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Title-winning manager Chris Hughes of Chirk Town talks to Grassroots North Wales

Chris Hughes with eldest daughter Maisie after Chirk Town won the Graham Edwards Memorial Trophy in August 2019

Chris Hughes is manager of a Chirk Town side which completed their debut season in style by winning the North East Wales League title.

It is a tremendous achievement for the Taverners, who narrowly pipped Brymbo Victoria to the championship on points-per-game.

Chris spoke to Grassroots North Wales about a magical first campaign.

GNW

Congratulations Chris! How does it feel to be a league title winner in your first season as manager?

CH

Cheers Dave, I’m absolutely made up with the league win on the first attempt. Pleased for everyone in that squad, who has put the hard work in throughout the season, and also the people behind the scenes who do a tremendous amount of work, which really doesn’t go unnoticed. Obviously it would have been nice to be with all the lads out on the pitch to be crowned champions, but we will take this all the same.

More Chirk Town celebrations

GNW

When you kicked off the season, were you confident, with the squad you had assembled, that you had what it takes to challenge for the league title?

CH

I knew that we wouldn’t be too far off top with the squad that we had, we just had to apply ourselves properly. I said all season if we match any team for effort that we would beat them with the players we had. The squad endured a good pre-season that put us in good stead, winning a trophy on the way (Graham Edwards Memorial Trophy). I believe this gave the lads a winning mentality and the hunger to win more.

Chris Town lift the Graham Edwards Memorial Trophy

GNW

How much of a boost was it to sign a player like Tom Freeman? Obviously he was top scorer this season, but what else has he brought to the club?

CH

Top scorer Tom Freeman

Tom is a class act who can play anywhere across the frontline, he’s a defender’s worst nightmare, can go either foot and is a real bag of tricks. I’m sure there will be clubs looking at Tom this summer along with others in the squad.

GNW

What do you think of the standard of the North East Wales League? You’ve faced some good sides such as Brymbo Victoria, Penyffordd Lions and Caerwys.

CH

We came into this league with no illusions, we knew it would be tough. Brymbo have a very young talented team who will only get better, Penyffordd on paper have a great team with several players dropping from the Welsh National Premier. Caerwys is a tough place to go, Sychdyn, Acton and Borras are no mugs either. We knew if we were playing any of them teams, we would have a game on our hands.

Chirk Town celebrate a goal

GNW

Have you been well supported by the community? Have you managed to build up a bit of a following this season?

CH

The lads have been very well supported this year and long may it continue. I think the good start to the season helped and a lot of people were intrigued to see how we would do, We have a good crowd at home matches, and the diehards who also travel away with us. I’d like to take this chance to thank them all for their efforts this year and they feel a part of the league win as much as the lads.

Full length shot with Chris and Maisie and the Graham Edwards Memorial Trophy

GNW

Obviously there are two senior sides representing Chirk – yourselves and the much more established Chirk AAA. What are relations like between the clubs?

CH

I’ve got nothing but respect for Chirk AAA, They have a great history and some very loyal and hardworking people behind the scenes who work tirelessly. I’d say 80% of our squad has had a spell with them at some point, so the lads are itching to draw them in a cup, or who knows, there could be a league meeting on the cards in a year or two.

Chirk Town (blue) on the attack

GNW

Which games do you feel played the biggest part in you winning the title?

CH

There are two games that spring to mind, the first being at home to Brymbo Victoria. It was the best first half performance I have seen all season, so much energy and effort. Brymbo were top of the league at this point and we went on a great run of wins after this 4-1 victory.
Second one is away to Sychdyn. We won 1-0, it wasn’t the best performance on the eye but it was a battle from start to finish. We lost our top scorer after five minutes and then went down to 10 men. The 14 lads in that squad that day put a real shift in up there.

GNW

What are your hopes for next season and also for the future of the club?

CH

The aim next season is to kick on from this one. We have a ground inspection early June for promotion to what would be WNL Division One. I have my eye on some new additions to the current squad in order to compete in the higher league, but the main thing is to keep the local lads playing football and enjoying it.
We are a close knit team and the camaraderie in the squad is second to none With regards to the club as a whole, there is a lot of ambition to improve the infrastructure of the club and build on what was a very successful first season.

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