THERE is now just one day until the re-branded Lucas Oil Anglesey League returns and I for one can’t wait to watch another no doubt entertaining season unfold.
This time around it looks as though we’ll have eleven to keep an eye on with Cemaes Bay, Cefni FC, Holyhead Hotspur Reserves and Llanfairpwll all confirmed as new teams joining the division.
Llangoed Reserves have dropped out and last season’s champions Mynydd Tigers have FINALLY been granted promotion into the Gwynedd League by the Football Association of Wales after a long battle.
I have no doubts that the competition in the Anglesey League will be sterner than it has been for a number of years this time around and that in turn can only boost the profile of the league in the long run too.
Plenty of new faces, new grounds and new hope to look forward to then and here, I give you the lowdown on what you can expect from each team this season …
Home ground: Beach Road
Manager: Kevin Jones
Assistant: Kieran Fritter
Star man: Scott Hughes
Players signed: Chester Lloyd (Beaumaris), Cameron Slater (Llangoed) and Tyler Looney.
If last season is anything to go by, then Arriva should certainly be a force to be reckoned with this year. Two cups (Elias and Car Boot) and a fifth place finish in the league in their debut season of Saturday football tells you everything you need to know about Kevin “Arriva” Jones’ side.
Having retained most of their squad from last season, including top goalscorer Scott Hughes (who hit 46 goals) and captain Liam Roberts, I see no reason as to why Arriva can’t be challenging for pretty much everything once again during 2018/19.
Kevin Jones has the managerial experience needed to guide the team to glory and with a good bunch of players at the squad, they should be able to achieve great things once again.
Home Ground: Cae Cob
Manager: Dave Webster
Assistants: John Webster and Robin Griffiths
Kit: Red and white striped shirt, blue shorts and blue socks (Atletico Madrid style!)
Players signed: Nathan Roberts (Llandegfan), Ashley Jones (Llandegfan), Owain Rowlands (Llangefni Reserves), Josh Roberts (Gaerwen), Nathan Evans (Bryngwran Bulls) and Harry Jones (Gwalchmai).
Bod made some major improvements in terms of performances last year and reached a cup final for the first time too. I would fully expect them to continue their revival during 2018/19, although competition will be tougher this time around.
Once again Luke Allaway (30 goals last season) will spearhead their attack and with Danny Connolly now gone they will need somebody in behind their main man to create those chances. Luke Gardiner will play that role well and will score goals too but new signing Harry Jones will be one to watch too as he will add some creative spark to their midfield.
Elsewhere the likes of defender Steve Davies and captain Sam Hallas will no doubt play important roles again for the club as they look to continue their progress in the league and its respective cup competitions. A mid-table finish would once again be respectable for Bod.
Home ground: Cae Ysgol
Manager: Richard Owen
Assistant: Carwyn Jones
Players signed: Lee Heywood (Llangoed Reserves), Mark Hamblin (Valley), Nik Kontodios (Valley), Craig Moore (Trearddur Bay), Matt Reynolds (Aberffraw), Tom Verburg (Llangoed Reserves), Sion Emlyn Davies (Llanfairpwll), Jerome Sillence (Llanerchymedd), Anton Williams (Trearddur Bay), Konner Druce (Valley), Ioan Thomas, Gafin Roberts and Lee Roberts.
As always, The Bulls will head into the 2018/19 campaign as one of the favourites, having narrowly missed out on the title last season.
Their final day 4-2 loss to Mynydd Tigers saw them finish as runners-up in the division, but they did win a cup double (Dargie and Lucas Oil) by beating the Tigers twice so it wasn’t all that bad.
This time around, they’ve lost the likes of 54 goal hero James Ryan, goalkeeper Roy Sayle and defenders Henry Caldecott and Hari Jones, but they have moved quickly to replace them with the likes of Lee Heywood (Goalkeeper of the Season with Llangoed Res last year), midfielder Matt Reynolds and deadly attackers Craig Moore and Jerome Sillence.
They’re almost guaranteed to win something if their new faces can gel well together, which they seem to have already done in pre-season.
Home ground: Millbank
Manager: Dale Moffat
Assistant: Si Thomas
Players signed: Elwyn Durkan, George Hibbert (Trearddur Bay), Chris Scank (Holyhead Town), James Ryan (Bryngwran Bulls), Rikki Jones (Holyhead Town), Tristan Hughes (Holyhead Town), Dave Webb (Trearddur Bay), Jordie Lees (Valley) and Justin Williams (Valley)
Mine and nearly everybody else’s favourites to win the 2018/19 Anglesey League. Caergybi’s squad looks frightening right now as Dale Moffat has been very busy adding plenty of quality to his ranks over summer.
