Player Spotlight: Mel McGinness (Porthmadog)

PICTURE by Ynys Mon Island Games Association

THE summer of 2019 will stay long in the memory of many a football fan – and even more so many a football player from the island.

That is because our tiny island’s men’s team shunned the critics to claim the gold medals on home soil when hosting the Inter Island Games Football Tournament. And, arguably, the overall hero of the tournament was Mel McGinness.

The little forward, who can also play comfortably in midfield, may not be built like your average-looking footballer but I can guarantee you that he’s ten times better than most in North Wales.

The glory days of the summer of 19 highlighted the 29-year-old’s importance to this footballing-mad island of ours as he bagged five goals during the Mon men’s teams triumphs – including the winner in the 2-1 final win over Guernsey, in front of 3000 fans.

The iconic picture of McGinness captured by Chris Willz.

Deceptively quick and strong despite his small stature, McGinness has been one of the island’s best finishers for several seasons whilst with Holyhead Hotspur. He holds the ball up very well, one of the best first touches around, and pounces onto any mistakes defenders might make. To the point that even if he only gets half a chance, he looks certain to score.

In August 2006, when he was just 16 years old, McGinness signed for Bangor City. A month or so later, he made his Citizens debut in a 2-2 Welsh Premier League draw against Carmarthen Town. His first goal came a month after that – when he netted in a 4-3 loss at Caernarfon in the Loosemores League Cup.

However, despite being named in City’s UEFA Cup squad of 2007/08, chances became limited for McGinness at Nantporth and after, a brief spell with Llangefni Town in 2008/09, it was time for the forward to return home to Holyhead Hotspur – where he had started out as a youngster.

By now a Hotspur, he’s regarded as a club legend for the lasting impact he made there.

Hotspur hero.

The highlight of his days at The Oval, was undoubtedly the feats of 2011/12 where – in a season in which he hit 50 goals – the club itself also secured a treble (Welsh Alliance One, Cookson Cup and Barritt Cup), as well as finishing as runners-up in the prestigious Wales-wide FAW Trophy final.

From there on out, he became a prolific goal-getter for the club and returned once more after another brief spell at Welsh Alliance Two side Gaerwen in 2015/16.

Upon another return to Hotspur, he wrote his name into the club’s history books once again when he hit a memorable hat-trick in to round off a season in which the club won the Welsh Alliance Reserves Division Lock Stock Fireworks Challenge Cup – smashing Bangor City 4-1 at Maes Eilian, Llanfairpwll.

In action against Denbigh Town last season. PICTURE: Chris Willz

Despite Hotspur’s woeful season during 2018/19, which saw them relegated from the Huws Gray Alliance (now Cymru North), McGinness continued to show his goal scoring prowess and his determination – bagging eight league goals and scooping the division’s Player of the Season award despite the club’s struggles as a whole.

After the fine summer that followed whilst playing for Mon under former Hotspur manager Campbell Harrison, McGinness decided to make the switch to Cymru North side Porthmadog – where he joined up with fellow Mon team mates Paul Pritchard, Jay Gibbs and fellow summer signing from Hotspur – John Littlemore.

McGinness Scoring against Orkney at Island Games football tournament.

After a slow start to the season, Porthmadog are now slowly but surely picking up points and McGinness has already found the net on three occasions too.

When it comes to local heroes, Holyhead will always regard McGinness as one of their own. However, after the summer’s antics, I’d argue that he’s now a hero to the whole of Anglesey.

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