Holyhead Town’s new management team see the major changes in North Wales football this season as an opportunity for themselves to launch a fresh era of success for the historic club.
Mark Owen and David L Jones will lead the Harbourmen in tier 5 of the revamped Welsh pyramid, competing with 11 other Anglesey sides in the 19-team North Wales Coast West Division One.
Last season Town went through a restructuring midway through the campaign which saw the first team disband and the club continue to operate using the Reserves.
The club began a rebuilding process with the emphasis on utilizing the young players within Holyhead Town, and the team made steady progress in the Anglesey League.
Now there is plenty of excitement in Town camp ahead of 2020-21.
So who are the new management team?
I go by Mark Owen, I’m the new manager of Town.
I’ve coached youth football for 12 years at Holyhead Hotspur. In the past I’ve also helped out coaching at Hotspur Reserves and more recently Valley before coming on board last season with Holyhead Town Reserves.
Our training day up to now is a Thursday, 6.30 pm at Millbank. We’re having only one session a week at the moment due to the challenges of social distancing but with phase 2 approaching we will look to train twice a week, Tuesdays and Thursdays.
Our first session was last Thursday and went well considering the rules and guidelines we need to follow.
Our aim for the future is to try to assemble a side capable of challenging for the league. We had a very young side with the Reserves last season, who are all staying on again, so we are now trying to balance the squad to help bring the youngsters on by introducing some experienced players.
Looking forward to this season, after a very productive meeting between the committee, current manager myself and David Jones, the club have outlined a plan to move Town forward.
The club is focused on developing as a whole both on and off the field to meet the ever-growing demands of the restructuring of the Welsh football pyramid system.
On the field, the aim of the management team is to recruit a dedicated, talented and disciplined group to represent the club moving forward who are committed to helping Holyhead Town achieve their goals.
The club will continue to look to promote the inclusion and integration of talented young Holyhead players into the side which will provide a great balance of youth and experience. The management team will be looking to take a more structured and organised approach moving forward.
This approach will assist in developing our own style of play and create a more professional approach to match preparation. Thus, creating an enjoyable playing environment and get the buzz back around Millbank!
With the Covid-19 restrictions providing somewhat of a transitional period, it will provide myself and David with the opportunity to outline our vision moving forward to prospective players.
Any players who may be interested please feel free to contact either Mark (07801 346954) or David (07738 022306) via phone or on Facebook to have a chat. Exciting times ahead for the Harbourmen!
David L Jones
I have been involved in senior football for 10 years, starting in 2012-13 with Holyhead Hotspur Reserves when we won the Bob Owen Shield.
Staying on the following season, Hotspur Reserves won the Gwynedd Cup and were Gwynedd League runners up.
For 2014-15 I linked up with Mark Williams and Emlyn Williams at Trearddur Bay as a coach and we were promoted to Welsh Alliance Division One.
In 2015-16, I remained as assistant-manager to Mark Williams in an amazing season which saw us crowned WAL Division One champions.
After Mark’s departure I was made manager alongside Neil Bell for the 2016-17 season.
After taking a break I returned to football at Glantraeth with Warren Gibbs as head coach before taking over at Christmas following his departure to Conwy Borough in a season that ended with a Gwynedd League Safeflue Shield win over league champions Menai Bridge.
After initial success, winning the Anglesey and Gwynedd leagues (2016-17 and 2017-18), Holyhead Town have been in somewhat of a transition.
After spending time managing away from Holyhead, I felt now was a good time to return and help Town rebuild for the future.
I feel with the experience I have gained I will compliment Mark and bring some well-travelled experience to the club.
With a clear project in place I am excited to be part of the club and will endeavour to help Holyhead Town return to their former glories.
Manager Mark Owen wasted no time in securing the club’s most talented youngsters early doors for the season ahead.
Jenson Rowlands: 16-year-old centre-midfield. Bags of energy, good passer of the ball also has an eye for goal. Very good debut season.
Kaine Bentley: Another 16-year-old, skilfull and quick. Plays wide or up front, doesn’t give defenders time on the ball. Chipped in with a couple of goals last season, will be looking for more this term.
Robert Thomas: Aged 16, pacey striker who has attracted a lot of interest from other teams since the 2019-20 season was cut short, but has committed to Town. Top scorer last season. Made four Welsh Alliance Division Two appearances last season.
Luke Owen: Ex Hotspur Reserves and Valley goalkeeper signed in September last year, awarded numerous man of the match performances. This 18-year-old made five Welsh Alliance 2 appearances last season.
Jordan Rowlands: Transferred to the club a couple weeks before last season ended. Powerful and very vocal central defender who can also play full back. This inspirational 19-year-old will add that big voice at the back. Previous clubs include Trearddur Bay and Caergybi.