The signing of James Ryan from Bryngwran Bulls should prove to be a very smart move. The striker was second only to Cybi’s very own Gary Jo Owen in last season’s goal scoring rankings and so putting the two together up top could prove to be a real nightmare for defenders to try and handle. Former Valley duo Jordie Lees and Justin Williams will also add strong options to this squad, as will George Hibbert and Dave Webb, who have plenty of higher league experience having played for Trearddur Bay.
I really think they will be a hard team to stop this season particularly when you consider that those above will be playing alongside the likes of Colm Foley, Kieran Weeks, Liam Williams, Glenn North, Dewi Thomas and Luke McKittrick who all stood out at Millbank last season.
They should be formidable if all goes to plan.
Home ground: Isgraig
Manager: Chris Davies
Assistant: Peter Twigg
Kit: Green and white stripes on shirt, black shorts and black socks (Sporting Lisbon style)
One of the teams to watch this season in my eyes. Chris Davies’ side might be one of the new boys in the league but they have shown in pre-season that they won’t let themselves be bullied by anyone.
Although the Llangefni-based side are newly-formed, they look in good shape heading into the new season and with talented duo Henry Caldecott and Nathan Lewis coming in from Bryngwran Bulls, they have a strong core already too. Caldecott will tighten things up at the back, whilst Lewis will add some goals and graft to their front line.
Of course, it’s always hard to predict exactly how things will pan out in a division that is so open at this moment in time, but I do think Cefni can claim a few scalps this season if they really go for it (which I have no doubt they will).
Home ground: School Lane Ground
Manager: Darren Hughes
Kit: Red all over
Having been forced to fold from Welsh Alliance Division Two last season, former Welsh Premier League side Cemaes are starting from scratch once again.
It’s no secret that the club, one of Anglesey’s most decorated, has had its troubles in recent times. They have been down to the Anglesey League before so will be no strangers in terms of having to rebuild their side.
Made up of mostly young players this time around, it’s hard to tell just what to expect from this Cemaes side but it they get their heads together then I’m certain they will have a decent campaign. Keep an eye out for the likes of Dafydd Jones, Luke Bansal and Liam Rodriguez who are likely to be some of the star turns in Darren Hughes’ team.
HOLYHEAD HOTSPUR RESERVES
Home ground: The New Stadium
Manager: Mike Kelly
Kit: Blue and white stripes, blue shorts and blue socks
Hotspur’s youngsters should be the team to watch in the division this season. Hotspur legend-turned-gaffer Mike Kelly has got a number of highly talented young players available to him with this reserves side and so I have no doubt that we’ll see a few of them make their name in the Anglesey League.
Casey Gregg will be the boy/man to watch in midfield. At just 16-years-old, he’s shown talent beyond his year already for the reserves and his vision and creativity will be very important to this side. Up top, you can expect Robert Jones to lead the line well for this side – despite being just 18 years old, he knows exactly where the goal is and will certainly be one to watch this season.
Hotspur’s academy is famed for bringing through some of the best footballers that the island has to offer and this season we’ll get to see some of the current crop of talented youngsters in action in the Anglesey League this season. I’m tipping them for a high finish.
Home ground: Lon Ty Newydd
Manager: Jordan Love
Assistant: Arron Evans
Players signed: Liam Jones, Ben Evans, Ronnie Byng, James Hall (Pentraeth Reserves), Dylan Chadd (Pentraeth Reserves), Robert Williams (Pentraeth Reserves), Danny Roberts (Llangoed Reserves), Duane Hunt (Llangoed Reserves), Byron Jones (Caergybi), Jamie Kiely (Caergybi), Kurt Harris (Caergybi) Chris Nightingale (Bryngwran Bulls), Karl Moorhouse (Beaumaris), Chris Hughes (Arriva Bangor) and Dave Parry (Llanllyfni).
With plenty of new players and new hopes amongst the group, a much better season this time around is what Llandegfan are hoping for during 2018/19.
They returned to the pitch last season after a five year absence and things couldn’t have gone much worse for them in truth. One win in the league and one in the Benllech Car Boot Trophy made it a season to forget for Llandeg. However, they didn’t give up and that’s something.
