Meet the Manager: Daniel Bell (Nantlle Vale)

Daniel Bell (left) receives a past Welsh Alliance Manager of the Month award from league official Eric Wyn Jones

Please tell us a bit about yourself and your football background

Originally come from Bethel near Caernarfon. Grew up playing for a very successful junior side winning everything throughout North Wales.

Started my academy football with Bangor City at the age of 7 through to 13 years old. Have a lot to thank Mel Pennant current manager of Bangor 1876 for.

I went on to have spells at Manchester United, Wrexham and finally Oldham Athletic, where I signed YTS forms at 16. I had a very happy two years there off the pitch but struggled with injury on it.

Unfortunately at the start of my second season I ruptured my ACL meaning I missed the rest of the season. I had just been on a Wales training camp shortly before and I was selected for the Wales under 19 squad to visit Belgium but was unable to travel.

I made the decision to come and play my football back home and was given the opportunity to sign for my hometown club Caernarfon Town. I had an enjoyable spell there before moving on to Porthmadog for a couple of seasons where I had a very enjoyable time but again injury struck.

I had spells with Bangor and Caernarfon following this but struggled to find fitness. In the last few years I have played for Llanberis, Llanrug and Nantlle Vale, where I ruptured my ACL for the third time.

I have been lucky enough to be given an opportunity to come into management at Vale at a young age and I am enjoying every moment at this great community club.

How do you feel the 2019-20 season has gone for Nantlle Vale so far?

Not as planned if I am being totally honest. League form hasn’t been there so far this season as we see ourselves sat in a very average position mid table.

We have drawn too many games, creating opportunities but not making the opposition pay. We have been successful thus far in cup competitions, reaching the third round of the JD Welsh Cup and losing narrowly to a very strong Colwyn Bay side.

We’re in a semi-final and in the 5th round of the FAW Trophy. I very much hope that the new year will see us kick on in the league and start climbing the table.

What has been your best and worst performance to date?

I have to say that our best performance to date was against Colwyn Bay in the Welsh Cup at home. It’s these type of games that clubs at our level strive for.

It was a disciplined performance which saw us create opportunities to win the game, hanging on at times but showing great determination to put bodies on the line. Even though we lost that day I was proud of the boys for going toe to toe with a Cymru North side who have a yearly budget we could only dream of.

Worst performance to date has to be the recent cup tie against Llanrug United. It is always a tough game, a local derby where anything can happen. We had beaten them a couple of weeks beforehand so we knew they would be hungry for revenge . Our performance was lacklustre, we had players who were miles off their usual game and ended up losing heavily to a 4-1 scoreline.

What are you looking to achieve as a team this season?

The targets we have set as a squad and as a club are :
Top 4 finish in Welsh Alliance Division One
Cup final
Third round Welsh Cup
We are on track in the cups but are way off our league goal. The goal was to go one better than last season having finished in the top 6. Our form in the new year is going to have to pick up to achieve our goal. I believe we have the squad to do it and we as the coaching staff will be looking to strengthen the squad going in to the new year to ensure we achieve our aims.

How is the club developing? Do you have a youth section and is it progressing well as a whole?

The club has come a long way in the last 5 years with the committee working tirelessly to better us all the time. Apart from the first team we have a very strong junior set up which I take a big interest in. We have quality youth coaches and very good teams. With promising talent coming up through the older age groups at the moment.

There are currently more than 150 signed players meaning that the football club is a big part of the community. We have an amazing junior secretary who we are lucky to have. We are now working towards the gold accreditation for junior clubs, meaning that all the hard work is being recognised.

Is Nantlle Vale a well supported club? Do the people of Penygroes get behind you?

Nantlle Vale’s Christmas float with Sion Corn on board

I would say Nantlle Vale are one of the best supported clubs in the Welsh Alliance with crowds of a 100+ each game. We have no trouble when we go and look for sponsors, local companies are very good with us and are always ready to support.

The community is behind the club and we make a big effort to do work within the community. We have a Christmas float which goes round all the local villages, we have visited the local care home recently, the club was part of a youth project which went on last summer.

We are always looking to engage with the people of Penygroes which in turn means they are very supportive of the club and what we are trying to create.

Do you have any role models as a manager? Anyone you model your managerial style on?

In all honesty, no. I watch a lot of Welsh Premier football and their various styles of play. It’s all well and good coaches at our level trying to replicate the playing style of Man City, but I feel this is not realistic at our level and the pitches we play on.

Nantlle Vale has an illustrious history in North Wales football. How aware are you of it?

It just so happens my partner’s grandfather has previously been chairman of the club. So I have seen a lot of old photos. I also have a very good relationship with a lot of locals who often relay the club’s success over the years.

How do you see next season developing with the changes to the Welsh football pyramid? Do you feel the club is well-equipped to deal with the changes, or are you as yet unaware of the full nature of how everything will work?

I am looking forward to the changes if I am honest. I believe it can only better the standard of competition. It’ll mean more travelling. We will face new opposition which is always exciting and will be playing on better pitches and better facilities.

The committee have been preparing for these changes for the past three seasons. They along with the groundsman have worked tirelessly to ensure we tick all the correct boxes.

We are now just waiting on the FAW to come and assess the ground to make sure it reaches the criteria, which I am very confident it will.

What are your plans for Christmas and New Year?

Football, football and more football. I have two TV’s downstairs, one in the living room for the kids and one in the kitchen for myself and Sara which constantly has football on no matter what level or country – I just love watching football! With plenty on show over Christmas and new years.

As Nantlle Vale takes up most of my spare time I am looking forward to this week off with my boys Caio and Guto, No training this week means I can enjoy a break with my family before returning to football next weekend at home to Blaenau Ffestiniog.

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