With the newly-promoted Tier Two clubs long since confirmed, we’ve decided to help you get to know each of the new sides you’ll be seeing competing in the JD Cymru North and South from next term, and we’re starting with Anglesey’s very own Holyhead Hotspur!
We caught up with their manager, Darren Garmey, recently to learn more about his side’s promotion to Tier Two, his expectations for the coming season, what football means to a town like Holyhead and more!
The Manager – Darren Garmey
After coming through as a young player, 200+ appearances for Holyhead Hotspur as a player. He’s risen through the ranks on the touchline at the club too, becoming a coach with the club’s Reserves team in 2011, Assistant Coach with the First Team in 2012 and is now heading into his third season as First Team Manager, bouncing back immediately to Tier Two following relegation in 2018/19.
Holyhead Hotspur Factfile
Home Venue: The New Stadium
Club Captain: Alex Jones
Vice-Captain: Dean Garmey
Key Players: Alex Jones, Dean Garmey, Cai Powell-Roberts
Incomings: Cai Powell-Roberts, Melvin McGinness, Leon Doran
Outgoings: Dewi Thomas, Caio Hywel
Interesting Fact: Holyhead Hotspur celebrates its 30th birthday this year!
“Last season we were pretty perfect.”
Hotspur have spent 19 years of their 30-year history plying their trade in the second tier of Welsh football, which is some achievement, but it did bring about its own challenges and pressures last season after the club were relegated to Tier Three for the 2019/20 season.
The manager, however, feels like the relegation was a perfect opportunity for the club to change and regroup, and feels the momentum gained from promotion will serve his side well in the coming year.
“There was pressure, everybody expected us to go back up, but we put pressure on ourselves too. We wanted to change so many things around the club after being relegated – so many things needed addressing – and the club has done that, as we were pretty perfect last season to be fair.
“We didn’t have the quality two years ago that we do now, that’s for sure, and we were too predictable last time we were in the league, so we’ve become more adaptable in the shapes we can play.
“We’d just hit a wall really and we needed to change, so relegation was a blessing in way because it has galvanised the entire club and given us momentum going into next season.
“We’re competing to sign the best local players.”
The transfer window hasn’t been open long, but Holyhead have been busy making noise about the individuals that have joined the club in the window so far.
Two have left from the promotion-winning squad so far, but three players have been brought in already – and they’re three who bring in a great blend of key qualities – with Garmey outlining that more could be on the way.
“Bringing in players is one of the biggest challenges we have, and we always try and keep players as local as we can. We’re competing with so many other teams on the island, and even as far away as Conwy, for the best local players and we’ve done a good job so far this summer in sticking to those aims.
“I think Melvin was always going to come back to the club – he’s played for the club for most of his career, and although he had his reasons for leaving last summer, to have him back is a big boost because he’s proven that he can do it at this level.
“Cai is somebody that I have been after for quite a while – he is such a good player and a very nice lad. One of the best young players in the league as well, without a doubt. He’s very versatile and I think for us to bring him in is a big statement for us.
“Leon Doran is somebody who impressed me in our games against Llanrwst last year, and he wanted to step up to test himself at this level – which is the kind of ambition we’re looking for, so it’s great to add him as well, and hopefully we can bring in some more signings soon.”
“There’s a great opportunity for us to make our mark.”
The local people will be very excited, of course, that an Anglesey derby is on the cards as Llangefni and Holyhead are set to face off in the league this term.
As well as that though, with change taking place across the league – managers and players moving from club to club and new faces entering the league for the first time – Hotspur genuinely feel like the opportunity is there for them to come in and hit the ground running, according to the manager.
“I’m very excited to play Llangefni again in a league match – it’s something we’re all really looking forward to. I remember when I was playing, they were really big occasions to play a derby between two island teams on this level.
“I know Chris Roberts really well and they’ve done a great job last year to stay up in their first season back in what is a really tough league – we know as well as anybody the challenges they would have faced, but they did so well with the squad they had.
“There are a lot of great teams in this league though. Colwyn Bay are very good, everything about them is quality. Prestatyn and Airbus are obvious choices, but I always had a lot of respect for the likes of Gresford, Guilsfield, Ruthin and Penrhyncoch. There’s transition in teams across the league though, so there’s a great opportunity here for us to come in and make our mark.”
We caught up with Darren Garmey for an episode of our 'Getting to Know' series on the JD Cymru Leagues Podcast recently. Hear more from him and learn a little bit more about one of the newest members of the JD Cymru North by clicking to listen to the podcast below!
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