Connah’s Quay Nomads are very much a football club of the now.
But thanks to people like Jay Catton, they are also set up for a very bright future.
Born on January 4, 1988, we wish Jay a very happy 34th birthday today.
Husband to Louise, and dad to Isabella and Henri, Jay is one of those infectious characters who makes local football tick.
Always a warm smile, his enthusiasm for what he does knows no bounds.
The current director of football for the Nomads also has a BA honours degree in sports coaching and science and holds the prestigious UEFA Pro Licence.
Previously a player with the Nomads, Jay’s career was disrupted by four knee operations. He took on a coaching role at the club and the rest of history.
As director of football, he oversees all aspects of the club, including first team affairs and the Nomads Academy.
This includes the scholarship programme run in partnership with Coleg Cambria.
Jay was also heavily involved in the launch of ‘The Quay 3G’ facility.
Perhaps Jay’s proudest accomplishment at Deeside Stadium has been the magnificent progression of the Academy.
When the Academy was launched in 2009, it had no teams, no home or training venue and no staff.
Quay’s first team had just been relegated from the Cymru Alliance and for three seasons they received zero funding.
In an interview with Grassroots North Wales two years ago, Jay revealed: “It was a complete blank canvas.
“I was finishing my degree in Preston at the time in sports coaching and travelled home most nights the first few years to really get it off the ground and coached numerous sides also.
“From this point we began our first season as an academy with a single U16s side which included five players that went on to play in the Welsh Premier League.
“From here the academy grew to have three academy cup sides at U12s, U14s and U16s the following three seasons.”
The Academy grew even further to have mini phase teams U8s to U11s and then in the latter years a full-time scholarship program linked in with Coleg Cambria at U18s and U19s levels.
Jay added: “The simple aim at the start was to create an academy to give local players in the area a professional environment to aid individual development and give them the best coaching and experience possible.
“The three key aims have always been the same from when we started: move players onto professional football league and premier league clubs, progress players to gain Welsh international honours and produce players who can play in the Welsh Premier League for Connah’s Quay Nomads.
“These three main targets have never been swayed from and we have aided numerous players to achieve these targets.”
Perhaps the Academy’s brightest beacon has been the rise to prominence of striker Rhys Healey.
Now 27, Healey spent two years with the Nomads from 2011-13 before landing a move to Cardiff City.
Later loan spells with league clubs in the English and Scottish pyramid led to a transfer in 2020 to French club Toulouse, where he has been a goalscoring sensation.
As for the junior sides, numerous honours have been won in recent years with a major highlight coming in 2018, when the U12s, U14s, U16s and first team all made national finals across the same weekend in Newtown.
Nomads’ senior side landed the Welsh Cup for the first time and in recent seasons have also won the Cymru Premier League twice (they are current champions), lifted the Nathaniel MG Cup, made the Scottish Challenge Cup final and achieved some great results in Europe.
All these glories occurred under the management of Andy Morrison, who stepped down this season, leaving Craig Harrison, the most successful Welsh Premier manager in history, to take over the helm.
Jay remains closely involved with the first team set-up, among all his other duties.
Last year Jay was a central figure in Connah’s Quay Nomads raising more than £15,000 for the MIND charity. He rounded off a year of fundraising by completing the London Marathon.
You’re one in a million Jay – have a fantastic birthday.