Welcome to a continuation on new series on The 94th Minute, called “Starting XI”. This is where I ask various people, who are involved in football in some manner, eleven questions to get to know them better! The first ten questions will differ for each person, but the eleventh and final question will always be:
“Who would be in your all-time, favourite starting XI?”
This is a question where anyone can be put into their starting eleven, whether they are famous footballers, football legends, past or unknown players who had an impact on their childhood, or even players they have played with or coached. Anyone is acceptable in their XI!
The eighth installment of the series is an interview with Jordan A Jones, founder and editor of the excellent Welsh league football website, Y Clwb Pêl-Droed (https://clwbpeldroed.org/). A student journalist, who is based in Cardiff, he has help create Y Clwb Pêl-Droed (YCPD) into one of the biggest and respected sources of media information within the Welsh league football community. To follow Jordan on Twitter, his account can be found HERE.
1. Firstly, what is your earliest football memory? What encouraged you to follow football?
My earliest football memory would have to be the first game that I attended. It was when Wales beat Azerbaijan 4-0 at the Millennium Stadium in 2003 just days after my seventh birthday.
One moment that stood out for me is when Robert Earnshaw scored a hat-trick against Scotland in a friendly. I was amazed by his pace and his composure in front of goal. He just seemed to score with every chance he had!
I attended the playoff defeat to Russia, but at the time I had no idea what it meant. Looking back, I’m glad I didn’t know the heartbreak of back then!
I was brought up to support Manchester United due to Ryan Giggs being from Cardiff and being Welsh. So I tended to watch their games on the television when I could.
However, that changed when my Auntie took me on Boxing Day to see Cardiff City play Plymouth Argyle. We lost 2-0 and Darren Purse was sent off but I enjoyed the feel of Ninian Park. Since then I’ve gone on to have a season ticket with Cardiff and have never looked back, despite all the drama we’ve had.
In regards to the Welsh domestic game. I had followed the league on/off and had an allegiance to Prestatyn Town due to going on holiday their a number of times as a child. I remember finding a stream of their victory over FK Liepājas Metalurgs and I was ecstatic for them!
2. How and why did you start up the excellent Welsh football site, Y Clwb Pel-Droed?
Many thanks for your kind words there! I was beginning to get disillusioned with professional football, due to Cardiff City’s rebrand. The football at Cardiff wasn’t too great, so I wanted a bit of a substitute really.
Cardiff Metropolitan University getting into the Welsh Premier League probably started it off. A top-flight team on my doorstep made me feel inclined to go and watch them. I helped out with the media side of things there for a brief period as I wanted to get into media.
I ran YCPD initially as a social media page, just resharing posts from clubs and media outlets. However, I thought it would be good to have a hub for all this news.
Not everything was being covered, instead, it was just being left on social media. So having set up a website on my own, I was approached by Nick Davies, who helped me get things up and running properly. We developed a small team of writers, who helped provide some content. Since then we’ve had people come and go, with some gaining jobs in the industry.
There’s been a gap in the market which needed to be filled. The coverage of North Walian football is superb. The papers cover their teams and support them. However, in the South, there isn’t as much online coverage. So I decided to create a number of ideas to improve the coverage, especially in South Wales.
I also see YCPD as a platform for me to gain employment in the industry.
3. The website has become one of the most important websites (if not the most important) for Welsh football news, are you surprised how the site has developed and been accepted by the Welsh football community, or was it always part of the development plan of the site?
Again, many thanks for your kind comments. It’s really appreciated!
I have to say the clubs have bought into what we’ve wanted to do. There haven’t been many times where we’ve been denied access to speak to a manager or a player.
The way it works for me is that if clubs can co-operate with us then we can provide them with the best coverage possible.
The Football Association of Wales and the Welsh Premier League have gone above and beyond to help us in our task. As our coverage has grown, so has theirs. Clubs have trusted us with information and allowed us to break news first or have submitted story ideas.
