Prestatyn Town’s new manager John Lawless once played against his beloved Liverpool in the Champions League.
In 2005-06, the now 38-year-old was part of the TNS squad which gave the holders a good battle in the first qualifying round despite losing both legs 3-0.
Although Lawless did not achieve his ambition of emulating boyhood hero John Barnes by becoming a Reds legend, he did get to play against the likes of Steven Gerrard, Jamie Carragher and Sami Hyppia 15 years ago.
Incidentally, Gerrard, hero of Liverpool’s remarkable Champions League final victory over AC Milan in Istanbul the previous season, scored five of the Reds’ six goals in the TNS tie.
Lawless was an unused substitute in the first leg at Wrexham, but came on in the 72nd minute of the return at Anfield.
Prestatyn’s new boss knocked a football around the De La Salle high school playground in Croxteth with Wayne Rooney and Francis Jeffers in the late 1980s, but his head was full of dreams about being the next Barnes.
For a time it appeared his dream may come true. He won a place at Liverpool’s academy, where he found himself under the tutelage of Steve Heighway, but at the age of 15 the Anfield club released him.
A mercurial talent, Lawless spent several years at Burscough of the Northern Premier League and was part of their legendary 2003 FA Trophy winning side which beat Tamworth 2-1 at Villa Park before getting his first taste of the Welsh Premier League with Aberystwyth Town from 2003-04.
Next was a move to TNS, where he won the WPL title and Welsh Cup, as well as featuring in that memorable Euro tie against his idols before departing Park Hall in November 2005.
Spells with Vauxhall and Colwyn Bay, where he really impressed, were followed by a short stay at Marine which ended abruptly.
Witton Albion, Formby, Leigh Genesis and Prescot Cables became further stops on his journey, with returns to Vauxhall and Prescot Cables also packed in.
Now Lawless aims to make his mark as a tier 2 manager at Prestatyn.
His new management team will be David Mannix, who was in Liverpool FC’s matchday squad for the 2004-05 Champions League final and has experience of playing and managing in Welsh football, Lee Dickson and Ryan Turner, the only member of the Seasiders’ backroom staff of last season still remaining.
Dickson has a reputation as a top coach. He enjoyed a successful career that saw him play for sides such as St Helens among others.
Prestatyn Town chairman Jamie Welsh said: “This has been a crazy few weeks at the club; never in my mind did I think we would need to go out and find a new management team and players after all the effort we put in over the summer to keep last season’s squad, but that has been the case.
“The minute John called me and expressed his interest in the position, I knew we had a great candidate for the job. The passion and energy in which he spoke convinced me he was the right man.
“I just ask all Prestatyn Town fans to give the lads a chance to put a team out on the pitch that makes you proud.
“Last season’s team has gone. It’s devastating that you’re not supporting a Welsh Premier League side but our aim remains the same – to win the league, whenever it may start, and get this club promoted and back among the top tier of Welsh football.”