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Meet the Fab Five – a quintet of great signings in North Wales football (376-380)

Mike Sharples is Denbigh Town’s first major signing of the summer

Mike Sharples (to Denbigh Town)

Experienced central defender Sharples has returned to Denbigh Town for the 2020-21 season.

A number of clubs were chasing this top player’s signature and this addition is seen as a major statement of intent as Denbigh look to the new season in tier 3 Ardal North West.

Sharples has been at the club previously and was part of the strong Town side that was the first team outside the Cymru Premier to reach the Welsh Premier League Cup Final in 2016.

Inevitably, he attracted the attention of other clubs and joined Rhyl of the Welsh Premier the following season.

Sharples is a strong, reliable defender with a wealth of experience having played at all levels in the Welsh pyramid.

His previous clubs include Ruthin Town, Llandyrnog United, Denbigh, Rhyl, Connah’s Quay Nomads, Bala Town, Rhos Aelwyd, Conwy Borough and Porthmadog.

The 31-year-old has been training at Central Park for a number of weeks and said of his signing: “Things are looking good. I feel comfortable and fit and am getting things together.

“To be honest I have not played a lot of football in the last couple of years. I am not sure what it was but I needed to regain my appetite for the game.

“The training here is spot on and I have probably played some of my best football here so I am glad to be back playing for Denbigh.

“Just waiting for further news now as to when that will be! “

Manager Dewi Llion said: “It is huge for the club to have him back with us. He has been training regularly and, considering he has been out of the game for a while his fitness, timing, control and general football sense is all there.

“His experience and strength will add so much.”

Jack Aitken (Halkyn and Flint Mountain to Mynydd Isa Spartans)

Jack Aitken

Aitken is a prolific goalscorer who well and truly made his mark at Flint Mountain during their 2018-19 quadruple-winning season.

In that amazing campaign, Aitken bagged 27 goals in 34 appearances as Mountain landed the North East Wales League title, Horace Wynne Cup, President’s Cup and Mike Beech Memorial Trophy.

The season before went pretty well for Jack too, as he pocketed 30 goals in 29 appearances for Mountain.

Last season saw the club change its name to Halkyn and Flint Mountain, competing in Welsh National League Division One.

Due to Covid-19 ending the season early, plus a general shortage of fixtures earlier in the campaign, Jack made just 15 appearances, scoring five times.

Jack came through the Connah’s Quay Nomads Academy and is technically very sound.

He now tries his luck with Spartans in the tier 4 North East Wales League Premier Division.

Luke Woolley (Mold Alex to Mynydd Isa Spartans)

Luke Woolley

Spartans manager James Hollyoak is already well acquainted with striker Woolley’s talents – as well as those of fellow new signing Aitken.

Hollyoak reports: “Both lads have previously played against the club when they were in the Nomads Academy so we knew of their qualities before they arrived.

“They have come into pre season looking sharp and due to knowing a lot of the squad already they have fitted in seamlessly.”

Keenan Latham (Llangefni Town to Gaerwen)

Keenan Latham

Attacking player Latham previously played for Llangefni Town, and was offered to return this season, but Gaerwen’s management team are delighted he has chosen to join the Lon Groes outfit.

Gaerwen will compete in the tier 4 North Wales Coast West Premier Division this season, along with eight other Anglesey sides.

Latham said: “I’ve been really impressed with the talent I’ve seen in training and how the younger lads are stepping up.

I’m excited for a new challenge and can hopefully bag myself a few goals to help out the team.”

Gaerwen manager Justin Gallagher said: “For Keenan to have chosen us over a potential chance in tier 2, I think is a sign of our intentions and the work and effort we’re putting in.”

Antony Kay (Chorley Town to Bala Town)

With almost 700 competitive appearances for Football League clubs in his career, defender Antony Kay is quite a capture for Bala Town.

The 37 year-old signs for the Lakesiders following his release from National League North side Chorley.

The defender/midfielder has previously played as high as the Championship, where he racked up a combined 66 appearances for both his hometown club Barnsley in 2006-2007 and MK Dons in 2015-2016.

His other previous clubs include Tranmere Rovers, Huddersfield Town, Bury and Port Vale, and in total he has appeared in 599 league games across seven former teams, and 694 matches in all competitions with 56 goals scored.

Kay has also been capped for the England U18’s squad, when he came on as a substitute against Switzerland on May 30th 2001.

Bala manager Colin Caton said: “He became available to us through being friends with (Bala player) Lee Molyneux, so we brought him in, he played for us in a pre-season friendly, and he did really well.

“The calibre of him and the amount of league games he’s played, the experience he will add to the squad is something we couldn’t turn down.

He’s come out of the full-time game and now wants to play part-time, to allow him to pursue a different career.

“We’re fortunate to have him; his pedigree and calibre is unbelievable. He’ll add so much experience to our defensive structure and I can’t wait to work with him.

“In the short time I’ve worked with him, his attitude is second to none, so you can see why he played at the top for a long time, and hope his influence can rub off on some of our younger players, to change their outlook on how they approach games.”

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