When City signed Ryan Williams in July 2001 it achieved two important footballing outcomes. First, we signed a decent winger. Second, he could no longer destroy the City defence twice a season in a Chesterfield shirt. The Spireites were a close rival of City in the early 2000s and denying them their best player was an amusing third outcome. Williams was injured on his debut at the start of 2001/02 season and when he returned in early October the momentum he carried from the previous season was lost and his form was patchy. He scored his first goal in Black and Amber in January 2002, in a 3-0 win over Shrewsbury Town. He scored again two weeks later against Hartlepool.
When manager Brian Little was replaced by Jan Molby in April 2002 Williams continued to play the majority of first team games, but when Peter Taylor arrived in October 2002 Ryan fell down the pecking order as Adam Pearson set about his second reconstruction of the City squad. A run of games for Williams in January and February 2003 coincided with a winless seven game run and Taylor duly looked elsewhere for his attacking threats. Williams’ final game, and goal, for City came in his sole appearance in 2003/04 season, an Associate Members’ Cup tie at Darlington’s newly-built Reynolds Stadium. Williams left the Tigers in December 2003 after a loan spell at Bristol Rovers.
Born in Sutton-in-Ashfield, a market town west of Mansfield, Williams began his career as an apprentice at Mansfield Town and made his first team debut for the Stags in January 1996. After 27 appearances and three goals for Mansfield across two seasons, Williams joined Tranmere Rovers in August 1997 but this move proved a major failure as he made only five appearances in two seasons. In November 1999 Williams joined Chesterfield, initially on loan, a move that rescued his career almost instantly. Under the guidance of experienced manager John Duncan, Williams used his pace and direct style to make a considerable impact on the lower leagues. In 1999/00 he scored five league goals in a side that was relegated from the third tier, and when Nicky Law replaced Duncan for 2000/01 Williams made an even greater impact, missing only one game all season as the Spireites powered to promotion. Williams was especially impressive when Chesterfield were defeated 3-1 at Boothferry Park in late April 2001, form that attracted the interest of City manager Brian Little.
Williams was loaned to Bristol Rovers in November 2003 and within four weeks he had scored the opening goal in a 2-1 win over the Tigers. He joined Rovers permanently in December 2003 but drifted out of the first team after a couple of months. He spent two more years at Bristol on the fringes of the first team, joining Aldershot in January 2006 after a loan spell. The Shots were in the Conference and this move began a lengthy second stanza to Williams’ career outside the senior leagues. After seven goals in 25 appearances during 2005/06, Williams was ever-present in 2006/07 and scored nine goals as the Shots finished in the top half. In 2007/08 a rampant Aldershot team won the Conference and returned to the Football League, but Williams was absent after suffering a cruciate ligament injury in a pre-season friendly against Crystal Palace.
Williams left the newly elevated Shots in May 2008 and joined Conference rivals Weymouth, but left the Terras in February 2009 along with the entire squad after a financial meltdown invalidated the club’s insurance policy that protected the interests of first team players. He immediately returned to Conference National rivals Mansfield Town and played in the last 14 games of the Stags’ season. He remained at Field Mill for 2009/10 season, playing regularly but scoring only two league goals. He was loaned to Gainsborough Trinity in October 2010 and joined the Holy Blues permanently in January 2011. Eighteen months later he joined North Ferriby United and he spent a further five years bumping around the East Yorkshire, Lincolnshire and Derbyshire non-league scene, ending this spell at AFC Mansfield in January 2017, where he was also a coach. After a year out of the game he returned in 2018 with East Yorkshire Carnegie and started 2019/20 season at Northern Counties East League Division One side Hall Road Rangers, scoring goals again at the age of 40 before leaving the club and drawing his 23 year playing career to a close.
Williams played twice for England under-18s in October 1996, starting a 1-0 win over Finland and replacing Tottenham’s Mark Gower in a 4-0 win over Northern Ireland when all four goals were scored by future England senior star Michael Owen.
Date/Place of Birth: 31 August 1978, Sutton-in-Ashfield
Hull City First Game: 11 August 2001, Exeter City A (League Division 3), 22 years, 345 days old
Hull City Final Game: 14 October 2003, Darlington A (Associate Members’ Cup First Round), 25 years, 44 days old
Mansfield Town (1995-1997), Tranmere Rovers (1997-1999), Chesterfield (1999-2000, loan), Chesterfield (2000-2001), Hull City (2001-2003), Bristol Rovers (2003, loan), Bristol Rovers (2003-2006), Forest Green Rovers (2004-2005, loan), Aldershot Town (2005-2006, loan), Aldershot Town (2006-2008), Weymouth (2008-2009), Mansfield Town (2009-2011), Gainsborough Trinity (2010, loan), Gainsborough Trinity (2011-2012), North Ferriby United (2012-2013), Gainsborough Trinity (2013), Scarborough Athletic (2013-2014), AFC Mansfield (2014-2017), East Yorkshire Carnegie (2018-2019), Hall Road Rangers (2019)
Hull City Record
Career: 61 apps, 3 goals[table “801” not found /]