Penblwydd hapus ‘Mini Messi’ – Darren Thomas yn 34 heddiw

Darren Thomas with his children Anest and Osian

Caernarfon Town legend Darren Thomas celebrates his 34th birthday today.

And what a career it has been so far for the player nicknamed “Mini Messi”.

Darren has won the Cymru Alliance League title no less than FOUR times – twice with Caernarfon and on the same number of occasions at Llangefni Town.

He has been a champion in the Caernarfon and District plus Welsh Alliance leagues, landed an FAW Trophy winners’ medal and scored the Goal of the Decade in a famous Welsh Cup tie.

Born on January 20, 1987, Darren began his career at village side CPD Bontnewydd. He was part of the team that won the NWCFA Youth Cup twice and was the star player when Bont scooped the Caernarfon and District League title in their debut 2004/05 season.

Darren moved to Caernarfon Town, where he made one substitute appearance during the 2005/06 League of Wales campaign. Frustrated at a lack of first team opportunities he joined Llangefni Town, where they quickly put him under contract.

Over the next four seasons Darren would score goals for fun, helping the club to the Cymru Alliance title under Adie Jones in 2006/07 and promotion to the Welsh Premier for the first time in the club’s history.

During their season in the top flight Darren scored 13 goals in 30 appearances, including two hat-tricks and was named as the League’s Player of the Month for March 2008.

Llangefni Town’s poster boy. Picture: Llangefni Town website

Despite being pursued by other LoW clubs when the team were relegated at the end of the season the committee decided to hold on to their prize asset.

The 2008/09 season saw Llangefni finish third in the Cymru Alliance.

However, 2009/10 saw Darren in fine form, finishing top marksman as the club won the league title once more and he was crowned Cymru Alliance Player of the Season.

Sadly the club were refused the domestic licence and had to remain in the second-tier, and it was to be a disappointing 10th place finish in Darren’s final term at Talwrn Road, although his good displays saw him included in the league team of the season.

In June 2011, Darren moved on to Porthmadog and over the next season and a half he netted 22 goals in 53 appearances at Y Traeth before going back to Caernarfon Town in January 2013, linking up with former manager at Cefni, Lee Dixon.

Darren celebrates another goal. Picture: Paul Evans CTFC

It was a glorious return to The Oval for Darren, as the Canaries marched on to win the treble, with Thomas scoring twice in the record 6-0 FAW Trophy final victory versus Kelvey Fords and then securing the Welsh Alliance League title and Cookson Cup.

The 2013/14 season started well and with Darren finding the net 22 times in 36 starts he finished as the club’s top scorer. Despite Caernarfon finishing runners-up in the Cymru Alliance they did lift the League Cup with Darren scoring in the 3-1 triumph over Flint in final at Porthmadog.

On a personal note he was crowned Players Player and shared the Supporter’s Player of the Year award with captain Grahame Austin.

The 2014/15 campaign got off to a good start for Darren and he went on to score 12 goals in his 22 starts as Town finished as runners-up to champions Llandudno.

He also scored an unforgettable wonder goal versus TNS in a gallant televised 3-2 Welsh Cup defeat.

June 2015 saw Darren leave The Oval to try his luck at Welsh Premier club Aberystwyth Town, but after two goals in 12 appearances at Park Avenue he returned to his hometown club in November.

Soccer siblings: Darren (second left) with sister Catrin to his left, plus Nathan Craig and Sophie Craig. Picture: Paul Evans CTFC

Manager Iwan Williams was delighted to re-sign Darren and his 13 goals from 18 starts helped Caernarfon to the Cymru Alliance League title, however due to the club’s failure to secure the domestic licence there would be no promotion. They did earn the consolation of another League Cup triumph.

Staying on for the 2016/17 season Darren was a integral part of the side that finished runners-up to Prestatyn and enjoyed a memorable run to the Welsh Cup semi-finals, where despite Mini Messi giving Town the lead they went out to eventual champions Bala Town.

Team talk with Nathan Craig (left). Picture: Paul Evans CTFC

The League Cup was secured for a third time in four years and Darren was named the club’s Player of the Year and was once again chosen for the Cymru Alliance Team of the Season.

In 2017-18 Darren notched 23 goals in 27 outings as Caernarfon were crowned Cymru Alliance champions for a second time in three seasons.

The player reached 100 goals for the club, who ended a 10-year absence from the top flight by being promoted to the Welsh Premier League.

Picture: Paul Evans CTFC

Since Town returned to the WPL in 2018-19, they have secured two top-half finishes and made it to last season’s Welsh Cup semi-finals, only for the competition to be scrapped due to coronavirus.

Darren has shown some of the best form of his career back in the Cymru Premier. He has notched 15 league goals for the club to bring his career top-flight total to 30 (13 for Llangefni and 2 at Aberystwyth).

He has featured in a total of 243 matches for Caernarfon Town across the leagues and amassed 122 goals.

Last year, he scooped the Sgorio Goal of the Decade award for his amazing effort against TNS in the 2014/15 Welsh Cup. An stunning individual goal saw Darren break from his own half, leaving a trail of defenders in his wake before lashing home a magnificent shot from outside the box.

He also landed the 2019-20 Sgorio Goal of the Season accolade for his run and thunderous finish against Ammanford in the Welsh Cup.

Darren with Osian and Anest. Picture provided by Thomas family

Happy birthday Darren – what a career it has been and hopefully there are still more good things to come.

Darren Thomas – Career rundown

2004-05 Bontnewydd
2005-06 Caernarfon Town
2005-06 – 2010-11 Llangefni Town
2011-13 Porthmadog
2013 – 2014-15 Caernarfon Town
2015-16 Aberystwyth Town
2016 – present Caernarfon Town

Nathan Craig and Darren Thomas celebrate another club triumph. Pic: Paul Evans CTFC

Honours

2004-05: Caernarfon & District League title winner (Bontnewydd)
2006-07: Cymru Alliance League title winner (Llangefni Town)
2009-10: Cymru Alliance League title winner (Llangefni Town)
Caernarfon Town honours
2012-13: Welsh Alliance League title winner; FAW Trophy winner; Cookson Cup winner.
2013-14: Cymru Alliance League Cup winner
2015-16 Cymru Alliance League title winner; Cymru Alliance League Cup winner
2016-17 Cymru Alliance League Cup winner
2017-18 Cymru Alliance League title winner.
2013-14 Players Player of the Season, Supporter’s Player of the Season (shared with Grahame Austin), Caernarfon Town Top Scorer.
2016-17 Caernarfon Town Player of the Season
2017-18 Caernarfon Town Player of the Season, Huws Gray Team of the Season.
2018-19 Caernarfon Town Player of the Season.
2010-19 Sgorio Goal of the Decade winner. (versus TNS 2014/15 Welsh Cup)
2019-20 Sgorio Goal of the Season (versus Ammanford Welsh Cup)

Huge thanks to Alex Philp for information and Paul Evans for photographs

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