PICTURE by Wynne Evans
** Article written for an upcoming issue of the Welsh Soccerites magazine.
AS STRIKERS plying their trade on Anglesey in the 21st century go, Asa Thomas is probably the best of the best.
The 29-year-old, son of legendary Holyhead-based goal-getter Jimmy Thomas, made the headlines last season when he passed the 500-goal mark in what has been a glittering career to date.
In 2019/20, Thomas hit 19 goals for Holyhead Town in Welsh Alliance Two before the club folded in December 2019, meaning that the goals he scored there became expunged. As a result, the first of two goals he scored in Holyhead Town Reserves (who then became Holyhead Town as there was no first team), in a thrilling 7-6 win at Bodorgan in the Anglesey League, proved to be his 500th career goal.
Soon after, Thomas made the switch from the Harbourmen to local rivals Holyhead Hotspur, where he went on to score six goals for The Reserves in the Anglesey League and four for the first team in Welsh Alliance One before the season came to an abrupt end due to the coronavirus pandemic. So, he currently stands on 511 goals amassed during a free-scoring career on the island.
Speaking on passing that special milestone, Thomas said: “To pass the 500 goal mark is a huge achievement for myself, but that couldn’t have happened without all the quality players I’ve played alongside over the years.
“I can’t think of a best goal of the one that sticks out most to be honest but I remember the most important one being the one which came in the last game of the season for Trearddur Bay United (2011/12) against away in Abergele. We needed a win to win the league and I remember scoring my second goal of the game and once that went in I knew we’d done it.
“I think the record (for goals scored) for North Wales is 689, so my next aim now is to try and pass that.”
The forward has just recently signed for Trearddur Bay Bulls (who will be playing in North Wales Coast West Division One, Tier Four), where he will link up with good friend and fellow prolific goalscorer Gary Jo Owen. Down the years, the pair have formed a formidable partnership with Morawelon, Gaerwen and Holyhead Town and were off to a flyer again in their friendly debut v Llandegfan, with Owen scoring a penalty and Thomas hitting a hat-trick in a 7-0 win.
For the highly-successful Holyhead-based Morawelon side, who won three trophies including the prestigious NWCFA Junior Cup in just four seasons before folding in 2014, Thomas (97 goals) and Owen (84 goals) scored a combined 181 goals for the club and so I’m sure the Bulls can expect great things when the season eventually starts. At the time, they were managed by Derek Thomas, who is now in charge at the Bulls.
Speaking on that partnership and on why he deiced to join his new club, Thomas said: “I switched to The Bulls after a few talks with most of the boys that play there now and, of course, the manager Derek is there too so what they have planned there really interested me.
“I think the reason we (Asa and Gary Jo) play so well alongside each other is because we always get the best out of each other by wanting to score goals.
“I’ve always enjoyed playing with Gary Jo, as he’s also a best mate of mine off the field too so we really understand the way we both play.
“I can’t wait to link up with him again now and get back to scoring goals.”
For Thomas, it all began at Holyhead Gwelfor Athletic in 2007/08, where he hit 32 goals and followed that up with 37 goals the year after. But, it’s fair to say that the goal-scoring machine’s most incredible season came in 2010/11. A then 19-year-old Thomas hit an incredible 112 goals (which included 25 hat-tricks) in just 47 appearances for Trearddur Bay United as the club won a quadruple – a goal-scoring feat that doesn’t look like being broken any time soon.
Commenting on that, Thomas said: “That would surely have to be the career highlight for me as it’s something I would never do again. It was a great year that year for Trearddur Bay as we won the league three cup competitions also.
“I’ve won a lot of trophies, both on a club level and personal level, from top goal scorer awards to winning leagues and cups but that the one I haven’t won yet is the Bob Brodie trophy (a prize handed out since 2011/12 season by Grassroots North Wales’ Dave Jones to Anglesey’s top scorer at the end of every season) – but I have that in my sites.”
News of Thomas breaking the 500-goal mark last season meant he joined an elite group of North Wales footballers who have also surpassed that milestone.
Rhyl FC legend Don Spendlove was another free-scoring forward who bagged a record haul of 629 goals for The Lilywhites in the 1940’s and 50’s. Not even an offer of £7,000 from Tottenham Hotspur was enough to make Rhyl let go of their beloved hero – who had twice hit more than 70 goals in a season. Dubbed ‘Great Don’ and widely-regarded as North Wales’ best ever non-league footballer, Spendlove passed away aged 90 in March 2013
A little closer to home for Thomas though was fellow Holyhead Town stalwart Tommy Welsh (above). Known as the Town and the club’s greatest ever goal-getter, Belfast-born Welsh hit 631 goals during an illustrious career in the 1950’s and 60’s (which also included spells playing for Blaenau Ffestiniog, Bethesda and Colwyn Bay). Just like with Spendlove, Tottenham came in to try and lure Welsh away from the island, as did West Bromwich Albion, Wolverhampton Wanderers and Doncaster Rovers, but the legendary forward stayed loyal to Holyhead until the end. Welsh passed away in April 2019, aged 90.
Make no mistake about it, Thomas’ goal-scoring record has placed him into North Wales football folklore for many, many years to come.
In terms of professional football, he’d be joining the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, Pele, Gerd Muller and Zlatan Ibrahimovic in the 500+ goals club. And, in terms of local football, he’s probably been the equivalent to those players over the last twelve years.
** This article will be featured in an upcoming edition of the Welsh Soccerites Magazine** available from https://welshsoccerites.co.uk/