Pre-season chat: Aaron Rowlands (manager – Menai Bridge Tigers)

Aaron Rowlands (centre) with Kelvin Frazer and Darren Jones

Aaron Rowlands enjoyed a highly promising first season in charge of Menai Bridge Tigers.

Now, with a strengthened backroom team and more in-depth squad put together over the summer, things are looking good for a successful first campaign in the tier 4 North Wales Coast Premier Division.

Aaron spoke to Grassroots North Wales about what’s been going on with the Tigers in recent months.

Grassroots North Wales

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

Aaron Rowlands

The club is in good shape on and off the field currently. Our committee does a great job behind the scenes for us.

Myself and Karl Roberts were pleased to add the experienced Sion Roberts to our backroom team. Sion is someone who has been successful at every club he’s been at and had plenty of offers this summer so we are pleased he chose our club to join.

He’s settled in quickly at the club and is already having an impact on training.

We’ve also benefited from bringing in Carl Thomas as a coach. Everyone knows the success Carl has had as a player – he’s a born winner.

Player wise we are very good, everyone from last season re-signed and all the new players have slotted in nicely and integrated into the squad.  

Grassroots North Wales

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

Aaron Rowlands

Sion Hogan is a key man for the Tigers

We managed to get most of our signings done early so that was a huge plus for me and Karl and we’ll be looking to them to have a big impact on the team this season.

I think Sion Hogan, Dean Redmond, Craig Roberts and Paul Rowlands are all looking forward to actually playing games for the club now.

If you look at the history of when this club has been successful Sion Hogan has been a huge part of that and I have no doubt if we are to have a success this season Sion will play a huge role.

It’s a step up for us this year and I’ll be looking to the experience of Craig Roberts, Darren Gowans, Kevin Roberts, Darren Jones, Paul Rowlands and Kelvin Frazer to help us through some difficult moments for sure.

Dean Redmond is a proven goal scorer

Last season we had a solid foundation but lacked goals and if you look at the goals Curls (Redmond) has scored over the last two seasons I have no doubt we will have addressed that situation and he will have a big season.

I’m really pleased that all of last year’s squad re-signed and they have all worked hard through pre-season up to date.

I think football has become a squad game and no doubt everyone will have a vital role to play for me this season, but two players that have really worked hard this pre season are Callum Graves and Callum Davidson and I think both will have big seasons at the club. 

Grassroots North Wales

Who do you see as the strongest teams in your division (North Wales Coast West Premier) ?

Aaron Rowlands

I think tier 4 is a stacked division with lots of tough games and local derbies.
Every game will be a difficult game and we’ll have to be at our absolute best every week just to compete.

Two teams that really stand out for me are Bangor 1876 and Bodedern.

When you look at the resources Bangor have at their disposal, the fan base they possess and the finances they generate they are just a juggernaut of a club for this standard.

The record they had last year and the fact they more than held their own in the bigger cups makes them strong candidates for the league.

Then you look at Boded and the manager they have who has been very successful at his club. He’s had that core of players for a long time and they are a settled squad who will no doubt hit the ground running.

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?

Aaron Rowlands (right) with Tom Parry

Aaron Rowlands

To start with, it wasn’t difficult at all as I think everyone was just happy to get back to training.

Everyone enjoyed the sessions, even in the small groups of 6.

The lack of direction towards the start of the season has become a struggle for them as they feel they are training without a common goal for a start date.

I think as well when you see how competitive cricket has resumed with zero problems and you also see packed pubs and restaurants full of people you ask the question why we haven’t been able to play football matches?

Hopefully now we will have no more setbacks and we can start playing friendlies from the 19th. 

Grassroots North Wales

What are your ambitions for the season ahead?

Meet the Tigers – front (left to right): Aaron Rowlands, Dion Lewis, Darren Jones, Paul Rowlands and Kev Roberts
Top row from the left: Dafydd Healy, Callum Davidson, Kelvin Frazer, Mitchell Jones, Craig Roberts, Dean Redmond

Aaron Rowlands

With this being our first taste of tier 4 football I’ll just look at each game as it comes and try to win the game that’s in front of us and not look too far ahead.

When you look at all the teams in the league they will have all had the experience of playing this standard or higher in their past at some point, especially teams such as Mynydd Llandegai, Boded, Llanberis and Llanrug.

It’s going to be a really difficult league but one we are relishing as a club.

We are looking forward to resuming some old rivalries and continuing some as well.

I’ve set my goals for the season to the squad but for now I’ll keep that in house. 

I think tier 4 has the potential to be one of the most exciting leagues this season packed with local derbies and some fantastic talent recruited by all the clubs.

Let’s hope we can finally get the league started this year.

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