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Pre-season chat: Steven Halliwell (football director – Gresford Athletic)

Gresford Athletic director of football Steven Halliwell (right)

There’s been a lot of changes at Gresford Athletic over the summer.

Former boss Eddie Maurice-Jones is back in the manager’s seat with Steven Halliwell becoming director of football.

Maurice-Jones has overseen nine new players arriving at Clappers Lane in recent weeks.

The Colliers are getting ready to compete in tier two for the sixth season in a row, with a tough campaign awaiting in Cymru North.

Grassroots North Wales caught up with football director Halliwell for a pre-season chat.

Grassroots North Wales

Overall, what shape are you in as a first team and club ahead of the 2020-21 season?

Steven Halliwell

For us at Gresford it can’t start soon enough.

It’s exciting for the whole club off the pitch and on it, firstly having made the decision to bring in Eddie (Maurice-Jones) as manager with the idea to strengthen our already decent squad with some players that were with him at Rhyl and previously at Denbigh.

Eddie Maurice-Jones has rejoined as manager

We feel that we have a squad of players that can certainly compete at the right end of the table, after spending much of the last one looking over our shoulders at teams in and around relegation.

Eddie has fresh ideas and is so enthusiastic about it all, it definitely spreads among the group,

Grassroots North Wales

You’ve made quite a few signings, can you tell us about one or two of your players to look out for this season?

Steven Halliwell

For me they all add something different and are all experienced in the Cymru North.

Having had Craig Pritchard right at the start of when I took over I’m really looking forward to seeing him pull on the Gresford jersey again.

It was also great to get Adam Hesp signed on a permanent deal after his season on loan last year from Druids.

Grassroots North Wales

Who do you see as the strongest teams in your division?

Steven Halliwell

I feel it’s tougher again than last year.

Colwyn Bay, Prestatyn Town, Airbus, Guilsfield and Bangor City I think will all be right up there, then also locally Holywell have strengthened well.

Philly Hudson and Tommy Holmes are in charge at Ruthin

Ruthin under new management and Buckley have established themselves back at this level.

It all leads to a very impressive line up of 16 strong teams.

Llandudno will also be in the mix I expect, with new manager Sean Eardley – a proven top man at this level – at the helm.

Grassroots North Wales

How difficult has it been to keep your squad motivated during the Covid-19 crisis? What challenges have you had to overcome?

Steven Halliwell

Motivation has not been a problem so far as the lads have pretty much been non-stop individual training since March, and they all push each other to do better on runs, circuits etc so there’s no room for getting lazy because they’ll get pulled up for it.

The challenge to get back was a bit daunting at first but all the lads and committee have done their part in a successful return to training, and again we’re all eager to start playing games ASAP!

Grassroots North Wales

What are your ambitions for the season ahead?

Steven Halliwell

We’ve been back in for a month now and to be totally honest they look really hungry to start playing games.

Match sharpness is obviously lacking but some of the quality that’s been on show has really whet the appetite as to what we could potentially achieve.

Gresford summer signings

Corey Smart

Simon Smith
Dave MacIntyre
Craig Pritchard
Mike Pritchard
Adam Hesp
Max Peate
Sam Molyneux
Barry Torrence
Corey Smart

GRESFORD ATHLETIC – RECENT LEAGUE HISTORY

1990-91 Founder members of Cymru Alliance League

1990-91: Cymru Alliance – 13th of 14
1991-92: Cymru Alliance – 13th of 16
1992-93: Cymru Alliance – 14th of 15
1993-94: Cymru Alliance – 18th of 18
1994-95: Welsh National League (Wrexham Area) Premier – 6th of 14
1995-96: Welsh National League (Wrexham Area) Premier – 1st of 14
1996-97: Welsh National League (Wrexham Area) Premier – 11th of 14
1997-98: Welsh National League (Wrexham Area) Premier – 5th of 13
1998-99: Welsh National League (Wrexham Area) Premier – 3rd of 15
1999-00: Welsh National League (Wrexham Area) Premier – 4th of 16
2000-01: Welsh National League (Wrexham Area) Premier – 1st of 16
2001-02: Cymru Alliance – 12th of 18
2002-03: Cymru Alliance – 13th of 17
2003-04: Cymru Alliance – 13th of 17
2004-05: Cymru Alliance – 8th of 18
2005-06: Cymru Alliance – 14th of 18
2006-07: Cymru Alliance – 12th of 18
2007-08: Cymru Alliance – 17th of 17
2008-09: Cymru Alliance – 15th of 17
2009-10: Cymru Alliance – 17th of 17
2010-11: Welsh National League (Wrexham Area) Premier – 13th of 16
2011-12: Welsh National League (Wrexham Area) Premier – 7th of 16
2012-13: Welsh National League (Wrexham Area) Premier – 4th of 15
2013-14: Welsh National League (Wrexham Area) Premier – 5th of 16
2014-15: Welsh National League (Wrexham Area) Premier – 1st of 16
2015-16: Cymru Alliance – 6th of 16
2016-17: Cymru Alliance – 3rd of 16
2017-18: Cymru Alliance – 8th of 15
2018-19: Cymru Alliance – 10th of 16
2019-20: Cymru North – 11th of 16

Honours

Welsh National East Division winners: 1946-47
Welsh National Division Two winners: 1962-63; 1995-96
Welsh National Division 3A winners: 1969-70
Welsh National Premier League champions: 1995-96; 2000-01; 2014-15
NEWFA Cup winners: 1973-74; 1992-93; 2016-17
Welsh National Premier Division Cup winners: 2011; 2012
Welsh National Division One Cup winners: 2005, 2006
Welsh National Division Two Cup winners 1966-67; 1992-93; 2006-07
FAW Welsh Trophy runners Up: 2000-01
Cymru Alliance League Cup runners-up: 1993-94
Horace Wynne Cup runners-up: 2005-06
WNL Division One League Cup runners-up: 1990-91; 1998-99

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