With just a week to go until the first of our Welsh Premier League clubs perform once more on the European stage, Nicky John has been speaking to Bangor City favorite, Les Davies.
Les, your big trip to Iceland is just a week away… On a scale of 1-10 how excited are you?! How ready are the boys for their return to Europe?
I’d say on a scale of 1-10, I’m at 10!
We’re back in Europe after failing to get there a season ago, and it’s all due to the hard work the boys put in over the season just gone. This is our bonus, if you like, as a result of all the hard work. All the boys are well up for our return – we’re as ready as can be. With the season not long finished, all our players are still fit.
How have you been preparing?
Since the end of the season I’ve just been going to the gym 2-3 times a week and had a couple of training sessions with Bangor.
We’ve also played a couple of friendlies – losing against Airbus 2-0, and also losing 5-2 against Aberystwyth. But the results don’t matter- in these games we just wanted a good blow out and to get used to the ball again. We showed a lot of positives as well as the negatives – and these are things which we can work on.
By the time you play the first leg, Stjarnan will already be 10 games into their new season. Do you think that puts them at an advantage?
Being 10 games into their season will give them a massive advantage. They will be match fit and sharp. Having said that, we haven’t really had a break either, so we will be ready to compete with them.
What else do you know about your opponents?
I don’t really know anything about Stjarnan apart from the fact that they have some funny celebrations! So I’m going to try and work on one with the boys ready for when we score!
It’s very well documented that your fans can often be your 12th man. With that in mind, would you have preferred to play the first leg at home?
Personally, I’d rather play away first and hope to come home with something to play for. That’s when the fans will be there in their thousands, giving us a huge boost as we aim to progress to the next round.
If you succeed against Stjarnan, then you can look forward to facing Motherwell in the second qualifying round! That’s an exciting prospect?!
To play against Motherwell would be amazing! They’re a Scottish Prem team and are very good, and with them not being too far away it would be a good opportunity for the fans of both teams to get behind their club.
But first we have to get past Stjarnan, which won’t be easy.
You’ve obviously played in Europe before – what are some of your highlights from previous experiences?
My personal highlight would be my goal against Midtjytlland, but as a team I would have to say the game we won against Honka to progress into the next round of the competition was a great experience both for me and everyone else involved with the club.
As an experienced member of the current squad who’s been there before, what advice might you give to some of your team mates who will be embarking on their first European experience?
The only advice I can give the players is to enjoy it and to work hard. Football careers are short and these games might not come around too often.
It feels like a long time ago since we last saw you at Nantporth with a hole in your boot after the playoff final against Rhyl! What have you been up to since the end of the season?
It seems a long time ago since the final! The day after that, I went with a few of the boys – Jamie Petrie, Dec Walker, Rob Jones and Jack Cudworth to Benidorm for 4 days, and it was probably the best holiday I’ve been on in a long time!
Apart from that I haven’t been up to much, I’ve just spent time taking the kids out for walks and swimming and little things like that.
Have you been following the World Cup?
Yes, I’ve been watching the World Cup and only missed a couple of games. I like to back the underdogs so I’ve been routing for teams like Chile and Columbia. Up to now I think my favourite team is Chile just because they don’t have any massive star players, and they work hard for each other all over the pitch which is why they’re doing well up to now.
From what you’ve seen so far, which player mostly models himself on Les Davies?!
The player which is mostly like me I would say is Neymar, with his skill and pace and ability to score, haha!!
No, on a serious note it would be Drogba or the Hulk just because of their physicality – they are strong and hold the ball up really well, and although they haven’t scored many they are always a threat.
The WPL fixtures for next season have now been announced, and you begin your campaign away at Park Hall – a tough prospect given the result the last time both teams met?
Park Hall is always a tough place to go. The New Saints are obviously going to be favourites for the league again, so it’s going to be a hard game.
But being the first match of the new season, neither team will have any momentum so it should make for a good game, especially after the last result we had against them. I think we owe it to ourselves and also to the fans to get something from the game.