Meet the Manager: Karl Fenlon (Coedpoeth United – Welsh National League Division One)

Coedpoeth United manager Karl Fenlon (right) with players and friends (from left): Nathan Jones and Andrew Griffiths

Please tell us a bit about yourself and your football background

I’ve been associated with Coedpoeth for over 30 years as player and manager.
I was originally manager for the reserves but got pushed into doing the first team when we had a massive exodus of players and manager and I was asked to steady the ship as it were.
It was a really bad time for the club because we were in the Welsh National League Premier and we simply didn’t have the quality to cope in that division.
We then made a conscious decision to try our best to bring the youth through and build from there and I think you can see that in today’s squad. I have 6 regular players aged 19 and there’s more on the fringes.

How do you feel this season is going for Coedpoeth United?

It’s going okay. We’ve had some massive cup wins against higher league opposition but had a slow start in the league which we’re trying to put right.

What has been your best and worst performance this season to date?

Our worst was undoubtedly our first game of the season v New Brighton. They beat us 3-0 at home and we were awful that day and they could have beaten us by more.
The best is a hard one because we’ve beaten some top teams but I’ll have to go for the win v Rhostyllen in the Welsh Cup. They were top of the Premier and I had 6 regular first teamers out, so we had an extremely young side out that day but we ended up beating them 3-2. We were hanging on in the end but through sheer determination and the players giving everything we won.

You achieved some outstanding cup results early in the season – how much confidence did this give you as a club?

Coedpoeth (yellow and green) take on Gresford of the Cymru North in the Welsh Cup. Photo: Chas Rowland

Like I’ve said we’ve beaten some top teams and if we didn’t beat them we gave a good account of ourselves.
The lads now feel on our day we can give anyone a game. The most disappointing result was the 5-0 loss to Gresford. The scoreline flattered them and we were unlucky not to score a few ourselves.

Coedpoeth – cup results 2019-20

Aug 31: Coedpoeth 3 Rhostyllen 2 (Welsh Cup QR1)

Sep 14: Coedpoeth 4 Prestatyn Sports 2 (FAW Trophy R2)

Sep 28: Coedpoeth 4 Llandyrnog United 2 (Welsh Cup QR2)

Oct 19: Coedpoeth 0 Gresford Athletic 5 (Welsh Cup R1)

Oct 26: Nantlle Vale 1 Coedpoeth 0 (FAW Trophy R3)

Coedpoeth beat three teams from higher divisions/levels in their cup runs

WNL Division One has a few strong sides. Do you feel you have what it takes to challenge for promotion?

Yes definitely!
We’ve built a squad now that can cause any team problems. We’ve added some experience this season which we’ve not had the last few seasons so all round we’re strong, we just need to be consistent.

How do Coedpoeth United stand as a club at present? Do you have future plans to expand and develop?

Coedpoeth United line up with manager Karl Fenlon back row, second from right

This club has a fantastic youth set up and fantastic youth coaches. It’s developing every season. As for the adult section we are happy with what we’re doing, we’ll never accept money from outside parties and we’ll keep it local as we can which in my opinion builds a stronger bond between players.

Does the club get good support from the community of Coedpoeth?

The club as a whole gets lots of help from the community. There’s a lot of youth teams to get kits for and there’s always a local business on hand to help sponsor a kit or equipment.

What has been your personal highlight as a football manager to date?

Karl admires the way current FAW Trophy holders Cefn Albion (above) operate as a club, as well as Llay Welfare, whose manager Mike Gadie is pictured below

As a player I was lucky enough to win a few trophies but I’m not embarrassed to say I’ve won nothing as a manager yet. Personally I’m very proud of where this squad was 4 years ago to the one it is now. The management team and chairman I have had around me all share the same vision and ideas as I do. We want to build sides that contain players from the youth and local lads as much as possible. I admire the likes of Cefn Albion and Llay with the way they run their clubs.

Do you have any managerial role models?

Erm, without mentioning the obvious which would be Sir Alex Ferguson for me I’ve played under some brilliant managers which I’ve learned something different off all of them and I learn off opposition managers. I’m always learning.

What is your managerial style – shouter? or silent but strong?

I’m loud, make no bones about it – I like my own voice!
I’m extremely passionate and I always listen to other people’s opinions.

What would make this season a good one for you in terms of achievement for Coedpoeth United?

There would be no-one happier than me if we won something this season. We’ve had some dark times at this club and I think it would be a massive achievement for everyone involved if we lifted a trophy and they’d deserve it!

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