Gasopedia - Bristol Rovers Wiki
David Williams
David williams
Full name David Michael Williams
Nationality Wal Wales
Caps (goals) 5 (0)
Rovers apps (goals)a 352 (66)
Position Midfielder
Date of birth 11 March 1955
in Cardiff
Height 5 ft 10 in
1975 from youth team
July 1985 to join Norwich City
Senior clubs Teams managed
Bristol Rovers
Norwich City
Bristol Rovers
Wales (caretaker)
Norwich City (caretaker)
a League appearances and goals only
Last updated by Rotlink on 28/10/2013

Welsh international David Williams, not to be confused with his teammate Geraint Williams whose first name was also David, was a midfielder whose playing career took in just two league clubs. He started out with Bristol Rovers, breaking into the first team squad in 1976, and has the unusual and possibly unique distinction of beginning his international playing career after the end of his full-time club management career.

In May 1983, aged just 28, he was promoted to the position of player-manager following Bobby Gould's departure to Coventry City. His record in the top job was excellent, winning 51 of his 108 games in charge and twice lifting the Gloucestershire Cup.

He returned to playing full time when he was signed by Norwich City in 1985, and the following year won full international honours with Wales. He retired from playing in 1992 and went on to enjoy a long and successful career in coaching.

Playing career[]

Source: Pirates in Profile

David joined Rovers in 1975 from local non-league side Clifton Athletic and made the unusual decision not to turn professional, becoming the first amateur to play first team football for The Pirates since Allen Wood, some thirteen years earlier. He signed semi-professional terms in December 1975 and combined playing league football initially with studying on a teacher training course, and later with teaching at Mostyn High School in Cardiff. He eventually turned fully professional in the summer of 1978 after having already made 113 league appearances as a part-timer.


Williams samples the output of Dunford's Dairies

He spent five seasons as a full-time player, scoring 37 goals in 178 league games before being appointed as player-manager in May 1983, after which he played a further 61 times and scored 8 goals.

In all he played 352 league games for The Pirates and scored 65 times before being signed by Norwich City in 1985. Shortly after joining Norwich he received his first call-up to the Welsh national team, and he went on to play 74 league games, scoring twelve times, for the Norfolk club. He finally hung up his boots in 1992 when he moved into coaching full time.

Club stats[]

N.B. Only Bristol Rovers appearances are listed here (Source: Pirates in Profile)
Season Club League
Apps Goals
1975–76 Bristol Rovers 41 2
1976–77 Bristol Rovers 39 10
1977–78 Bristol Rovers 33 8
1978–79 Bristol Rovers 42 10
1979–80 Bristol Rovers 40 4
1980–81 Bristol Rovers 25 3
1981–82 Bristol Rovers 46 11
1982–83 Bristol Rovers 25 9
1983–84 Bristol Rovers 24 3
1984–85 Bristol Rovers 37 5

International career[]

After playing for Wales at schoolboy and Under-23 levels, David made a single appearance for the Under-21s in 1983 as an over-aged player. His senior international career with the Welsh was a brief affair, spanning just seven months. All five of his caps came in 1986, while he was a Norwich City player.

His debut for his country came on 15 February 1986 when he traveled to Saudi Arabia for a friendly played in the oil city of Dhahran. He came on as a 78th-minute substitute for David Phillips, and played alongside his former Rovers teammate Neil Slatter. Williams was in the starting lineup for his four remaining internationals; a friendly against Uruguay played in Wrexham, two friendlies against Canada played in Toronto and Vancouver, and a European Championships qualifier against Finland in Helsinki.

Although he didn't play for Wales again after this, it wasn't the end of his international career, as he stood in as caretaker manager for the principality for a single game in 1988.

International appearances[]

N.B. Wales's score is always given first. (Source:
Date Opposition Result Venue Competition
15 February 1986 Ksa Saudi Arabia 2–1 Dhahran Friendly
21 April 1986 Uru Uruguay 0–0 Racecourse Ground, Wrexham Friendly
10 May 1986 Can Canada 0–2 Toronto Friendly
20 May 1986 Can Canada 3–0 Vancouver Friendly
10 September 1986 Fin Finland 1–1 Olympic Stadium, Helsinki Euro Champs qualifier

Management and coaching career[]

David's first job in coaching and management came in May 1983, when he was appointed as player-manager of Bristol Rovers, following the departure of Bobby Gould to Coventry City. At 28 years old he became the youngest manager in The Football League, and despite his lack of experience he went on to have the best winning percentage of any Rovers manager (excluding caretakers) and also lift the Gloucestershire Cup at both times of asking under his stewardship.

He relinquished control of The Pirates in 1985 when he was signed by Norwich City, and after two years as a player he again took on coaching duties, becoming a player-coach in May 1987. In March the following year he was appointed as caretaker boss of the Welsh national team for a single game, a 2–1 defeat to Yugoslavia at Vetch Field in Swansea, following the departure of Mike England from the post, before in August being promoted to player-assistant manager of Norwich under boss Dave Stringer.

When Stringer resigned in 1992 Williams also left the club, finding employment shortly afterwards as Tony Pulis's assistant at AFC Bournemouth. The pair were already very familiar with each other, Pulis having played under Williams for a season at Rovers and both of them having broken through the Pirates' South Wales production line into the first team in 1975, playing alongside each other for six years. David took the opportunity to join Premier League side Everton in February 1994, again as assistant manager, this time to Mike Walker, but when Walker was sacked just ten months later Williams also found himself having to look for a new job.

After a spell as reserve team manager at Leeds United David was taken on as a coach in the Manchester United youth setup, but after several years working for The Red Devils he was released in July 2002 on expiry of his contract. He returned for a second spell at Norwich City in 2004 after two years working as a driving instructor, where he worked as technical director of the academy until May 2007. He had been combining his role at Norwich with a job as assistant coach with the Welsh national under-21, under-19 and under-17 sides since 2005, and after leaving Norwich continued to work with the FAW.

Sources: Pirates in Profile, Bristol Rovers Football Club: The Definitive History 1883-2003, Flown from the Nest,

Managerial stats[]

Team Nation From To Record
G W D L Win %
Bristol Rovers Eng England May 1983 May 1985 108 51 28 29 47.22
Wales Wal Wales March 1988 March 1988 1 0 0 1 0.00
Norwich City Eng England 1 May 1992 1 June 1992 1 0 0 1 0.00
Last updated 18 November 2011 (sources Bristol Rovers Football Club: The Definitive History 1883-2003,, Wikipedia)

Record at Rovers[]

Season Comp Pld W D L F A GD[1] Pts[1] Pos[1][2] Round reached[3]
1983–84 Division Three 46 22 13 11 68 54 +14 79 5th
FA Cup 3 1 1 1 4 3 Second round
League Cup 4 2 1 1 8 8 Second round
Gloucestershire Cup 1 1 0 0 3 2 Winners
1984–85 Division Three 46 21 12 13 66 48 +18 75 6th
FA Cup 3 2 0 1 6 4 Third round
League Cup 4 1 1 2 6 7 Second round
Gloucestershire Cup 1 1 0 0 3 1 Winners
Total League 92 43 25 24 134 102 +32 154
Cups 16 8 3 5 30 25
All 108 51 28 29 164 127
Sources: Football Club History Database, Bristol Rovers Football Club: The Definitive History 1883-2003


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 League games only
  2. Finishing position for completed seasons only
  3. Cup competitions only

Further reading[]