PICTURE by Adam Conrad.
ONE of the best things about Bangor University being so close to Anglesey is the fact that plenty of talented footballers who we wouldn’t have otherwise seen play, from across the UK, have crossed the bridge to grace our leagues.
One of the best to do that in recent times is Aidan Clark.
Before moving to live in Bangor for University from Worcester four years ago, Clark represented the likes of Worcester City. Upon moving here, he signed for Bangor City Reserves before switching to Bodedern Athletic.
The talented 22-year-old attacker spent two successful seasons with the Welsh Alliance side, proving to be a brilliant servant to Ricky Williams’ side before making the step up to the Cymru North with Conwy Borough in the January transfer window.
AFE caught up with Clark on what’s been a memorable week for him. Currently in the process of finishing a Masters Degree in Exercise Rehabilitation (having already completed a three-year degree studying Sports Psychology), the attacker was this week chosen as Bangor University Athletics Union’s ‘Sportsman of the Year’.
It’s been quite the year for him on campus, as he bagged 23 goals and 8 assists in just 13 matches for BUFC. He was also an influential figure off the pitch too, helping out with several charity efforts to raise money for various causes.
Speaking about his time playing football up here in North Wales, Clark said: “It’s really different (to playing back home). I think there’s a lot of passion and support for local clubs around here and especially on Anglesey. I think it’s great and I find it a bit different to when I played in Birmingham growing up.
“Obviously there’s passion in football everywhere, but I think it’s unique seeing how people get behind local clubs here especially. I think this goes for both players and fans and I think a lot of places could learn from the atmosphere around football up here.”
For the past few seasons, Clark has shared his time between playing for Bodedern Athletic and Bangor University and now Conwy Borough in 2020.
Speaking on whether that has been difficult for him or not, the attacker added: “I think it’s a help for me. I’ve always been a player who thrives off a bit of confidence so having support from both teams has helped me. I think playing midweek for uni is nice because if you’ve had a good game at the weekend it’s still fresh in your mind.
“I’m lucky enough that I’ve hit good form in the last few years so I think it’s helped and thankfully I’ve kept playing and scoring goals for both sides.”
Asked on why he chose to make the move to Bodedern, Clark added: “I knew a few players there but Shaun Jenkins told me to come down and after Speaking to Ricky (Williams, the manager) and training with the squad, I wanted to give it a shot.
“I moved to Boded at the beginning of the 2017/18 season but unfortunately I couldn’t play until January as I was out after surgery. I hadn’t played much football at adult level having played mostly reserves or playing off the bench until that point but it seemed like a great place to start, and it proved to be a great choice because it’s a brilliant club filled with great people.”
Last year, Clark wrote himself into the Bangor University Football Club history books as he helped them cruise to a 6-0 ‘Varsity’ (a much-anticipated sporting event in the Uni) win over Aberystwyth University.
In front of a bumper crowd of around 2,500 people, Clark put in a Man of the Match performance, scoring four goals. Describing that win, he said: “It’s definitely a highlight. At Uni, it’s (Varsity) pretty much the biggest game of the year and we had around 2500 there watching. It’s a massive event every year so as you’re building up to it you get a feeling for how important it is to people.
“Scoring four and winning 6-0 is pretty unheard of and I still find it a bit mad thinking back even now. I think things like that don’t really sink in until a while after but scoring those goals in front of thousands is something any forward dreams of so I’ll remember it forever.
“It’s made even better after seeing all your mates and people who it means a lot to and knowing you’ve made a difference in a game.”
During his time playing in North Wales, Clark has undoubtedly played with some of the best around. But who does he regard as the best of the best?
He added: “Best player I’ve played with is probably Rory Crowther, who now plays in goal for Rhyl. I hated training against him but thankfully he was on my side mostly!
“At Boded, we had Dafydd Jones (now at Conwy Borough with Clark) and also James McMinimee and Ryan Taylor, who are both class talents; and I had a really good link with Tyco (Steven Whittaker – now at Cemaes Bay) too whilst I was there.
“At Uni, Harry Galeotti is an unbelievable player and we’ve got a really good link which thankfully I’ve been able to take with me to Conwy now too.
“In terms of opponents, I have played against a lot of good full-backs at Boded but I think the hardest games I had were against Holyhead Hotspur and Llangefni; they both had tough defensive units.”
Asked on whether or not he thinks the season should return, Clark said: “I really hope it does, because I’m going mad without it. But at the end of the day, it’s safety first at the moment and I just hope everyone is safe. Fingers crossed we can get back to it as soon as possible though!”
If you’ve been following the ‘Player Spotlight’ series to date, you’ll know that I like to end the series of questions with a fun one. The one put to Clark was; “If you could pick one pro footballer to be either current or past who would it be and why?”
He replied: “Peter Crouch for me, most headed goals in Premier League history sounds pretty good to me! Also Abbey Clancy …
“I’d also like to close by saying cheers to you for sorting this out and give a big shout-out to the page. I also want to say a massive thanks to all NHS and key workers, and give a shout-out to referee Carl Hagan’s videos he’s been doing to raise money for the NHS.”
Thanks for the chat Aidan and all the best to you and Conwy Borough when the season returns!