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“We believe we belong in the Cymru North” – Holyhead Hotspur manager Darren Garmey

Darren Garmey (left) with assistant Mike Kelly

Holyhead Hotspur manager Darren Garmey believes his team belongs in the Cymru North.

And that is where Spurs look set to end up next season after clinching the Welsh Alliance Division One title this week.

Most of the Holy Islanders’ recent history revolves around Tier 2 football and following their relegation in 2018-19, the club has earned another shot at Cymru North football.

Welsh football’s premature ending due to coronavirus this week meant the prizes were handed out early and Hotspur were deservedly crowned winners of their league on the points-per-game system.

Delighted manager Darren spoke to Grassroots North Wales today on a frustrating, but ultimately rewarding season.

GNW

First of all congratulations on winning the Welsh Alliance Division One title. Your first major honour as first team manager – how does it feel?

DG

It feels great! It was strange at first but now it’s all settled down and we are able to look back on what has been a memorable season we couldn’t be more pleased. From a personal point of view I am extremely proud to join some of the great managers of the past having brought success to the club.

GNW

Were you confident at the start of the season that you could bounce right back after experiencing relegation from the Cymru Alliance in 2018-19?

DG

We had to make a lot of changes after the relegation, which meant we had a lot of work to do over the summer and pre season. If I’m honest the relegation was a blessing as we had hit a brick wall and were a squad devoid of all confidence and in need of change. We approached the season maintaining the mentality of a tier 2 club where we set high standards not only on the pitch but throughout the club.

The signing of Asa Thomas (all maroon) was a big boost to the club. Picture: Ian Francis

GNW

How much of a factor do you feel the new players you signed this season have had in your success?

DG

The new signings made a huge difference and helped us to hit the ground running at the beginning of the season. We were able to bring Dewi Thomas and Rob Jones back to the club, and they already had an understanding as they played together the season before at Llannerchymedd. Then again in December we added Luke Roberts and Asa Thomas from Holyhead Town, who improved us even further with both being vital parts of the team during January and February in what I would say was the most testing part of the season.

GNW

The season has ended early, but you were well placed at the top before football was suspended. Do you feel you are worthy champions?

DG

I would say we are worthy winners and the recognition we have received from rival clubs and managers would suggest the same. We also had a 100% home record and a PPG ratio of 2.71 so I don’t think many could disagree.

GNW

You lost just twice in 18 league games. You won 15 matches. After the defeats were you pleased with the way you responded?

DG

We responded to the first defeat with a nine-game winning streak and the second defeat with an eight-game winning streak. That was a sign of the mentality of the squad, showing they were not prepared to have a dip and wanted to maintain the standards set prior to the defeat.

Hotspur (stripes) defend at Llanrwst. Picture: Heath Roberts

GNW

How disappointing is it you have been denied the chance of a treble by the cup competitions you were still in being scrapped?

DG

From a football point of view it is very disappointing that we have been denied some big days out for the club and the supporters especially as we were gathering some real momentum going into the business end of the season. But like I said that is from a football point of view and there has been a lot bigger disappointments for people in day to day life since the pandemic broke out in March, so I won’t complain too much.

GNW

Do you feel, when the club returns to the Cymru North, that you are better equipped to succeed there than the last time you were there?

DG

I feel we have built a very capable squad this year that will go into next season with a greater confidence in their ability. We are a lot more flexible than we have been in recent years having used 3/4 different systems this season with the players all understanding the principles and responsibilities of each formation. That is something we struggled to do last time making us too predictable at times and this was nearly impossible to change when at the bottom of the league.

GNW

Hotspur fans sung their hearts out when the team visited Welshpool in the FAW Trophy. Picture: Ian Francis

What does another league title win mean to the people of Holyhead? How big a role have the supporters played in your success?

DG

The League title means everything to the supporters and it will justify them sticking by both myself and the players during the lows of last season. Now they will want to see us improve in the Cymru North as that is the league we all see ourselves belonging in. We have some great support both home and away with some of the older supporters that have been watching football in Holyhead as long as Gareth Davies (almost).

GNW

Do you hope to continue as manager next season? What are your long-term ambitions for the club?

DG

Yes the aim is to continue improving the club both on and off the pitch. We have a fantastic youth set up and now also a thriving reserve/development side who are churning out players every season and we will be looking to promote them as we have been doing this season.

GNW

Do you believe we will see any more North Wales football this year, or might there be a longer wait than expected? what must be in place to make it safe?

DG

I wish I had an idea of when we will start again because as a manger you want to be able to plan ahead and prepare for the new season, but with football I would say it will be the facts & figures that will determine when we start playing again. We will never have the tests available at this level of football so I think we will only be able to start again once the social distancing guidelines are lifted completely.

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