Number 17 in our Top 25 Players List, Herbie Williams.
Herbie Williams, in simple terms, was a Swansea City legend. The forward spent 17 years – his whole footballing career with his home-town club at the Vetch Field, making over 500 appearances and scoring more than 100 goals.
He was one of the first footballers to wear contact lenses, and is regarded by many as one of the greatest ambassadors in the history of Swansea City Football Club.
Every Swansea City who watched him play will no doubt agree that he had superb talent, and not just talent, but the personality and love for the club that is priceless. Herbie was as loyal as they come, and he often ignored the opportunity to join bigger clubs, always preferring to stay a Swan. He was also capped at schoolboy, Under-23 and Senior level for Wales.
Williams had superb passing ability in midfield as well as the ability to score goals on a regular basis as you can tell by his impressive record.
At just 17 years old, Herbie Williams made his debut in the 1958-1959 season and he was included in the team that beat Sunderland 5-0, playing alongside another legend, Ivor Allchurch, who scored 4 goals that day.
Williams lived not far from the Vetch Field, in Port Tennant, and back in those days, he would walk into the ground along with the fans carrying his boots over his shoulder!
In his early days at the club, the Swans were in the Second Division and in the 1960-61 season, we finished 7th, our best position since entering the League in 1948. But after that, we went through some struggling times and by 1967, we were relegated to the bottom division.
Herbie Williams then became the club’s leading goalscorer for the first time in 1968-1969, netting 15 goals as we finished 10th in Division 4.
Things were looking up at last for the Swans in 1969/1970, as we topped Division 4 thanks to the invaluable experience of Len Allchurch, Mel Nurse and of course Herbie Williams, who scored 17 goals that year, helping us win promotion back to the Third tier.
Herbie Williams became Club Captain in 1972/73, proving his ability and leadership qualities towards the end of his long career at the club.
He finally left the Swans in January 1975 and went to Australia to take over a new role as Player-Coach at Balgownie, a First Division side in the New South Wales Federation.
Williams is now in retirement, after working at Royal Mail in Swansea in recent years, he has never visited the Liberty Stadium to watch the Swans play as he finds it difficult to watch the game he played professionally.
The cover of Herbie Williams’ Testimonial match programme.
Links to the Top 25 Players:
25 – Chris Coleman
24 – John Cornforth
23 – Dean Saunders
22 – Lee Trundle
21 – John Toshack
20 – Harry Griffiths
19 – Nigel Stevenson
18 – Roger Freestone