Wales international Mark Jones leaves Maes Tegid in high regard

Bala Town midfielder Mark Jones has wished the club well as he departs Maes Tegid following a seven-year stay with the club.

The two-time Wales international left Wrexham for Bala back in 2011 after falling out of love with the professional game.

The mutual respect between both club and departing player is something that can be admired. Many professional players this summer have ended their long-term stay at a club and this departure has been dealt with utter class.

“I couldn’t speak highly enough of the people who run the club and they all know I wish them the very best in the future.”

One of those that comes under that praise is of manager Colin Caton who has had a long-outstanding commitment to Bala Town and has overseen the clubs remarkable rise through Welsh football and beyond.

Mark Jones who is known by Jonah to those in Bala and the Welsh Premier League praised Caton as he said goodbye to the manager who helped him fall in love with football again.

“Colin was great with me from the moment I signed for the club and continues to be so. The team spirit that was already in place when I joined helped me to enjoy playing again, which for me is the most important thing, and that was down to Colin.
The results over the years has shown what a terrific job he has done at the club. European football 3 out of 4 years and obviously now current Welsh Cup champions – not bad for a team that gets together and trains once a week.”

The 32-year old has had an involvement in football from the age of seven and with over a hundred Football League appearances under his belt, Jones’ playing days could be coming to an end although he will have the last say in what he does.

“I left Bala at the beginning of March with no real intention of carrying on playing as time has gone by and I’m sure as the new season approaches I will start missing the competitiveness of playing football.
It’s something I’ve been doing for 25 years or so now so I guess its difficult to step completely away. I will see how I feel soon and take it from there. The most important thing for me is enjoyment, and that will be key in whatever I decide to do.”
Signed back in 2011, Jones was described as a marquee signing as he made the move from Wrexham following his release from The Dragons.
He has overseen many moments in the clubs history and has been a part of the side that qualified for European football for the first time and that was the standout moment for him during his tenure at the club.
“I have so many fond memories, probably the first time Bala qualified for European football by beating Port Talbot at their place with John Irving scoring the winning goal in the last minute. Pandemonium!
Every year the club has improved on and off the field and I see no reason why that won’t continue in the future. The 4G playing surface has been a great move, I just wished it had been installed years ago.”
With so much experience to Jones’ name when he signed for Bala, many saw the move from Conference football to the Welsh Premier League as a sign in how Wales’ top flight was improving and Jones was in agreement in that the league has improved since his arrival.
“The league has progressed definitely. A lot more English players are coming into the league which can only improve the standard.
I would say the main difference is that mostly everyone now, especially the younger players, are a lot fitter than years gone by. We live in a world where its fashionable to go to the gym and keep fit, and I feel its certainly showing in the Welsh Premier League.”
The former Rochdale man was given the task of putting together a 5-a-side team consisting of the best players at the club during his time there and it has drawn up some usual household names in Wales’ top flight.
 Ash Morris – Ashley is very reliable and an excellent shot stopper. Ryan Valentine – He’s horrible to play against and loves standing on peoples calves but is both footed and very comfortable on the ball. He would always be in my team.
Conall Murtagh – When he doesn’t play he is missed, he does the horrible stuff really well but can also see a pass. Kenny Lunt – I think Steven Gerrard named him in his best 11 players he’s played with so I’ll leave it there! Class.
To finish off Jones’ side came current Bala forward Lee Hunt who Jones described as the best striker in Wales’ top flight.
Lee Hunt – He is the best sriker I’ve seen in the WPL. He’s like a rash around defenders and he can score any type of goal.
Upon his arrival, he would soon be awarded for his individual brilliance as he picked up the Welsh Premier League ‘Player of the Year’ award.
“Of course I was pleased. We were still progressing as a team in the WPL at that stage so it was nice to win the award.”
The story of last season for Bala was their first ever Welsh Cup victory and despite not being involved with the club as they lifted the trophy, Jones was delighted to see the Lakesiders persistence prevail as they beat The New Saints.
“I was delighted for everyone involved, the players, staff and all the locals. I watched the game on the TV at home and couldn’t believe it when Kieran Smith nodded in Chris Venables cross. It was unbelievable scenes. To be fair I thought Bala looked the better side on the day and fully deserved to win.”
As Jones leaves the club, he hasn’t ruled out coming back to Bala in a spectator capacity and will keep an eye out for Bala as they prepare for life without him.
“I will go back and watch a game when I get a chance. I will always look out for their results and hope they do well.”
(Featured Image: Bala Town FC)

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