Meet the Player: Ben Kearney (Brymbo FC)

Ben Kearney has netted 12 goals in his first six games this season for Brymbo

Striker Ben Kearney has made a stunning start to the season with Welsh National League Premier Division club Brymbo, scoring 12 goals in six matches.

Among that tally have been three hat-tricks, including back-to-back trebles against champions FC Queen’s Park and Saltney Town within the past few days.

Ben took time out to talk to Grassroots North Wales about his flying opening to the campaign.

Ben’s dynamic dozen – 2019/20 season

Aug 7: Lex XI (a – NEWFA Challenge Cup) W 7-0 – 3 goals
Aug 10: Castell Alun (a – WNL Premier Division) W 7-1 – 2 goals
Aug 14: Brickfield (h – WNL) W 2-1 – 0 goals
Aug 17: Cefn Albion (a – WNL) L 4-6 – 1 goal (red card)
Aug 20: Holywell Town (a – WNL) D 0-0 – did not play
Aug 24: FC Queen’s Park (h – WNL) W 5-2 – 3 goals
Aug 26: Saltney Town (h – NEWFA) W 5-3 – 3 goals

12 goals in your first six games is an amazing start to the season. Did you expect this?

I couldn’t have asked for a better start to be honest, similar to last season but going one better this time and in tougher games.

I always expect to score goals and it’s great doing that, but the result is always the main thing for me and it hasn’t been a bad start for the club and me personally so I’m happy with that. Three hat-tricks and not out of August is something I’m really proud of and I can only hope to carry that form on through the season.

We’ve played the three main title contenders and got 10 points from a possible 15 which isn’t the worst start in the world and I’m happy overall with my personal and the team’s performance so far. I hope we can continue getting results and go on a run now.

How was your pre-season form? How do you feel last season went on your return to the Premier?

Pre-season form was pretty similar, scoring goals, getting wins and we played some tough games. Notably beating Ruthin 4-1, which flattered them really. On another day it could have been double figures. but that showed how far we’ve come as a team and that we really can mix it with better opposition.

It was a fantastic season last year and we definitely exceeded expectations after winning Division One the year before and apparently were favourites to go back down, so I think we proved a few people wrong.

Had a few tough games against higher opposition in the cups which I thought we were unlucky in. We lost to Buckley in the Welsh Cup but didn’t look out of place, we went to Llangefni, who were a really well-organised side, in the FAW Trophy and I think we were very unlucky to lose.

We played Flint in the NEWFA Challenge Cup and beat them 3-1 and I scored a hat-trick, then in the quarter-finals we suffered a 4-2 loss to Welsh Premier side and eventual cup winners Cefn Druids, where I scored both that day too so a few good ties along the way and also great games in the league against very good sides.

Which performance from a personal and team point of view has brought you the most pleasure so far this season?

Brymbo line up with managers Philly Hudson and Tommy Holmes

It has got to be beating the champions Queen’s Park. Underdogs, so early in the season, but a massive 6 pointer for two of many potential challengers for the league this year and we came out on top 5-2 and I scored a hat trick so that’s definitely performance of the season for the lads and me personally.

They beat us 4-1 last year at their place and I was banned for that one and it was painful to watch, so it was nice to get out there and help the lads to 3 points this time around.

How long have you played for Brymbo? What attracted you to the club?

This is my third season with Brymbo now.

I’ve worked with Philly (Hudson – manager) before and when he took over he asked me along and explained a bit about the club and it was a no-brainer for me really because I took a break from football for a year previously due to personal issues so I decided to give it a go again and haven’t looked back. Great club, great committee, great management and the lads are a pleasure to play with.

What are your ambitions for this season? Do you think you can win the Premier Division title after going so close last season?

Ben celebrates another goal

Ambitions for the season are pretty obvious for me this year. Winning the league is definitely what we all want, but it was so tough last year with Corwen and Queen’s Park and it’s going to be even tougher this year.

Not an easy league to get out of, and teams are getting stronger every time. A few better cup runs this year is an aim, we would like to replicate Cefn Albion and go all the way in the Trophy – that would be fantastic and I know we are well capable of it as we can beat anyone on our day.

Yes, I genuinely believe we can win the league this year. We are two points worse off this year compared to last, but we’ve had a tough start and played our three title challengers, so it’s not a bad start.

We were terrible against Bricky and got the 3 points, we played Cefn Albion at The Crick and I played with a hamstring injury because it’s a massive game and after 20 minutes I thought it was going to be 7-0 (Brymbo led 3-0).

