Published: 08:00, 25 January 2021
Bill Williams has seen thousands of players come and go during his long association with Maidstone United.
A Stones player back in the 1970s, Williams went on to have three spells in charge of the club during the 1980s and 1990s.
The golden years under the former Portsmouth and QPR defender saw him land the Alliance Premier title in 1984 and he was general manager when United reached the Football League in 1989.
He’s been chief executive for the past 10 years, overseeing the club’s rise from Isthmian South to the National League under the management of Jay Saunders.
Here, Bill picks his greatest Maidstone XI, featuring a mix of old and more recent faces, and there’s even a place for a member of the current team.
Bill's Maidstone United Greatest XI
Mark Beeney - It was a close call with Lee Worgan but Beeney had that edge on size and he went on to Brighton and played in the Premier League with Leeds.
Warren Barton - I had Brian Thompson in that position at right-back and while he was probably a better defender, Warren had the edge on pace and getting forward and, like Beeney, he went on to bigger things, with Wimbledon, Newcastle and England.
Tom Mills - He had everything you wanted in a modern-day full-back. He was good on the ball, had good control, could get forward and defend, he was quick, he could finish and he could cross a decent ball. He should have been a Football League player. He was a very quiet lad and that perhaps went against him a little bit.
Chris Smalling - As an out-and-out centre-half, the best one I ever had was John Glover. He was even better at that level than Smalling but I’ve got to go for Smalling because of what he’s gone on to achieve with Manchester United, England and Roma.
Mark Newson - I’ve given George Elokobi a lot of thought, on recent times, but Newson was an outstanding player for me. It was very close, and I can imagine George in his prime, but I have to go for Newson. A back four of Barton, Smalling, Newson and Mills would be absolutely outstanding.
Noel Ashford - The most outstanding midfield player I’ve seen in my time was Noel Ashford. He only ever played non-league - he didn’t want to be a full-time player - but he was an amazing footballer, he really was. We'd always have four or five clubs in for him and he’d always turn them down.
Saidou Khan - Billy Hughes was in my mind, then I felt Tony Sorrell - a really good defensive player - would complement Noel Ashford. I then settled on John Watson, who had it all, control, discipline, passing range, awareness, ability to play, but something in my mind said Saidou. He has that ability to take the ball off the opposition and move very quickly across the lines, and then opposition defenders have to make decisions.
Mark Gall - I’ve never had anyone better in terms of a finisher. The fact we sold him to Brighton for £250,000 proves that and, let’s be fair, if he hadn’t done his cruciate ligament, he most probably would have been a Premier League player. He used to outscore Ian Wright when they played together at Greenwich. John Still and myself found him by accident. We were trying to buy Wright and we happened to notice the other chap up front. We looked in the programme and we thought his scoring record was a printing mistake. I think he had 101 goals for Boro and Wright was on 72 or something, but it turned out to be correct.
Steve Butler - I can’t find a big man to play up front who’s better than Butler. He had everything, goals, he could hold the ball up and bring others into play, he was an outstanding player, such an intelligent player, and we all remember that partnership he had with Smokey Gall.
John Bartley - His goalscoring record was absolutely unbelievable - 100 hat-tricks in non-league football! He went from Welling to Millwall and then we signed him from Finland for about £5,000. Think of him playing in the Conference today. People say the standard is better now but it isn’t, the only difference is players are perhaps a little bit fitter. He’d still bang in 40 or 50 goals a season. No matter who we were playing, we could be be 0-0 and suddenly, bang, the ball’s in the back of the net. He was an exceptional player.
Peter Taylor - Peter was at Orient, he was getting on a bit, something like 32, but I offered him a two-year deal. He was due to have a hernia op and said he wasn’t fit but I knew the surgeon, John Gilmore, who was the best in the country, so we took a chance and signed him the week after the op. He got himself fit and was brilliant for us, so good that he went back into the league with Exeter. He didn’t like it there and ended up coming back to us. I thought about Alex Flisher and Blair Turgott, who were exceptional players for us, but you can’t really compare them to an England international.
Subs - They say you can tell how good a side is by the strength of its bench and this is a strong bench. All these players - Frannie Collin, Blair Turgott, Alex Flisher, John Glover and John Watson - are good enough to be in the starting XI - but managers are paid to make big decisions!