They are very low down the ranks... should be an interesting career start!
"Come on lads, fucking mark them properly for fuck's sake man!" Dafydd wasn't happy. 15 minutes in against Treforest FC and we were 2-0 down. The first was a sloppily conceded penalty and now their big centre forward had thundered in a header in acres of space.
It wasn't looking good, and the gaffer decided our focus should switch from high intensity high pressing football, to sorting out the mess at the back. The two full backs were instructed to stay back and the two central midfielders were told to "get some fucking blood on your boots"
Suddenly we started to look like a team capable of not conceding. Dafydd was happier for a little while, but now the issue was 'how do we start coming at them?"
The issue was clear to me, but perhaps not to Dafydd. Owain Jones, our 'little man up front' was one of the best ball players I've seen below professional level. On the ball, you wouldn't put it past him to send Maldini for a hot dog. He was ace with the ball at his feet and moved like shit off a shovel.
But the problem was that he was buddying up with Rhys Thomas- an archetypal target man, built like a brick shithouse- trying to play off him in a poacher-style role.
While the two central midfielders were stuck in the middle crunching legs, we had no one linking up the play in the middle. In short, Jones in the hole would wreak havoc, he was wasted up front.
I spoke up. "Dafydd, we should probably stick Jonesy in the hole, he'll be a nightmare in there"
He turned to me and said "Are you sure?"
"Yeah, that way we can also get the wide men involved and stretch their back four"
He took a moment before gesturing at Jones. "Drop behind Rhys, run the show between their lines"
Five minutes later, we pulled one back. Jones sprayed the ball out the right hand side. Our right winger raced to the byline. While this was happening, Jones continued to jog forward, leaving one centre back contemplating whether or not to go and mark him.
He spent so long pondering what to do that he completely missed the rest of his defence dropping back to deal with the ball in. It was at this moment the Jones struck. He sprinted into the pocket of space left behind by the centre back and got onto Thomas' knockdown from the cross, knocking in a deft first time finish into the top corner.
There was a brief cheer- were still 2-1 down- as Dafydd stepped towards me and grabbed me in a big bruising Welsh bear hug. It was great to see it come off, but we needed to keep bamboozling the opposition in this way.
Two minutes later, we were level with a move straight from the training ground. 23 passes I counted- with about 16 from Jones- and no more than two touches each. We went from the edge of our own box to their penalty spot in 25 seconds and it was finished by that clever little bastard, Owain Jones.
We ran them ragged, with onlookers baffled seeing a 4-2-3-1 being pulled off at amateur level. Went on to win 5-2, courtesy of a hat-trick from Jones and two battering headers from Thomas, who by this point was looking very much like the Welsh Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
It was encouraging to see, and if we could continue this way, I was convinced the Welsh FA would have few issues in letting me study for my B licence. But that was another matter, in the meantime, AFC Whitchurch were on fire, and every defence in the league was terrified.
mgriffin2012: There's a long way to go but this could be the start of something special
ScottT: We all have to start somewhere and this seems a convenient choice
A thumping 5-2 win, starting your career in style can only be a major positive!
"Aaaaaaaarrrrrghhh!! Aargh fucking hell man!!!!! Aaaaaaaaaarghh!!"
That didn't sound good. And no sooner than Owain Jones found himself writhing with pain, a massive touchline brawl ensued. The player responsible for Jones' pain instantly found himself surrounded by raging Whitchurch players.
Suddenly there were opposing players involved and then the coaching staff of each side. The cool heads that had gone in to diffuse the situation eventually broke the fracas up after five minutes, and it's a blessing that Jones didn't get trodden on.
The aggressor and those first on the scene to confront him were all given their marching orders before attentions turned to the real problem at hand.
The issue was blindingly obvious and pretty gruesome. Clear as day, there was a chunk of Jones' shin poking out of the side of his leg. You didn't need to be a medical expert to see it was broken.
