Until recently I had never seen Ceryl Jones play.
I’d heard so much about her amazing skills, which had been rewarded with numerous Wales caps as well as trophies galore with the likes of Everton, Liverpool, Bangor City and Caernarfon Town, but not witnessed her brilliance myself.
Fortunately, one of Ceryl’s former team-mates, Siwan Elenid, recently sent me some video footage from Bangor City Girls’ vintage days, which showed the player nicknamed ‘Giggsy’ scoring goals, going on dazzling runs and providing decisive passes.
It wasn’t live in the flesh, nor was it lengthy footage, but it was certainly enough to see what all the fuss was about.
This fantastic player, who has to be labelled an all-time Welsh great as well as among North Wales’ best ever, talked about her career to Grassroots North Wales this week.
What is your full name and date of birth?
Ceryl Tindall-Jones – born 21/03/1980
At what age did you start playing football and what attracted you to the game?
I started kicking a ball at the age of three, watching my brother play with his friends, and having a kickabout with him and my dad.
I lived next door to The Oval so as I got older I was there regularly watching football matches and helping out on match days (ball boy – girl) with my friends.
I would be playing football in the street or local playground with my friends every chance.
Straight from school I was out with a football in the backyard kicking the ball against the wall or doing some keep ups, trying different skills.
Who were your first team and were they successful?
On weekends at The Oval for home games a gang of us would be there the minute the gates were open.
We would go to help out, cleaning and setting up corner flags ready for the match.
At the age of nine I remember playing on a bit of grass behind the stands at The Oval.
When the men’s match finished, as the fans were leaving through the main gate, this man shouted to my friends “remember football trials next week” and he looked at me and said “I want you to attend as well”.
I attended the trails and it all started from there, playing for a boys team called Segontium Rovers with manager Dafydd Ellis (my first football manager)
I was the only girl there and yes of course the boys that didn’t know me thought I was a boy, but that didn’t bother me at all.
From there, I played for the boys teams up to the age of 12. That’s when the rules started to change that girls shouldn’t play in the same team as boys and all that.
I remember my last match for the boys team; we played against Llanrug. I was captain for my last match for Segontium Rovers in a cup final. We won which made it even more special.
Between the ages of 12-14 there was a mix of not playing for the boys team and starting a school team for girls, and we got a team together for a 5 a-side competitions with the youth clubs.
Your first senior team – who were they and how did things go with them?
At 14 I got invited to train with Bangor City Girls and got the chance to make memories and create history.
We won many special finals, including the Welsh Cup three times.
Keith Fearns was one of the best managers I had.
He would never tell me straight why he wasn’t happy with my performance. If I had a bad game, he would make me think about my performance. That made me a better player because I had to think back and work out how to improve my performance.
If I did something he liked on the pitch he would stand on the sideline and give my 👍 (the thumbs up).
What were your most memorable goals?
I scored many goals for Bangor City Girls, most of them free kicks, but the memorable goals were the Welsh Cup ones.
As for Everton, my most memorable goal was a penalty at Wembley Stadium.
My most memorable goal for Liverpool was a penalty at Anfield.
Describe your style of play – also strengths and weaknesses
I loved taking players on.
Not being big-headed, but I found myself to be skillful on the ball, players found it hard to get the ball off me.
As the game progressed and as I got older my game changed. I found myself changing the way I played, making better and easier decisions. Keeping it simple and letting the ball do more of the work instead of me twisting and turning with the ball.
Weakness – heading the ball. I only went up to head the ball if I really had to. I would tell my teammates to play the ball slightly in front of me or to my feet.
Tell us about your Wales career
One of my proudest achievements was to play for Wales. I was very successful, playing through all the age categories – Under 16,18, 21 and senior.
At 15 years old, I played my first game for Wales U-16 against Scotland in March 1996.
Wales senior manager Roy Thomas asked me if I could stay to be part of the senior squad that same week as I was turning 16 a day before the seniors match.
I got my first ever senior cap as I came on as a substitute against Scotland. Best birthday present ever.
I received my first cap from legends Ryan Giggs, Gary Speed and Barry Horne.
How did you get to play for Everton and Liverpool?
I remember during a Wales senior training session I was talking to one of our best centre forwards at the time, Louise Thomas, who also played for Everton.
She told me to play at the highest level and to improve your game at international level you need to be playing at a high level every week.
