Throughout the season Nicky John has been chatting to some familiar faces from the Corbett Sports Welsh Premier League. This week she chats to Sgorio’s very own Red Button boys – English Language commentators Mark Jones and Tomi Morgan…
Well, another season has flown past! What are both your thoughts on events this season?!
Mark: I think it’s been an excellent season which had significant games right to the last day. But I do think everyone involved in the Welsh Premier still hopes to see a challenger emerge and throw down the gauntlet to four in a row TNS.
Tomi: Predictably The New Saints won the league title at a canter and the only disappointment for them was losing just the one game to Airbus UK. The race for second place then went to the wire with Bala, Airbus and Aberystwyth in the mix, the latter dropping out due to their failure to beat either after the split.
I think Lee Hunt was a key signing for Bala, along with the Artell’s improvement as the season progressed. They also had the energy in Kieran Smith and Pearson and the consistency of Murtagh.
Did any teams surprise or shock you?
Mark: Obviously I was surprised and shocked to see Bangor dwindle before Christmas but then pleased with their recovery. The Welsh Premier is better off with Bangor being a part of it. I wish every club had the same numbers of support as the Citizens.
Tomi: Big surprise was Carmarthen throwing away a 9 point advantage they held at the split. No one saw Connah’s Quay coming and they did superbly to clinch 7th spot.
What about how the table looked at the end of the season? Was it what you expected?!
Mark: The bottom two – Prestatyn and Cefn Druids may have been predictable, but they both competed well until the last game. I think the top three are the best teams and will take some shifting again next season.
Tomi: Very much so in terms of the top. TNS were always going to be champions.
Looking back, which games did you most enjoyed commentating on this year?
Mark: Port Talbots 4-3 home win against Bala was excellent, and Airbus v Bala with the hotly disputed goal was dramatic to say the least.
Tomi: The Welsh Cup semi final encounter between Airbus and the New Saints. That game had everything and could have gone either way. Airbus deserve a lot of credit for the way they approach playing The New Saints and I’m not surprised they beat them In the League a few weeks later.
Stand out goal or event?
Mark: Lee Beattie’s wonderful scissor kick v Bangor! Take a Bow Son!
Tomi: Agreed. It has to be Beattie’s volley v Bangor City.
Which players most impressed you this season?
Mark: TNS as a team were very impressive. Then three or four younger players have done really well this season I think – Jordan Barrow (Airbus) Matty Owen (Newtown) Sean Miller (Gap Connah’s Quay) and Rob Pearson (Bala) all look to be capable of making an impression in our league.
Tomi: Sean Miller at Connah’s Quay, and Rob Pearson at Bala Town.
As former managers in the league yourselves, which managers have made an impression on you this season?
Mark: Results and league positions don’t lie, so Craig Harrison is the league’s top dog and Caton and Preece look Euro bound. Chris Hughes can also make a massive impact as Newtown manager should he cause a big upset on Saturday.
Tomi: Managing any team is a difficult occupation as everyone knows better than you!! I thought Neville Powell in the first season his team have struggled since taking over can hold his head up high as everyone wanted it on the block.
Favorite grounds to visit in the WPL?!
Mark: The improvement of standards in recent seasons mean every club now has a decent ground, and we always get a warm welcome. The crowd at the Gen Quip always try to make an atmosphere and they are now being followed by other clubs, which is good for our programme and for players.
Tomi: It’s Rhyl for me. A great ground, and always a great welcome.
There’s a big game ahead on Saturday as we look forward to the Welsh Cup final! What have been your highlights so far in the competition?
Mark: Caernarfon v TNS was a classic David and Goliath match with a great goal by Darren Thomas. The Airbus UK v TNS semi final was superb and would have made an epic final itself.
Tomi: The semi final between arch rivals Airbus and Saints was a top quality game. Personally, I’d like to see replays re-introduced and I do think the final should be played at the National Stadium. I do question this year’s final being played at the home of Newtown. Can you imagine the English FA Cup final being played At The Emirates?!!
Predictions for Saturday?!
Mark: I think the Treble is on the way to Park Hall but I have spoken to a few Newtown players and they fancy their chances too, which bodes well for a good game.
Tomi: Got to be a victory for the Champions
Best and worst things about working on Sgorio?!
Mark: Meeting football people from all over Wales and being involved still brings the football buzz. Wind, freezing temperatures and rain are the downside, but still, it’s football!
Tomi: Best is seeing Nicky every week! correct answer!
Worst is probably that some of our commentating positions are second best compared to where the Welsh language commentators are situated.
Finally, is it true Jonah’s wife makes you both a packed lunch before every game?!!
Mark: I think Tomi Morgan thinks my car is a take away van…
Tomi: Yes it it true, but Mark usually eats it all between talking and sleeping while I drive.