Award-winning Halliwell reflects on Gresford’s remarkable campaign
Gresford Athletic manager Steve Haliwell says his sides performance this season have put them on the map after an impressive team performance.
Halliwell’s men finished third in the table last season, finishing ahead of second-tier sides like Porthmadog and Flint Town United, who have previously played in the Welsh Premier League.
He was rewarded for the success when he was voted as Manager of the Year for the Cymru Alliance.
There is a feeling of pride around Gresford says Halliwell, who took over as First Team Manager of the club, following Eddie Maurice-Jones departure to Denbigh Town.
“I honestly don’t think I could be happier with our players or our performance this year, it’s such a tough league, week in week out you come up against quality opposition.
To finish 3rd when we compare the size and resources of clubs is remarkable. We have put Gresford on the map and set a standard that we will strive to match next year.”
At the start of the season, Halliwell was managing the reserves of Gresford and says the trust in his players have helped him in making the step up.
“From where I started the season to where I ended up is such a huge leap! But at what ever level you manage at if you trust your players and they play for you then it makes it a lot easier!
I have thoroughly enjoyed my first season in charge. There has been some great grounds to visit compared to where I was which makes it even more enjoyable.
One performance that stood out for him for all the positive reasons was the performance on the final day of the season against Flint Town United, which secured third place for the club.
“The most pleasing result was our last game of the season against flint, we knew we needed a point to claim 3rd, but we had just been battered 5-1 away at Guilsfield which was our worst performance under my control.
To show fighting spirit like that was brilliant to see, so to go there and win 2-1 when they themselves were also after third made it even sweeter.”
With both Airbus UK and Rhyl being relegated last season and with sides like Caernarfon, Flint Town United and Porthmadog in the division, Haliwell says that the league will be even tougher this season.
“I think that the league this time round is so much stronger when you look at the teams that are there.
I fully expect a title challenge from Rhyl, Airbus, Caernarfon and then there are the likes of Flint, Porthmadog and Denbigh who will all be up there. It makes for a very tough but exciting time ahead.
To top off the league finish, Gresford also won the North East Wales Cup, a Cup that is played towards the end of the season and Haliwell says that the cup win is one that won’t be wiped from the mind quickly.
“I’ve been managing for 9 years before this year but 6 of those were on a Sunday and we won various leagues and trophies including the North East Wales Cup. The step into Saturday management was a big change managing a reserve side was quite challenging but very enjoyable, but 3rd in CA and winning the North East Wales again is a very proud moment and one I’ll never forget.”
The club are looking to finalise their pre-season plans, highlighting the performance of securing strong-opposition for a home friendly on the 28th July.
(Featured Image: Gresford Athletic)