Tag Archives: FAW

Bangor City Football Club looking to trial safe standing next season

The Football Supporters Federation and the Safe Standing Roadshow gave an exhibition at Bangor City Football Club today that could shape the future of how spectators watch the game in Wales.

The Citizens welcomed the exhibition to Nantporth Stadium today as supporters, politicians and a number of people from the club’s hierarchy made the trip to see what was on offer to the club.

The focal point of the day was a demonstration of a new innovation called rail seats, which enable football stands to be converted from seating areas to standing areas with the turn of a key.

Rail seats, which are very popular in Germany are more durable and more compact than the plastic seats you’ll find at football grounds across Britain and meet all of the necessary safety regulations.

Safe Standing Roadshow representative Jon Darch demonstrated the product today and was adamant that whichever club used rail seats first would see a massive increase in media attention.

He said: ‘What I feel is that I’m very excited Bangor City seem so keen to be the very first club in the UK to install rail seats. If they are to do that, the media coverage they get will be out of this world,

‘All of these people will be here again but so will Sky, The BBC, ITV, all the papers – everyone will be here – there will be coverage for whoever it is and that coverage will be a huge benefit to any club.’

Bangor City FC Chairman Dilwyn Jones expressed his satisfaction with the exhibition and gave brief details with regards to when Bangor City fans might be able to expect this innovation at Nantporth.

‘Things have been moving very, very quickly since we moved to Nantporth with the 3G pitch finished now, and we’re hoping to have this safe-standing project done over the summer.’ He said.

Jones also outlined how the move to increase Nantporth’s capacity might be necessary sooner or later anyway due to the European footballing body’s regulations with regards to stadium capacities:

“We can hold around 1100 right now but we need 1500 by 2016/17 because at the moment the FAW are getting special dispensation from UEFA to reduce their regulations to 1000 seats,

‘One day UEFA are going to stop being so generous and we’re going to suffer for it if we haven’t sorted it out because we will have been benefiting from that dispensation for a long time.

Mr Jones made it clear that the club’s intentions are to have one stand prepared over the summer, but admitted that the stumbling block of another stand being built the following summer is funding:

‘It’s all down to funding, whether or not we do one side this summer and one side next summer. Grants are a struggle because stands don’t have a community benefit.’

Alun Pugh, former Welsh Assembly Sports Minister and current Welsh Labour candidate for Arfon was pleased but said if he were still Sports Minister he would want to be reassured of its safety.

He said: ‘Naturally, I would want to be convinced on the safety of this, especially since obviously we’re meeting in the week of when the Hillsborough inquest is taking place.

‘The presentation was a very powerful one and certainly the Bundesliga in Germany don’t take risks with the safety of their fans, where this system works, so yes I would like to see this made available.’

Mr Darch understood the comparisons with Hillsborough but said that its difficult to compare the two scenarios as where in some ways there may be links, in others there definitely aren’t:

‘It’s a new product – it is the introduction of a brand new form of standing which is a lot safer. I know in many ways Hillsborough and this are linked but in other ways they aren’t linked at all.

‘Clearly Hillsborough was failings of stadium maintenance and crowd management; not the fact that they were going into a standing area. People link the two things but in reality there is really no link.’

For more information on the Football Supporters’ Federation’s Safe Standing Campaign, click here and for more information on Bangor City Football Club you can find that here!

 

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Anglesey Assembly Member strongly opposes Team GB Proposal

Rhun ap Iorwerth today criticised the English FA’s attempts to form a Team GB football team for the 2016 Olympics as something that ‘threatens the independence of our FAs’.

The GB football team at the 2012 Olympics was pitched as a one off, but still caused outrage as Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland saw the move as a threat to their independent status.

The emergence of a possible team for 2016 has seen the FA come under fire for organising the proposal with the British Olympic Association without the consent of the other three nations.

Rhun ap Iorweth expressed his disappointment with The FA’s actions: ‘I am disappointed the English FA would do this. We were told at the 2012 Olympics that a Team GB football team was a one off.

‘The FAW and SFA made it quite clear in 2012 that they were opposed to it but here the English FA are now going into 2016 and surprise, surprise they want a Team GB again.’

FAW President Trefor Lloyd Hughes added: ‘The BOA should be more open and transparent. It’s supposed to be the British Olympic Association not the English Olympic Association.

‘I am absolutely gutted with the English FA. If they want to work with us they have to be more open with us and they don’t seem to be keeping to agreements. I’m livid about it.’

