‘My Dream XI’ – Llandegfan manager Arron Evans (AFE) picks his team!

PICTURE by Wynne Evans

IT’S NOT often I get the chance to put an article together from the point of view of being Llandeg manager – so I thought I’d take the opportunity through this series!

As a player, I played for Tynygongl FC (near Benllech) when I was younger and also briefly for the senior side (Treetops FC which played in the Sunday League days. After time away from the game, I got back into football in 2017/18 when I started playing for Llandegfan and played a handful of matches that season mainly as a right back.

It’s the club that really gave me the chance to make friends for life within the game and I’ll forever be grateful for that.

Midway through the first season I became assistant manager under Jordan Love before being voted in as manager ahead of the 2018/19 campaign. After a very tough season that year picking up 0 points, 2019/20 certainly saw us improve as we picked up a draw (4-4 v Holyhead Town) and our first win in 2 and a half years when we beat Pentraeth Reserves in January 2020. We had four games left when the pandemic struck so who knows what could’ve been!

I, like many others, can’t wait for football to return so I can be reunited with all involved at the club and continue to help it improve on and off the field.

Here, I have gone for a team of players who I have either A) played alongside or B) managed for a season or more.

FORMATION: 4-1-3-2

GOALKEEPER – Duane Hunt

AFE says: “One of the first players I signed when I officially took over as Llandeg manager in 2018 and one that’s given so much for the club since then.

“Started off as a midfielder for us but moved into goal when we had injuries to both our keepers as he’d played in net for Llangoed previously.

“Anyone who’s come up against Duane will tell you he’s a fantastic shot stopper and he’s earned several Man of the Match awards along the way too as well as our Player of the Season prize in 2017/18.”

RIGHT BACK – Sam Short

AFE says: “A player who completely changed our Llandeg team when he joined us in 2019/20 with his reliability and his hard work in training and in games.

“We were all immediately impressed with Sammy’s desire to win the ball back for his side and it was no surprise to any of us when he earned himself 3 MOTM’s in his first five games.

“Really quick both on and off the ball and has made that right back role his own following some fantastic performances. A brilliant young player who could play for nearly any team in our division in my opinion and were very lucky to have him.”

CENTRE BACK – Alex Clarke

PIC: Wynne Evans

AFE says: “Al may be one of my closest friends but I’m not putting him in because of that. I’m including him in this starting XI because of the progress he made as a player from season one to three.

“Joined us in 2018 after giving up playing rugby and I think even he would agree that he struggled at first. But the improvements he made week on week in training and then in games was brilliant.

“Became one of the most committed players possible, never missing training and was always willing to listen and learn. Strong player and quicker than he looks – eventually became captain and is now assistant to myself at Llandeg. An inspiration and just goes to show that if you put hard work in it pays off.”

CENTRE BACK – Gethin Griffith

PIC: Wynne Evans.

AFE says: “A manager’s dream really – despite being the team joker!

“I knew we’d have a great player on our hands in Geth the moment he came to training. Tall and strong and vocal too, he had everything you need to be a great defender from day one.

“Geth will be the first to admit that he can be a bit unpredictable at times but he’s still only 21 and has bags of confidence and ability.

“Great on the ball and in the air and can play a killer pass over the top too. When he came in last season, he played CB, RB, LB and in goal on a number of occasions when Duane was injured and played CM when we won in Pentraeth. No matter where he played, he gave 110%.

“It was no surprise that his team mates picked him as their Players Player of the Season alongside me picking him as my Managers Player of the Season. One of the funniest guys I’ve ever met too, can’t help but laugh when he’s around.”

LEFT BACK – Jack Barron

Not the best pic but only one I could find of myself (left) and Jack!

AFE says: “Captain when I played for Tynygongl under 16’s and was a class above the rest really – a real fighter and very talented too.

“I later played alongside Jack once or twice for the Treetops senior side and nothing had changed by then either. Solid player who can play in a number of different positions.

“Think he moved away from the island a few years ago so not sure what he’s been up to since but I hope he’s still playing football as it would be a waste if he wasn’t!”

DEFENSIVE MID – Kieran Fritter

AFE says: “A player who’s been a massive help to me as manager at Llandegfan with his knowledge of the game and advice.

“Joined us from Arriva in 2018 having won many cups there and was our Player of the Season alongside Duane come the end of that campaign.

“Fritz always wears his heart on his sleeve and has often played through the pain to try and help us get that result. Someone the younger players in our team look up to and that’s why he’s now club captain.

RIGHT MID – Nathan Harris

AFE says: “A player who enjoyed many a success as a young player with Menai Tigers and Holyhead Town and then with Caergybi in their first season in the Anglesey League.

“Still only young now, Nath was an absolute revelation for us at Llandeg last season with some brilliant performances. Was with us in 18/19 but left and went to coach at a soccer camp in America.

“Came back a different player in my opinion, hungrier for the ball and you could see his desire to win and bring others into the game. He’s another player who can play in a number of different positions too, even playing very well at full back before lockdown last Christmas.

CENTRE MID – Graham Jones

AFE says: “Easily the best player I ever played alongside. Just made things looks so easy from the middle of the park.

