Spotlight on Rhys Murrell-Williamson
Taimour Lay trapped Kingstonian's winger in a corner and asked him the important questions:
Following youth spells at Crystal Palace, Fulham and Celtic, Rhys embarked on a successful, if peripatetic, career in non-league. Highlights included making the National League South Team of the Year in 2017/18 while at St Albans City, scoring 15 goals in 34 appearances. This is in fact the 28 year old’s second spell at K’s, having made six appearances for us in the 2018-19 season on loan from Woking, scoring four goals.
Taimour Lay asked the questions after a scintillating display at home to Lewes on 3 January.
In light of Nyren Clunis’s revelatory displays as a defender, are you worried that Hayden is going to convert you into a full-back? (Five days later Hayden did indeed convert him into a full-back for the win at Brightlingsea Regent…)
RMW: No! But when I need to do a job for the team, I’ll do it. I don’t mind. Sometimes it’s easier. On the wing, you might have to do a skill to beat the defender but at full-back sometimes it’s simple. You can see everything in front of you and you run into that space. So it can be easier. Unless you’re up against a tricky opposition winger you need to defend against! Nyren’s doing really well.
What’s it like being back at K’s?
RMW: Well, I came on loan that first time. It was a hard time for me. I was going from loan to loan and wasn’t settled. It was actually good when I came. I think it was under Leigh Dynan originally and then he left and Dean Brennan took over. I scored a few. I knew it was a good club then and it still is.
Yes, I remember one lovely curled effort in a home match.
RMW: Against Carshalton I think.
Players often remark on the difficulties of loan spells and not staying long enough at one club.
RMW: I’m older and wiser now. You realise you need somewhere where you know you’re going to play.
Surely the non-league way is to go where you can get the highest wage possible!
RMW: And a contract! Ha ha. I must say that I was very settled at Cray. Unfortunately, I and a few others had to leave. Life goes on.
How do you rate your form this season?
RMW: I think I started slowly. I had conversations with Hayden where I said I felt I had so much more to give. It was just a case of me getting used to him, him getting used to me. It’s the first time I’ve worked with him and the way he wants to play.
He likes to have the ball a lot. And he likes runs off the ball a lot. Previously, like at Cray, it was a case of just “get it to the front players and you guys do your thing” whereas here it’s more a team effort and a structure, a pattern of play.
Overall, I think I’ve played well but I haven’t been getting the goals.
Speaking of goals, you scored a great one today, cutting in off the right before unleashing as shot. There was an intense terrace debate on whether or not it took a deflection because it seemed to bend into the net and the keeper didn’t move.
RMW: The keeper asked me too! It wasn’t deflected. That finish is my trademark. It hasn’t been coming off. When I shot, everything went quiet, everyone stopped, and I thought to myself “what’s happening here?” And then it went in.
Speaking of deflections, your cross to Dan Ajakaiye at Aldershot definitely did change flight after a touch from a defender.
RMW: Oh yes, that did get a little deflection. It was a great header from Dan though. It was a shame to lose that match. That’s what we have to improve on: not giving teams goals. We have to work so hard for our goals and then we give them away. We’ll get better. Sometimes we are expansive. But now we’re tucking the wingers in when we don’t have the ball so there’s more protection in midfield.
(At this point, Bryant Akono Bilongo walks past and Rhys congratulates him on his imminent move to the north-east…)
RMW: Bryant, message me…! I’m so happy for him. It’s really good. He deserves it. He’s young and has so much room to improve.
You’re still young!
RMW: I’m ten years older!
Would you move to Middlesbrough if you got the chance?
RMW: Ha, maybe, if it was a good deal…
What are you up to outside of football?
RMW: I’ve got a Caribbean restaurant with my family in Shepherd’s Bush called “Hotpot”. It’s doing really well now. My day job I deliver alcohol to restaurants in and outside London. So I’m busy.
Are you a good cook yourself?
RMW: In the first lockdown I put my skills to the test. I was very decent.
Then it’s settled. End of season party at Hotpot.
RMW: Yes, why not? Hayden has been trying to do that for ages.
Only if we win a pot... Final question: where will we finish this season?
RMW: Let’s not get ahead of ourselves. It’s one game at a time.