FOR someone who was born in Hereford and has spent all of his professional career in the west, Andy Williams has seen a fair bit of Yorkshire of late.
The new Doncaster Rovers striker has previously plied his trade at Swindon Town, Yeovil Town, Bristol Rovers and Hereford United, but it was the White Rose footballing grapevine that was recently buzzing with talk of a move north.
Rovers, Sheffield United and Bradford City were all interested in signing the out-of-contract 28-year-old, who hit 22 goals for Swindon in 2014-15 to help them to the League One play-off final.
Scunthorpe United and Millwall were also in the mix to sign him, but it was Rovers who won the day, thanks to a combination of the persuasive tongue of manager Paul Dickov, the impressive facilities at the Keepmoat and beyond and the fervent desire they showed in beating all-comers to sign him.
Williams, who has signed a three-year deal, said: “I have been up and down the country and spent a lot of time in Yorkshire lately and Doncaster as a place was an attraction.
“I have spent my whole career down in the south-west and to move up north is a change for me with a wife and a young baby.
“Doncaster had the edge on most aspects I was looking for. It swayed my decision in the end.
“I had quite a good season last year. Being a free transfer, there were quite a few teams who were enquiring. But I don’t think they showed as much interest as Doncaster did.
“Basically, you really want to be wanted and that appealed to me and the manager was very keen, which was good.
“He was very good at persuading me to come and join. He had a good part to sell as the training ground and the ground appealed to me. You can see for yourself how beautiful it is and it has an impact when you go there.
“But the thing that impressed me the most was that the training ground and the pitches were brilliant and there was also some work in progress in making it even better.
“You could see people working on it and things actually happening whereas sometimes you can go around a club and just get a few promises made and not see those things happening.”
Rovers fans have been waiting for a marquee statement in the transfer market since the club’s relegation from the Championship in 2013-14 and their desire has finally been sated by the capture of Williams.
Only Preston’s Joe Garner and Rochdale forward Ian Henderson struck more League One goals than Williams last season, making Swindon’s reluctance to table fresh terms towards the end of his contract a tad bizarre.
That, as Williams acknowledges, was initially down to him and while matters were put on the back-burner while the Robins were striving for promotion to the Championship last season, the pacy forward is now ready to embark on a similar mission, albeit at a different club.
Williams said: “It was strange situation at Swindon. We had a little chat around November about my contract. If I was brutally honest back then, I was considering taking a cut in wages to stay because I was settled and enjoying it.
“At the same time, I am quite superstitious and have a thing where I am quite good in the last year of my contract and I was in the middle of a good scoring run and did not want to jinx it.
“I said I’d think about it when the run was over. But it went all the way to February and at that time I think the club just decided to leave it until the end of the season.
“Unfortunately, that was the end of the chat and they ended up clearing the decks so to speak after.”
Confident that Rovers can push for the top six in 2015-16 after they flattered to deceive last term, he added: “Doncaster were actually one of the better teams we played last season. From an outsider’s point of view, I didn’t understand why they weren’t higher up the league and I think they have aspirations to be higher.
“But, from my understanding, at this time last year, the club was in a bit of transition and it probably affected things a bit at the start of last season.
“It’s probably why things happened like they did, but I think things are a little bit more stable now and we are looking to get into that top six.
“I have got my sights to play higher up before the end of my career and I thought Doncaster was the best place to try and further my career.”