We wanted to be the go-to place for Welsh football news. But pages like yourself also offer a unique spin on things. It’s good to have a variety of content. We go for the serious stuff like live reporting of games and news telling, but there is a time for lightheartedness too.
4. What have been the best and worst parts of running the blog so far?
The best is definitely making so many contacts within the Welsh game. So many people know who I am now in the Welsh community and that’s great. To have so much trust in me to deliver news is great. The Welsh football community is great. I’ve managed to build up strong friendships with some of the big names in Welsh football. They’ve then provided me with the chance to speak to those in the professional game.
I’m working not for profit but for experience and the end goal of improving the coverage. Lewis Mitchell, Matthew Lofthouse, Mike James, Rhys Skinner, Will Cheshire, all great photographers who have been committed to all levels of Welsh football and have helped me tell stories better through their imagery. As well as a number of other photographers, who have allowed us to use their images.
The worst aspect is probably that at times it can be a solo effort. Given we’re reporting on amateur/semi-pro football, I haven’t always got a working team, so sometimes I tire myself out by doing more content expected for one person. We have had some comments about our content, but it’s part and parcel of sports reporting. I probably don’t have enough me time in regards to personal life, so there may be a time where I need to take a break and appreciate things besides football. I’m probably too ambitious at times, wishing we could do more, but it’s a case of resources come to the end of the day.
Last month I attended a title-winning game but there was a dramatic promotion winning game just miles away. I was saying before I wish I could clone myself, so I could cover both! It’s a case of finding people who want to cover this level of football.
5. Have you got any future development plans for YCPD or things you would love to introduce in the future?
I’m really high on video content. Stuff like FAW TV’s Welsh Cup features and packages from ‘Mwy o Sgorio‘ are the inspiration.
A weekly show discussing all things Welsh domestic football is something to consider, as well/or a podcast, which could be revived, having had a few episodes.
I’m desperate for new contributors to get on board with us in whatever capacity. I’d really like to improve our coverage in the other regions of Wales. We’ve been able to get some content up there but its come in dribs and drabs, it needs to be consistent.
6. Having reported on Welsh football for a number of years now, what do you make of the situation with Welsh league football currently? Do you think it is in a good position or are you concerned about its future?
I think it’s in a good place. I always try and look at previous seasons in Welsh football when I wasn’t involved, but from the four years I’ve followed it extensively, the quality is improving.
The recent structural changes are going to benefit Welsh football massively. I appreciate for some it is going to be a hard task of keeping clubs running but it’ll be worth it in the end.
I want the league structure to be as competitive as it can possibly be. We can’t allow for stagnation. Every club in the system should have the end goal of playing in the Welsh Premier League and being competitive in it.
Many have calls for a 16-team Welsh Premier League which I can get on board with, but for me I think we’re at a point where we can build on what we’ve got. Let’s see what the FAW Championship and the redesigned third tier brings us and then we can have these discussions again. It’s all about bringing the level up to standard.
Off the pitch, What I would say to clubs is to remain professional as you are on social media. Have some lighthearted banter here and there, but remember to keep your club accounts for club matters only. We want to professionalise the game, so the product of Welsh football needs to be as professional as possible.
There are many clubs who are doing a great job in involving the community and have made us feel involved.
7. Considering the success of Cardiff Met Uni in the WPL, do you think we will see other university/student sides climbing up the Welsh football pyramid? Could you see your own University of South Wales (USW) team venture up the pyramid?
Definitely, in South Wales, I’d say. I know Aberystwyth University and Bangor University have sides, but they’ve not got to the level of the teams in the South.
Swansea University are a side to watch out for. They’ve got a competitive squad and have attracted a number of American players. They’ve also had a tour of the United States which is unprecedented, even for a top-flight team in Wales.
Cardiff Met is such a great story and I’d expect a statute of Christian Edwards, given the work he’s done. I’m hopeful that they get everything they can in Europe this summer. The mainstream media attention was great, so their student status only increases the profile of the Welsh game.
