Meet the (General) Manager: Paul Scholes (Bro Goronwy)

Bro Goronwy’s general manager Paul Scholes

Please tell us a bit about yourself and your football background

My parents moved down to Anglesey from Manchester when I was only 2 years old (but I was actually born in Bangor whilst they were staying in their summer caravan) to the Benllech area so the Ynys Môn life is all I’ve ever known.

In reality football has always been in my blood from a very young age as happens being brought up in a football-mad family from the red side of Manchester.

My father, Ian, was the manager of the Amlwch junior sides I progressed through so I soon got used to getting to games early to put the nets up and sorting the kit and changing rooms out afterwards and now nearly at the age of 80 my dad can still be seen regularly following Bro Goronwy on a Saturday afternoon all over North Wales unless he’s at an English Premiership ground following my elder brother Mark, a full-time referee’s assistant in the Premiership.

I’ve got a couple of season tickets at Old Trafford but struggle to get to as many matches as I’d like to with my Bro commitments but still have managed to be spoilt over the years, enjoying trips to European Cup Finals in Barcelona, Moscow and Rome as well as all the good times under SAF that sadly seem light years away at present.

Working at British Gas with Llangoed FC stalwart Owen Williams gave me the opportunity to sign for Llangoed in the Anglesey League at the age of 19 – and that’s where I stayed for well over 10 years.

Paul won the NWCFA Junior Cup as a player with Llangoed in 2004

We were never the best team in the league during that spell, regularly taking the odd caning, but on our day could give anyone a game and we picked up a fair few trophies on our way, the highlight beating Holyhead Gwelfor in the NWCFA Junior Cup Final in 2004.

I was also part of the Sunday League scene at the time and that was how initially I got involved with Bro Goronwy, asked to fill a goalkeeping void to start with and gradually helping out more and more from there.

From switching to the Saturday scene in 2006 the club have won a bucketful of trophies but these days I myself concentrate on the day to day running of the club, secretary, treasurer, groundsman, kit man, club photographer, social media and press officer some of my roles to a name a few.

I thankfully haven’t had to put my boots back on out on the pitch for a good few years now but with this somewhat ridiculous transfer window in this season’s Gwynedd League I’m not ruling anything out at the now slender age of 45.

How do you feel the current season has started for Bro Goronwy?

Over the past 15 years Bro Goronwy, under the management of Lee Potter, have been spoilt with numerous high quality squads assembled but at the moment it’s a case of going back to the youth set up and hopefully the good bunch of lads we’ve got at the moment will all stick together for many years to come.

We’ve started okay this season, an early blow days after the transfer window shut was losing club captain Rob Tiesteel, out for the season with a double ankle break. Manager Martin Jones knows that some games we’ll win some we won’t but if we go into every game with the right attitude let’s just see what we can do.

Is this the strongest Gwynedd League you have been involved in – with the likes of Bangor 1876, Trearddur Bay Bulls and a strong Nefyn United side in the mix?

It certainly has been a strange summer leading up to this season to say the least with various local clubs that have been established for many a year not finding it easy to keep as well as bring in fresh players for one reason or another, ourselves losing nine of last season’s NWCFA Junior Cup winning squad and then you throw in the Bangor 1876 revolution into the equation to top things off.

Only time will tell but it’s gearing up to be an interesting last-ever Gwynedd League season to say the least, but I must say Bro Goronwy did very well to lift the Gwynedd League in 2011 ahead of a strong Glantraeth side that got promoted instead on a technicality and went on to win numerous accolades at higher levels.

What makes Bro Goronwy a special club for you?

Paul (front – black and white tracksuit) with Bro Goronwy’s Anglesey League quadruple-winning squad of 2016

For myself it’s all down to having a bit of pride in whatever you do. My family was involved in the previous Bro Goronwy set up in the 1980’s so I suppose I’m following in the footsteps.

We’re certainly not anywhere near one of the biggest clubs around and have more of a local feel but we always try and do the best we can with what we’ve got and with the limited number of members on and off the pitch to hopefully keep the club going for many years to come.

Is your family involved with the football club at all? If so, who does what?

I just have a 15 year old daughter at home but she unfortunately hasn’t got the slightest interest in football so wouldn’t be seen dead with me on a Saturday afternoon, but as previously mentioned my father does his level best to not miss many Bro games in the season and can often be found looking for footballs in the bushes !!

