FC Halifax Town: “It’s just a thrill that you can’t put into words” - In-form Waters on the art of goalscoring
There can’t be too many footballers better placed at the moment to ask about the art of goalscoring than Town’s Billy Waters.
The 26-year-old has netted seven times in his first eight games for Halifax, already recording the third most prolific season in his career.
Waters has scored more goals so far this term than he managed in the whole of the previous campaign with Torquay, while only Blackburn’s Ben Brereton, Cole Stockton of Morecambe and Chesterfield’s Kabongo Tshimanga have scored more than Waters in the top five divisions of English football this season.
“It’s been going well, I think it’s mainly just having the freedom to play, to be starting every week, which allows you to get that consistency,” he said.
“Obviously it helps that the team’s doing so well, we’ve got really good players in the squad and that makes all the difference because it makes my job a lot easier.
“I think we’re all just working well together and thankfully the goals are coming for me at the moment.”
If six goals in 31 games for Torquay last season resulted in Waters losing familiarity with the exhilaration and jubilation of scoring goals, his red-hot form for Town will have those feelings rushing back.
“It’s just the best feeling, you can’t really describe it, because you know how much it means to yourself and the fans, and all your loved ones,” he said.
“It’s just a thrill that you can’t put into words. There’s no better feeling, you almost get addicted to that feeling, which is why you want to score as many goals as you can.
“I’ve scored goals in my career where there might be something riding on it, obviously nothing beats a last-minute winner, but every goal is special, you get that buzz with every goal.
“I don’t think I’ve ever had it where I’ve scored a goal and thought ‘not bothered’. Every goal that comes is as good as the last.
“So far this season I’ve just been absolutely loving it.”
Waters says the feeling after scoring a goal is almost transcendent, beyond the range of normal emotions.
“You’re just so buzzing because you’ve got a goal, it’s just a mix of emotions - happiness, a bit of fire in your belly, just everything,” he said.
“This season with my celebrations, I think because I’m trying to stay calm in my head when I’m scoring, sometimes the celebrations have been a bit calmer.
“The one where I went the most mad was probably Boreham Wood away because that was in the dying minutes and we needed an equaliser.
“But it’s brilliant. Whenever any of the lads score, we’re all delighted for them and all the lads enjoy celebrating goals.”
Waters’ latest goal proved decisive in Town’s 1-0 win at Aldershot last Saturday.
“It was my only chance in the game so when it came I was delighted it went in,” he said.
“When you go 1-0 up early on, you know everything can change so you’re not necessarily thinking it’s going to be the winning goal.
“It’s a bit different mentality wise because you’re thinking ‘right, we need to get another’ because usually, one goal isn’t enough.
“Second-half they probably had the better of the game but defensively we’ve been solid all season, starting with Sam in goal, who’s been unbelievable, and the back four, whoever they’ve been, it works its way right up through the team.
“It was a good grinding win on Saturday, which is nice because we’re winning different types of games. Stockport was a great win at home but it’s good to see we can get the dirty wins away from home too.”
Waters has already demonstrated a range of goalscoring this season, and has displayed a calmness in-front of goal and excellent awareness and anticipation.
“Whenever I score a header I’m always buzzing because it’s not something I usually do!” he said.
“I’m probably better off when I have less time to think about it. I’ve always been more of an instinctive finisher.
“It’s more about what it means to the team, so a goal that’s a last-minute winner or something like that, however they come.
“What I like so far this season is all my goals have been a little bit different.
“The tap-ins are always my favourite, they’re nice to score because you feel like you’ve not had to work too hard for them, which is a credit to the players around you.”
The Town team has complemented Waters well this season, playing sharp, incisive football, often with the striker finishing off a well-constructed move by being in the right place at the right time.
“That just happens instinctively, the more experience you get over the years,” he said.
“This season I’ve been trying to get myself into more goalscoring positions, but again, it’s credit to the lads around me.
“I’ve got Warbs (Matt Warburton) playing in the number 10 role, he’ll go and link the play a lot which allows me to not have to come to feet as much, allows me to stretch (teams) and get into those positions where I know I’m probably going to be most dangerous.
“Especially with my height as well, I’ve always been allowed to come quite elusive and people struggle to pick you up because they don’t think you’re as dangerous, so it’s worked for me.
“I’ve been focusing on getting myself into good positions, trying to anticipate where the ball’s going to go, and go from there.”
After 14 goals in his previous four seasons, Waters certainly seems to have got his mojo back, having already reached half that number this term.
So how big a part does confidence play for a striker?
“That’s football, there’s ups and downs, but I think the worst is when you’re not getting any chances,” he said.
“I’ve gone through periods in my career where I’m coming off the pitch without having had a shot, and when that’s happening you’re thinking ‘I can deal with missing chances, but not even getting them is another story’.
“That’s what’s been so good this season, is that it’s great I’ve scored seven so far but I could have had 10 or more because of the amount of chances we’re creating.
“That’s always brilliant as a forward player because you know that the players around you are going to create chances for you.
“There’s been games this season where we’ve played the first-half and I’ve thought ‘I can’t see myself getting in here’ but then you’ve got to say to yourself ‘no, you’ll get chances’ because this team creates chances, and sure enough, I’ll get a chance in the second-half and I’ll score it.
“It’s just about being patient, staying level-headed and having trust and faith in the team.”
Town boss Pete Wild was adamant he had signed a goalscorer during pre-season when discussing Waters’ arrival, and deserves credit for his role in Waters’ red-hot form.
“When I first came, the gaffer said ‘I know you’re a forward but I can see you playing anywhere across the line’,” Waters said.
“I’ve played in a front two, little and large, I’ve played all over but up-front would usually be my preferred position, and I think it was one pre-season game where the gaffer said ‘I’m going to play you down the middle because I know you want to play there’.
“I think I’ve only played as a lone number nine on two other occasions in my career, and in fairness I scored in both of them, so it might be my best position!
“The way we play football as a team, I think it suits everybody in the team, it’s definitely suiting me at the moment.
“So credit to the gaffer to have the strength in decision-making, because let’s be honest, it’s not typical that you play with a 5ft 7in striker down the middle in this league.
“But we’re proving it can be done.”
Waters is certainly proving he can score goals at this level, and sees no reason why his magnificent run can’t continue.
“Confidence is high at the moment, and I’m going into every game confident and thinking I’m going to score,” he said.
“I was a bit hacked off after Yeovil because my streak had come to an end!
“I’m just enjoying it at the moment. Obviously the main thing is always to get three points on the board for the team, but if I can keep scoring, then that’s obviously going to help the team and I’m just loving it at the moment.
“You always play better when you’ve got a smile on your face.”