Mr ap Iorwerth noted that although assurances have been given by FIFA that joining forces for the Olympics wouldn’t threaten each country’s status, the implications of a GB Team are huge.

‘This taps into a much bigger debate about national identity. We have a great, longstanding tradition of our teams playing independently of each other and against each other. ‘Frankly I think we should make sure we aren’t in a position where we undermine in anyway the integrity or the independence of our own football associations,’ He added.

The ex-journalist said that as well as the discussions that are known to be on-going between the home nations now on this matter, the public and politicians have a role to play in proceedings.

‘Politicians have a role because at the end of the day some of us are football fans and if we can use our platform to bring attention to the issue and help in any way then we have a responsibility to do so.’

The reaction to this issue in Wales particularly has been very anti-Team-GB, as many high-profile figures have criticised the proposal, but some have used the British and Irish Lions as an example of how this could work.

Mr ap Iorweth acknowledges that point but outlines the key differences: ‘I support the British and Irish Lions but the situation is totally different as there is a lot more respect to each country.

‘You only have to look at the badge to see that – each country is fairly represented. As well as that, it is a specialised tournament that is played every four years and selects players from each nation.’

The Plaid Cymru AM also referred to home nation cricket teams as an example of the disrespect that Wales could receive if it were to become part of a Team GB.

Having noted on his Twitter feed that he felt Wales could’ve qualified for the group stages of the Cricket World Cup, Mr ap Iorwerth said to me: ‘The situation regarding cricket is quite disrespectful to Wales I think.

‘What is officially abbreviated to ECB is actually the Wales and England Cricket board, and when the team plays they are only referred to as England which is totally disrespectful to Wales.’ He added.

This morning saw rumours emerge in the Daily Telegraph that the FA’s proposal was in tatters as Wales and Northern Ireland have again taken a strong stance on the issue.

It is unclear whether or not the rumours have any substance but, given Trefor Lloyd Hughes’ insistence that it would be difficult to block the FA, expect this debate to develop in the coming months.

 

They’ve been Fantastic with me and I’ve really enjoyed it! – Wayne Hennessey on life at Crystal Palace

Just under a year after signing on the dotted line for Crystal Palace, Wales’ goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey spoke very fondly about his experiences at the South-East London club so far.

The former Wolves stopper has been in stunning form for the Welsh national side recently but is struggling to dislodge Julian Speroni from the Palace XI, Hennessey insists though that he is enjoying being back in England’s top division.

“It’s always nice to be back in the Premier League – for myself it’s good because obviously I’ve had my time at Wolves and they were in League One and things weren’t going well with me getting an injury but everyone here has been fantastic with me so yeah I’ve really enjoyed it.

“At the moment obviously I’m not playing but Julian Speroni is doing really well, the team is playing really well – hopefully we can get a few more points on the board and push on now”.

When the Welsh Stopper signed for Crystal Palace back in January he cited the fact that he wanted more playing time as a reason for the move but today noted that he wasn’t frustrated by his lack of playing time.

“It’s just part of goalkeeping. There’s only one spot isn’t there so it’s never going to be easy! The important thing is that I’m ready to step in but Speroni isn’t making any mistakes at the moment though so he deservedly keeps the shirt!”

It is clear to see from speaking to the Welshman that he and his Argentinian counterpart have a great relationship “He’s 35 years old but he’s in better shape than me I reckon! He could go for longer than me! He’s a legend, a great guy to know and a top goalkeeper”.

Hennessey has become part of somewhat of a Welsh Revolution at Palace as when he signed for the club Danny Gabbidon and Jonny Williams were playing for The Eagles before Joe Ledley followed Hennessey to sign a deadline day deal.

“Well I spoke to Joe and he was in negotiations with Palace too at the time and obviously I knew Gabbs – have done for years – they’re both just great guys to have around”.

When I was having my medical I was on the phone to Joe and we were saying how much we were looking forward to joining the club – plus it’s always nice to get a few Welshmen in the building!”

Despite being only 27-years-old, the Welsh Number 1 has been making a name for himself in football since he was a teenager at Wolves back in the mid-2000s. Hennessey was keen to express how much he’s enjoyed his career to date:

“I had some fantastic times for Wolves and I am approaching fifty caps for Wales at a very young age so I’m really happy with how everything has gone so far!”

