PICTURE shows Ricky Williams receiving a Manager of the Month award from Welsh Alliance League official Alun Griffiths.
OF ALL the football managers on Anglesey in recent times, Bodedern Athletic’s Ricky Williams has to be considered one of the most influential and well-respected for what he’s achieved in the game.
So many people I’ve spoken to over the years have only had great things to say about him.
During his 15 years or so of being involved in football within the Boded community, Williams has overseen four promotions and several cup wins, among several other highlights with Athletic.
The club has enjoyed a phenomenal turnaround in fortunes during his time with the club, particularly over the past few seasons.
Since having to fold temporarily whilst in Welsh Alliance One in 2014/15, the club has bounced back tremendously to enjoy many a success.
Boded went on to win the Gwynedd League and cup double in 2016/17 as they clinched promotion to Welsh Alliance Two. 2017/18 made it back-to-back promotions as the club finished runners-up in WA2 and move on up to WA1, in a season in which they also won the Take Stock Van Hire Cup (below).
The Green and White army very nearly made it a hat-trick of promotions in 2018/19, but were ultimately pipped to the post by Llangefni Town who subsequently went up to the JD Cymru North come the end of that season.
During Williams’ time at the club, Boded have also won the Safeflue Shield, Gwynedd Cup, Two WA2 Cups and been semi-finalists in the prestigious FA Trophy which involves teams from across the whole of Wales.
Speaking about the unforgettable journey to date, the 34-year-old said: “I’ve been involved with Bodedern for about 15 years all in all. I started as the manager of the George Sunday League side.
“Then I got asked to join the first team back then as an assistant for Kev Hughes who I learnt a lot off. Once Kev left I became assistant to the late Rob Hughes (below, who passed away in December 2020) and had a great time even though we struggled in the League. We couldn’t compete with the big teams in the Cymru Alliance and the club folded.
“I then left for Glantraeth with Kev that summer but I only lasted a few weeks there as it wasn’t for me. It was a great club and comittee but the chance to return to Boded as joint manager with “Bwj” (Bryn Hughes) in the Gwynedd League was to good to turn down. After all its my club and all I know and I wanted the chance to take us back through the leagues.
“We did just that as we gained two promotions in three years. Won a couple of cups along the way and reached the last 16 of the Welsh Cup. I changed jobs and felt I needed a break about 6 years ago but I soon realised I missed the lads and the buzz of matchdays.
“That was the low point for me as the club folded – I felt it was down to myself leaving. I felt I owed it to myself to return and get Bodedern back up leagues.
“The club folded mid season and we had to start back in the Gwynedd League – we had an ok season the first season but were promoted the season after by winning the league and cup double. Season after that we were runners up and promoted from WA2 as Prestatyn Sports won the league – we again won a cup.
“Our 1st season back in the Welsh 1 was something else, our aims were to just compete the first season back but we ended up losing the league on the last day to Llangefni and lost in the FA Trophy semi final. I lost a few lads that summer but again finished in the top 6.”
Every good manager has learnt from another good manager or two who came before them. Williams has three he says he owes a lot to.
He said: “I’ve learnt different things off different people, starting out as a manager at 18 I had a load of things to learn, when I went to the 1st team at 19 with Kev, Rob and Bryn Hughes, I had a real eye opener as the three we’re totally different characters and all three had different ways of man managing.
“I tried to pick a bit of knowledge off all three and really benefited me before I went to manage with “Bwj”. He was a real no nonsense manager who really helped me in my first real managers job on a Saturday.”
As a manager who’s seen his club move from the bottom to the Welsh Alliance, Williams will have seen the variety of skill sets and styles of play on show at different levels of the Welsh football pyramid.
When football returns, Bodedern will play in the newly-formed North Wales Coast West Premier Division (tier four). So what differences does Williams think stand out between the different leagues in North Wales?
He said: “I’d say the real difference between the Welsh Alliance and the Gwynedd League is the teams from the WA try to play a bit more football. You get a bit more time on the ball in the WA, whereas in the GL there on to you in a flash for the 1st hour or so. Better surfaces provide better quality of play as well of course.”
Clubs across Wales, excluding those in the top-flight, have now been unable to play an official game of football for a whole year due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
Many will be finding it hard to keep players and coaching staff interested throughout these lockdowns, with training also unable to take place currently.
Williams says he’s ‘enjoyed the break’ but is now ‘fully re-charged’ ahead of a potential return to the sidelines later this year.
He added: “Managing can be a stressful job so now I’m fully recharged for the challenge ahead in tier four.
“We’ve kept in contact through Whatsapp all through lockdown and I seem to be getting a lot of flack off the lads as I support Liverpool. All good banter and the lads are looking forward to getting back to it.”
Pre-lockdown, Williams had actually played for Bodedern Athletic in a friendly against Fali. Despite being a goalkeeper that day, he scored from the spot (below) as his side cruised to a 7-1 victory.
During what’s been a simply fantastic coaching journey to date with Bodedern, Williams has also secured many a Manager of the Month award for his efforts in the Welsh Alliance.
When football returns, I have no doubts he will once again deliver the goods with the club as they prepare for life in the new-look tier four division.
Closing the interview, Williams added: “Last of all I’d like to thank you for the coverage you give local football. Between yourself and others, you all do a great job. Keep up the good work.
“I would also like to give a mention to our physio Mair Hughes (pictured above with Williams) who passed away last year and will be a huge loss to the club, myself and the lads.”