A biting, blustery night in Glasgow will soon be forgotten by most.
Dunfermline’s 1-0 defeat against Partick Thistle last Friday — sabotaged by the gusting gales of Storm Arwen — was not one for the purists.
But for Owain fon Williams, it heralded a landmark he will cherish forever.
Result notwithstanding, his 500th senior appearance was a red-letter achievement for the Wales internationalist; a number he always privately saw as a target.
“All I ever wanted to do was to play football,” said fon Williams. “I didn’t want to be on the bench. I didn’t want to be down the pecking order. I wanted to play games. I had fire in my belly to reach 500 games and it was a proud moment for me and my family.”
He laughed: “After all, it is hard enough getting your first game!”
A Dragons’ delight
While fon Williams has plenty left in the tank and further glories to which he aspires, his 500th outing is cause for retrospection.
His debut for Stockport County against Huddersfield in 2008 still takes pride of place among his finest moments; a journey’s beginning.
He would go onto establish himself in English football, embark on an American adventure with Indy Eleven and play in the Europa League with Inverness.
But nothing will ever compare to making his Wales debut and being part of Chris Coleman’s squad for Euro 2016.
“My dream was to play for Wales,” he continued. “I didn’t support a team — I’m from a pocket of Wales (Penygroes) where there is no local team like Dunfermline.
“The only team I would pretend to play for in my back garden with my brothers was Wales.
“So, to represent Wales over the age groups was brilliant.
“The icing on the cake was to be involved in my country playing in a major tournament. Not just that, but to go all the way to the semi-final and to see what it takes for a football team to upset the odds like that. Special.”
A legend’s advice
Still only 34 years of age, fon Williams is a relative pup in modern goalkeeping terms.
Indeed, he recalls impactful advice from Wales goalkeeping legend Neville Southall which now rings true.
“Neville used to coach me when I was about 17 and he’d say, ’80 to 90 per cent of the game will be played in your head’,” continued fon Williams.
“At the time, I didn’t know what he meant — but as I played and gained more experience, the penny dropped.
GoPro – 11th minute
Owain Fôn Williams makes a spectacular save from a Bobby Linn free-kick. pic.twitter.com/cPvbq6nleh
— Arbroath FC (@ArbroathFC) February 7, 2021
“I only touch the ball a handful of times during a game, but the match is played constantly in my head; thinking about situations that might happen, so you can react quick enough.
“All that experience it is only going to benefit you and providing your body is fine you can go on and go on.”
Another legend of goalkeeping, Edwin van der Sar — who claimed 11 major honours after joining Manchester United at the age of 34 — provides ample inspiration, while Scotland’s own veterans continue to roll back the years.
“I look up to someone like Edwin van der Sar purely because of his mannerisms in goal. He is one of my idols,” continued the towering Welshman.
“He was a well-oiled engine who had been there, done it, seen it and was composed. What more do you want in a goalkeeper?
“Craig Gordon and Allan McGregor are touching 40 but they are probably playing as good football as they ever have.
“It is all rehearsed in the brain, they have done it a million times. Goalkeeping is all about decision-making, composure and angles rather than how high you can jump.
“The more often you can make the right decisions, the more often you are going to come out on top.”
As appearance 501 approaches — a reunion with former club Hamilton — does that fire still burn as brightly?
“Oh yes, there’s no two ways about that,” he smiled. “That will be within me until the day I hang my gloves up. I lost the small sided game on Monday and that is still killing me!”