“Gooch as he’s known could win games on his own at times and was a fantastic player for both Bro and Treetops at one point – is now with Pentraeth where he is again considered a key player.

“I think anyone who came up against him in his ‘prime’ will testify that he was one of the best around in his position at one point.”

LEFT MID – Aled Davies

AFE says: “The moment I first saw Aled train, I knew he’d go on to be a top, top player for us and I was right (not often I get to say that!)

“One of the quickest players I’ve seen with the ball at his feet when he hits top feet and he’s got feet quick enough to change direction quickly too.

“Spent last season playing LB for me, but can just as easily play on the wing as he’s got a great cross on him. Even played one game in CAM in friendlies before Christmas and scored in that game!

“He’s a player who’s got raw talent and another one who’s still young and has got a lot to give in seasons to come.”

STRIKER – Dêf Parry

PIC: Wynne Evans

AFE says: “Gets a hell of a lot of stick from the lads (and sometimes it’s deserved!) but honestly one of the hardest workers I’ve seen as a manager. When he puts his mind to it, he’s great.

“In his first season in 2017/18, Dêf scored 9 goals despite missing half the season due to an ankle op and being in a team which really struggled. Came back from his op and struggled initially but still hit four goals for us last season.

“That makes him the top scorer under myself at Llandeg with 13 goals to his name (and more in friendlies) – the most important of which were the double he scored in our 2-1 win at Pentraeth. He also scored our last goal before lockdown in a 3-1 loss at Llangefni Reserves, a game which he was also MOTM.

“If he can get himself fully fit again, I have no doubt he’ll go on to score more for the club. Likes a sulk from time to time and has to chase his first touch some times but a player I admire a lot for the way he always bounces back.”

STRIKER – Rob Boyes

PIC: Wynne Evans

AFE says: “Another top young player who has come on leaps and bounds since joining us from Llangoed in 2018.

“First season with us, Rob was only 17 and you could see he had talent but he lacked a bit of confidence. Second season, he was top scorer for us. That tells you all you need to know about the work he put in in training.

“Not normally a striker, usually a winger or attacking mid, but as he’s scored eight goals in two seasons for us and has proven he’s a great finisher in putting him up top here. A really skilful player.”

SUBS

Matthew Roberts (Centre back)

PIC: Paul Scholes

AFE says: “A player I’ve both played alongside and briefly managed during my time with Llandegfan.

“Despite being in that team of 17/18, the year the club was reformed, which conceded so many goals, Matty was a CB who had so much heart and loved a tackle.

“Went on to play for Bro and Llangoed in the Gwynedd League. Comfortable on the ball and great in the air. Top defender.”

Ryan Williams (Centre back)

PIC: Richard Gregson

AFE says: “I definitely couldn’t leave Squid out of this squad for what he’s done both on and off the field for Llandeg since we reformed.

“Longest serving player at the club having been there longer than myself and was only 17 in first season but was made captain in a number of games and always led the team well.

“Became my assistant in 2018/19 and was by my side again last season and was a massive influence on myself to keep going throughout it all. We’ve become very good friends and he’s someone I owe a lot to in terms of helping me become a better coach.

“Ry is now getting back into playing football again and I have no doubt that with a bit more belief in himself, he can return to what he once was and that’s a solid and organised defender.”

Mathew Shakespeare (Centre mid)

AFE says: “Played alongside Shakes a few times at Treetops and he was always one of the best performers on a matchday. Even if the team didn’t play well, you know that he’d come off that pitch having given 110%.

“He could control the tempo of the game well and was a great leader and motivator too. A player who could play CB as well as CM, he enjoyed a good career on the island with the likes of Cemaes Bay before moving to Ellesmere Port a few years ago – where he continued to win trophies in football!”

Tom Adamek (Defensive mid)

PIC: Wynne Evans

AFE says: “I’d heard great things about Tom before he signed for us last season but had never seen him play until he trained with us. Instantly though, you could see he was a great player.

“Completely changed the way we played when he came in – he was so good that I had to play a CDM in the team when he was available as he protected the back four so well. It was no coincidence that we started conceding less goals when he came in.

“A real leader and born winner, he’s given up football for the time being unfortunately but I’m hopeful he’ll return to the pitch someday as he’s a joy to watch.”

Paul Jones (Striker)

PIC: Wynne Evans

AFE says: “A player who I was very pleased to have signed after he made the switch from Cefni (where he scored eight goals in the same season) in 2018. Unsurprisingly, it didn’t take long for him to find form for us.

“Paul was in great form for us early in 2019/20 and was the kind of striker who always posed a threat with his work rate. He was a naturally gifted finisher and proof that, if you have the desire, that age is just a number (being 34/35 when he played for us).

“Unfortunately, we had a few disagreements and he subsequently left soon after and signed for Llanfairpwll (although we have made up since!). But I can’t deny the fact that he was one of the best finishers I’ve seen on his day and certainly one of the best we’ve had at the club in the last three years.”

As with everybody else in this series, there’s so many others I could have named – very tough to narrow it down to a 16!

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