I’ve not set any goals for the future because it’s very difficult to know what is around the corner so I’m just taking it day by day right now and I’m really enjoying it! Especially with Wales – I’m so happy with how we’re doing right now!”

Hennessey travels up north with the Eagles today as he and his teammates take on champions Manchester City in the early kick-off on BT Sport! Follow the side’s progress via the club Twitter feed – @CPFC

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Conwy Academy is great news for Welsh Football

Osian Roberts tonight threw his support behind the new Conwy Borough FC academy set-up led by Chris Whitley and looked forward to the opportunities it would give local youngsters in football.

Presenting a ‘Technical Football Seminar’ at Y Morfa Venue on the 15th of December, Mr Roberts was keen to discuss the importance of the youth football structure developing in the region.

“We have academies at Bangor, Caernarfon and all of the Welsh Premier League clubs and it is important for us that the standard of those academies are the highest possible.

It gives the kids the best experience and the best opportunities so it is great that Conwy, a former Welsh Premier League Club, have got one there now so that the kids in the area have got somewhere to go!”

The Academy is run by Conwy Borough Football Club Head of Youth Development Chris Whitley; Mr Roberts was keen to emphasise the importance of Mr Whitley’s vast experience to the project.

“Chris has got a wealth of experience and has helped in a number of different clubs over the years at that level and can lend that experience to the coaches, club, the players and the kids in general.”

Mr Whitley was buoyant at the prospect of Osian Roberts coming up to give the seminar: “We’re delighted to have Osian come to the club to give a seminar on academy and coaching work and its importance.”

“There’s a lot of people coming too – we’re thrilled to have him – it’s a great experience for the kids and the parents who put so much into the club so it’s a nice way to give something back to them!”

It has been nine months now since Mr Whitley took on the Head of Youth Development role at Conwy Borough Football Club; a role which he says he has been delighted with doing.

“I’ve worked across the leagues, Premier League, Championship and so on as well as a few positions in the Welsh League and I’m really enjoying where I am now.”

“I’ve tried to help foster a successful culture and the players are taking it on board and they’re loving it – I’ve been delighted by their response. I expected it to be a lot harder than this though to be honest!”

The First team are currently on a run of six games undefeated in all competitions, having won five and drawn one of their last six, and welcome Mold Alexandra to Conwy on the weekend.

 

Victory Shield win shows Wales’ Golden Generation Still to Come

The Chair of The Football Association of Wales’ Senior Technical Group, Chris Whitley tonight insisted that Welsh Football’s bright future is soon going to get even brighter.

Speaking to me exclusively after coaching a youth football session in Colwyn Bay, Mr Whitley expressed his immense happiness regarding the Welsh National side’s current success before promising more was to come in the very near future.

‘Chris [Coleman] and all of them speak about this current Welsh National squad being the Golden Generation but I think differently if I’m honest’.

‘The Golden Generation will be the next one. We have half a dozen players at least now waiting to come through to the senior squad that are going to be great players very soon. Make no mistake!’

Mr Whitley, who is also the Head of Youth Development at Conwy Borough Football Club, has been responsible for pushing through the youth development of a number of Welsh football greats such as Ian Rush, Mark Hughes, Gareth Bale, Ryan Giggs, Aaron Ramsey and so on.

However Mr Whitley thinks that the current group of youth players, such as the under-16s who won the Victory Shield recently coached by FAW Technical Director Osian Roberts, could make for Wales’ most talented squad to date when they join the seniors in the near future.

‘When we bolt these youngsters on to the existing lot, who in a few years’ time will still be young enough, we will have an exceptionally talented squad of players without a doubt’.

Whitley spoke of a number of Welsh Youth players who he believed had the potential to go to the top but picked out three in particular as his standout stars for the future.

‘There are so many talented youngsters coming through but Joe Murrell, Harry Wilson and Tyler Roberts really stand out for me’.

‘Tyler is absolutely outstanding in my opinion. I’ve seen so many youth players coming through but Tyler is the best number 9 I have seen in a Wales shirt since Mark Hughes without a doubt’.

Whitley’s career within the FAW has spanned over 40 years but he believes there are a number of key changes that have been made in recent years, most notably during Gary Speed’s tenure, that have put the current senior and youth squads in such a strong position.

‘This all started towards the end of Gary Speed’s era in charge where we said one of our objectives is to make our squads one of the best prepared squads in the world and they are without a doubt!’