I think we’ve seen the last of a University team in Wales for the time being but that’s not to say that something won’t happen in the future. USW have had their own success in the University Leagues, becoming the only Uni side to win the National title unbeaten, but a lot of their players play their club football elsewhere.
Instead, I think USW is a good platform for some of the players in the Welsh pyramid system now. The education and experience they’re getting at being at USW help benefit them at club level. So even though there’s not a USW team in the pyramid system, they’re a big part of football in South Wales.
8. What has been the best piece of advice you have received?
I’d have to give that to my partner Mia. She’s not given me direct advice as such but has been helpful in pushing me to my best ability. She’s continued to support me in whatever way possible and has been a big force in helping me achieve my goals.
My lecturers at University have also been a big help. My content has become more professional and that’s down to them, as well as numerous advice from passing journalists who I’ve met at games.
9. Are there any football journalists or authors who have inspired you?
Mark Pitman is someone I’ve admired in regards to football writing, in fact, he was in my cover letter for University as an inspiration!
Mark’s gone from working with his boyhood team Port Talbot to covering a Champions League final for UEFA, which is the absolute dream.
Along the way, I’ve picked up some advice from others. Dafydd Pritchard, Laurence Mora, Ian Mitchlemore and Phil Blanche are all regulars in regards to Welsh football content, so I try and learn from them.
10. Who has been your favourite person to interview and is there anyone you would like to interview in the future?
A few pieces this season I’ve been quite happy with. Dane and Phil Williams of Cambrian & Clydach Vale have been superb. I was probably the first to really report their story, which allowed others to follow.
Most recently, Nicholas Maggs, the Ynysygerwn manager, was interviewed by myself in regards to coaching Ben Davies. I was really proud of that one and it led me to actually interviewing Ben Davies, just days before a Champions League final.
My friendship with the Wales C manager Mark Jones has grown massively over the last few years. One of my best interviews was probably when Wales narrowly lost to England C last year. I was with my friends who had supported the YCPD project and we all came away buzzing with our content.
(The New Saints’ manager) Scott Ruscoe for me has to be one of the straightest talkers in Welsh football too. He’s honest and has a good outlook on the game.
I’d like to interview perhaps someone like Christian Doidge and Osian Roberts and other people who have made it in the professional game, having featured in the Welsh pyramid system.
11. Finally, who would be in your all-time, favourite starting XI and why?
- GK: Iker Casillas
- CB: Nemanja Vidić
- CB: Sergio Ramos
- CB: John Terry
- CM: Xabi Alonso
- CM: Peter Whittingham
- CAM: Aaron Ramsey
- LM: Ryan Giggs
- RM: Gareth Bale
- ST: Lionel Messi
- ST: Thierry Henry
I’ve gone with three at the back as who really plays with full-backs these days. I’ve got to include Aaron Ramsey and Gareth Bale who are my two favourite players in world football right now.
Sorry Frank Lampard for leaving you out, but the genius Peter Whittingham just had to be in there.
I used to be a Cristiano Ronaldo fanboy but Lionel Messi has changed me over the last few years. I’m a firm believer in that Messi is the greatest footballer of all time.
A massive thank you to Jordan for answering my questions and being a superb guest on the Starting XI series! To find out more about his Y Clwb Pêl-Droed website, it can be found at the following locations:
- Website: https://clwbpeldroed.org/
- YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCTqk2AmE8CGSC5ZAjch5LWg
- Twitter: @YClwbPelDroed
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/YClwbPelDroed/
To read my previous Starting XI episode, where I interviewed the South Welsh groundhopping vlogger, The Groundhopper, it can be found HERE.
If there you have any feedback, comments or suggestions who I should interview next in the series, let me know either below in the comments box, tweet me @The94thMin or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org! It would be good to hear what you think about the series so far!
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