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My All-Time North Wales football XI: No 7 – Dave Cooke

Dave Cooke is in the manager’s chair

Former Denbigh Wanderers manager Dave Cooke is the latest to choose his All-Time North Wales XI.

Players can be from any era. Managers can select players they worshiped as a kid, played alongside, played against, managed or managed against.

Dave, the former Denbigh Town, Trefnant Village and Caerwys footballer started the rebirth of Denbigh Wanderers in 2011, after the town had not had an over-35’s side since 2005.

The team made great strides in a short space of time and in 2013 were crowned Shotton Steel Veterans Cup winners with a 1-0 victory over Saltney Vets. They were also runners-up 12 months later.

Cooke stepped back in 2017 due to other commitments, but since then the side has been revived by Kev James and they currently compete in the North East Wales Veterans League.

Dave Cooke’s All-Time North Wales XI

GOALKEEPERS

I can’t split these two so I had to pick both!

Darren Edwards

Watched Darren as a youngster and got to play with him at Denbigh, Trefnant and Caerwys and manage him at Vets level.

Darren was a first class shot stopper and something of a penalty-saving expert.

Remember one particular game in the FA Trophy quarter-final at Caerwys v Cwmaman of South Wales; he made some great stops and saved an early penalty to spur us on to eventually win that game.

Nathan Pope

Another fantastic keeper, superb hands, great with the ball at his feet.

He was Trefnant’s goalkeeper when we lifted the Clwyd League Presidents Cup with a 1-0 extra-time win over Connah’s Quay Reserves at Flint in around 2001.

Denbigh Town’s keeper when they won the Welsh Alliance in 1994/95.

SWEEPER

Jamie Clayton

Many knew him as ‘Piggy’.

Great footballing brain and one of my best mates who I played with through Denbigh Colts U16s, Denbigh Albion and Trefnant.

Tenacious, determined, organised the defence, always seemed to be in the right position to mop up the danger.

Went off to University at 19 to Newcastle and was actually a ‘Meet the Player’ profile for Dave Jones back in the Vale Advertiser days!

I have no doubt Piggy would have had a decent Cymru Alliance level career if he had stayed around these parts.

CENTRE-HALF

Jimmy Griffith

Best defender I played with, and a man with League of Wales experience for Holywell Town (143 LoW appearances).

Jim was coming to the end of his career when I played with him around 2006 at Caerwys.

Great in the air, composed on the ball, he would drive strikers crazy as he wouldn’t give them an inch, eventually nicking the ball away from them and playing out from the back.

CENTRE-HALF

Darren Williams

Played with Daz at Trefnant and got him to come out of retirement to play for the Wanderers on numerous occasions.

In the days of when you could sign for two sides from different divisions, he represented Ruthin Town at Cymru Alliance level and helped out Trefnant when he could.

Probably more comfortable at sweeper but equally effective as a man marker.

Daz had numerous trials for pro clubs as a youngster and gained Welsh youth honours, marking one Patrick Kluivert in a Wales v Holland encounter.

LEFT-WINGBACK

Richie Roberts

Tough as old boots. I’ve seen many a bigger player bounce off Richie the farmer.

Explosive pace, great left foot and could mix it if the game got a bit niggly.

We made a great partnership down the left for Caerwys, a bad passers dream haha. You just had to knock it into space and Richie would get to it.

He played Cymru Alliance level for Ruthin and also represented Mostyn and Brynford.

RIGHT-WINGBACK

Owain Roberts

Owain Roberts of Denbigh Town

I played with Ows at under-16 level and for Denbigh Reserves under the stewardship of Mike Pierce-Jones when we were beaten to the Clwyd Premier title by a very good Prestatyn Town team.

He could literally play anywhere but was brilliant in the centre-midfield role.

Two-footed, great engine, free kick taker and went on to rack up many appearances at big clubs like Colwyn Bay and Bala Town.

CENTRE MIDFIELD

Richard Williams-Cooke

My brother Rich has to be one of my picks in centre midfield.