So I got thinking, got in contact with Louise and we discussed Everton.
At the age of 18-19, I made the decision to sign for Everton Ladies and had two seasons there.
I returned to Bangor City Girls for a few years before leaving again for Liverpool Ladies.
I then went back to North Wales to finish my football career with Caernarfon Town.
List some of your best football memories
Playing for Segontium Rovers and being captain in my final match for the boys team.
Bangor City Girls – At 14 I got to play at Cardiff Arms Park in the 1994/95 Welsh Cup final. I scored the goal that put us 1-0 up against Inter Cardiff. The game ended at 1-1 and we lost on pens 4-3
Bangor City Girls – Welsh Cup winners 1996-97, 2000-01 and 2001-02. Scored in all three finals.
Bangor City Girls – representing Wales in Europe in the 2002/03 Uefa Cup
Everton Ladies – 1999 played at Wembley Stadium just before the men’s Charity Shield between Arsenal and Manchester United.
Our game ended in a penalty shoot out. As I went up to take my penalty all I could see were the Arsenal players all standing behind the goal watching.
It was so special because Arsenal are my team so walking up to take the penalty was amazing. Dennis Bergkamp, Tony Adams, Marc Overmars, Arsene Wenger all standing there watching.
Such a relief to score and go on to win on pens.
Liverpool Ladies – amazing experience playing at Anfield in the County Cup Final against my former club Everton. It was 0-0 after 90 minutes and we won on penalties.
Felt crazy walking up to take a penalty facing the famous Kop and scoring.
Also I had the fantastic experience of travelling to Singapore on tour with Liverpool – a 10 day tour playing against their top women’s and men’s teams.
Visiting schools, giving the kids some football coaching and letting them watch us training.
We got treated like professionals there – it was amazing.
Why did you decide to retire from football at 30 and what have you done since ?
I returned to my home town Caernarfon and played a couple of seasons, winning more trophies.
We won the North Wales Coast title three seasons in a row and also made the Welsh Cup final and the Welsh Premiership play-off final twice.
I then decided that’s it, I’ve done what I wanted. It’s time to hang my boots up and concentrate on work commitments and take a new path.
I got a new job opportunity and put my time and focus into becoming a fitness instructor / personal trainer.
A lot of people ask me why I didn’t go into football coaching, I just wanted to go on a different path. I spent so many years running around playing with a ball. I fancied a change so I got into health & fitness and weights training.
Do you ever regret stopping playing football at the age of 30?
Could you ever be tempted out of retirement?
No, at 41 it’s too old.
Who were your football role models?
Mia Hamm and Abby Wambach – USA
Karen Burke – Everton and England
Jayne Ludlow – Arsenal and Wales
Laura Mcallister and Claire O’sullivan – Wales
Local football role models?
All the Bangor City Girls team – I can’t just name 1 or 2 they were all amazing players
Managers played under?
Dafydd Ellis – Segontium Rovers
Keith Fearns – Bangor City Girls and Caernarfon Town Ladies
Billy Jackson and Keith & Mo Marley – Everton
John Williams – Liverpool
Roy Thomas & Glan Letheren – Wales
Sian Williams (former Arsenal ladies) – Wales
Michael Ishmael & Ken Hughes – Bangor City Girls
Keith Cliffe – Everton and Liverpool Ladies
Now Jayne Ludlow has left, who should be the next Wales manager?
It’s a big shame that Jayne stepped down as manager, she made such a difference to the Welsh squad. She has so much quality and experience as a former Welsh international player, and the experience playing for top team Arsenal.
The next Wales manager needs her qualities. It’s a hard one to answer – who knows who it will be.
Bangor and Caernarfon Town were such strong sides at their peak in the 1990’s and 2000’s. No club in North Wales is near that standard now. What needs to change for us to get one or two clubs challenging the best in Wales?
To get to the same standards again all comes down to commitment. If the managers and coaches are committed then the players need to be as well.
Players need to be turning up for training every week and do their own extra training (fitness).
If they have a match on Sunday they should be preparing for the match the night before. Getting the basic essentials ready, clean boots, shin pads, pre and post match snacks. The simple things were the important things.
Final question – sum up your football career in a few words…
I got to play at the highest level possible. I made lifelong friends and created amazing memories.
I got to learn and improve my game with fantastic managers & coaches.
I can’t thank them enough. They made me the player I was and I would never have been able to create so many memories without them.