Key changes have been made also in the way the FAW recruits its youth talent:

‘Our recruitment and retention of players now compared to years gone by has improved so much! To be honest, 75% of our team now are English-based players’.

‘Years ago we wouldn’t have discovered them because we didn’t go out there and look for them – we used to stumble upon them by accident sometimes’.

The National Coaching Conference took place in Newport at the Welsh Football Trust earlier in the week and, with a record number of coaches in attendance, Whitley believes the Welsh coach development is another key piece in what is currently a very successful Welsh Football structure.

‘The coaching education in Wales is first class, absolutely first class. We had a record number of coaches at our recent national conference – 350 coaches! Unbelievable!’

‘Our coach education programme is second to none. The Welsh Football Trust is doing a tremendous job in terms of coaching education and player development’.

Welsh football is currently going through a tremendous period of success and, having spoken to Mr Whitley about his experiences within the side and where we are making changes and trying to develop, I for one fully believe that the future for football in our country is very bright indeed and I hope we can continue to be rewarded for the amazing support that we fans have always given!

“So Much More To Come” – Chris Coleman on Wales’ Progress.

Chris Coleman last night fired a warning shot to Wales’ Euro 2016 qualification rivals by insisting that there is so much more to come from his young, high-flying national side.

Following an event at Conwy Borough Football Club which saw the Welsh Men’s National Side manager open a new clubhouse, Coleman was happy to speak to me briefly about Wales’ progress.

Following on from Wales’ relatively straightforward fixture against Belgium, the ex-Fulham manager is keen to outline how much the side had learnt and benefitted from the adversity they’d faced in previous fixtures.

“In every game so far we’ve had a bit of adversity and we’ve handled it really well, no matter what the conditions have been whether it be the pitch in Andorra or the amount of injuries against Bosnia and Cyprus. We’ve got over every bump in the road really well and that speaks to the character of these players.

It is fine having the ability in football but you have to have the mentality as well and the last few months have proved that these players have both.” He said.

The Welsh National side is a very young one; the starting XI against Belgium had an average age of just over 25-years-old and with youngsters such as George Williams (19), Jonathan Williams (21) and Harry Wilson (17) coming through, the manager believes the future is bright for Wales.

“They’re so young so we have a lot of years left to work with this squad and that’s great because we’re going to have a lot of players who have experienced a lot of adversity together and know how to deal with it and that can only be good for Welsh Football.” He said.

Adversity and character are two words that pop up frequently in our brief conversation as Coleman argues that one leads to another and can only serve to bring the best out of his side.

“There’s a lot more to come from this side. All of the experience they’re getting now coming through the adversity that they’ve come through is great because it shapes them and their character.”

Although he initially struggled to get things right after taking the Wales job in incredibly unfortunate and difficult circumstances, the former Wales defender believes he has found the secret to success.

“The secret to success here is getting players who don’t regularly play together, some who don’t even play at all, outside of the national side to play like a strong cohesive unit for 90 minutes.

Wayne Hennessey has been absolutely wonderful – Chris Gunter, Robson-Kanu, Joe Ledley, Joe Allen, George Williams, Dave Cotterill and so on – it is definitely a collective effort.” He said.

Sensing that, after going four games undefeated in qualification and losing only one of the last nine at home, momentum is with his side, Coleman is chomping at the bit for Wales to get going again.

“If I had my way we’d have gone to Israel five days after the Belgium game to keep the momentum going but the fixtures are the way they are and we have to wait until March.

We’re taking everything on a game-by-game basis. My target now is obviously to win against Israel then it’ll be to win the next one and the next one to put ourselves in the best position to get to France in 2016.” The ex-Sociedad manager added.

Whilst coming to the conclusion of the interview, news filters through of Wales’ triumph in the Victory Shield Competition – the first time the Welsh have secured an outright win of the competition since 1948/49 – Coleman is elated that Wales’ focus on their youth is paying off.

“The win is a strong indicator that all of the FAW’s hard work down in the lower levels of Welsh Football is paying off – developing the youth is the name of the game.

“We’ve got to make sure we’re coaching them right, treating them right and making sure they develop correctly.”

One thing is for sure – if the youth follow the example that the senior national side is setting right now then future is very, very bright for Welsh football!

Brussels will show what Bale and Co. are really made of!

The best start to a qualifying campaign for 12 years, undefeated after three games, leading two recent World Cup Finalists at the top of their group – it sounds like it has been a great few months for Welsh Football.

