Happy birthday Greg Stones – former Welsh Premier League title winner with Rhyl and The New Saints who also lifted the Welsh Cup with Prestatyn Town.
Born on May 4, 1982, Greg is 39 today.
He retired from football five years ago following a distinguished career which included many seasons in Wales.
The classy defender, who was equally at home in midfield, announced his decision following Rhyl’s last game of the 2015-16 campaign against Carmarthen Town.
In total, across three spells, he made 171 league appearances for the Lilywhites.
Birkenhead man Greg first joined Rhyl as a 22-year-old from Poulton Victoria of the West Cheshire League at the start of the 2004-05 season.
He made his competitive debut for the Lilies in the UEFA Champions League qualifying match away to Latvian champions Skonta Riga as a second half substitute.
At the start of his second season with the Lilywhites, Greg played a part in two of the most momentous nights in the club’s modern history.
He was in the starting XI for the 2-1 home win in the first qualifying round of the UEFA Europa League against Atlantis of Lithuania and then scored in the away leg in Klaipedia as Rhyl lost on the night 2-3 but progressed on away goals.
After winning the Welsh Cup with Rhyl in 2005/06, beating Bangor City 2-0 in the final at Wrexham, he left Belle Vue to join reigning champions, The New Saints.
He spent a full season with full-timers TNS, earning himself another WPL winners’ medal before the chance for a trial at Football League side Crewe Alexandra was presented.
The opportunity at Gresty Road didn’t materialise and Greg joined Stafford Rangers, who were playing in the Conference at the time.
Following a brief spell at Cammell Laird he rejoined the Lilywhites in January 2008.
This second spell at the club later coincided with the emergence of arguably one of the best teams to represent the Lilywhites with the 2008/09 season witnessing a period of strong investment.
Many ex-professionals joined the club’s ranks such as Neil Roberts, Gareth Owen and Greg Strong.
Stones slotted in perfectly as he made 25 appearances in the Welsh Premier League title-winning team, scoring six goals during the season.
During this time Greg was heavily involved with the club as he ran the football in the community and headed the academy.
At the start of the next season, Greg again got the opportunity to represent Rhyl in the UEFA Champions League and played in both legs against the mighty Partizan Belgrade.
However, as the 2009/10 term went on financial problems hit the Lilywhites and slowly the title-winning side from the previous season broke up.
Greg moved on to Colwyn Bay, who were playing in the Northern Premier First Division North and helped them to promotion.
For the following season Greg joined the reborn Chester side who emerged from the ashes of the old Chester City, linking up with Neil Young who he had previously worked with during stays at Poulton Vics, Rhyl and the Bay.
Greg landed at FC United of Manchester in 2011/12 before returning to the Welsh Premier League with Prestatyn Town over the summer of 2012.
He spent two seasons at Bastion Gardens, scooping a Welsh Cup winners’ medal and winning a European tie with the Seasiders.
In November 2014 he made another return to Belle Vue, initially on loan, until the transfer window when the signing was made permanent.
During this spell Greg again played in a number of positions across the defence and occasionally in midfield where his skills brought calm and order to proceedings.
By the end of the 2015-16 campaign, he decided to call it a day, leaving behind him some classic playing days which will long be remembered on the North Wales coast.
Have a great day Greg.
GREG STONES FACTFILE
Welsh Premier appearances: 225 (+24 as sub)
Welsh Premier goals: 18
WPL club stats: Rhyl – played 154 (17) goals 11; The New Saints – 22 (5) – 4; Prestatyn Town – 49 (2) – 3.
Rhyl – Welsh Premier League title 2008/09; Welsh Cup winner 2005/06; NWCFA Challenge Cup winner 2005/06
The New Saints – Welsh Premier League title 2006/07
Prestatyn Town – Welsh Cup winner 2012/13
Colwyn Bay – Northern Premier League Division One North promotion 2009/10
Chester FC – Northern Premier League Division One North champions 2010/11
Appearances – 11 (2) Goals 1
Wins: Rhyl v FK Atlantas (UEFA Cup 2005/06); Prestatyn Town v Liepajas Metalurgs (Europa League 2013/14