PICTURE BY Glantraeth FC
THERE has been many a great team put together so far in this series and this one is no different!
Tonight it’s the turn of Steve Smith, who is by now surely considered something of a Llanfairpwll FC legend having spent 16 seasons or so with the club – including in their Cymru Alliance days. He was also manager of the club back in 2016.
Steve, 38, is known for being a very hard working and versatile player who has played in a number of positions during his career turning out for the likes of Pwll, Caernarfon Borough, Gwalchmai and Gaerwen.
Now with Glantraeth FC, who he signed for last summer, Steve is also a qualified referee (as seen running the line below!) and will be a familiar face to many in the local game.
Here’s the side he’s picked (alongside two officials in honour of him being a ref himself!)
GOALKEEPER – Ben Heald
Steve says: “Ben was Llanfair reserves keeper back in 2000/01 when I first joined the club aged 18 and he went on to be possibly the best keeper we’ve had on the Island. Always loud on the pitch and a great influence on younger players, he’s had a great last 20 years between the sticks.”
LEFT BACK – Jack Williams
Steve says: “Joined Llanfair as a youngster from Bangor City around 2012 and has become a great full back now playing for Llangefni at Tier 2 – Really comfortable on the ball and always gives 100%, not to mention being a really nice lad both on and off the pitch.”
CENTRE BACK – Dylan Jones
Steve says: “A truly modern ball playing centre back which you could see when he first broke into the Llanfair first team at a young age, really strong in the air and in a tackle and has become an influential leader for the clubs he’s represented, most recently Bro Goronwy and Cemaes Bay.”
CENTRE BACK – Gaz Owen
Steve says: “Never played in the same side as Gaz but he was always tough to play against, a great presence at the back and someone who’s voice could be heard throughout the match.”
RIGHT BACK – Gwyndaf Davies (AKA Giamocs)
Steve says: “Fitting the bill of 100% committed players, Giamocs would never let his teammates down on the pitch; never one to jib a challenge, you could always count him to give his best. The kind of player you’d love to have on your side rather than play against but you knew you’d always have a good fair battle when going up against him, giving as good as he got.”
LEFT MID – Osian Jones
Steve says: “Son of Anglesey legend Mart Bach, I was lucky enough to play with and manage Osian at Llanfair when he first played men’s football – one of the most direct players you’ll see with a constant urge to get forward with the ball he’s always a threat and you just know he’ll be making things happen if not scoring himself.
“Quite a fired up and argumentative youngster on the pitch when he first broke through but seems to be using that to his advantage now and not allowing it to distract him from what he’s best at.”
CENTRE MID – Rory Courlander
Steve says: “A true workhorse of a player, non-stop closing people down and winning the ball back you always had a chance in a match with Rory on your side. A real joker in the pack too you can always count on the ginger Irishman from Ballybrack or Rathkeale, I never remember properly, to lighten the mood in the dressingroom or on a team night out.”
CENTRE MID – Kelvin Frazer
Steve says: “Broke through to Llanfair’s Cymru Alliance side of the mid 2000’s aged just 16 but you could tell then just how naturally gifted on the ball he was and you knew he was only going to get better.
“Fantastic on set pieces, you could always count on Kel to pick someone out with a free kick or go for goal himself, scoring some spectacular goals over the years. I would normally always go for a team of what you would call 100% committed players but if you were to allow one player licence to roam around and do what he wants it would be him, knowing that he’d be able to find some space to get on the ball and then pick a pass.”
RIGHT MID – Iwan Williams
Steve says: “Iwan joined us at Llanfair in our last season in the Cymru Alliance back in 2009/10 and you could see from the very first training session that he was another hard working individual who was going to give us that little bit of bite that perhaps we’d been missing along with quality on the ball.
“Another great character to have in your team, you could count on Iwan’s professionalism to get everyone focused on the team’s objectives on match day but then be the first to let loose after the match!!”
