Welcome to a continuation on the regular series on The 94th Minute, called “Starting XI”. This is where I ask various people, who are fans of football, a number of questions to get to know them better! The majority of the questions will differ for each person, but the final question will always be:
“Who would be in your all-time, favourite starting XI?”
This is a question where anyone can be put into their starting eleven, whether they are famous footballers, football legends, past or unknown players who had an impact on their childhood, or even players they have played with or coached. Anyone is acceptable in their XI providing they give a reason for their inclusion!
The twenty-second instalment of the series is with the excellent AFE Football News. This is a website and social media account which focuses on football being played on the Welsh island of Anglesey / Ynys Môn. The site provides regular news, player profiles and information on players from or on the island, as well as news, fixtures, results and statistics from the Anglesey League (situated in the sixth-tier of Welsh football). In addition, they also provide news on other Môn sides who compete further up in the Welsh football pyramid.
I wanted to know how the site about Anglesey football got started, what are the best grounds on Anglesey to watch football, the impact of winning Island Games gold, who are the up and coming players from the island, as well as their all-time favourite starting XI!
Q. Thanks very much for being involved in Starting XI! Firstly, could you provide some details on how AFE Football News first got started?
It first got started as a university project in 2015. However, I started writing more regularly upon leaving university (about general English Premier League stories) and then, after a while, it became about local football as I developed a love for the grassroots game.
Q. What do you think of the state of football on Ynys Môn currently?
I think the passion for football on the island is unrivalled at times. However, financially clubs don’t get as much support as they could, and should be getting, to help them develop further.
In terms of footballing quality though there’s so much talent on Anglesey and so many great young players coming through now too – such as Sam Gregson at Llangoed and Mitch Jones at Holyhead Hotspur Reserves.
Q. How big of an impact has winning the 2019 Island Games gold medal had on Môn football, if at all?
The impact of that gold-winning Môn side has been significant I think. It’s certainly boosted interested in grassroots football on the island. I’ve seen a lot more people engaging with my blog since the tournament took place that’s for sure. I think it’s also extended interested beyond the island – hence the likes of Mel McGinness and John Littlemore being snapped up by Porthmadog soon after the tournament ended.
Q. How do you think this season is going in the Anglesey League?
The Anglesey League is very competitive once again this season – although the title race should come down to Cemaes Bay (the favourites), Mountain Rangers and Hotspur Reserves. I think the surprise package has been Llanfairpwll as, although they have a very young squad overall, they’ve been great at times and are pushing for a top four finish.
Q. In your opinion, where do you think are the best places or grounds to watch football on the isle?
In terms of the best places to watch football on the island, there are too many to choose from to be honest. Holyhead Hotspur‘s New Oval Stadium really has a football ground feel to it with its big capacity, but then you have the likes of Gwalchmai, Bodedern and Gaerwen who all have great home grounds too. The best ground I’ve been to in the Anglesey League (aside from Hotspur Reserves) is Cemaes Bay though – a quality playing surface.
Q. Are there any decent young players on Anglesey who you think the readers should keep an eye out for in the future?
Like I said before, in terms of young players, you’ve got so many. The aforementioned Gregson and Jones are amongst the best but there are many others too. 16-year-old full back Phil Jones (Hotspur Reserves) has been exceptional at full back this season, as have Tom Zalot and Owain Davies (both Llanfairpwll). In terms of the best clubs producing young talent on Anglesey at the moment, I’d say it’s Llangoed, Llanfairpwll, Hotspur Reserves and Cemaes Bay. It’s like a conveyor belt at Hotspur – once one player has gone on to the first team [who currently play in the Welsh Alliance Division One], another great youngster comes through to the reserves to replace him.
Q. If you could make any improvements to the football on the island, what would they be and why?
An improvement I’d make to football on the island would be the introduction of a ‘3 player rule’ to Reserves teams – meaning they can only use a maximum of three players from the first team in matches. I would also introduce a January/summer transfer window (like in the [fifth-tier] Gwynedd League now) as it would make players who’ve signed a contract focus on that one club and work hard for their place, rather than just moving to other clubs willy-nilly.
Q. What are the future plans for AFE Football News?
The future plans for AFE Football News are to keep growing the fan base on all social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter and Instagram). I am also looking to launch a YouTube channel/podcast in 2020. Above all, I just want to keep highlighting football on our island.
Q. Finally, who is in your all-time, favourite XI and why?
AFE Football News’ All-Time Anglesey League XI (Formation: 3-4-1-2)
If I had to pick an ultimate XI of players from my time covering the Anglesey League, it would be tough – but I’d probably go with the following as those are the best I’ve watched/played against:
- Goalkeeper: Konner Druce
- Centre-back: John Jones
- Centre-back: Marcus Bell
- Centre-back: Hari Jones
- Right midfield: Ciaran O’Brady
- Central midfield: Herbie Hofsteede
- Central midfield: Luke McKittrick
- Left midfield: Matty Roberts
- Central attacking midfield: Scott Hughes
- Forward: Gary Jo Owen
- Forward: James Ryan
There are so many others who have impressed me over the years though from the likes of Liam Patrick Williams and Iolo Jones to Justin Williams, Dewi Thomas and Craig Moore – the list is never-ending.
This season it’s obviously been the boys at Mountain Rangers and Cemaes Bay such as Sam Williams, Steven Whittaker and Keenan Downey who have stood out the most.
AFE Football News’ All-Time Favourite XI (Formation: 4-3-3)
My ultimate XI are made up of my favourite players when I was growing up:
- Goalkeeper: Iker Casillas
- Right-back: Cafu
- Centre-back: Fabio Cannavaro
- Centre-back: John Terry
- Left-back: Roberto Carlos
- Central midfield: Ronaldinho
- Central midfield: Frank Lampard
- Central midfield: Steven Gerrard
- Forward: Lionel Messi
- Forward: Thierry Henry
- Forward: Dennis Bergkamp
A massive thank you to AFE Football News for answering my questions, and being a superb guest on the Starting XI series! They are producing lots of excellent articles on Anglesey football, so I am very happy to have them part of the Starting XI series. Also both sides look really good, especially that Anglesey League XI side!
To find out more about AFE Football News, the links to their informative website, and social media accounts can be found below:
- Website: https://afefootballnews.wordpress.com/
- Twitter: @afefootballnews
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/afefootballnews/
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/afefootballnewsofficial/
To read or catch up on the previous Starting XI episodes, they can all be found at the following link HERE.
If there you have any feedback, comments or suggestions who I should interview next in the series, let me know either below in the comments box, tweet me @The94thMin or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org! It would be good to hear what you think about the series, and what have been your favourite episodes so far!