FROM The Vic to the classroom – but using his experience in the professional game to guide a school team to the latter stages of a national competition.
Eifion Williams established himself as a favourite with the Hartlepool United faithful during a successful spell at the club where he hit the net more than 50 times in more than 200 appearances.
After finishing his professional career with Wrexham after leaving Pools, Eifion headed back to Hartlepool and opted for a new career working for Hartlepool Youth Offending Service.
That led him to his current role, working in behaviour support at Dyke House Sports and Technology College, in Mapleton Road.
And now the 38-year-old is passing on all he knows about the game to the school’s Year 7 football team – with a lot of success.
Coached by Eifion and Danny Evans, the director of the school’s elite development squad, the team have made it through to the last 32 of the English Schools Playstation Cup, where they will travel to Barrow for their next game this Friday.
“I’m just bringing what I know and trying to pass that on to the youngsters we have here,” explained Eifion as the players trained yesterday ahead of this week’s big match.
“And I’m really enjoying it.
“We’ve done really well to get this far in the competition and we’ve got a good team, there are some really good young players here.”
As much as Eifion would love to see the team advance on Friday, he maintains what matters most is that the youngsters enjoy their football.
“That’s the main message I try to get across to them. Enjoyment,” said Eifion, who scored for Hartlepool United in the League One play-off final at the Millennium Stadium, in Cardiff, in 2005.
“We have some really good young players who I’m sure will develop into even better players in the future,” he said.
“But the main thing at their age is they enjoy their football, which they all do here.
“The facilities here at this school are absolutely fantastic, it’s a great start for them.”
The team’s captain, Cameron Painter, 11, admitted it’s “brilliant” to learn from a former professional who played at such a high level.
The central midfielder, who lives in the West Park area of Hartlepool, said: “It’s really good to have a former professional who was such a good player as a coach.
“We have done really well as a team so far, it will be difficult on Friday but hopefully we will get the win.”