On Sunday though they’ll face their toughest test of the group to date as Chris Coleman and his men head to Belgium to face one of the most complete sides in Europe in their own backyard. Read on to see how we assess Wales’ chances!

The Story so Far:

Despite the numerous plus points mentioned earlier on, Wales’ start hasn’t been without its difficulties – each of the three matches played so far have brought their own problems.

In Andorra the pitch was a talking point, to say the least.

The Welsh were the first team to play on the artificial pitch and it was clear to see that the surface hadn’t had the required attention from Mother Nature that it needed – a splash of rain beforehand would’ve made for a completely different match.

Nonetheless, victories earned through adversity build character.

That character was thoroughly tested throughout the next international window as, with a midfield ravaged by injury, Wales had to switch to 5-3-2 to keep Bosnia honest before an early injury and a sending off made the Cyprus clash much more complicated than it should have been.

The Welsh persisted though and found themselves top of the group on merit.

A new dilemma:

Ian Rush, Mark Hughes, Robert Earnshaw, John Hartson, Craig Bellamy – over the last 30 years Wales have had a recognised threat leading the line for them.

Yes, Wales have Bale now but he fills the role that Giggs filled back in his day – both mercurial talents but even they can’t do it all on their own.

Giggs’ list of strike partners has been listed above – who has Bale got?

Simon Church has been the striker of choice so far but for one reason or another hasn’t been able to get going and is set to miss this clash because of an injury – the right man to replace him is Hal Robson-Kanu.

He’s not a striker by trade, as you will know, but certain facets of his game cover one of Wales’ and Bale’s biggest weaknesses – that they don’t press the ball early, nor robustly enough at times.

Bale’s sometimes lacking defensive effort has been well documented and against Bosnia Simon Church was just as guilty – I think it speaks wonders for the last two matches that they both swung Wales’ way when Robson-Kanu led the attack with Bale.

Also, with Robson-Kanu picking up some defensive responsibilities, it means Bale can concentrate more on finding the spaces that will make him so dangerous on the counter-attack.

Robson-Kanu is so dynamic, tireless and really encourages his teammates to press the ball early and vigorously and with Church out with an injury, the stage is set for him to step up to the plate!

A lot to be optimistic about:

Although there are still a few notable absentees, Aaron Ramsey and Joe Allen return in this fixture and despite the form of their respective clubs, it’ll be a huge boost for Wales to have them back.

Make no mistake – this is a great opportunity for Wales. They’re playing the best football they’ve played for years and will go to Belgium with thousands of supporters behind them.

Factor in that Vincent Kompany is a doubt and that some of Belgium’s better individuals haven’t always been their same mesmerising selves when playing for their country as they are for their clubs and you could forgive the Welsh fans for being quite optimistic going into the game.

Belgium showed in the World Cup that they struggle to get into a rhythm at times and if Wales can continue to work as relentlessly as they have in defence so far in this group, they can do well here.

The Welsh have had issues to contend with so far in this group: bad pitches, injuries, etc. however heading into this game they are in great shape and have as good a chance as ever of making it four games undefeated in the group!

A Full Transcript of my Interview with the FAW President

As promised, here is the full transcript from my interview with the President of the Welsh Football Association! It is a long read but the insight you’ll get from it means it is definitely worth spending a few minutes on! Thank you again to Mr Hughes for being good enough to give me such an interview and I hope to have many opportunities to speak to him again in the future! 🙂


Jamie Thomas: First thing’s first – its been just over two years since you took over as president of the Welsh FA. Has it been an enjoyable experience?

Trefor Lloyd Hughes: The experience as a whole has been one based on meeting many people to discuss the game in Wales – its been an experience of some plusses and some disappointments along the way, as is any experience in life. It has been hard work, very hard work. I don’t think people understand or realise just how hard the job is and how much is involved – from my role, right down to the council members of the Welsh FA. What I’ve tried to do so far is to get people looking into the future a bit more, not just the next two or three years but the next ten to fifteen years and beyond that! I’ve tried to change the governance of the Welsh FA in dealing with how to move forward in this regard but it is a very difficult thing to do. Change is essential but it is a long process and mistakes are going to be made – I believe we’re making the right changes but if they don’t work then we have to fall on our swords and go back to the drawing board.

JT: Looking back through your past work there doesn’t seem to be a role you haven’t filled somewhere in Welsh football at some point in your career, as well as your long service with the Welsh ambulance service – it must bring you great pride to find yourself now successfully filling the most important role in Welsh football mustn’t it?

