Nefyn United have impressed a lot of people with their fine start to the 2019-20 season.
One of the major reasons for the team’s encouraging progress has been the work of three-man management team – Steve Jones, Carl Jones and Alan Wyn Jones.
The trio spoke to Grassroots North Wales about their hopes and ambitions for the Gwynedd League club.
First of all, please tell us a little about yourselves and your lives in football, and how you all came to be part of Nefyn United’s management team
Steve moved to Australia as a 19-year-old where he was youth development officer with A league side Adelaide United for 7 years. He’s been a Nefyn player for 5 years, a captain for 4 before becoming co-manager.
Carl was a pro with Cardiff City before stints with Bangor, Porthmadog and Pwllheli. He is also an ex-Welsh international at U-17, 19 and 21 levels so brings great quality and experience, and was signed by the Penwaig during last season.
Alan came back into things as a veteran keeper a few years ago when Nefyn were looking for a back-up keeper. Still signed as a player for emergencies!
Steve as captain, and Alan had a taste last season when Chris Jones our former manager had work commitments. We enjoyed the opportunity and had positive results. When Carl joined last season things seemed to progress naturally into us being offered the role.
Three joint managers does raise eyebrows, but it just works. Even though we’re different personalities, we share the same ideas on football and get on well. We’ve all got different strengths that complement each other. With Steve and Carl still vital players for Nefyn, it’s useful to have Alan on the sideline to help with their transition into management.
Nefyn’s fine start to the 2019/20 season has been there for all to see. How would you sum up how the first three months of the season have gone?
Really positive. All pre-season fixtures were arranged before we were appointed, so we didn’t have a lot of time to get our squad finalised. But we knew the great quality we had from last season.
The additions we made were the lads that we really wanted. At the moment it looks like those signings combined with the players we already had keep improving us week by week. The intensity in training is great. It’s really difficult being only able to choose a squad of only 16 every week.
But only two defeats, with wins against teams ranked higher than us, we have to be happy with our first few months. But then again we don’t want to be losing any games!
What has been your best and worst performance so far?
We wouldn’t call it our worst, as there’s been so much positivity, but our most disappointing result was our away 3-1 defeat to Bangor 1876. We felt that we could have had more out of the game.
Our best result has to be our Welsh Cup win over Mynydd Llandegai – ranked 2 tiers above us. To go away there and score 7 ranks as a great achievement for us. It’s really given us belief that we can beat anyone on our day.
The Bangor City match attracted massive media attention. What sort of an effect did it have on Nefyn as a place and as a football club? How do you feel you performed in that game?
To see around 300 supporters at Cae’r Delyn was fantastic. We hope that our football makes them want to come back!
The buzz in and around Nefyn was great. To get the local commumity involved with the club is something that the three of us feel really strongly about, but the boys did amazingly against a team that in different circumstances would be a Welsh Premier outfit.
We had a game plan that the team executed brilliantly, the boys deserve a lot of credit. Their work ethic and effort a pleasure to watch. The disappointment in our dressing room at the end was a testimony to how far we pushed Bangor. The game and occasion is something we would like to taste again.
You’ve met the unbeaten Bangor 1876 once so far, losing 3-1 in a good contest. What did you think of 1876? And do you feel you have the beating of them if you meet again?
They have a really good set-up with quality players. We competed well with them, so we’re looking forward to playing them again. It could be a good sign if we meet them more than once really, as it no doubt means good progression in the cups for us.
How would you describe Nefyn’s style of play this season? For those of you who were involved last season, has it changed a lot?
We think of ourselves as an attacking team that tries to play in the attacking half as much as possible. We want everyone who plays for Nefyn to enjoy their football and to enjoy the encouragement of their team mates and managers.
Positivity is important to us on and off the pitch. Every squad member has a role to play. Perhaps the positivity is one thing we have we feel that we’ve developed from last season.
What ambitions do the three of you hold for the rest of the season? Do you see yourselves challenging for the league, or is winning cups a more realistic target?
Our main target is and will always be promotion. We obviously hope for good cup runs and some silverware. That is why all our squad members are so important. The cups have been good for us recently with the Junior Cup and Bob Owen trophy in the past two years. So we obviously hope to build on this. We want to go as far as possible on all fronts!
Eifion Parry has been a tremendous servant to the club over many years. This season he has been quite ill and has been forced to take a back seat although he still manages to be involved. Tell us what Eifion means to Nefyn United FC. What has he done for the club over the years?
He is and will always be Mr Nefyn FC. He’s contributed so much to the club in a variety of capacities during the past three decades.
The least we could do was rename the dressing room/cafe area where he watches the games as ‘Llecyn Eifion Parry’.
If it’s good enough for Ferguson and Dalglish, it’s more than good enough for Eifion! We hope that he keeps himself well enough during his recovery to come to keep helping us, and to be able to come to as many games as possible! It’s not the same when his not in his ‘Llecyn’.
Nefyn United have played in the Welsh Alliance before and held their own for a good few seasons. From what you know and have seen of the Welsh Alliance of late, do you feel you could complete well at that level?
Even though it was only a friendly, our pre-season win against Welsh Alliance Penrhyndeudraeth gave us all great belief.
This coupled with the win at Mynydd Llandegai has given us great encouragement that our squad could more than hold their own in a higher tier. We’ve got good players, and they’ve taken their opportunities to show it.
Finally, come the end of the season, what would you all be happy with in terms of achievement for Nefyn United?
Silverware and promotion. You’ve got to aim high otherwise what’s the point.
But firstly we hope to keep progressing on and off the pitch. We hope our football keeps bringing people through the gate.
It might sound like a cliche, but as players and managers we really appreciate the support we receive at home and increasingly away.
It’s nice seeing young (and older!) faces at the ground. The link with the community is really important, and the creation of the new U18’s is a great positive step.
The local businesses have also been really supportive of what we’re aiming for. Not forgetting either our Veterans team, which means that retiring from Nefyn’s first team doesn’t have to mean the end of playing football!
We are lucky to have committee members that are committed and looks after the pitch, kit, cafe and the gate on matchdays. The three of us really hope to build on the positive start that we have made.