PICTURE by Wynne Evans
AFE’s Big Interview series returns with a man who’s considered something of an Anglesey League legend by now.
This season though, after spending a huge part of his career at Valley, he will be turning out for a new club. Step up Marc Wilson, who spoke to me about his memories, ex team-mates and hopes for the future. Enjoy!
Which clubs have you played for over the years? and since when have you been playing football?
I started playing football when I was about 10. I played junior football with Bodedern. In senior football, I played four years with Valley until they folded in 2009. From there I went to Llanfairpwll.
After two years there, Barry Rowlands got a Valley team back up and running. It was in the Sunday league so I played on Saturday with Llanfair and Sunday’s with valley for the next two years, although i didn’t play as much for Valley as there was rules on how many Saturday players you could have in a game.
Then, I spent a year with Llangefni and I heard Valley we’re applying to go back to the Anglesey league. Obviously, that’s where I then went back to. After Barry decided to step down and go to Australia I went to Holyhead Reserves.
In the following preseason, I hadn’t decided what to do. I was training with my old manager Keith Jones and Llanfair, I’d agreed to manage the valley Sunday league team but I got a phone call from Adam Archer . He was stepping down as Valley manager and asked why didn’t I go in and take over along with Dan Jones at the Anglesey league side.
The Sunday team folded and with only a few weeks to go till the start of the season, we had a handful of players and wasn’t sure how we’d manage. Luckily, it worked out for us and the next two years I was a player/joint manager.
I decided that management was something I wanted to do later as I got older so I stepped down and last two years I was just a player at valley. Obviously now I’m with Ogwen Tigers.
Club you support and idol when growing up?
Being born in Cardiff I have always supported Cardiff City, even before I liked or understood football, I used sit with my dad and he’d always point out the Cardiff score. All of my family are back there apart from my mum dad and brother so seeing that made me feel a bit closer to them for some strange reason.
My favourite player was Andy Legg. I remember my dad taking me to the Oval in Caernarfon to watch a FAW Premier cup semi final first leg game, it was live on BBC Two I think. I asked Andy for his autograph about three times, once as he was warming up, another was when he was going in to get changed and then when he was walking out the tunnel to start the game.
Every time he said “I can after”. In the second half he got subbed off, and instead of sitting on the bench, he walked around and stood leaning on the advertisement board and watched the last part of the game with me. We had a good chat and I was so made up. I got his autograph at last, I asked him for his boots and I’m sure his reply was something like “we don’t get paid enough, I need these for the weekend” or something like that.
Got to mention Graham Kavanagh and Rob Earnshaw too who were also two players I admired. My overall idol though was David Beckham – and for that reason I also followed Manchester United.
What’s been the highlight of your footballing career to date?
Winning the league with Valley in 2007 was always special, as it was my first trophy in senior football. It came down to the last game of the season and was a two horse race which had a lot of expectations.
We won 2-1 with our player manager Barry Jones scoring in the final few minutes. Another one being the Elias Cup , beating the champions Holyhead Town on penalties, and my last game as manager. We’d missed the first 2 penalties, I was next and had I missed they’d of probably won. Luckily it went in and we won 3-1 on pens.
What about the low point?
Having numerous knee injuries when I was younger was always a low point. Not just in football but in every day life. I felt so low as I couldn’t work, play football, walk to the shop , things like that. It was one injury after another. I considered retiring all together at one point as it seemed I’d spent forever on crutches. After taking time to recover properly it seems to be behind me now.
On the pitch though, of cause the Dargie cup finals were low times. I do class getting that far as an achievement but losing was hard to take – especially the Llanfair final. In the one against Llangoed, I got my tactics all wrong and we were beat 5-0. I felt I’d let everyone down and took full responsibility.
The lowest point of all though I’d say was being top of the table for so long two years ago, then last few games we drew to Llangoed Reserves and lost to Bryngwran Bulls then Mynydd (now Ogwen) Tigers went on to win the league and we ended up third. It was in our hands but we didn’t take the chance.
Best player(s) you’ve played alongside?
There’s so many people I could say for one reason or another. At Boded, there was Liam Roberts (Fallows I think he’s known as now) – he was different class.
