“YOU can’t win anything with kids” is a by-now famously overused quote from Alan Hansen. But how true is it?
Mynydd Tigers shocked the Anglesey League by marching their way to the Anglesey League title in 2017/18 and, with a squad mostly made up of players under the age of 20, they really put Hansen’s id-90’s rant about a young Manchester United team to the test.
This season, it’s the turn of Holyhead Hotspur Reserves and Llanfairpwll to disprove the Scot’s controversial theory with both clubs fielding top young players and succeeding by doing so.
At The New Stadium, under the guidance of manager Tom Scott (appointed in the summer), Hotspur’s youngsters have really impressed by playing some great attacking football at times.
As with last season, Casey Gregg has led the charge on the goal-scoring front. The winger/attacking midfielder has notched up 10 goals already – just four shy of his 14 goal tally for the whole of last season. He was an important player for the club at just 18 years old in 2018/19 with a particular highlight of his coming including a brilliant header in the Megan Cup final (which Hotspur won 4-1 v Pentraeth Reserves).
With Deian Parry having stepped up to the first team this season (and only making a few appearances for The Reserves), it was highly important that Tom Scott’s side began to find themselves another teenage hero and they’ve done just that in the form of three young players in particular in my opinion.
Mitch Jones has received several well-deserved praises from players, supporters and managers alike for his brilliant performances in central midfield. The 16-year-old has shown abilities and confidence that are way beyond his years and he has already made his first team debut too. He’s certainly one who has bags of potential and is one to keep an eye on in years to come.
Another breakthrough star has been full-back Phil Jones. He’s another 16-year-old in the team who has impressed many with his energy and determination out wide. He’s probably been the best new player to burst onto the Anglesey League scene this season and has notched up six goals too.
The third vital young player to the side is defender Cameron Eaton – who can play anywhere across the back line. The 17-year-old first broke through at Hotspur last year and enjoyed a memorable first game for the club – keeping league top scorer James Ryan (who hit 74 goals in total) quiet as Hotspur beat Caergybi. This season, he’s shown plenty of promise again and scored five times too.
There are several others who have also caught the eye at the club including but not limited to; club captain Chris Corrie, who at just 18 years old is bossing it in midfield and 16-year-old midfielder Coby Doutch who looks like another one for the future.
As mentioned before, it’s very much a similar story at Llanfairpwll too.
With the departure of Connor Hughes to Holyhead Hotspur Reserves, many had wondered it Llanfair could find a keeper suitable of taking his place in net. However, Carwyn Hughes (16) has performed well since being introduced to the first team and is growing in confidence with every game he plays.
Owain Davies has, in my opinion, been their breakthrough star of the season. The left back, brother of former Llanfair player Sion Emlyn who recently signed for Llangefni Reserves, never stops working hard for his team and has been consistently great throughout the campaign to date. Dafydd Evans is another young full-back who’s impressed with his work rate at Maes Eilian this season. Centre back Ryan Evans is another one who’s a key player in defence.
Adam Thomas, 17, was one who stood out last season and is again proving how good he is in the middle of the park. Cai Evans also put a real shift in in every game in midfield before recently departing for Gwynedd League side Glantraeth.
Out wide, Jack Davies is constantly proving to be a handful. His height mixed with his pace make him a very dangerous player going forward. Callum Jones is another wide man who’s stood out for the club this season, notching up six goals. Top scorer Elliott Jones, 20, has been the main man with eight goals and has really made a difference on Llanfair’s attacking front. 17-year-old Tom Zalot was also a star turn in the team, bagging seven goals, before returning to former club Llangoed this month.
So, the kids are certainly doing alright at both clubs it seems. Hotspur are currently sat in second place in the table and still have a great chance of securing some silverware this season. Llanfair are fourth in the league. Of course, there are other teams in the league who are also doing their bit to give young players a chance this season – even league-leaders Cemaes Bay. But Hotspur and Llanfair are leading the way in showing that youth is certainly a match for experience on its day.