PICTURE by Darren Thomas
Age: 41 years old
Current club: Cefni FC (Anglesey League)
Former Clubs include:
Bangor City Reserves (1997)
Trearddur Bay, Anglesey League (1998)
Llangoed, Anglesey league (1999)
Bangor City, Welsh Premier League (2000-02)
Cemaes Bay, Cymru Alliance (2003/04)
Glantraeth, Cymru Alliance (2004-06)
Rhayader Town, Welsh Premier League (2006/07)
Caernarfon Town, Welsh Premier League (2007)
Porthmadog, Welsh Premier League (2008-10)
Arriva Bangor, Anglesey League (2018-19)
MOST people might not know this – but Cefni’s experienced forward Mark Thomas is one of the most successful and decorated footballers to be currently playing in the Anglesey League.
The 41-year-old’s playing career has seen him play at the highest possible level of Welsh football (Welsh Premier League) and turn out for some of the biggest clubs in Gwynedd and on Anglesey.
In a career that’s spanned more than two decades and seen him score over a century of goals (whilst being a midfielder/striker), it’s fair to say that Thomas, who is Bangor born and bred, has enjoyed a career that most local footballers can only dream of.
Recently, I had the opportunity to ask him a few questions about his glory days and what he has planned for the future with Cefni. Here’s what he had to say for himself …
AFE: Hi Mark, first off – who do you support and who do you regard as your footballing idol?
MT: Hi mate. I’m a Liverpool fan and for that reason I’d say Steven Gerrard.
AFE: Where does the nickname ‘Cabbage’ come from? I’ve had quite a few people ask me if I know …
MT: Maes-Y-Bryn U12’s manager Chris Tipton gave it to me – so you’d better ask him!
AFE: What’s your biggest achievement in football or the moment that stands out the most for you?
MT: Two moments stand out for me personally. The first was beating Bangor City with Glantraeth – who were all Bangor born players at the time – in the Welsh Cup at Farrar Road. I had a great tussle for 120 mins with a then up and coming midfield player called Owain Tudur Jones (who went on to play for Swansea City and is now a presenter on S4C).
The second was winning the league and cup double for Glantraeth – We were the first ever Cymru Alliance team to achieve that I think. I was also voted League Player, Player’s Player and Committee’s Player of the Season and also won the Top Goalscorer award too.
AFE: What about the toughest moment of your career?
MT: As a Bangor born player – signing for and then captaining Caernarfon Town FC (pic above) against Bangor City on both a Boxing Day and New Year fixture. The abuse I got in those games was horrendous!
AFE: Funniest moment you can remember?
MT: With the Glantraeth team … every week there were memorable moments especially on away days. We all got on everyone of us – to the point where we would be willing to die for each other.
Funniest though was when I was with Porthmadog. After a certain game, can’t remember who it was against, the changing rooms were very cold there and would invite creatures in. I had got my shirt, tie and trousers on after a shower and gone to the club house, ordered a drink, as you do and so I needed to pay. Anyway, I put my hand in my pocket when I suddenly felt something move. I pulled this object out which turned out to be a bloody frog!
The whole clubhouse was in stitches, Jiws especially.
AFE: Best player you’ve played alongside?
MT: Marc “Jiws” Lloyd Williams (Pictured above). He was the best natural goal scorer I’ve ever seen and he looked after me during my time at Bangor too.
AFE: What about the best player you’ve come up against?
MT: Lee Trundle (who also went on to play for the likes of Swansea City) when he was at Rhyl. He was an absolute magician.
AFE: Best manager you’ve played under and why?
MT: Paul Whelan – a Bangor legend who was manager of Cemaes Bay and Glantraeth when I was playing for those clubs.
He always pushed you for more and was never happy with being second best. He hated losing and I learnt so much from him.
AFE: How many goals would you say you’ve scored during your career?
MT: (Tells me what he remembers):
10 goals for Trearddur Bay from midfield
45 for Llangoed as a striker
5 for Bangor City from midfield
10 for Cemaes Bay from midfield
40 for Glantraeth from midfield
8 for Caernarfon from midfield
10 for Arriva Bangor as a striker
And 10 so far for Cefni
AFE: What’s the best goal you’ve ever scored?
MT: Against Queen’s Park, whilst playing for Glantraeth in the Cymru Alliance. We were going for the league but we were 3-0 down at Half Time and tea cups were being thrown everywhere.
In the second half, I managed to scored two “worldies” – both going into the top corner from around 30 yards out and we ended up winning the match 4-3.
AFE: Who’s been the toughest opponent/team to come up against in the Anglesey League?
MT: Last season it had to be Bryngwran Bulls.
Think I’d probably say Mountain Rangers this season as they look good. The Centre Half for them with a big black beard (David Aaron Jones?) never gives you a minutes piece!
AFE: Do you think the standard of the league has improved this season?
MT: From last season yes definitely.
There are now three or four strong teams with a real chance of going for the league this season. Sadly, not us at the moment – maybe we’re a couple of years off but we’ll be fine.
AFE: Why have you decided to join Cefni and leave Arriva this season? What made you want to go there?
MT: I work in Llangefni with Gwion (Williams) who plays for Cefni and asked if I fancied coaching them and play of course.
In terms of leaving Arriva – it was because me and Kev (Jones) probably had two different views on things, although there’s nothing wrong with that. So, with Cefni giving me a chance to coach I thought why not go for it.
AFE: What’s it like having your son Cai play alongside you at Cefni (and at Arriva last season)?
MT: Cai is only 18 years old but I’ve brought him to the club because I believe he’ll get more game time here than he would with Arriva.
It’s not that weird having him alongside me but I do have to remember that he’s not just any old player, he’s my son so I do have to stop having a go at him so much.
AFE: Who would you say is the best player at Cefni?
MT: It has to be Phil Porridge for me as he always give 100% in every game and just typifies how you should play football in this day and age. He’s always willing to listen and learn as well.
Sorry Gwion it’s not you, please put that in (laughs)!
AFE: What would you say are your strengths as a footballer? Has the way you played the game changed over the years, if so how?
MT: I’m a team player and I’m very dedicated. I always listened and I’m a winner who hates losing.
You’re never too old to learn. In my prime I was a box to box midfielder but now I can’t run (laughs).
However, what I do still have is the ability to read the game – you never forget or lose that. The game is still the same, it’s all basics stuff – just work harder than the opposition and the rest will take care of itself.
AFE: Hopes for the season ahead? What do you think your club can achieve?
MT: We want to finish as high up in the league as we possibly can and win a cup.
I just want the lads to believe in themselves. I want us to be a force to be reckoned with in this division and make sure that all teams we face know that they have been in a hard honest game come the end of the ninety minutes.