He played a pivotal role in guiding the Lillywhites to their last Welsh Premier title – and now he’s back at Belle Vue to take charge.
Rhyl waited till the final whistle blew on that other Premier League on Sunday afternoon to announce Gareth Owen’s return as their new manager. The former midfielder takes over from Greg Strong following his departure earlier this month.
Owen’s legacy in Rhyl is a key playmaker under Allan Bickerstaff’s watch, whose exploits not only captured the WPL title in 2009, but earned him the league’s Player of the Year crown. Upon his weekend arrival, he highlighted playing in the Champions League as a personal highlight to his career. He added ”having the opportunity to manage the club was one I couldn’t turn down…for me, this is about working with everyone involved to push Rhyl onto the next level. It was important that it was right for myself and family that the right opportunity came along and I feel I have that with Rhyl.”
Owen’s past triumphs in Rhyl followed an illustrious 12 year stay at Wrexham, where FA Cup giant killings – yes, including that one against Arsenal – clocked in regularly. After spells with Doncaster Rovers and what was Connah’s Quay Nomads, he had his first taste of management at Airbus UK in 2005. He returned to The Airfield as head coach in 2011 when Rhyl’s Welsh Premier exile began, but his second stint with the Wingmakers was cut short after a few months. Since then, he’s been working for the Welsh Football Trust.
When the managerial vacancy sprung up, managing director Mike Jones stated the club was seeking a new ethos based on its history and local heritage. On Sunday, he said: ”In our discussions with Gareth, it became very clear that he fits the whole ethos of the club. He has the ability to inspire and develop players and coaches which will strengthen our football club throughout. We have the structure in place for him to take the club forward as we continue to look for the most talented players both locally and across the border.”
Owen’s first task on Monday afternoon was to name his new head coach as Mark Roberts. The former Liverpool Academy coach filled the same role at Cefn Druids last season, but management at The Rock failed to keep the Ancients up in their first campaign back in the WPL. Roberts is also a coach education manager with the FAW.