Former Llangollen Town manager Gareth Lloyd celebrates his 40th birthday today.
He is perhaps best known for leading the Tower Field club into the tier two Cymru Alliance League for the first and only time in 2008-09.
Born on December 11, 1980, Gareth’s first real football participation was as a nine-year-old when a small group of parents started Arosfa FC in Llangollen in 1990.
The team thrived and grew into Llangollen Youth FC.
Gareth was a striker who could appear ungainly but managed to score plenty of goals. He moved on to play for Llangollen Town as a 16-year-old and after scoring on his debut spent many years with the club.
He also had a short spell at Cefn Druids under Alan Morgan and played for Rhos Aelwyd, Queen’s Park, Brymbo and for Llanfyllin Town in the Mid Wales League.
As for his playing time with Llangollen, he regards winning the Welsh National League Premier Division Cup in 2000 as among his best achievements. He also managed to score six in a game for Town on two different occasions.
Gareth also played in the all-conquering Oswestry Bell Sunday side which managed to win the North Shropshire League treble around 2003/4.
On the management side, he initially started coaching at the age of 18 with the Arosfa Under-10s and progressed to managing the Town first team by the age of 27.
He also had the opportunity to coach under Craig Harrison at Airbus.
“I learnt a great deal under Craig, his knowledge and attention to detail is incredible,” he once told Grassroots North Wales. “He really whetted my appetite for a managerial return at Llangollen.”
Gareth’s greatest feat as a manager was undoubtedly winning the Welsh National League Premier Division championship with Llangollen in 2008-09, leading to promotion to the Cymru Alliance.
“With Rich Hughes alongside me we managed to remain unbeaten until the last two games of the season in the league,” recalled Gareth.
“Penycae and Rhos Aelwyd under Steve Walters were incredibly strong sides and we also reached the final of the League Cup and the semi-finals of the NEWFA Cup.
“It was not only the results side of things, but also the fun we had throughout the season. The team spirit was the sort you would want to bottle and copyright.
“The likes of Chris Smout, Mark Lunt, Gareth ‘Dicky’ Williams and Ashley Wilson made for an unforgettable campaign.”
Although Llangollen performed more than respectably in their debut 2009-10 season in tier two, they ended up victims of a Welsh football pyramid restructure which meant the bottom eight sides in the Cymru Alliance were relegated to make way for clubs coming down from a Welsh Premier reduced from 18 teams to 12.
Town finished 11th of 16 in the CAL, which would have been more than enough to keep them in the league in any other season.
The upheaval relegation caused took its toll at Llangollen, who went from having three sides to just the one in the space of 18 months.
Town fared steadily on their return to the WNL Premier before they dropped into tier 4 at the end of 2014-15 and remained there until the pyramid structure changed again this season.
Llangollen Town had their best years to date under Gareth Lloyd, and being so fond of his hometown club, that will always mean the world to him.
Happy birthday Gareth.