Club feature: Rhyl Dragons are aiming high

Rhyl Dragons players took part in a minute’s applause before their January 22 match with Rhyl All Stars in honour of Steve Sayburn, a local footballer who sadly passed away recently. Steve was a close friend of many of the Rhyl Dragons players and management. Picture: ROY GUNTHER

Rhyl Dragons are a new football team currently competing in their first full season in the North Wales Coast East League.

Managed by Ste Taylor and Paul Maxwell his assistant, the developing club are currently a very promising fifth in tier 5 Division One.

Dragons have no intention of standing still. They want to progress to a higher level and Paul, who is also club chairman, and Ste talked to Grassroots North Wales about their plans.

Why did you start Rhyl Dragons?

Paul Maxwell: I started Rhyl Dragons off in 2020 during the Covid lockdown. There were a couple of others who were helping to get the club going, but it obviously didn’t work out for different reasons, but I wanted to carry it on.

How do you feel things have gone for you as a club so far?

Ste Taylor: Things have gone well so far, better than I expected at this stage joining a new club that needed a whole new squad building. We have done very well; it’s hard to achieve things whilst rebuilding a squad but we will be raring to go next season as our squad is almost complete.
Paul Maxwell: I’m pleased with how it’s gone, but especially because it was hard during the lockdown and not being able to play and also I feel some of our original players didn’t have faith in what we could achieve, so there was a complete rebuild of the club. That taught me a few things and I’m glad that happened as otherwse I don’t think we would be where we are today.

What’s been your best performance to date?

Paul Maxwell: For me, the best performance to date is our game against NFA this season (last year). With us being new to the league, I wasn’t sure how people would react with us, but the way the lads performed was brilliant. We came out 1-0 winners with Dean Hughes man of the match and the goal came from Richard Hill.
Ste Taylor: We’ve had a few very good performances this season against well-established sides that have been together a while, but like I said rebuilding takes time and to get them playing my way and the players bonding together as a squad. But still we have done very well, the players have grafted all season.

Dean Hughes (6) scores for Rhyl Dragons at Rhyl All Stars

How much have the lads enjoyed opportunities to play at Belle Vue?

Ste Taylor: The lads love playing at Belle Vue, it is a good day out for them when we get the chance so a massive thank you to Tom (Jamieson) and Adam (Roche) from CPD Y Rhyl 1879 for working with us and helping the community – and to the stewards that turn up on match day.
Paul Maxwell: The lads have loved playing at Belle Vue, a great experience for them and their families and friends coming to support them and the club. It’s also great for the community, two clubs working together.

How do you rate the standard at which you play?

Paul Maxwell: The standard of this league is very strong and there are some really good teams in it.
Ste Taylor: The standard is getting better, but again this is a rebuilding season. Players do come and go that’s just how it is until you find that right squad. Once we have that final squad that is when we can start working with them ready for next season.

Are you on course to achieve what you want to?

Paul Maxwell: We are on course to what we want to achieve. At the beginning of the season I wanted a top 5 finish as a new club coming in, but the main thing this season is all about building for next season and finding the right balance.

Has it been frustrating to lose quite a few players to other clubs? How have you coped?

Ste Taylor: Losing players to other clubs is just one of those things that happens on a rebuild like I said, but the lads that have left the club played their part in this rebuild – good lads and good players – but now I’m fully focused on my squad and achieving my goal at this club.
Paul Maxwell: The players we lost were great for us in their time with the club, but it’s a team game and everyone wants more minutes. We have wished them well and never stop anyone doing what they need to do so good luck to them. We have managed to bring a few new players in from the league above to strengthen us, so we appreciate that players can come and go but we are now focused on settling down our players for our future plans.

What are your plans as a club? To expand and play at a higher level?

Paul Maxwell: This season was about building for next season and our plan as a club is to find a ground share in our area and go for promotion. It’s going to take time and working on getting things right and how we want them. Luckily, we have a very strong committee on board and the right players and management to get us to where we want to be.
Ste Taylor: My arrival here has always been to get this club moving up the leagues to that next level. I have played / managed / reffed in these leagues for many years without missing a season since I was eight years of age training. I have picked up a lot of silverware during my career as a player and manager and I want more. I will succeed here, but not overnight – it will take time but we are moving in the right direction and fast.

Taking on Llanelwy Athletic (green). Shaun Walsh (facing – red) is the Rhyl Dragons player challenging for the ball. Picture: MATT JOHNSON

Anyone you would like to thank who has helped you so far?