TLH: There’s no doubt about that – you’ve hit it on the head. I’m so privileged to be leading my country in the football world and I’m hopefully leading well. I am showing people in Europe, I am showing people across the world even, that we have a country called Wales. It is a small nation. It is a small association compared to England, Germany, France and Italy but we are in the forefront of the game and we do have a say in deciding the rules and deciding upon some of the key issues in the game. I think it is a situation where people don’t realise how much Wales is involved in the game across the world.

JT: I remember in the middle of last summer, amidst all the drama of the confederations cup in Brazil, you were in Wales and on the verge of choosing to give up your role as president – it seemed, from the outside, like a turbulent start to your tenure as a president. What has changed since then for you because obviously its been a long time since then and you’re still in charge and you still seem to be enjoying the job?

TLH: Yes you’re right I was seriously thinking of resigning. It was a difficult situation – I called a meeting in mid-Wales and made sure all of the council members were in attendance to look at the events surrounding Barry Town at that time, if you remember, because there was more evidence which we needed to look at. We went all the way there and started the meeting but in the end standing orders wouldn’t be lifted and, to me, that was the biggest disaster in Welsh Football in my time because the Welsh FA only lost that case because we hadn’t looked at all of the evidence. It was a stupid decision. But there we are, and since then obviously one of my main motivations is to work within the FA and make sure that we change the way that we’re looking at these things and it is coming along slowly, but it is a slow, slow process indeed.

JT: Considering you were so close to quitting, its been a pretty stunning 18 months or so since for the Association and Welsh football since hasn’t it? Hosting the European Super Cup, having a Welsh Champions League final winner, putting a bid forward for Euro 2020 with England as well as constantly being mentioned as potential Champions League final or Europa League final hosts – it’s a good job for the Association and football in the country that you stayed on! What are your thoughts on what has transpired in the last 18 months since that period of uncertainty that you had?

TLH: The Chief Executive, Jonathon Ford, has been in the forefront with all of this and I’ve backed him all the way to be honest with you. With the Super Cup we put Wales, as I said earlier, in the forefront to the UEFA executive members when making the decision as to where to host this year’s Super Cup – they thought our organisation of our bid went really well. Even only yesterday, I was in Poland and people like this were saying how much they enjoyed themselves in Wales – part of my job isn’t just the footballing side of it but it is promoting the country as a whole as well! As far as the rest of it goes, such as the 2020 bid, we’ll know next Friday what happens with that and I’m looking forward to that decision. I’ll be disappointed if we don’t get it – we’ve put everything into this. We’ve had good support from the Welsh Assembly government, Arriva Trains, Bus companies – you name it. Everyone has been very supportive but the real jewel in the crown for us is the Millenium Stadium – that is the big plus point.

JT: One last question about you and your role if that’s ok before we move onto talking about the teams briefly. Most of the achievements that I mentioned in my previous question were based on South Wales and the wonderful facilities we’re able to provide in that part of Wales. What I’m keen to know is, given that the likes of Cardiff and Swansea are the pinnacle of Welsh domestic football right now (despite plying their trade in the Premier League) do you think it’s realistic that we can ever see that standard of football up in the north, and if so what has to be done to make that happen do you think?

TLH: The only one really we have up in the north at the moment that can hope to achieve that standard is obviously Wrexham but they’ve been going through a lot of troubles recently which is very unfortunate. But there’s only two people fighting more than me to bring internationals back to Wrexham and those two people are North Wales members. I’m trying very hard to get international friendlies played again in the North and was speaking to Chris (Coleman) just a couple of days ago about bringing the squad up to North Wales to do some training sessions. My hope is, knowing Chris pretty well, is to get Chris and the side up to Anglesey to train. The three European trophies have recently been brought up to North Wales to bring more publicity to Anglesey and the north of Wales – I’m very appreciative of my roots and want to bring publicity to the north and Anglesey if I can. I’d love to get Wrexham done up and back to the standard they were at before but at the moment it is going to cost a lot of money!

JT: You’ve been working at the FAW for 25 years now and in that time they haven’t once qualified for a major tournament, although they’ve come close a couple of times. Do you think Euro 2016 is the best chance in your tenure so far that Wales are going to have of qualifying for a major tournament? What do you make of the group Wales have been given? Qualification is definitely achievable isn’t it?

