Centre-half Dave Hayes has given Prestatyn Town a massive boost in their build-up to the new Huws Gray Alliance season.
Hayes had announced his retirement after Prestatyn were relegated to the Alliance, but he has returned to help the club.
The defender turned down an offer from JD Welsh Premier League side Aberystwyth Town to rejoin Prestatyn and joint manager Leon Field said: “Dave is a born leader.
“He plays with so much passion and yet he’s such a calming influence to those around him.
Club Legend David Hayes Returns.
— Prestatyn Town FC (@ptfcseasiders) August 6, 2018
“He’s taken our great club through its best times and he’s come back on board now to help recreate that going forward.”
Hayes said Prestatyn supporters were a key factor in his decision: “A big reason for me coming back arethe fans. Home and away, there are no other fans like them.
“I’ve had some great times with this club and they have always been there no matter what. We always had a strong core that grew up together, and I can see that happening again with the talented youngsters coming through.”
Prestatyn open their Alliance season against Airbus Broughton at home on Saturday (2.30pm).
Steve O’Shaughnessy, Airbus Broughton’s manager, has added Asa Hamilton, Joe Palmer and Brady McGilloway to his squad, and is aiming for a major promotion push.
“Our aim is to improve on last season’s third-placed finish and go on a good cup run,” he said. “The League gets stronger every year and this season is going to be the most competitive in its history.”
The countdown is on ⚽️
Our season kicks off this Saturday as we welcome @airbusukfc to the Motion Finance Stadium.
📅 Sat, Aug 11th
⚽️ vs. Airbus UK Broughton
⌚ 2:30pm KO
🏟 The Motion Finance Stadium, Prestatyn
📍 LL19 7LU
📲 Live Updates via Twitter
— Prestatyn Town FC (@ptfcseasiders) August 9, 2018
O’Shaughnessy believes Flint Town United, Bangor City and Rhyl will be Broughton’s biggest rivals for the title, while Conwy are his favoured ‘outsiders’.
Bangor City have stabilised after a summer of turmoil during which they are relegated from the Welsh Premier despite finishing runners-up and manager Kevin Nicholson left the club.
There has been massive turnover of backroom and playing staff with former TNS manager Craig Harrison now in charge.
Bangor were relegated because of off-field problems when they were refused a domestic licence, but are intent on making a quick return to the top flight.
Phil Baker, Marc Williams and Tom Field have been signed and expectations are high.
The return of striker Les Davies is a massive plus and his partnership with Williams and Alex Darlington will potentially be the best unit in the Alliance.
Wide midfield player Robbie Parry is another player expected to play a major role after he did well with Llandudno last season.
Bangor start against Buckley Town at home before back-to-back away fixtures at Ruthin Town and Guilsfield.
New Rhyl manager Eddie Maurice Jones believes Bangor, Porthmadog, Flint Town and Airbus will be their biggest rivals in the chase for Alliance honours.
He says: “It was a season of transition with Rhyl returning to the Cymru Alliance. Changing managers mid-season is always a tough task for all involved.
“Discipline was poor but I feel the majority of that was down to frustration. We will aim to improve our standard and build on the platform already here.
“We will be competing with teams at the top end of the league are anticipating some exciting challenges. Our aim is to be ambitious and take Rhyl FC to the next level.”
Defenders Max Peate, Rhys Fairhurst and Danny Sullivan have joined Rhyl, while Jones says: “James Stead, when he has recovered from injury, will add much needed quality and a great range of passing to support our attacking options in Kristian Pierce and Mike Pritchard.”
Darren Garmey has stepped up from assistant manager to take charge at Holyhead Hotspur and he has added Carl Jones, Jaime Roberts, Harry Galeotti, Caio Hywel, Curt Williams and Luke Mcgivern to his squad, saying: “We have been lucky to sign almost all of our main targets and they all committed early on.”
Huws Gray Alliance early fixtures
Friday 10: Denbigh Town v Gresford Athletic, Holywell Town v Ruthin Town.
Saturday 11: Bangor City v Buckley Town, Conwy Borough v Guilsfield, Flint Town United v Holyhead Hotspur, Llanhaeadr YM v Rhyl, Penrhyncoach v Porthmadog, Prestatyn Town v Airbus Broughton.
Tuesday 14: Ruthin Town v Bangor City.
Hugs Gray Cup first round:
Friday 14: Rhyl v Denbigh Town.
Saturday 15: Airbus Broughton v Holywell Town, Bangor City v Gresford Athletic, Conwy Borough v Llanrhaeadr YM, Flint Town United v Holyhead Hotspur, Porthmadog v Buckley Town, Prestatyn Town v Penrhyncoch, Ruthin Town v Guilsfield.