An ambulance was called to the scene and Jones, supervised by his mate who was watching him play, was carted straight off to the hospital. Luckily we had subs, and with the sendings off, it was now an 8 v 8 contest.
It was a game that without Jones' trickery and ability both on and off the ball, we lost 5-1.
Along with Dafydd, I went to see Owain in hospital after the game.
"It's fucked", he said. "Broken into 13 pieces along the break, 15 if you count the ends"
"Is it being operated on?", I asked him.
"Yeah, I'm in for an operation tomorrow morning"
"Did they say how long it would be before you recover?", asked Dafydd.
"They said it's more a case of if than when. With those that don't recover, their leg gets back together, but much weaker and much more brittle. Those that do usually take about a year and a half to be able to walk comfortably"
This was terrible for both parties. Owain could well have made a career for himself in the game, and now he'd be lucky if he ever plays at amateur level again. The team are now missing a quality player with nimble feet, and our best chance of winning games.
It didn't help the lad's professional life either. He was a white van man by trade, a profession which obviously would require both legs to be functional.
I couldn't fault Owain's attitude. If he ever played again, it would be some time before we saw him in a Whitchurch shirt, but nonetheless he was happy to still turn up on a Saturday and volunteer as a helper.
"Have you thought about doing coaching badges and taking up coaching?", I said to him in passing before the game.
"I haven't mate, no", he replied. "Is it any good?"
"It's a great experience", I told him. "There's a lot less running involved and you get to pick the brains of some of the best coaches in the game. You should give it a go"
"I'll do that", he said. "How do I get onto it?"
"It's on the Welsh FA's website. Easy to sign up for but it does cost £250"
"£250!? Fuck, that's a lot"
"I can lend it to you if you want", I suggested.
"You'd do that for me? Mate, I've only known you a few weeks?"
"Yeah sure. You were a great footballer and it would be good to have you around at the club coaching"
True to my word, I lent him the money for it and true to his word, he applied to the course, due to start January 2015. It was a shame to see a promising young lad 'retire' so early, but it would definitely be great to have him coaching the side with me, as we seemed to share a philosophy in football.
In the meantime however, how the hell were we going to replace Owain Jones?
mgriffin2012: It's a good start, but there's a long way to go for Josh Mason yet
There could still be shoots oh hope despite the agony of having to retire!
Having looked through my old posts, this is something where I genuinely looked like I'd do something different. After a long break, this story is to be continued, initially alongside the other Leeds story (surprise, another fucking Leeds story), but if this this is better received I'll just carry on with this story instead
The answer to the last question, was that we could not replace Owain Jones. By November, we had lost 7 of our last 8 games.
We were bottom of the table and playing severely disjointed football. Dafydd Huws had grown increasingly frustrated and was contemplating quitting. The morning after a humiliating 9-0 humbling, I received a call from him.
Dafydd: I've been given an out
Me: What do you mean mate?
Dafydd: I've been offered a coaching role somewhere else. I'm seriously thinking of taking it up.
Me: Who's the offer from?
Dafydd: Cardiff Met Uni. They want me to coach the second team. They pay me well, full time contract.
Me: Go for it mate. They're on the up, it could be an amazing opportunity.
Dafydd: Come with me. They've got four vacancies in the second team.
Me: I can't. I don't have good enough badges and I can't just leave a struggling team.
Dafydd: Then why are you telling me to take it?
Me: Because you're not happy here. That's abundantly clear. This is something that'll make you much happier.
Dafydd: I'll take it. I want you to promise me something though.
Me: What is it?
Dafydd: Go for my job as manager. I can tell it's what you want. The way you get so animated, your tactical insight. Whitchurch needs a manager like you.
Me: I'll do it. Because you're right, I do want it. If you put in a good word for me, I'll do it.
Dafydd: Ok mate I will. Trust me, I'll make sure you manage this club
And he hung up. Later that night I received another phone call. From the chairman.
Chairman: Hello, is this Josh?
Me: It is.
Chairman: I was wondering if you were still interested in managing the first team...