STRIKER – Rich Owen
Steve says: “Spent most of his playing days at Llanfair but had spells at Porthmadog and finally Llangefni, Richie fingers as he would become known always knew how to find the net. He would be probably known nowadays as a pressing forward, his work rate in closing people down was fantastic, but he would never stop moaning and complaining too.
“I would imagine any defender who played against him knew afterwards that they’d been in a tough match and would dread the next time they’d have to go up against him. Probably the best leap for a small striker too, he had a knack of being able to compete with any centre back in the air and more often than not would actually come out on top.”
STRIKER – Arwyn Owen
Steve says: “Little Messi was an instant success at Llanfair, first off with the reserves and then when getting his chance with the first team in the Cymru Alliance.
“His technical ability on the ball and close control was something I’d never seen before or since and his low centre of gravity meant he could turn defenders of all abilities inside out. His lightning pace over short distances meant you could play hopeful balls into space over the top in the knowledge that he’d make them look like wonder passes – any midfielder’s dream forward!”
Huw Shaw (Goalkeeper)
Steve says: “Outfielder turned keeper who has become one of the best young shot stoppers around with a great kick to boot. Starting to mature as a player he’s definitely going to get even better with age.”
Stuart Williams (Defender)
Steve says: “I was lucky to play Sunday league football with this former Welsh Premier League left back with a wand of a left foot. He convinced me to join Caernarfon Borough and made the job of playing infront of him on the wing so easy.”
Nidian Huws (Defender)
Steve says: “Probably the dirtiest player I’ve played with or against but a lovely bloke at the same time. Affectionately nicknamed Nasty Nidz, you would always know there was going to be some tough challenges going in on the opposition at some point in the 90 minutes!”
Chris Parry (Midfielder)
Steve says: “A great competitor for Llanllyfni, Caernarfon Town and NantlleVale, I always had great battles going up against this giant of a midfielder. Someone I knew I would have to wind up as best as I could if we were to get a result against his sides.”
Danny Connolly (Striker)
Steve says: “First saw him playing for Bodorgan and now with Llanfair he’s got a great left foot on him. Able to strike a ball with power with minimal backlift but always hits the target. Able to hit a ball cleaner than I ever could and makes it look effortless!”
Darren Moore and Sion Roberts (Management)
Steve says: “Became the perfect duo at Llanfair taking the club to unprecedented heights in the Cymru Alliance, competing on a tiny budget against some very well funded larger teams.
“Darren commanded the respect of every player and certainly brought out the best in me, giving me the belief and opportunity to push myself to be the best player I could.
“Sion Goch has become one of the most knowledgeable assistants around and is one of the best in the business around North Wales in my opinion.”
And just because Steve is a qualified ref, he’s also picked out two officials he feels deserve a mention in this series!
Steve says: “Having become a referee/assistant myself it’s only fair that I pay homage to 2 referees that have stood out for me over the last 20 years.”
Steve says: “This perma-tanned ref is probably the easiest ref to get on with on the pitch and one that you knew would be able to explain any contentious decisions clearly and have great banter with at the same time. He made a great effort to help me when I first qualified as a ref with some tips and even gave me a set of kit to help get me on my way.”
Steve says: “I first came across Heinz (above on the right) when playing Sunday league aged just 16 – in a game against Marquis Rhosybol whilst playing for Tree Tops Tigers. I think I must have been kicked every time I got the ball in the 1st half, upwards of 10 or 15 times in fact with the opposition complaining that I was going down too easy. Heinz called the free kick every time, not in the spirit of Sunday league back in the day when it seemed you could get away with anything!
“When the 2nd half resumed the kicking did too with the first foul coming just inside the opposition penalty area, but instead of awarding the penalty Heinz booked me for diving! I couldn’t believe it and when I asked him about it after the match, he admitted he’d made a bit of a mistake and gave in to the pressure from the other team. We had a great relationship on the pitch from that moment and I always respected him for being so honest with me.”