Please tell us a bit about yourself and your football background
This is my 17th year of being an active member of Llay Miners Welfare FC, the last four being as first team manager. I played for both our firsts and reserve side, but predominantly at right back for our reserves, due to the strength of our then first team.
How do you feel the 2019/20 season has started for Llay Welfare?
I’m not overly happy with our start to the season, as I expect a lot from the talented bunch of lads we have available to us. We’ve been unlucky in a couple of games and frankly not good enough in a couple. There is a lack of goals within our side currently, but hopefully once we have all our players back and available for selection that will change.
What are the current strengths and weaknesses of the club?
Strengths are we have a real solid base to our side. Kyle Flower (GK) has come in and this is his second full season at first team level. He’s up there with the best in the league for me. I was surprised Brickfield didn’t fight tooth and nail to keep him to be honest. We have a real depth to our squad this year which is of great strength to us, but we can be guilty of being inconsistent and at this level you will get punished. We have to go into every game like it’s our last with that fighting quality that so many Llay teams have had over the years.
What sort of support do you get from the local community?
We have a world-class committee and our chairman Kieron Fox, along with our other members, are working tremendously hard behind the scenes to make our ground the best in the league. We’ve got people behind the scenes trying to generate sponsorships etc to try take us to that next level but is so difficult when your all trying to pool off the same resources. We get a good following to our games in all fairness which myself and the lads really appreciate.
How difficult is it getting a squad together, given the amount of clubs in the Wrexham area competing for the best players?
We’ve managed to keep all our squad from last year, with the exception of Matt Worrall, who has sadly left to play at a higher standard. But we’ve added a couple of additions ourselves. I’m really excited to see what Ryan Goodband can do in this league once he is back and available for selection. It would have been nice to add a couple more faces into the squad, but sadly we’re competing against clubs who have budgets and sadly for us money does talk at this level.
Who do you see as the main contenders for the Welsh National League Premier Division title this season?
FC Queen’s Park will be right up there, they have some great players and have added some real depth to an already strong squad. I really like what Cefn Albion have done, they’re a young side who on their day are up there among the best in our league. And Phil has started well again with Brymbo, so they’ll be the three to beat for me. I also think Rhostyllen could be dark horses come the end of the season.
What are your realistic ambitions this season for Llay Welfare?
We had a good solid season last year, finishing 7th. If we can add some goals into our displays then we can worry anyone in the league, but to beat the best we have to add consistency to our game. I want to challenge the lads to get amongst it this season and have a real push at breaking into the top 6. Because I do genuinely believe they’re good enough to have a real crack at it.
What has been the highlight of your stint as manager so far?
We’ve had some real scalps in my time of being here, but the one that stands out for me, was when we went to Brymbo last year, they were flying and hammering sides, and we went there with some key players missing and frustrated them, evidently coming away with 3 points. The lads came away with some real confidence from that game which took us on a run of consecutive victories to propel us up the league, and from being everyone’s favourites for relegation we comfortably finished the season on 40 points. We’ve also had some good displays in the Welsh Cup earning the club some money along the way.
What is your managerial style? Are you a shouter, or do you get your message across quietly but efficiently? What type of football style do you preach?
My management style I would say is a bit like my personality, I’m passionate about the football club and I want my players to be passionate about it too. We’re a working class village with strong roots and if the lads can add that mentality into their games, it will stead them well for their futures in amateur football.
All of my players are good enough to make that step into Cymru Alliance football, they just have to start believing it. I like to play football the right way but you have to play your opponent and certain games will not look pretty. I say to the lads it’s obviously nice to win football matches, but as long as they all come off that pitch knowing they’ve put in a performance then I’ll be happy whatever the result. It’s when the effort isn’t there is when they’ll see the other side to me. This is my fourth season managing in the WNL Premier and I’d like to think I’m a bit wiser now in my approach to matches, I’ve quickly learnt that if I’m erratic and overly excited on the sidelines then it transmits into the players then too, which can potentially be a disaster at this level, so I try to remain calm and positive. (Sometimes that can’t always be the option though haha).
What are your future ambitions both as a manager and for your club?
Like I have said I’m fiercely passionate about this football club, I want to take us to the next level and I believe we have the right committee and people behind us to do so. It’s really down to me now to challenge the lads to take us there or find players that can take us to that level. Our league is tough and everyone within it is capable of beating each other. If we can string a run of wins together who knows where it could take us….