PICTURE by Wynne Evans.
IN MY few years as a football reporter/journalist I’ve interviewed/spoken to quite a few players locally. Whenever I ask them: “Who’s been your toughest opponent to play against?” – one name in particular crops up more often than most, particularly when I ask defenders the question. Gary Jo Owen.
Valley legend-turned-Ogwen Tigers-winger Marc Wilson said he “makes football looks so easy” whilst Arriva Bangor’s veteran centre back Stephen Edwards hailed him as his “greatest opponent“.
Owen is a prolific forward and is also undoubtedly one of the greatest strikers to grace the Isle of Anglesey over the last decade and has banged in the goals wherever he’s gone and whatever league he plays in too.
Having played against him myself when I first joined Llandegfan and was playing as a full back, I can vouch first hand that he’s a quality striker that just has that natural goal scoring ability.
His ability to play off the shoulder of the defender and time his run perfectly is a skill that not many at this level have. Despite all the jokes about him “only scoring offside goals”, he certainly seems to do it very well and combine that with his finishing and you have yourself a great striker.
He also has a reputation as being one of the deadliest, yet calmest, penalty takers on the island – rarely missing from the spot. This ability was recently highlighted on S4C’s Sgorio – who had been at the Welsh Cup clash between Holyhead Hotspur and Owen’s Holyhead Town.
He first came to be known as a true goal-getter during his time at the now-extinct Morawelon FC. The Holyhead-based club were unstoppable from 2011 to 2014 – even winning the prestigious NWCFA Junior Cup in their very first season (2011/12). In the 2013/14 season, Owen proved his worth as a striker by hitting an incredible 57 goals in all competitions – placing himself as the island’s top goalscorer across any league that season.
After a successful spell there, he briefly went to Welsh Alliance side Gaerwen where again he showed promise. He then moved to Bodedern Athletic in the Gwynedd League and continued to be their main goal grabber.
Speaking at the time of signing Owen to his club, the then Gaerwen manager Jamie Davies (who now works in China as a coach for Manchester City), was full of praise for his new acquisition, saying: “I am delighted to welcome Gary Jo to the Club and can’t wait to see what he can achieve at this level. He has a real eye for goal, but I also really value his approach play in and around the penalty area.”
It was a few years later however that Owen would go on to break his own record for the amount of goals he scored in a single season. Having joined Caergybi for a fresh new challenge in the Anglesey League in 2017/18, he proved to be the talisman within the team and, despite missing a month through injury, topped the scoring charts once more – this time going one better than last time with 58 goals to his name.
A record breaking season was capped off in the most memorable way – notching the winning goal (and the all important 58th) in a 3-2 Megan Cup final win over Bryngwran Bulls to help Cybi secure some silverware in their very first season as a club.
Even re-occurring injuries in the following season (2018/19) couldn’t stop this goal machine from hitting well into double figures for both Caergybi and Holyhead Town. He managed 17 for Dale Moffat’s side and 12 for The Harbourmen despite missing several matches throughout the campaign.
Fast forward to present times and Owen is once again proving his worth for Holyhead Town. Playing alongside close friend, former team-mate and fellow prolific scorer Asa Thomas, the pair have fired more than ten goals each already this term, with Owen bagging 12. Their free scoring form has seen Town emerge as early title challengers and I’m sure we’ll see them up there, at the very least competing, come the end of the season.
Also at Town alongside him this season, are his brothers Liam Patrick (Midfielder/Defender) and Casey Williams (Defender) – who are both also very talented footballers. The trio were a huge part of Caergybi’s first two seasons in the Anglesey League before they were promoted to the Gwynedd League this season and they departed for the Welsh Alliance with Town.
He might be a controversial character at times but there’s no doubting Owen’s desire to win and to work hard for his team. He’s a joy to watch for any neutral whenever he’s on top form.
He’ll certainly be a player to keep an eye on this season as The Town look to clinch the Welsh Alliance Two title and promotion to the league above. Their journey to date has been rather incredible since the Anglesey League days and with players like Owen in their ranks, things can surely only get better.
His career highlights over the years speak for themselves …
2013/14: Top scorer on the island and winner of the coveted Bob Brodie Trophy handed out by former Daily Post Sports reporter and now NW Sport blogger Dave Jones as he bagged 57 goals for the dominant Morawelon side (now defunct) who won the Anglesey League that year among other cups. Was also top scorer in the Anglesey League that season.
2014/15: Secures a move to Welsh Alliance side Gaerwen where he scored two on his debut against Llanfairfechan Town. Also goes on to play for Bodedern Athletic in the Gwynedd League where he is once again a star performer and a league top scorer.
2015/16: Top scorer at Bodedern Athletic.
2017/18: Top scorer on the island (58 goals) and once again winner of the Bob Brodie Trophy whilst playing for new Anglesey League side Caergybi FC. Puts in a real shift to earn the award after missing several matches through injury and eventually surpasses James Ryan (Bryngwran Bulls) to win the prize.
Also helps Caergybi on to winning silverware in their first season as a club (Megan Cup) by scoring a goal in the final.
2018/19: Injury-hit season but still manages a more than respectable total of 29 goals whilst playing for Caergybi (17 goals) and Holyhead Town (12 goals). Also becomes captain of a Holyhead Town who are busy re-structuring a good side.
2019/20: Remains with The Harbourmen and is once more banging the goals in. He’s already reached the same amount of goals this season (12) as he did with Town last year. His partnership with close friend Asa Thomas (who has played alongside in the past at previous clubs) remains deadly.