PICTURE by Llanerchymedd FC
OF ALL the Anglesey goal machines of the 21st century, Matthew Jones is undoubtedly one of the most underrated.
The prolific forward has banged in the goals as high up as tier two level and has earned a reputation as a fine finisher.
The 27-year-old from Llanerchymedd began his senior career with his home village club, who he has just recently returned to.
He says he’s ‘grown up playing and watching football from a very young age’ and says he ‘enjoyed watching’ the likes of Ronaldinho, Zidane, Ronaldo and Messi.
Jones adds that his dad taught him ‘at a young age how to pass, shoot, dribble, control a ball and after a game he’d tell me what I was doing wrong and what I needed to improve on in upcoming games’.
In his first spell with Llan, Jones was part of the side which won the Dargie Cup back in 2011/12 and also won the Megan Cup and the Safeflue Shield among other honours.
His best goalscoring season at Llan came in 2014/15 when he bagged 29 goals.
In 2014, he travelled to Estonia with the North Wales team playing in the UEFA Regions Cup, alongside the likes of Gavin Sharpe and Dan Thomas who also returned to Llan last summer. He earned a Wales cap in the process.
Jones, who also played for Bodedern previously, made the move to Llangefni Town in 2016 and instantly became a vital player for the club, becoming mr reliable in terms of scoring the goals.
Whilst there, he enjoyed some great moments – even being part of the side which won a Welsh Alliance One and Cookson Cup double, as well as promotion to the JD Cymru North in 2018/19.
That was also his best goalscoring season for the club as he notched up 29 goals in a memorable campaign for the player and the club. He was in fine goalscoring form when the club moved up to tier two also and had hit double figures before the coronavirus pandemic ended the 2019/20 campaign early.
Not many people will know that Jones was also part of the Ynys Môn squad which won gold at the Island Games Tournament in 2019 – but unfortunately couldn’t play due to having picked up an injury in a warm-up.
Talking about his career to date, Jones said: “There’s quite a few career highlights. Starting off with winning many cups with mates I grew up with at Llanerchymedd to getting promotion with Llangefni to the Cymru Alliance. But the two that stand out would be going away to Estonia to represent Wales in the Regions Cup and winning the Island Games tournament here on Anglesey. Even though I couldn’t play due to injury I picked up in the warm up games, it was good to be involved through it all.
“In terms of the best players I’ve played alongside, it’s a really hard one to answer as there’s so many I could list. But probably the top two would be Chris Evans and Dion Donohue. Both quite similar, so cool on the ball, never panic and can run a game from midfield. Both were very good at threading a ball through as well. Quality players.”
Having amassed well over 150 goals during his senior playing career so far, Jones will have plenty of favourites to choose from. But which one does he regard as his greatest?
He said: “The goal that was probably most important was a 25 yard strike I scored against South Wales. That was in the last minute and clinched us top spot which meant the the North Wales team would be the ones representing Wales away in Estonia.
“The most memorable would be away to Greenfield with Llanerchymedd, where Deion Evans whipped the ball in, I chested it, flicked it over the defenders head and slotted between the keepers legs. The two goals I scored for Llangefni in our first Cymru Alliance game springs to mind as well.”
2020 saw Jones return to where it all began with his home village club of Llanerchymedd FC alongside a number of other former players who also made the switch.
The club itself has gone through difficult times of late, finishing bottom of the Gwynedd League without a single point to its name.
Despite playing at tier two level with Llangefni Town in 2019/20, Jones will play in the tier five North Wales Coast West Division One league when football resumes in the summer.
Giving his reasons as to why he wanted to back to Tan Parc, he said: “It was because all of the lads from the village that were there before when we were winning trophies were thinking of going back, to try and get Llan back up the leagues where they belong really. It was a difficult decision dropping down that many leagues, because I did enjoy playing at that level. Every game was tough and you were coming up against good well-drilled teams and players. Which I think that improves you as a player when you play that standard every week.
“I’ve generally missed just playing football, the banter before and after the match and training week in, week out. It’s something that I’ve always done since I was little so to all of a sudden not be doing it for over a year is strange.
“I just hope everything goes back to normal and we can finally play football again and hopefully have fans back at the grounds. It would be good to get a few more trophies in the bag next season as well.”