How did you feel about the 2019 Inter-Island Games? Anglesey men won gold and the ladies silver at football. How much did those achievements impress you?

I thought that week in June was one of the best sporting weeks the Island has seen for many a year, culminating in a combined attendance of over 14,000 for the 30 games in a week was quite surreal to be honest.

When people talk about the host nation in tournaments gaining an advantage from the home support that is exactly what spurred both the men and women’s teams into getting to those final matches and doing the Island proud.

Myself from only initially agreeing to host a couple of matches in the tournament to ending up being more involved behind the scenes during the week on the management committee, it was a remarkable feat to see that the whole tournament was organised by only a select few people so massive hats off must go to Gareth Parry, Jamie Thomas, Emma Rodger and Angela Roberts in that and hopefully fingers crossed the whole Island will come together when we host the main games in 2025.

I have to ask about your name. Do people sometimes not believe you when you say your name is Paul Scholes? I mean, he’s a giant of the game over the past 20 years or so, so maybe sometimes people might think you are joking, with it being a quite unusual name?

With the obvious name similarity and only a couple of months between us in age my family had always kept a close eye on Paul Scholes progressing up through United’s ranks from a youngster and often wondered if he’d make the first team.

For a while I suppose people in the Manchester area were questioning my family if that was myself and yes I still get the usual comment over the phone but these days I’m more grey than ginger !!

You have seen lots of talent come through Bro Goronwy over the years. Which three players do you rate the highest?

Paul and Bro Goronwy manager Mart “Bach” Jones with the 2019 NWCFA Junior Cup

Yes, we’ve had some cracking players over the years and I don’t normally like to single out individuals but off the top of my head I’d have to give a mention to Andy Williams who’s given the club many years of service and still banging in goals galore at present in the Anglesey League.

I remember going to John Littlemore’s house to get him signed up on his 16th birthday as he was keen as mustard to start at his local club and another would be Gary Swindells, not a name you’d associate with flair and goals but in that centre midfield when we won the Gwynedd League in 2011 he never stopped running for the whole 90 minutes in every game played.

If Anglesey combined its best 16-20 players into a club-like set up, do you think it could compete well in the Cymru Premier League?

As shown in the recent Inter-Island games no doubt the talent is there on the Island and could possibly hypothetically hold its own against some of the big clubs, but I must admit over the last couple of seasons the standard at the highest level in Wales has moved up a few gears with a lot more money now being thrown about.

The Island scene itself I think is now saturated with clubs with everyone competing for the same players and with the re-organisation of leagues after this season who knows what will happen.

Tell us a little about you as a player….what was/is your main position? what were/are your strengths and weaknesses?

Paul (green) lines up with an early Bro Goronwy Sunday League team for whom he was a goalkeeper

I’d be the first to admit I was never the best footballer, but always gave 110% and that attitude is what I try to get across to our younger players.

I think I’ve played in every position going over the years but probably had my best years in defence where I was a more no nonsense defender rather than these players these days that play it out from the back.

Looking back you couldn’t beat getting a few lumps and bruises off the likes of Paul “Skin” Owen and David “Bisto” Graves in them days, but that’s what it was all about rather than rolling about on the floor like you see players do these days.

What are your ambitions for Bro Goronwy. Do you think you can reach the Welsh Alliance in the future?

Paul with the 2011 Gwynedd League trophy

With the Welsh Alliance as we know it coming to an end who knows what the future leagues hold?

These days I look at things more realistically in terms of making sure the club itself has a renewed future and then beyond that we will strive to drive as high as we can because fair play year after year we have gradually improved our facilities at our ground so now can hold our own in which ever league we may find ourselves.

Do you like rugby union? If so, who will win the 2019 Rugby World Cup? How about cricket? Do you feel England deserved to draw the recent Ashes series 2-2? What were your thoughts on the series?

I must admit football is my passion but I will follow Wales in the big rugby tournaments.

I’d love them to bring the World Cup back, but I’ve got a sneaky feeling that a Southern Hemisphere team might be lifting it in a few weeks.

As to cricket, not a fan really but for some reason I was on the edge of my sofa screaming at that last ball in the World Cup Final – and then got well into the Ashes series.

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