Football across Anglesey is in mourning following the death of a much-loved and respected coach and manager from the island.
Rob Hughes, of Llangefni, passed away on Christmas Eve, aged 43.
While a useful keeper in his playing days for Llangefni Town Reserves and Sunday league team Ty Newydd of Pentraeth, Rob’s greater achievements came in management.
In 2002/03 he and John Buckland led Llangefni Town Reserves to a magnificent five trophies in the same season – Anglesey League title and Dargie, Elias, Thomas & Williams and A.E.E.U. Cups.
Rob was later assistant to Kev Hughes at Bodedern and had a stint himself as manager of the village club, taking charge on November 22, 2006.
He led Boded until it resigned from the Cymru Alliance in October 2007 due to a shortage of players.
The club changed its name to Bodedern Athletic and took its reserves’ place in the Gwynedd League.
In 2009-10, Rob became joint-manager of CPD Gwalchmai with Paul Owen and the pair landed a Gwynedd League treble of league championship, Premier Cup and Cwpan Gwynedd, as well as reaching the finals of the NWCFA Intermediate and Barritt Cups.
Hughes and Owen were also in charge when Gwalch met Welsh Premier side Port Talbot in the Welsh Cup – the most prestigious game in the Anglesey club’s history.
Rob later returned to Llangefni Town, to work alongside Chris Roberts.
Current Llangefni manager Roberts knew Rob for many years.
“I owe Rob so much,” said Chris.
“I started playing under him when he became assistant manager to John Buckland for our Llangefni Juniors team. He helped me develop and gain confidence as a young lad.
“Rob then showed faith in me and gave me the chance to play senior football for Llangefni Town Reserves where I felt was the time I played my best football and most certainly enjoyed my football the most.
“Having been given the chance in senior football and playing every week I was then called up to the first team which wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t been given the chance.
“That reserves team was full of talented local players from the town and that’s why I think we did so well. Rob was a fantastic manager / coach and really did know how to get the best out of players. His man-management skills and tactical knowledge was second to none.
“When I came back to Llangefni as a manager I knew that Rob was the perfect choice to be my assistant he had done so well at both Bodedern and Gwalchmai and I wanted to try and re-create the similar ethos that he had when I played for him of having local players playing for the club.
“I also knew how much players respected him which would make it easier to attract players back to play for us. I remember me calling him to say I was going back to Llangefni and wanted him to be my assistant and straight away he said yes and we chatted about football and the players we wanted for well over an hour.
“We had a really successful spell at Llangefni and I can say I learnt a lot from him.
“I class him as a friend and true gentleman who never had a bad word to say about anyone. When I look back I spent so many years with him throughout my football career whether it was playing or in management and he will be truly missed. RIP Robbo mate x.”
Dyfed Thomas knew Rob since primary school when both attended Ysgol-y-Graig and then later were pupils together at Ysgol Gyfun Llangefni.
“His knowledge of football was second to none,” said Dyfed.
“His man-to-man management skills were perfect – the way he put stuff over. His character, the way he talked to people. Some managers shout at players from the touchline if they make a mistake, but Rob would take them to one side in the dressing room and have a quiet word.
“Players wanted to play for him as they respected him. No-one had a bad word to say about him. Every time you had a problem you could talk to him and it would be sorted out.
“He was the best man at my wedding, godfather to my daughter and was my best friend. I am devastated that we’ve lost him.”
Bodedern Athletic FC
In a statement, the club said….
“The club is deeply saddened and shocked that our former manager and assistant-manager Rob Hughes has suddenly passed away.
“A great guy, and a fantastic coach that got the best out of his players, and a great goalie in his time.
“Our thoughts and prayers go out to Rob’s family and friends at this difficult time.
“Cwsg yn dawel Rob.”
Corey Sinnott – footballer, Gwalchmai FC
Corey played regularly under Rob’s management in his career and wrote the following on social media.
“Absolutely devastated with the passing of Rob Hughes on Christmas Eve.
“Still can’t believe I’ll never see you again. We were together in nearly every team I played for, a brilliant footballing brain.
“Without your guidance I wouldn’t have been half the player I was, but more importantly (you were) a brilliant friend, an absolute lovely bloke who didn’t have a bad word to say about anyone.
“From football to nights out, or even zoom quizzes during lockdown, there’s always been one constant and that’s you. Gonna miss you so much – rest in peace Bobbo love you mate.”
Paul Owen – former co-manager at Gwalchmai with Rob Hughes
“We as a club send our thoughts to Rob’s family. This news has some as a great shock not just to his friends, but everyone. He was such a gentleman and I am honoured to call him a friend.
“I’ve known Rob for years and when I took over at Gwalch I went to see him and asked would he be able to help me. We became a rock together and became joint managers from that day.
“Together we became a force in football – from winning the Gwynedd League, going on to do the treble, to taking on Port Talbot in the last 16 of the Welsh Cup, they were only some of the memories.
“I am devastated with the news and I know our past players will want to pay tribute to Rob.
“He was a master for his football management ability and I always said to him – you are the brains behind me. RIP Rob, I will miss you. Heartbroken is not the word.”