TLH: Nobody knows in the game of football. Who would have thought that Paul Bodin would have missed that penalty against Romania back in 1994? And the handball that Joe Jordan did? That absolutely gutted us! I was there then. We were so, so close but that is the game of football. I think that we have a good team and as long as we have a good footballing surface, unlike the one in Andorra, then I think we can do well. I like the stadium in Andorra and in time, once it is completed it will be a very homely stadium and I would like to see it in about ten years’ time when it is built up and everything as I’m sure it’ll look great. We’ve got a good chance of qualifying, yes, but the support is crucial. We had absolutely great support in Andorra and if we can get that for every game then it’ll be a great boost to the team. We offer great deals on home tickets now where you can get tickets for all five home games for a combined £75 for an adult or just £18 for senior citizens or under-16s.

JT: Do you still believe Chris Coleman is the man to take this team forward? I personally think he’s doing a decent job but I remember you giving him a vote of confidence just over a year ago – a sentiment which has spelt the end was near for some managers in the past but Chris is still in the job so I guess you must be happy about how he’s doing?

TLH: I know Chris very well, perhaps more as a friend than as a manger but I do have to treat him as a manager. He is very passionate for the game and is passionate about Wales – only time will tell whether or not he is the right man. In football you are always going to have your detractors but that is part of football at the highest level – you have to accept criticism, as long as it is justifiable. But again, people just do not understand how hard it is to do our jobs and what this involved within the game

JT: I gather you were in Andorra on Tuesday? What did you think of the performance the team gave, given that the pitch was pretty shambolic? Are you happy about having to play on that pitch, given that this is a competition at the highest level of international football?

TLH: There is no doubt in my mind that it was a shambles as far as the pitch was concerned. I think it was on our players’ minds that we were on a bad pitch and that didn’t help. We shouldn’t have played on it really – if we’d have waited two weeks it might have been better because the pitch needed to have a bit of rain on it just to help it settle down and I think in that case it would have been a different game. I think Gareth and Aaron would have been much happier, Joe did a pretty good job whereas Ashley and Ben did a great job at the back. Gareth and Aaron couldn’t play the kind of game they wanted to play because of that pitch but we got the result and that is what is important. The problem now is that if this pitch is rained on in the next few weeks it will settle down, as I’ve just said, and might be a different prospect for the other teams going there and in that case it will definitely be much easier for teams to play the way they want to, so we’re at a bit of a disadvantage but again that is football.

JT: Obviously when you came in to the FAW back in the late 80s we had a pretty formidable team with some great individual talents – are we seeing today though some two of the greatest talents ever to grace Welsh football in Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey? Its surely one of those rare times where our two best players are better than England’s two best players.

TLH: Well all of these players come from different eras so it is difficult to compare. I think extremely highly of players gone by such as the Neville Southall’s, the Giggsy’s and the Ian Rush’s and the Sparky’s – who I think was one of the most brilliant players in the way he managed to control the ball. I like all of these players but I’m well aware of the current players’ talents. Gareth Bale for instance, I think he has the talent to be at the top of the world game for the next four to six years – there is no doubt in my mind about that. In the Super Cup I saw him at the trophy presentation and he saw me and came over and grabbed me. We had a quick conversation and he seems to be very happy with the way things are going for him right now. He’s a very genuine man and very talented in the game of football.

JT: When you eventually do decide to call it a day in this job, of which you’ve done so well so far, what do you want to have achieved? What do you want to be considered as your legacy? Obviously I’ve mentioned a few things earlier that Welsh football has accomplished under your leadership but is there one thing in particular you want to achieve before you call it a day?

TLH: My legacy, it is very interesting because someone asked me a similar question last week. I hope my legacy can be that I’ve put Wales in the forefront of football in the world. I also hope I can help people realise that there have to be changes – I think I have helped start those changes but all I have managed to do in my time is put the foundations down for someone else to come along after me and take what I, along with other people, have started and build up from there. I thank everyone who has given me the opportunity to be in such a prestigious position as the President of the FAW but be assured that I have not forgotten my roots – my feet are firmly on the ground!


 

A Chance Meeting with the President of the Welsh Football Association!

As any journalist will know, starting out in this industry can be exceptionally difficult! If you don’t have an established publication or broadcaster behind you it can be very hard to get people’s attention, no matter how persistent you are! This is something I have found out in the last few months! I’ve tried talking to lord knows how many people and have only turned about a quarter/a third of them into anything worth shouting about.