Ste Taylor: So thank you to all our committee and playing staff, everyone at our club that work so hard and to Paul Maxwell for giving me this job and having faith in me to succeed and achieve our goal. It’s a team effort at this club, there is a family spirit here with everyone chipping in our love working at this club, so thank you to everyone and again thank you to Rhyl FC and to our club sponsors.
Paul Maxwell: I’d like to thank to thank the volunteers who help out – from club secretary and first aider. The players and club captain Dale Lewis for their hard work and commitment to our club. Ste Taylor for coming in helping to grow the club and putting down right foundations for our future and for everyone that has shown support for our club.
We would also like to thank Adam and Tom from CPD Y Rhyl 1879 for letting us use the ground and also a big thank you to our sponsors…
Rhyl High Street News and Off-Licence
Jones landscapes & groundworks
AJH Plumbing and Heating
PM plastering contractors
DSF plastering & rendering
The Blue Moon Rhyl for their match day hospitality
And also a massive thanks to Gaz Evans, who videos the games, edits them and does the You Tube channel.
We are looking for more companies or individuals that would like to be involved in sponsoring us and we are also looking for a ground share. We are in talks with a club but we are just in talking stages so any other help would be fantastic.

RHYL DRAGONS – RESULTS AND SCORERS 2021-22 SEASON

July 3: Cerrigydrudion (home – league) 1-4 (Adam Cassidy)
July 9: CPD Y Rhyl 1879 (away – Welsh Cup) 0-10
July 13: Henllan (away – league) 8-3 (Richard Hill 3, 1 pen, Adam Cassidy 2, Dean Hughes, Kelvin Berks, Sam Roberts OG)
July 17: Llansannan (away – FAW Trophy) 0-3
July 20: Penrhyn Bay Dragons (home – league) 6-1 (Kelvin Berks 3, Dean Hughes 2, Adam Cassidy)
July 24: Llandudno Amateurs (home – league) 2-2 (Jack Gibbon, Barry Roche)
July 31: Rhos United (home – league) 0-0
Aug 7: Cerrigydrudion (away – league) 2-2 (Adam Cassidy, Jack Gibbon)
Aug 10: Abergele (home – league) 1-2 (Dale Lewis)
Aug 14: NFA (away – league) 1-0 (Richard Hill)
Aug 21: Caer Clwyd (home – league) 3-2 (Kelvin Berks 3)
Aug 24: Llysfaen (away – league) 1-2 (Adam Cassidy)
Aug 28: Rhyl All Stars (away – league) 3-1 (Dean Hughes, Richard Hill pen, Jacob Jones OG)
Sep 11: Caer Clwyd (away – REM Jones Cup) 4-2 (Barry Roche, Adam Cassidy 3)
Sep 18: CPD Cefni (home – NWCFA Junior Challenge Cup) 1-0 (Kelvin Berks)
Sep 25: Penrhyn Bay Dragons (away – league) 1-0 (Dean Hughes)
Oct 9: CPD Henllan (home – league) 0-2
Oct 16: Betws-y-Coed (away – league) 11-0 (Adam Cassidy 4, 1 pen, Nathan Griffiths 4, Daniel Williams 2, 1 pen, Dale Lewis)
Oct 30: Rhos United (away – league) 1-0 (Daniel Williams)
Nov 6: Llanelwy Athletic (away – REM Jones Cup) 2-2 (Jack Gibbon, Barry Roche) – lost pens
Nov 20: Henllan (home – NWCFA Junior Challenge Cup) 3-3 (Daniel Williams, Dale Lewis, Kelvin Berks) – lost pens
Nov 27: Abergele (away – league) 0-4
Dec 4: Llandudno Amateurs (away – league) 0-6
Dec 11: Llanelwy Athletic (away – league) 2-2 (Nathan Griffiths, Shaun Walsh)
Jan 15: Llanelwy Athletic (home – league) 0-2
Jan 22: Rhyl All Stars (home – league) 2-1 (Nathan Griffiths, Dale Lewis)

LEAGUE
Played 20 Won 9 Drawn 4 Lost 7 Goals For 45 Goals Against 36 Points 31 Position 5th
CUPS
Played 6 Won 2 Lost 4 Goals For 10 Goals Against 20
OVERALL
Played 26 Won 11 Drawn 4 Lost 11 Goals For 55 Goals Against 56

GOALSCORERS (55)

13 – Adam Cassidy
9 – Kelvin Berks
6 – Nathan Griffiths
5 – Dean Hughes
5 – Richard Hill
4 – Dale Lewis
4 – Daniel Williams
3 – Barry Roche
3 – Jack Gibbon
2 – Own Goals
1 – Shaun Walsh

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