FEATURED IMAGE: Will Cheshire
Following Priestley Farquharson's move from Connah's Quay Nomads to Newport County in the last transfer window, we sat down with Mark 'Jonah' Jones to discuss the role the Cymru Leagues has played in the careers of a number of players plying their trade across the border.
From Christian Doidge to Ramirez Howarth, many a player has come through the Cymru Leagues on their journey to the Football League and Jones believes there is more to come.
Jones reviews Farquharson's initial showings at the Exiles, as well as discussing the excitement around the Cymru South and North in the current season.
Priestley Farquharson's first impressions at Newport County
Following an impressive 18 months at Connah's Quay Nomads, Priestley Farquharson secured a move to League Two outfit Newport County in the January transfer window - and the defender has made a quick start to life in League Two.
Farquharson got his career off to a fine start, coming on as a substitute in a 1-0 against Grimsby Town before making his full debut some days later and Jones thinks the defender must have made a big impression already at Mike Flynn's side.
"He must have done quite well already because he came off the bench on Saturday, he played 45 minutes when the County were down to ten men and they got a 1-0 victory against Grimsby. That’s a good start as a defender, he was then selected in midweek, unfortunately they got beat, but to play in the first team within 2 or 3 weeks of joining, he must have made an impression in training. And reading the accounts of County fans, they seem really happy with him and they feel like they’ve got a good player at their club. This lad will be one of the better defenders in the lower leagues at least.”
“He has the lot. You can’t outrun him. He’s a giant in his physique, he’s hard to brush off the ball. I think County and Mike Flynn have got a real good deal here getting him from Connah’s Quay Nomads.”
The benefits of the UEFA courses on transfers
As current Cymru C manager and as a former manager in the Cymru Premier, Mark Jones knows as much as most about the importance of networking to further your career.
Connah's Quay Nomads manager Andy Morrison and Newport County manager Mike Flynn both secured spots on the same UEFA Pro Licence course, which Jones thinks might have played a role in Farquharson's move to Newport.
Jones encourages more managers to embrace the opportunity that these courses would provide them.
“When you go on the courses, whether that’s the C, the B, the A or the Pro, you spend a lot of time together with people and you meet people. It’s the same thing as anything else in life, like joining a new job, you meet different people. These licenses are fantastic for meeting different people from different areas of the country and clubs. Flynny must have spoken to Andy, and they’ve probably got a friendship there, and that could be one of the overriding factors why he has gone to County. Any youngster starting in the game, get on the courses. You’ll meet people from all over Great Britain and further afield.”
“I was on there with Roberto Martinez, Ray Wilkins. Marcel Desailly was in the classroom one day. Then you had the likes of Andy Legg and Carl Darlington too.”
The growth of the talent coming through the Cymru Leagues
Farquharson is one of a number of players to have departed the Cymru Leagues for the Football League over the previous few years.
Jones insists that the success stories of the increasing number of players coming from the Cymru Leagues showcases the development of the league and believes it will only continue to grow.
“Doidge has done tremendous. He had a real fantastic season, he was almost up the top of the goal charts up there. Maybe he’s having a couple of barren weeks, but I’m sure he will bang them in again. This is a boy who has really worked hard. Don’t forget this is a boy who has come from Croesyeceiliog down in the Welsh Leagues. Then he went to Barry, then they wondered whether he was good enough for the Cymru Premier, then he went to Carmarthen and proved himself and went to Forest Green and the likes, then I think Bolton came in for him with a big deal and then that went wrong, but he still cracked on at Forest Green before going to Hibernian. So, this boy has worked his absolute socks off to get as high as he can in the game. I’d love to see him get a Welsh cap. He must have worked as hard as anybody to get where he has in the game.”
“It’s taken time for us to gain credit. But we have had fantastic players over time, don’t forget about the likes of Trundle coming from our league. Doidge now, banging in goals in the Scottish League."
"One thing for anyone debating whether to join our league – if I was a parent of a lad now and he’d maybe been rejected from a Football League club, I couldn’t see anywhere better to go than the Cymru Premier. Every goal you score, every good pass you make or every man of the match performance you have is usually on television or highlights at least. If you score 20 goals in the Cymru Premier and you’re under 25, you’re in most managers’, from the Championship down, little black books of players to keep an eye on.
"I think many more players will join Football League clubs. It’s about 4 or 5 a year now. I think in five years, it will be 10. It’s a great league for a youngster to join.”
The 15 game shootout in the JD Cymru South & North
Despite the COVID-19 impacted season, Jones believes there's an element of excitement around the Cymru North & South season with an opportunity for players and managers to make an immediate impact with their clubs, should the season be permitted to go ahead.
"The Cymru South & North, it’s a 15 match shootout. If you are a manager, you know you have 15 games. If you can win 10 games, you’re maybe liable to win a title, which will stay with you for the rest of your life and could make your name in football. It’s a 15 game shootout, but it’s a 15 game Cymru South & North’s got talent.”
Remembering Dai Davies
Jones also made sure to take a chance to share some fond memories he had of the late Dai Davies, who made a great impact on Welsh football both on and off the field.
“Ammanford is where Dai Davies started his footballing career. I was lucky enough to work with Dai for five or six years and what a wonderful man. He was a great man who always found time for people.”
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