15- Tony Williams
There’s something about one club players. As a fan, you can start to convince yourself that, no matter what, they’re really there for the town and it’s not just that’s where their first job happened to be. Right or wrong, it builds a connection. Tony Williams is yet another player on our countdown that fits this description. A 9+ season veteran for the Kickers, Tony was a regular presence for the club both in the midfield and the defense, providing a steady contribution no matter the role required of him in any given season. His contributions resulted in him being named the 15th greatest Kicker in club history.
A native of Saint Louis, Williams played for famed youth club Scott Gallagher prior to moving east to attend college at Clemson. During his time with the Tigers, they qualified for the NCAA tournament twice, reaching the quarterfinals in his senior season. In February 1998, Williams was selected in the second round of the A-League draft by the Virginia Beach Mariners. However, he would be traded to Richmond before the season began, and remained in town for the next ten years.
When Tony first came to Richmond, he was primarily a right sided midfielder. He immediately slid into the first-choice team, making 25 appearances or more in each of his first three seasons with the club. Not only was he filling a role on the field, but he also made contributions on the scoresheet. Over his entire career in Richmond, he scored 13 times and added 27 assists, the majority of which were accumulated in his first 4 seasons.
As his career progressed, Tony moved into a role as a right back, which provided him with the ability to still affect the attack while repurposing his strong positional sense and tenacious personality. In his two seasons playing exclusively in the back, the Kickers made two finals appearances, falling on penalties to Seattle in 2005 and defeating Charlotte in 2006. Williams did play one game in the 2007 season for the Kickers as cover during a time when the team had both injuries and travel build up.
One additional point that endears Tony Williams to the Richmond faithful is his commitment to the club. After the team announced it would drop a division after the 2005 season, no one would have blamed guys for moving to other clubs or moving on in their careers. However, Williams stuck around to play the 2006 season with the Kickers. He completed his unfinished business, winning the league championship that had eluded him on multiple occasions during his time in Richmond. I can still vividly remember the excitement on his face celebrating the title in 2006 and seeing what it meant to him.
Overall, Williams played 219 times for the Richmond Kickers, a figure that places him squarely in the top 10 of all-time appearances.