PICTURE by Rhyl 1879.
WE MIGHT BE months away from the 2020/21 season being launched just yet, but that hasn’t stopped changes being made in several backrooms of clubs across North Wales.
From Bethesda to Conwy Borough, although every club in the area awaits to see which league they will be playing in in the new season once the FAW has made that decision, the changes to those leading the teams have already began.
Here, I take a look at just a few of the notable ones so far.
Mark Hughes (Bethesda Athletic)
Won the Anglesey League as player-manager of Mynydd (went on to be called Ogwen) Tigers in their first season as a senior club in 2017/18.
Hughes then took two years out of the senior game but has now signed on at the helm of local rivals Bethesda (and Ogwen Tigers have folded ahead of the new campaign so I’d expect that one or two of those players will follow him there).
He’s a great manager who got that Tigers team of 17/18 playing some great football so he may just be the man to take this once great club back to where it belongs following years of uncertainty.
Speaking after being appointed, Hughes said: “‘With all the current uncertainty now is the time for everyone to come together and to start afresh. Hopefully we will start the new season in Tier 4 following the proposed restructure, which will be a huge challenge for the club.
“Ex- players David Ball and Paul Feaver will be joining me on the management team, whilst the team itself will predominantly be made up of young, local talent with four or five experienced lads to help them along. I can promise that everyone who puts on the shirt will always put in a shift, and that I will encourage them to get the ball down and play, to express themselves, take risks, and to enjoy it. With that in mind anyone interested in being part of this new project can message me.
“The club has wonderful facilities and big plans for the future and hopefully together we can restore the club to where it historically has always been.”
Justin Gallagher (Gaerwen)
Another one who took two years out from the senior game, having last managed Pentraeth Reserves in the Anglesey League in 2017/18.
Gallagher, who has been managing the U16’s in the Caernarfon Town Academy set-up, has however been at Gaerwen in some form or another for the last five years. He was first team coach in 2015/16, then Juniors Cach between 2016 and this year.
With Lee Jones having stepped down as gaffer after four years in charge, Gaerwen club officials say they see Gallagher as the man to take them in a ‘new direction’.
Speaking on being appointed manager, Gallagher said: “It’s really great to be back in seniors football. To go from walking in to Gaerwen five years a go, not knowing nobody or anything, to manager today, is a hard feeling to describe.
“It’s my sixth straight season with Gaerwen, so it’s obviously a team I love, and I’m just going to give it 100% and make it as successful as possible.”
Matt Jones (Conwy Borough)
The dismissal of manager Chris Morrell from Conwy Borough left many, including the man himself, puzzled and left wondering why on Earth they got rid of him.
Morrell said he was ‘extremely disappointed’ to have been relieved of his duties earlier this week despite helping the club achieve it’s highest finish in a long, long time and in the second division no less.
Just a day later, Jones, who recently left Llandudno, was appointed in his place, having also previously managed at the likes of Llandudno Junction, Denbigh Town and Rhyl.
He enjoyed mixed success at Maesdu Park during a campaign of transition and, at Borough, will be working alongside new assistant manager Stuart Howson and Roger Jones (coach/physio).
He’s a UEFA A Licence candidate who’s shown signs of being a great manager – so can he now take The Tangerines even further in 2020/21?
Sion Eifion Jones (Nantlle Vale)
Caught they eye when he led Porthmadog Reserves to an incredible unbeaten season in 2018/19 and has now teamed up with Dan Bell as joint-manager of Welsh Alliance One (for the time being) side Vale.
The club says it’s “very excited” about the future under the pair and it’s not hard to see why as, between them, they have a wealth of experience and passion for the game which should take the club even further in the near future.
Speaking about being appointed, Jones said: “I’m both delighted and excited to join this fantastic Club. The Club has developed a lot on and off the pitch over the past couple of years and Dan and his staff have set a solid foundation of which to build upon.
“There is a clear vision to push the Club further and look forward to leading the club during these exiting times with Dan. Planning is well under way for the new season in what is going to be a very competitive new tier 3 league!”
Lee Potter (Cemaes Bay)
Highly-experience and successful manager who won no less than 14 trophies during his spell in charge of Moelfre-based Bro Goronwy.
In 2020/21 season, Potter will be teaming up with current Cemaes Bay manager Darren Thomas and assistant Alan Gray when the new season kicks off.
He’s held in high regard within the managerial circle on Anglesey and I’m sure that, after a year out from the game, he’ll be hungrier than ever to add even more silverware to his personal cabinet.
Robbie Jones and Jason Hughes (Bro Goronwy)
With Martin Jones, who won the NWCFA Junior Cup with Bro in 2018/19, having departed earlier this week it was pivotal that the club moved quickly to find a suitable replacement.
Both former Glantraeth player Jones and Hughes, who will be joining Ari Parry Hughes on the coaching team, bring vast on and off -field experience to Cae Nerys and should help steer the club back in the right direction after a quieter season than usual.
Sean Eardley (Llandudno)
Probably the best appointment to date as the hometown hero returns to Maesdu Park.
Eardley joined Caernarfon in May 2017 as assistant to manager Iwan Williams, having previously been assistant to Alan Morgan at Llandudno, where he will now return to as head coach. He was with Tudno when they won the Cymru Alliance (now Cymru North, which they are currently in) in 2014-15, and when they later went on to finish in the Welsh Premier League and qualified for Europe.
He went on to prove he was one of the best managers around in North Wales when he took over at Caernarfon from Iwan Williams, who went in the opposite direction to Llandudno.
He helped the club onto Huws Gray Alliance title glory and thus The Canaries returned to the Cymru Premier for the first time in a decade. He then stayed at the helm for the last two seasons, working wonders and helping the club secure back-to-back top six finishes.
The 34-year-old will be sorely missed by Caernarfon Town fans but, perhaps now, the good times will return to Llandudno once more under his guidance.
Gareth Thomas (Rhyl 1879)
So Rhyl’s phoenix club has its first manager and they appear to have made a great appointment here.
Thomas, who is from Halkyn, has previously worked at and enjoyed success with Conwy Borough and Denbigh Town amongst other clubs.
Rhyl 1879 say they have discussed with Thomas the vision and ambitions of the club and both parties are “looking forward” to working together to achieve success in the coming seasons as the club looks to establish itself as one of the best around.