Fantastic left foot, great feet for a big fella, played with him, against him and managed him at Vets level.

He had a great Cymru Alliance career with Ruthin Town and Denbigh Town and gained Welsh Premier experience with Newtown.

I always felt he could have moved a lot earlier to the highest level of Welsh football.

He took his footballing abilities into his management with that unbeaten Denbigh Town side of 2013/14 in the Welsh Alliance.

Later became part of the management team at Rhyl FC.

Kevin Jones

Bonesy as he was known to the lads was a steady footballer, great talker, great on the ball could play many positions.

Represented Denbigh Town, Denbigh Youth club/Golden Lions. I got to play with him at Denbigh Albion and Trefnant.

He was a great captain and motivator.

David Webster

David Webster with the Shotton Steel Veterans Cup

The more you watched Webby, the more you appreciated his talents.

He was my captain and best player for the Wanderers under my tenure.

Wand of a left foot and a flying winger in his younger days but became a decent centre-mid as he matured.

Racked up many appearances with Denbigh Town, Golden Lions, Trefnant, Llandyrnog and Ruthin Reserves.

Should have, and could have, played at least Cymru Alliance level more regularly.

STRIKERS

Tommy Mutton

Played with Tom at junior level where he scored an abundance of goals, which got him a chance at Burnley.

After a short stint there he ended up at Denbigh Town and hit a ridiculous 75 goals in 75 games at Cymru Alliance level.

A move to Rhyl in the Welsh Premier was next where he tasted European football, then onto Bangor where his goals caught the attention of Swansea City who forked out 25 grand to capture him.

A few seasons at Swansea only saw him make a handful of first team appearances with one goal to his name.

His journey then took him to Caernarfon Town and such clubs as Connah’s Quay (three times), Rhyl again and Newtown notching over 100 top-flight Welsh Premier goals.

He later joined Bala Town in the Cymru Alliance winning the treble.

More recently he played at Corwen under the managership of former Denbigh Town team-mate Danny Jellicoe.

Tommy was lightening fast and a fantastic finisher.

Derry Morris

Derry Morris (red)

A Llandyrnog legend who also gained some League of Wales experience with Flint Town United.

Tremendous in the air, strong as an ox and formed a deadly partnership with Mutton in the Denbigh Town Cymru Alliance side under Billy Dawson.

Derry is still playing first team Saturday football presently with Llandyrnog United at Welsh Alliance level at the age of 52.

Some 25 years earlier he became a Llandyrnog star, helping them win the Clwyd League and reach the Welsh Alliance.

Honourable mentions

Johnny Haseldin
Played with John at Caerwys. He was a big robust presence in the centre of midfield. Scored some important goals, strong in the tackle and great in the air.

Garry Wayne Jones
The Denbigh Town keeper when they famously slayed Caernarfon Town of the Northern Premier League in the 1991/92 NWCFA Challenge Cup. Garry was a great shot stopper with great reflexes.

Jez Williams
A great local striker in the Denbigh area. Fearless, led the line well, scored goals for Denbigh Town, Trefnant and Llandyrnog.

Neil Edwards
Direct forward who I had the pleasure of playing with at Trefnant and Caerwys and managing at the Wanderers. Could travel large distances with the ball seemingly stuck to his foot. Never prolific but must have racked up countless assists.

Jeff Griffiths
As a 17-year-old I entered men’s football in the Clwyd League Division Two. Jeff was our main striker for Denbigh Albion and notched 60+ goals in one season. Powerful left foot and a scorer of many goals with his head. Dave Jones ran the Vale of Clwyd golden boot for the Vale Advertiser back then and Jeff just lost out on the award to John Phil Williams of Ruthin Town.

Alan Griffiths
Brother of Jeff and a fine central defensive man marker. Not the most graceful with his arms and legs swinging everywhere, but what a defender. Always an outstretched boot would fly out to block a goalbound effort and was never afraid to put his head in dangerous situations. I played with ‘Sniff’ at Trefnant where we only let in 13 goals all season and still ended up runners-up!!.

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