There was also Alex Jones , a midfielder who set me up for so many goals. He decided after junior football to go in to Formula 3 and formula Ford I’m sure and then on to cycling. I was sad to hear he passed away earlier this year, he was a great sport man and a great lad.
Richard Williams, who was captain at Valley when I was younger was always some one I learned a lot off too. Recently though, there’s the likes of Liam Patrick (Williams), Gary Jo (Owen), when they were at Valley and Casey and Shane Boylan too – they all make it look so easy to play football.
Best player(s) you’ve come up against?
I marked Ibrahim Fazeel (Maldives international) known as “Oppo” when he was at Bodorgan. He didn’t leave the middle of the pitch, only took three touches every time he got the ball but his off the ball movement was exceptional.
Same thing when I played against Jackie Welsh, you think your marking him and switch off for a second and you’ve lost him. That’s the experience I think, it’s how you use your brain off the ball.
Last week I played against Les Davies (now at Bangor 1876), I now know why he’s known as the Truck!
What would you say are your best qualities as a footballer?
I like to think I’m dedicated, (May be questioned by some now though.) I have always tried my best , as a player or a Manager and if I get it wrong, I try and work out why and put it right.
When I was younger, I did have pace and fitness. I sometimes forget I’m 31 now and not 21, so it’s harder to keep at a respectable level of fitness, or recover from knocks and games.
Best goal you’ve scored and why?
There was a back heel I scored few years ago v Llangoed. It was unexpected even by myself, it was my second goal of the game and later on I went on to score a third in what was my only competitive hat trick for Valley. Last Thursday night was a good one to see go in though as it was my first competitive goal for Tigers and I lobbed the keeper from out wide.
What do you think has changed the most in the way football is being played during your career?
So so much. One being – it isn’t always played on grass as there’s now 3/4G pitches which is a surface I don’t like to play on personally. I spoke to Stephen Edwards (56-year-old defender at Arriva Bangor) about this on the comet training day (for club officials) and he agreed that we won’t be seeing careers as long as the likes of his in future, knees for example will be affected more.
Another thing is and it made me laugh, no one seems to like 4-4-2. I played that in a game when I was a manager, some youngsters didn’t know what a winger was. I class a winger as a wide midfielder, like Giggs Beckham etc. Now it’s known as “LW” which I think is further up the pitch. You hear the positions CAM and CDM too. Positions I’d never heard of until I played FIFA!
In local football, the coverage and media is much improved, with the likes of this page, Sport Thought and so on. It’s more publicised so people get to know more of what’s going on. You can see who has signed who, who is playing against who. Back when I was starting out, you had to wait till the middle of the week and look at the local paper for the weekends fixtures.
What made you want to leave Valley for a new challenge this summer after so many years at the club?
I was asked to go with mynydd Tigers last season by Mike Williams who was the captain at the time (now the manager). I was all for going then last minute i decided against it.
I played in a charity game with them a few weeks back, and scored a hat trick and last week, Valley had the transfer request. For a reason (which involves my girlfriend,) I’m moving house in the near future. Mike is my girlfriends brother in law and lives two minutes away from where I’m moving to. So transport wasn’t an issue as he assured me getting to training and games would be sorted .
He explained to me the aim and vision Ogwen Tigers has. I then spoke with the clubs committee and I was very impressed. It was a very tough decision to make, not only for leaving Valley, but leaving Dan Jones. I felt I’d let him down and been disloyal to him, but I hope he understood.
Hopes for the season?
To draw Valley in the NWCFA Junior Cup at Parc Mwd. That would be a great but also strange experience!
For Tigers as a club I hope we go from strength to strength. Mike’s fairly new as a manager so I hope I can be some sort of help to him, and also to the players.
It’s a young squad so hope I can be some kind of help there also. Personally, I think I’ve had a decent start already, I scored on my club debut in a pre-season friendly, then scored again on Thursday , so two goals in the first three games is positive. I hope I can get more goals and assists and then help the club achieve a respectable league position come the end of the season.
If I stay free of injuries and keep up my fitness then I feel confident As for a cup run, every player wants to win a cup. Being drawn against Bangor 1876 home and away in two of the cups is a tough one, but who knows in football. Beat them and why not think of lifting something.
ALL THE BEST to Marc and the boys at Ogwen this season!