PICTURE by Menai Tigers FC
SEAN Brett will be a familiar face to so many people within the Anglesey footballing scene, having spent around 25 years in the game as a manager.
As a player, he was a right back who turned out for the likes of Llandegfan (Anglesey League), the Castle and the Vic. He spent 14 years as a player manager in the Sunday League days also.
Brett also gave 12 years of his managerial career to taking charge of his son Noah’s junior sides – right through from Menai Bridge under 7’s to the under 16’s and also managed Anglesey juniors on a couple of occasions. In that role, he helped bring through some talented young players who, by now, are thriving at their respective clubs – including attacker Sam Jones who has gone on to play in the top-flight with Caernarfon Town.
However, he’s most well known for the time he spent with the Menai Tigers seniors side who first joined the Anglesey League more than a decade ago by now.
During Brett’s time with the club, they enjoyed many a great success including winning the Anglesey League, the Megan Cup twice, the Elias Cup, the IPP Cup and the Meditel Cup (x2), the league title and the Bob Owen memorial shield in the Gwynedd League.
The finest moment of course, although bittersweet, was when the Tigers won the Gwynedd League (above) and Meditel Cup double in 2018/19 – but were subsequently denied promotion to the Welsh Alliance on ground criteria.
Despite that though, Brett still looks back on his time with the club very fondly,
He said: “There’s been a few over the years – actually getting Menai Bridge up and running in the first place was special and winning our 1st trophy with the Tigers was a great moment. Winning the Gwynedd League was also really pleasing,
“Seeing a fair few players from my junior side go on to make their senior debuts was a proud moment. The season we won the Anglesey League, we did the treble that season and my u14s’s did their treble the same year so 6 trophies in the same year was very special but every trophy has been special for one reason or the other.”
As Tigers manager, Brett has undoubtedly had the honour of managing numerous talented players over the years. From prolific forwards such as Lance Williams and Dean Redmond to midfield maestros like Sion Hogan, there has been an endless stream of brilliant players turning out for the club over the years.
For Brett though, there are two who he considers to be the absolute standouts – and both have gone on to play at the highest level of football in Wales with Caernarfon Town during recent times.
When asked who the best players he’s managed are, Brett said: “That’s a really tough question as I’ve been very fortunate to manage some exceptional players over the years some I helped develop and some who knew far more than me and all I had to do was pick them.
“But, if pushed I’d say Danny Brookwell (above) and Sam Jones. Danny I saw as a junior and knew he’d be a top player – gave him his senior debut as a 16-year-old and he took to men’s football immediately. Blessed with lightning pace and a brilliant runner with the ball and unplayable on his day, not just that but a fantastic attitude and would often be first player at the ground to help put nets up and always gives a 100%.
“Sam (below) is a player I coached from a 5-year-old through junior football – similar to Danny as electric pace and brilliant with both feet. He was prolific in juniors and has gone on to the Welsh Prem – another player with a great attitude who was always wanted to learn and improve. Not just a player I’ve managed but someone I’ve known his whole life who is a friend as well and hopefully I’ll manage him again at some point.”
Nowadays, Brett is in charge of North Wales Coast West Premier (tier four) club Glantraeth. He took over whilst the club was in the Gwynedd League in the 2019/20 season, where he had began to turn their fortunes around before the Coronavirus pandemic struck and brought the season to an abrupt end.
He departed Menai Tigers soon after they were denied promotion to the Welsh Alliance after the success of 2018/19 and went on to join the management team at Gaerwen before Glantraeth.
When asked about why he left the Tigers, Brett said: “Stepping down from the Tigers was the toughest football decision I ever had to make. We’d had a great year and the team was fantastic but I’d made my decision during the season that it was going to be my last.
“I was taking on too much and was doing numerous jobs from manager to washing the kit, marking the pitch and treasurer to name a few and we were getting no support from the council at the time in developing the facilities and I felt like I had nothing left to give.
“I did think on numerous occasions after leaving that I’d made a mistake but knew the club was in good hands and that’s been proven with the club moving to Treborth and the strong squad they’ve assembled.”
Speaking about what he’s been up to since departing the Tigers, he added: “After leaving Menai I had no plans to stay involved but the opportunity came up to go to Gaerwen as part of the management team and I quite liked the idea of just being involved with training and helping on match days.
“I really enjoyed it to start with but as the season progressed I felt as if I wasn’t contributing at all so left at Christmas time (2019). Again, I had no plans but received a few offers from excellent clubs and I was going to wait till the end of the season. But when the offer came from Glantraeth and I met the committee I knew instantly I wanted to take the job.
“The committee are excellent and very ambitious and want to get the club to where it was previously and the facilities are superb. I only had a couple of games before lockdown which was obviously frustrating. But pre season this year was excellent and we overhauled the squad completely with almost 20 new players coming in with players that I had managed before and some that I had had my eye on previously.
“We worked really hard during the summer and over the few friendlies we played we were improving game by game with the team starting to gel and getting to get to grips with how I want us to play and then lockdown hit again which was really frustrating.”
Brett’s Glantraeth, just like all other clubs outside the top-flight in Wales, are waiting for a restart date to be announced so that they can take to the pitch again.
Among some of the many new signings Brett made during last year ahead of a return to action include the experienced Steve Smith, who spent more than a decade with Llanfairpwll, hard-working and talented midfielder Tudur Williams and forward Scott Hughes (below) who amassed well over 100 goals in three seasons in the Anglesey League with Arriva Bangor.
Looking ahead to football resuming at Glantraeth, Brett said: “I’m most looking forward to just the routine of playing and training and being with the lads and the banter with the squad and the other teams and managers. I’m also really excited to see what this squad of players and the club can achieve over the next few years.
“I’ve learnt as I’ve gone along as a manager to be honest and being a manager both at Sunday league and Saturday was not intentional it just happened. But, I’ve learnt off players that played in higher leagues and gave me pointers and also off Aaron Rowlands who was my assistant at Menai (and now manager there) who is a great coach who always gave me a different perspective on things which worked really well and made us successful.
“Finally, I just want to say thanks for the interview and keep up the good work. Being a manager at any level is thankless and can be brutal at this level as every man and his dog is a manager and questions every selection.
“I’ve made plenty of mistakes and will make more but do feel as if I’ve made more right decisions than wrong ones and am proud of what I’ve achieved, I might not be everyone’s cup of tea and I have no problem with that as I try to make every decision on what i think is best for the team.
“I’m also very proud of the young players I’ve brought through and given debuts to. That’s always been my philosophy and will continue to be as I’m a huge believer in playing young players.”