But they showed why they are one of the best teams in the league and showed great character to come back and beat us 6-4 in a mad game where I was sent off stupidly, which meant I missed another massive game against Holywell the Tuesday after and it was painful to watch us dominate the majority of the game and only come away with a point which should have been three but for a really dubious decision late in the game – but that happens in football.

Tell us a bit about the managers Phil Hudson and Tommy Holmes. What do they bring to the club and how have they helped you personally?

Philly and Tommy are the best about, working with them makes it all worthwhile. Tommy, a legend in the Welsh leagues, and both of them know everything they need to to be the best in the game.

Constantly improving all our games and constructive feedback which is what we all need at times. Philly, no nonsense and tells you straight what he wants and expects from you. Don’t know where to start with Tosh, but I’d say every changing room needs a Tosh in their team.

Two great fellas and also Ste, who’s on board now as well helping out – he’s also a big influence on the team but his warm-ups can be a bit of a killer haha.

My discipline is my downside sometimes and I pick up a few needless cards but I’m trying to knock that out of my game slowly but surely, when things aren’t going my way.

Philly and Tommy are the best people to help me get back to my way. They both have a massive influence on the way I play.

Which teams can you see challenging near the top alongside yourself in the Premier this season?

Holywell Town’s Mark Connolly (stripes) in action against Brymbo. Pic: Lee Paul Douglas

Obviously the main ones have got to be Queen’s Park because they are the champions and a really good, physical side. Especially at their home pitch, horrible place to go.

Secondly, Cefn Albion will be up there too, very good footballing side and a good bunch of lads who can beat anyone on their day. And then of course Holywell Town, who have come down – they will learn the hard way that this isn’t an easy league to get out of, but I’m pretty sure they will be up there too come the end of the season.

But overall I genuinely believe we are the best team in this league and if we knock a few of the bad things out of our game and get consistency then I believe we will be lifting that trophy at the end of the season.

Few dark horses too, Rhostyllen had a great start and I’ve heard a few things about them and also Penycae. Only time will tell but I can assure you this season is going to be better than any other.

Have you always been a goalscorer? How important is Brymbo’s style of play to the way you operate as a striker?

Ben is in the spotlight with two team-mates on an awards night

Since a very young age, I’ve always been a striker. When you’re a kid you just want to score goals and that is what I’ve done for years and years and still trying to this day.

I’ve always been a small player though up until recent years and now I find myself as a bit of a target man which is unusual. but yes I would say I have always been a goal scorer but that doesn’t mean I don’t miss a few sitters along the way hahaha.

How important is Brymbo’s style of play to the way you operate as a striker?

Brymbo’s style of play has altered slightly since I’ve started, we have different systems and we try different stuff but our main style of play suits me perfectly and suits the other lads too.

The system we play is quite a common one for a lot of teams now, but you’ve got to have the players that can do that job in the right positions or it just simply won’t work.

Along with scoring, I also set up a lot of goals too. Pressing and chasing lost causes is also a key part of my game. When we gel and all play how we can then no one beats us.

Do you set yourself goal targets each season? How about this season?

I wouldn’t say I set targets all the time but last season I scored 34 goals in 33 games so I’ve set myself a target this season going off them figures and I’m confident after the start I’ve made that I’ll definitely beat that.

My target is 40 this season so just another 28 to go. I got 18 in the league last year and played 17 games so I’m hoping to beat that too, I’m on 6 now so fingers crossed I can keep my form up.

Tell us about Brymbo as a football club. Is it a good community club? do you all enjoy a good relationship with the fans?

Brymbo is a fantastic club, the set-up and facilities are class. Couldn’t ask for a better bunch of lads as well, every match day everyone is together, behind each other. How a club should be.

Then there’s the fans, the regulars that are there every week who love the lads and when we get the result it’s amazing to see them happy and that’s why we do it.

What has been the highlight of your football career so far?

My highlight has got to be my time at Everton. I was there for a short while when I was a kid and it was fantastic. Would have preferred to have been at the Reds but we can’t be fussy when you’re playing football haha.

I always wore a Liverpool top under the Everton one so the badge didn’t touch me. Bad I know! (laughs).

What are your personal ambitions as a footballer?

Obviously everyone wants to play as high as they can and that’s the same with me, but there comes a time when you’re settled and happy with what you’re doing and what’s going on around you.

I’m 25 next month and have my son which my football at the moment works nicely around all my personal stuff, so winning as much as I can with Brymbo is my main focus.

I received a few offers to play a bit higher beginning of the season, but opted to stay with the Steelmen and all my best mates which is why I love it where I am.

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