points adrift when I took over in the Back end of October. So it took me a month to sort the team out getting in ex players and lads I knew would do a job for me . We went 13 games unbeaten and ended up finishing mid table , I felt the next two seasons we under achieved even though I had no money to buy players we finished 11 and 9th .
PD:What was your favourite season at Sunderland?
DW:My favourite seasons was when we finished 7th twice no one expected it , and with Peter and Bobby building a team on next to nothing and achieving that was fantastic, I took a lot from both of these to management that helped me in my quest to be a manager .
PD: What game was your favourite at Sunderland and why was this?
DW: Sheffield united at home 2nd leg was amazing night for us we were very confident of winning this game , but gotta say with the fans behind us and willing us on made us win . As I’m typing this my hairs on back of my neck have stood up , amazing fans amazing night and fantastic times .
PD: That play off final in 1998, obviously really disappointing but how did Reidy help you as a team get over the result to storm the league the next season?
DW: The play off game was disappointing and we were gutted that we lost , but we were a young side and we learned a lot from this game to take with us . It was Niall Quinn words as we are disappointed lads , but I’m telling you all now we will be better for and and next season we will show it and win league ( never a true word said as we all know the out come ) . Reid and Saxo picked us up and prepared us for what they knew was gonna be a fantastic season .
PD: Where do you think Sunderland will finish this season?
DW: I believe after first couple of games we have a great chance this season , I think Grayson has slowly brought belief and togetherness back to the side which has been missing for a long time .
After the interview I got this message from Darren.
”Thank you for the interview it’s really lovely to know I’m still thought of , and hopefully one day I will be a part of this amazing club again . Thank you”
What a lovely message . It meant a lot to me the fact he took his time out to answer the questions for the blog. I too hope you’re part of this football club again soon Darren. Wish you all the best in your managerial career.