Having struggled persistently to get a conversation with anyone in Welsh Football, I decided to change tack and look a bit closer to home and managed to get an interview with the President of the FAW, Mr Trefor Lloyd Hughes. Having been raised in the same area as me and one who is consistently talking up that area at any opportunity, I felt I had a good shot of getting an interview with one of the most highly respected people in Welsh Football. Read on to find an article I wrote based on my hour long chat with him (a full, unedited, transcript of our interview shall follow this in a separate post)!


“I’m so Priviliged” says FAW President

Recently celebrating his 25th year at the Football Association of Wales and the second anniversary of his appointment as FAW President, Trefor Lloyd Hughes spoke to me about how he’s found the role so far.

It has been a long journey from the Anglesey League to the top of the Welsh game – however, having recently returned from Andorra, Mr Hughes was keen to express his happiness in the role.

“I’m so privileged to be leading my country in the football world and I’m hopefully leading well. I’m showing people in Europe, I’m showing people across the world even, that we have a country called Wales.”

Mr Hughes argued that recent times had shown how well Wales could compete with other, bigger countries and footballing associations across Europe.

“I think it is a situation where people don’t realise how much Wales is involved in the game across the world.”

“In hosting the European Super Cup this summer we put Wales in the forefront to the UEFA executive members when making the decision as to where to host this year’s Super Cup – they thought the organisation of our bid went really well.”

The former FAW treasurer also thought there was reason to be optimistic about what the future holds for Welsh football with the verdict regarding Cardiff’s bid for hosting Euro 2020 matches coming soon.

“We’ll know this Friday what happens with that and I’m looking forward to that decision. I’ll be disappointed if we don’t get it – we’ve put everything into this.”

“We’ve had good support from the Welsh Assembly government, transport companies – you name it. Everyone has been very supportive but the real jewel in our crown is the Millennium Stadium – that is the big plus point.”

The FAW President conceded though that it hasn’t been an easy role to fill as he went into detail regarding nearly resigning after his first six months of leading the Association.

“The Barry Town situation, to me, was the biggest disaster in Welsh Football in my time because the Welsh FA only lost that case because we hadn’t looked at all of the evidence. It was a stupid decision.”

The Barry Town situation saw Mr Hughes call his councillors down to Mid-Wales to discuss new evidence in the case to lift the standing orders against Barry Town and allow them to continue at Welsh League level but some councillors didn’t even want to discuss it.

“I was seriously thinking of resigning due to that situation, however since then my main motivation has been to work within and change the FA to stop these situations arising again!”

Change was a word that kept popping up as Mr Hughes discussed the difficulties he faced in the role and what needed to be done moving forward.

“Change is essential but it is a long process and mistakes are going to be made – I believe we’re making the right changes but if they don’t work then we have to fall on our swords and go back to the drawing board.”

A change that will surely excite many football fans in the North of Wales was the FAW President’s eagerness to bring international football back to Wrexham.

“I’m trying very hard to get international friendlies played again in the North and was speaking to Chris (Coleman) just a couple of days ago about bringing the squad up to North Wales to do some training sessions.”

“The three European trophies have recently been brought up to North Wales to bring more publicity to Anglesey and the north of Wales – I’m very appreciative of my roots and want to bring publicity to the north and Anglesey if I can.”

On the subject of the men’s national squad, Mr Hughes was bullish about their chances of qualifying for the 2016 European Championships in France.

“I think that we have a good team – I think we can do well. We’ve got a good chance of qualifying but the support is crucial. We had absolutely great support in Andorra – if we can get that for every game then it’ll be a great boost to the team.”

Unsurprisingly, Mr Hughes had nothing but good words to say about Welsh Football’s latest superstar – Gareth Bale as our interview neared its conclusion.

“Gareth Bale for instance, I think he has the talent to be at the top of the world game for the next four to six years – there is no doubt in my mind about that.”

“In the Super Cup I saw him at the trophy presentation and he saw me and came over and grabbed me. We had a quick conversation and he seems to be very happy with the way things are going for him right now.”

With just under a year left in his current role at the FAW, Mr Hughes was keen to close the interview showing his appreciation for the opportunity he had been given.

“I thank everyone who has given me the opportunity to be in such a prestigious position as the President of the FAW but be assured that I have not forgotten my roots – my feet are firmly on the ground!”