PICTURE BY Darren Jones shows Vinny Walker (on the right) watching on as Llanfairpwll (blue and black) take on Valley.
IN WHAT is now the tenth instalment of this series, it’s time for another top Anglesey-based manager to pick his ultimate squad of players.
Over the years, Vinny Walker has become a familiar face to many on the football scene for what he’s achieved.
His exploits alongside fellow manager Spud Thomas at Llangoed, where they won a cup double and promotion to the Gwynedd League in 2016/17, will never be forgotten.
Nowadays of course, the pair are at Llanfairpwll where they are busy introducing some of the best young talent around on the island through to senior football. And doing a great job of it too – leading the club to a fourth placed finish in the Anglesey League just last season.
Here, Vinny, who also previously managed the Dreigiau Môn Sunday League side, picks 16 of the best who have played under him in Anglesey football.
GOALKEEPER – Rhys Wyn Owen
Vinny says: “The only way I could select a goalkeeper is on consistency as I’ve had a lot of great goalkeepers play for me in my time but I’ve coached Rhys since he was 18 I think and from where he was to where he is now the improvement was incredible.
“During my time at Llangoed, his consistency of performances were something else. A great shot stopper who always wanted to improve and learn more and he even turned down Welsh Alliance clubs to stay with us during that time which shows the level of performance he hit.”
RIGHT BACK – Paul Edmunds
Vinny says: “I’ve had Paul play for me at a number of clubs and such a versatile player who can play anywhere across the back line or even in the middle of the park.
“His physical presence and knowledge with the game in itself made him almost irreplaceable at times.”
LEFT BACK – Matty Owen
Vinny says: “When I joined Llangoed as manager Matty really shocked me with his energy enthusiasm strength and ability. There isnt many full backs out there that can offer you a wingers job from full back without ever forgetting his full back duties scores goals creates goals and solid into a tackle all round great player who in my oppinion is massively underrated.”
CENTRE BACK – Alex Thomas
Vinny says: “To this day I think I can honestly say I’ve never seen a centre back make the job look as easy as what this lad did and when he first came to me he stated he was a left back. A leader solid into a tackle good in the air great on the ground and a gentle giant off the pitch a genuinely nice guy.”
CENTRE BACK – Ryan Evans
Vinny says: “Over 6ft tall and full of young cockiness when I first met him I thought ‘Jesus, we have our work cut out with this one’ but boy did he prove me wrong. A lad who doesn’t know how good he actually is.
“As a coach you always look for a player who can put those on the edge last ditch tackles in where if the player gets it wrong it’s a red card but if he gets it right it’s a phenomenal tackle – Ryan is exactly that player who very rarely gets the tackle wrong.
“His development over the last 2 seasons has shocked everyone including himself but his dedication, willingness to listen and learn has deserved the rewards hes now reaping by being spotted and picked up by Bangor City 1st team. He’s as daft as a brush but a solid performer.”
CENTRE MID – Graham Jones (AKA “Gooch”)
Vinny says: “To look at him on a pitch you never notice what he actually does until you focus on him. A real unsung hero to any squad.
“He breaks play with ease can play a 5 yard pass or ping a 35 yard pass and makes it look simple. A really humble guy who never wants praise for his work on the pitch but my God he deserves praise for it. A real team player every team needs a Gooch!”
CENTRE MID – Tom Taylor
Vinny says: “One of the names around Anglesey football I think everyone has heard of. Hes more known these days for playing centre back but when I had him playing for me it was central midfield and boy this guy could win games single handedly.
“He was unbeatable in the air, literally the toughest tackling player I can say I’ve coached who also knew how to play dirty when he had to. The desire to win and drive inside this guy is immense – I can honestly say if there’s a coach out there that’s had him play for them and doesn’t put him in they’re team I wouldn’t like to see who they have in his place.”
CENTRE MID – Julian Williams
Vinny says: “Had him playing for me when he was 16 years old and usually with youngsters you have to blood them into the senior game but this lad was something else.
“No fear, great tackler, had an eye for a pass, nothing he couldn’t do. He was quick, agile and solid. Now playing for Colwyn Bay I think so goes to show how far he pushed himself.”
ATTACKING MID – Wayne Thomas
Vinny says: “This lad is one of the most underrated players I have ever coached his ability belongs in leagues much higher than what he’s played. Technically, he’s a striker that loves to drop deep almost like a false 9 so in our second year we moved him into the number 10 a few times to see how he did and he never looked out of place.
“His eye for goal was incredible, his strength in holding the ball up second to none and what he could do with a ball I’ve not seen many other players be able to do. If our backs where against the wall at times I’d collar him at half time and say ‘come on Wayne, grab this game by the balls and make something happen’ – You could pretty much guarantee we wouldn’t lose after that. An outstanding talent who only recently started getting the praise he deserves.”
STRIKER – Ioan Hughes
Vinny says: “I need say no more than in 3 seasons playing for me Ioan hit over 100 goals. Pace, power, knowledge, right foot or left it didnt matter.
“I remember saying to the squad at half time one game ‘look get the ball into Ioan’s feet no point in putting it in the air for him he cant score with his head at half time’. At full time, he had scored 4 – all with his head – and walked off with his arm around me telling me scoring with his head isnt a problem he just prefers scoring with his feet.”
STRIKER – Carwyn Williams
Vinny says: “When he played for me I had him at Right Wing Back and he completed the season hitting nearly 30 goals from that position. Since moving to a few clubs, he has been moved into a striker’s position where he still regularly finds the back of the net.
“I couldn’t not include this lad he has pace in abundance and a rifle of a right foot. A really good laugh on and off the pitch a real joker someone who has made an impression on me for the rest of my life with the way he plays football.”
Vinny says: “One of the most complete goalkeepers to come from the island. Strong vocal great shot stopper unbelievable kicking ability I just didnt get to coach him long enough to compare him to Rhys for the number 1 slot.”
Vinny says: “It was a real tough call between Owain and Matty for the left back slot they are both identical players the only thing that edged it for me was Matty’s experience. Owain gets up and down that left wing like there is no tomorrow and he can deliver a peach of a cross too.”
Vinny says: “An out and out leader on the pitch, his no nonsense approach to the game made him a proper old fashioned defender which you dont see much of anymore. You always knew when Nick was about you heard his laugh before you even seen his car arrive.”
Vinny says: “It was so hard to not put this guy in the starting 11 again I put it down to the amount of time I actually coached him I think but the complete midfielder with out doubt can tackle can play can score can create – an unbelievable talent.”
Vinny says: “If you want a player who knows where the back of the net is this fella is your man with well over 150 goals to his career that speaks for itself when he wanted to play you couldn’t stop him one of the deadliest strikers I’ve coached.”
Having selected his team, Vinny added: “This has possibly been the hardest thing ive had to do in football because there is so many players that could of made it in but I can only choose 16!”