‘The best place for me’ – former Middlesbrough youngster Luke Williams thanks Hartlepool United after ‘horrendous’ injury spell
Luke Williams’ three years back at Hartlepool United have been filled with frustration, patience and perseverance – now there could finally be light at the end of the tunnel.
The midfielder started his first National League game for Pools against Woking last Saturday and remained involved in the matchday squad for the Tuesday night trip to Dagenham & Redbridge.
It marked a significant milestone in the 27-year-old’s road to recovery from an injury nightmare that saw him go almost four years without starting a competitive league match.
While there is still a long way to go, Williams insisted he couldn’t have got to this stage without the help and support of the club, who offered him a new contract on three occasions despite his well documented injury troubles.
"It’s the best place for me to be because I don’t think anywhere else would have given me the chance to let me go through what I have and come out the other side playing like this now,” he told The Mail.
“It’s testament to the fans, the staff, the manager, the chairman [Raj Singh] and previous managers. Everything about the club has been great and they’ve given me every opportunity to get me back to where I want to be.
"It’s been horrendous and there have been other things that have come with it that no one will ever know about unless I bring out a book which I was joking about with the lads afterwards, I don’t know if anyone would buy it! It’s been torture but to come through it now is a great feeling!”
Explaining the key to his recovery so far, Williams added: “It’s been all about doing things properly, not rushing anything and growing up a little bit in myself and my head, listening to my body and the people around me and taking it in.
"Doing things right in general and keeping the standards high has been the most important thing for me.”
Williams was an unused substitute in the 1-0 win at Dagenham & Redbridge but Pools boss Dave Challinor felt that even a place on the bench will come as a big boost to the midfielder after Saturday’s start.
“Luke is fine, we had a chat about leaving him out at Dagenham but he trained really well on Monday after starting against Woking with no problems,” Challinor told The Mail.
“We felt having him on the bench could be beneficial to us if we needed him on to try and potentially get a goal or help us win the game in the second half.
"From his own perspective, to play 70-minutes on Saturday and be involved in the matchday squad on Tuesday, although he hasn’t got on the pitch, will do him the world of good physiologically.”
Williams’ return is well-timed for the final stretch of matches in the National League season as the club push for promotion back to the Football League.
Next up this Saturday is a trip to Stockport County as Hartlepool look to extend their unbeaten record to 11 matches against a play-off rival.