Jordan Hughes: Been unlucky over the past year with injuries, a very good central defender, good on the ball and also strong in the air. Ex Hotspur Reserves player, aged 19, who is excited about the upcoming season.
Tony Meyer: Transferred over from Valley last season and can play in numerous positions in midfield and at the back. Became club captain at the end of last season.
Luke Jones: Aged 18, joined from Hotspur Reserves last season. Very good left foot, dangerous on set pieces. Plays down the left as full-back or wide midfield.
Other new signings
Formerly with Pentraeth, Glantraeth and Llangefni Reserves, Jones has also been an assistant-manager at Porthmadog Reserves.
He is well-known to Town coach David Jones as they previously worked together at Glantraeth.
Sion is a commanding centre-back and will be an asset next season on and off the pitch. He has gained vital experience across the former Tier 3-6. With the club rebuilding he will be able to support and guide the young players within the squad.
Sion is currently working towards his UEFA C Licence and has gained experience coaching at Porthmadog. In order to develop his coaching practice, Sion will be assisting with the delivery of sessions during the season.
Returns to the Harbourmen from Bethesda, who he joined last season to test himself in a higher league.
Liam let the Town management know he wanted to move back where his heart belongs.
Can play in numerous roles down the left.
Dan is a centre back who has played for Holyhead Hotspur, Bryngwran and also Holyhead Town some years ago. His most recent club was Bethesda.
He is also a North Wales U-18 representative with bags of experience. Very strong, physical and vocal player.
Transferred over from Caergybi last season and was ever present in the team, chipped in with a couple goals. A right-footed player who can play both full-back roles and also midfield.
Came in from Llandegfan last season, Charlie loves the physical side of the game, won’t back out of any tackle. Added a goal or two to his name before the season shut down.
North Wales Coast West Division One 2020-21 (19 teams)
Arriva Bangor, Bethesda Athletic, Bodorgan Juniors, Bontnewydd, Bro Goronwy, Caergybi, Cemaes Bay, CPD Cefni, CPD Y Fali, Glantraeth (appealing against FAW against placing), Holyhead Town, Llandegfan, Llanfairpwll, Llangoed, Llannerchymedd, Llanystumdwy, Mountain Rangers, Talysarn Celts, Waunfawr.
Holyhead Town – history
If ever a football club has had a roller-coaster history it is Holyhead Town.
From the peaks of the 1950s and 60s, where they established themselves as one of North Wales’ finest, to a decline in the 1970s, then many highs and lows since.
Holyhead Town FC first emerged in the 1920s, competing in the Welsh National League, North Wales Football Combination and North Wales Coast League before beginning a long stay in the Welsh League North in 1935/36.
They were champions of that league (which later became the Welsh Alliance) four-times in a close-on 40-year membership before dropping into the Anglesey League in 1975-76.
The 50s and 60s were a truly golden era for Holyhead Town, led by the astonishing scoring feats of the late, great and legendary Tommy Welsh, who netted 631 goals in his career.
During these most magical decades, Holyhead won the old Welsh League (North) title four times: 1949-50, 1957-58, 1963-64 and 1969-70 and were the first Anglesey team ever to reach the Welsh Cup quarter-finals in 1960-61.
No team from the island has ever got beyond the quarters.
Town remain the only Anglesey club ever to win the NWCFA Challenge Cup, doing so in 1955-56 and 1966-67 with famous victories over Caernarfon Town and Bangor City respectively.
The mid-1970s saw the Harbourmen drop into the Anglesey League and they have never been able to hit those heights reached in the 50s and 60s again.
Since the 70s they have flitted between the Anglesey, Gwynedd and Welsh Alliance leagues – winning the odd trophy along the way – and also went out of existence between 1998 and 2009, and then from 2012/13 to 2015/16.
However, they reformed in 2016 to great effect.
Under the managership of Craig Brodie, the Harbourmen were crowned 2016/17 Anglesey League champions, as well as lifting the Megan Cup and Lucas Oil Cup.
Then the following season, they scooped the Gwynedd League title at the first attempt, and landed the Cwpan Gwynedd, making it five trophies in two seasons.
On their long-awaited return to the Welsh Alliance League in 2018-19, Town ended up a disappointing 12th in Division Two.
Despite an encouraging start to last season, which included a famous first-ever Welsh Cup derby with Holyhead Hotspur, Town resigned from the Welsh Alliance in December, citing lack of player commitment to training and poor availability on match-days.
The club continued to operate in the Anglesey League through their reserves side.
And there were some encouraging performances from the young Harbourmen squad, which suggests they could rise again in the seasons to come.