Belated happy birthday to Bangor 1876 manager Mel Jones !

Bangor City line up from the 1977-78 season. Mel is dead centre in the front row, with to his right club all-time greats Tony Broadhead and John Hughes. Many thanks to Mike Smith of the Citizens Choice website for the photograph.

One thing Bangor 1876 manager Mel Jones certainly does not lack is experience.

With spells in senior management at Bangor City, Porthmadog and Caernarfon Town behind him, he has worked at the highest level of Welsh football.

And that stood him in good stead as newly-formed 1876 romped to the Gwynedd League title at the first attempt last season.

Yesterday (January 13) was Mel’s birthday and these are exciting times for a man in charge of first team affairs at an ambitious and thriving football club.

As a player, Mel started out with Bangor City juniors and youth, and then played for the reserves and first team.

His outings for the firsts came in the late 1970s, when City were in the Northern Premier League and Mel would have played alongside club greats such as Tony Broadhead, John Hughes and John McClelland.

In 1977-78, the team Mel featured in also once had Sir Bobby Charlton on its side when Bangor beat Treviso in the Anglo-Italian Cup, the Manchester United and England legend netting the winner at Farrar Road.

In an interview with the 1876 website last season, Mel said of his playing days at Bangor City: “I was lucky as a local boy to be able to fulfil my dream and play for my hometown club, progressing through the ranks.

Playing at Farrar Road was a real source of excitement for me after having watched so many players on that pitch as a fan in my young days.”

When asked about the best players he played alongside, he replied: “Tony Broadhead and Phil Lunn. Phil Lunn really encouraged me as a young player to get on the ball and enjoy my time with the first team, and Tony Broadhead was always brilliant. When you got the ball he was always available and would often do the rest himself, he was a great goalscorer.”

Mel also played for Nantlle Vale and Bethesda Athletic in an impressive career.

To develop his managerial experience, he once took on a coaching role at Wrexham under Brian Flynn and Kevin Reeves.

Mel (right) signs Bangor football legend Les Davies for 1876

In December 2005, Mel had a stint as acting first-team manager at Bangor City following the departure of Peter Davenport.

He was in charge for six games, recording wins over Newtown and Caernarfon Town, before ex-Manchester United and Wales defender Clayton Blackmore became manager in mid-January 2006.

Mel stayed on as assistant to Blackmore and the pair reached the Welsh Cup final at the end of that season, only to lose 2-0 to rivals Rhyl at the Racecourse, Wrexham.

A UEFA A licence holder, Mel took charge of the Bangor City Academy before being appointed assistant to Paul Whelan at Porthmadog in 2008.

Whelan departed eight months later, but Mel remained Porthmadog Academy manager until July 2009.

In September 2009, he became joint first-team manager of Caernarfon Town with Derek Roberts for a short spell.

Mel returned to Bangor City and became renowned for his outstanding work with the club’s Academy.

In 2016-17, he was joint-manager with Dave Cavanagh as Bangor City Reserves wrapped up the Welsh Alliance Reserves Division title. He was also heavily involved in the Bangor City Under-19’s Welsh Premier Development League championship sides.

Mel (furthest left) with the successful Bangor City Welsh Premier Development League squad. Image: KEVIN OWEN

In June 2019, the formation of new club Bangor 1876 was announced. Mel Jones was appointed manager and Dylan Williams his assistant.

Within days of taking over, Mel signed up former Bangor City legends Les Davies and Michael Johnston, giving local fans a feelgood taste of the past.

1876’s first season (the 2019-20 campaign curtailed due to coronavirus) saw them win all 16 matches to be crowned Gwynedd League champions. They were also still in four cup competitions which were all cancelled due to Covid.

Mel Jones – a prolific contributor to North Wales football, at both junior and senior level.

Hope you had a good birthday Mel. Keep up the great work.

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