This season, there are as many as 13 new players at Lon Ty Newydd and they all seem eager to prove a point either to themselves, to Llandeg or to former clubs. Among the main men brought in are Danny Roberts who will add some much need aggression to their midfield, Kurt Harris who will no doubt add goals and creativity to the team and Byron Jones will provide the size and strength.
As long as there’s progression, then I’m sure those at the club will be happy and that should happen this season.
Home Ground: Y Gors/Maes Eilian
Manager: Steve Lilley
Assistant: Spud Thomas
Kit: Black and blue stripes with black shorts and socks
Llan are another team who have had to drop down a couple of divisions after facing some struggles. Manager Ioan Llewelyn departed in June so Steve Lilley and Spud Thomas have stepped in to try and rejuvenate the club’s fortunes and have done very well to get a decent squad together in the time that they have.
Much like Cemaes, Llanfair are expected to field a mainly youthful side this season but nevertheless will be a team that is not to be underestimated. They’ve enjoyed a decent pre-season campaign, beating Amlwch, Llandegfan and Pentraeth Reserves in their last three games and so they will be hard to beat.
As a club that’s used to playing at a much higher level in recent times, it will be interesting to see what this club can do in the lower realms of North Wales football. They will be looking to have a decent campaign as they look to rebuild.
Home ground: Bryniau field
Manager: Danny Jones
Assistant: Paul Matier
Players signed: Ryan Hughes (Bryngwran Bulls), Nathan Jones (Bryngwran Bulls), Jordan Owen (Dreigiau Pentraeth), Tom Williams (Dreigiau Pentraeth), Peter Crowe (Dreigiau Pentraeth), Jack Halton (Dreigiau Pentraeth), Steven Jones (Dreigiau Pentraeth), Kenny Williams (Dreigiau Pentraeth), John Smiley (Dreigiau Pentraeth), Ian Butler (Dreigiau Pentraeth), Tom Jones (Dreigiau Pentraeth), Matt Williams (Dreigiau Pentraeth), Rhys Williams (Dreigiau Pentraeth), Gary Julio, Brad Carroll, Lee Williams, Gwynfor Owen, Bradley Pickavance, Louis Meyler and Ryan Hulme.
Again, another team that has seen a lot of change take place this summer. The Reserves have merged with Sunday League side Dreigiau Pentraeth and manager Justin Gallagher has been replaced by Danny Jones and Paul Matier.
Mixing two teams together can be a risk, but make no mistake about it, this Reserves side has a number of talented players within its ranks. The likes of Tomos Adamek, Gez Jones and Dyfed Alston have re-signed from last season, whilst a number of names join from the Dreigiau team. Among some of their most notable signings are midfielder Ryan Hughes and Nathan Jones, who will both add some physicality to the side.
Other than that, youngster Dylan Jones will be one to watch with his creativity in midfield, as will Steven “Deebar” Jones who will no doubt provide some goals.
Last season, this club finished second to last in the division so they will be looking to, at the very least, finish higher than that this time around with plenty of new faces and new hope at Bryniau.
Home ground: Cae Mwd
Manager: Dan Jones
Assistant: Barry Rowlands
Players signed: Grant Chambers (Pentraeth Reserves), Elliot Patterson (Caergybi), Dewi Thomas (Holyhead Town), Jon Morton (Pentraeth Reserves), Ian Williams (Trearddur Bay), Jacob Reid and Danny Dumbarton,
It’s been all change at Cae Mwd over the summer and so it’s hard to tell exactly how their 2018/19 campaign will go. Barry Rowlands and Dan Jones have swapped roles and as such the latter has become the manager in charge at Valley for the new season.
Key players such as Justin Williams, Jordie Lees, Nik Kontodios and Mark Hamblin have left the club, but new faces like Elliot Patterson and Dewi Thomas, as well as retained players such as Marc Wilson and Ashley Hughes will ensure that the club does not fall out of contention.
Striker Mike Williams has also re-signed at the club and I have no doubts that he will be their main attacking threat. His sheer size and physical presence up top presents an attacking threat that is different to that of most other teams in the division.
This Valley side may have lost quite a few players but with Jones and Rowlands still at the club, the heart is still there. They should still finish in and around the top 5 at the very least.
Lucas Oil Anglesey League opening weekend fixtures (all 2.30pm kick off):
Bodorgan v Cefni
Holyhead Hotspur Reserves v Arriva Bangor
Llandegfan v Bryngwran Bulls
Pentraeth Reserves v Caergybi
Valley v Cemaes Bay