Sgorio reporter Nicky John has been getting to know some of the players and managers within the Welsh Premier league to get an insight into what makes them tick!
This week Nicky chats to Afan Lido manager, Paul Evans
How difficult has this season been for Lido?
Very!! The use of 51 players gave us no stability throughout the season. There are several reasons for this which I would like to keep private and within the club, but in the end it proved we weren’t good enough.
Are you concerned to see another south Wales club lost from the league?
It’s a big loss and a major problem at the moment. With all the facilities available in the south, clubs should be fighting to get into the top league in Wales.
Whether it’s the financial implication that could stop this occurring is debatable. I would love this to change but I think progress will be slow unless the league can help progression in some way.
You’re obviously a Lido man through and through having played over 800 games for the club. What have been some of your highlights over the years?
Yes, it’s been a long time! There are quite a few, from winning the first two League Cups in 93 and 94, then being part of the team to finish second in 94/95 season and playing in the away leg of the UEFA Cup in Latvia – I think that’s my biggest achievement in terms of playing.
In terms of coaching, in the 2006/2007 season taking the Welsh league squad with my joint manager Phil Holmes to the Welsh cup final before losing 3-2 to Carmarthen. We had a great season that year!
Which former team mates and players do you most keep in touch with?
I keep in touch with most of them if not all! Greg Hurley was my best man, Brian Thomas is my goalkeeping coach along with my brother in law James Taylor.
I work with Phil Holmes, Andrew Pearson and Andrew Rickard and see Shaun O’Leary, Chris Pridham, Leighton Jones, Chris Piper and Steve Parry regularly.
I think I could get a good veteran team going there lol!
What’s your day job?
I work at Ford Motor Company producing engines and I also have a property management company in Port Talbot managing rental properties.
Which players have stood out for you in the league this season?
You’ve got great players at TNS and Airbus but having spent the majority of the season playing against the Bottom Six, you have to say there’s a few in there too! Chris Venables for Aber has been outstanding along with Mark Connolly of Bala!
For me it’s between these two for player of the season!
What about from within your own squad?
Before the loss of some of our squad I would say Keyon Reffell. He has great potential and I was gutted to lose him!
Since the change in squad some younger boys have done well. Scott Mccoubrey is a great talent, also Conor Harris and Owen Williams have both done well. The club has a lot of good, young talent, but I have to say you can’t look past my coach Gazza Philips – a big player for us and the team!
Who are the best and worst behaved in the Lido dressing room?
They are very well behaved! Ha ha!!
Before Christmas I’d have to say it was the terrible twins; Luke Borelli and Chris Hartland – they were always up to something with Ian Hillier! Since then, I would say Alex Gammond and Sam Hodge. They are as thick as thieves!
Which is your favourite goal of Lido’s campaign this season?
There has been a few Chris Hartland scored some great goals. The volley against Carmarthen at home is probably my favourite of his and Scott McCoubrey’s second goal against Port Talbot – I can’t split the two!
Both were goal of the month winners as well!
Obviously, there’s a fair bit of travelling involved with your away trips, but which is your favourite one?
There are some cracking grounds in the WPL. There’s always a brilliant atmosphere at Aber and I also enjoyed going to Nantporth for the first time this season.
But I’m glad to see Rhyl back in the league. Belle Vue is a great ground to have in the league and always a great atmosphere there! Rhyl is my favourite!!
What was the first football match you ever attended, and what do you remember of it?
I use go to watch Swansea from a very young age but the game that sticks in my mind is the FA Cup game were Swansea played Liverpool at home drawing 0-0. The atmosphere was amazing that day but I was gutted they lost 8-0 in the replay at Anfield, a game I also went to!
And your first football shirt?
It was a Manchester United kit. My father loved them, and I have followed Utd ever since.
Which person in football would you most like to spend a day with?
I would have to say the legend Sir Alex Ferguson. It would be an honour to be in his company and hopefully pick up lots of advice in the process!
Finally, what are your hopes for the Lido moving forward?
The club over the last few months has taken the decision to rebuild in all areas! From behind the scenes off the field to the current structure of our academy and junior set up.
In turn, this will help the senior squad to progress and return to the Welsh Premier League at the right time a much stronger and better club, a bit like it was 10-15 years ago. This should bring the success it deserves!