This week Bill Carne talked to Haverfordwest County Youth’s latest talented recruit in Jordan Thomas, who hails from the footballing Thomas at family at West Dragons and looks a key signing for the Young Bluebirds . . .

Haverfordwest County’s talented McWhirter Youth League squad has done really well this season and played some very attractive and attacking football for supporters to enjoy under the guidance of Steve Batty.

But coach Batty, who is a canny fellow, knows the importance of a watertight defence and readily admits that he has recently found the final piece in that particular jigsaw puzzle with the arrival of Jordan Thomas.

Jordan plays for West Dragons’ senior side in the Manderwood Pembrokeshire Football League first division and after the Bluebirds approached him with a view to playing at the heart of the youth team defence, he joined Owen Coombs, flanked by Dan Harding and Joseph 'Spencer' Williams, Jordan has settled in really well.

“With Dan Evans as a Welsh international keeper and with some strong cover in our squad,” said Steve, “I feel that we can now start every match from a solid base because we also have a creative but no-nonsense midfield and an exciting strike force that will trouble any opposition.”

That Jordan should love football is only natural because his family is very heavily involved with West Dragons, a team started by his brothers Lee and Jamie Palmer, with his mother Jayne as secretary since its inception whilst father Jeremy has managed the division five-based seconds and helps Jamie run the under 15s.

His grandfather and uncle are the late Gus Ellis, arguably the best goalkeeper of his day, and Mickie Ellis, an excellent player and manager with Merlins Bridge, with cousins Nathan, Peter and Simon Thomas all playing for the Bridge today.

Small wonder then that Jordan began kicking a ball in the family back garden when he was a nipper and by the time he was eight he played in the Merlins Bridge under 10s that were well looked after by Trevor Morgan, before they moved en bloc to Haverfordwest County.

And that is where Jordan stayed until West Dragons started a junior section and he played alongside current Bluebird colleagues Joe Brill and Daniel Harding, plus Bradley Hewitt.

Jordan also had trials with Swansea City as a junior and was invited to join them – and he was eager until he discovered that if he signed for the Swans he wouldn’t be allowed to play alongside his mates locally.

“So I decided against going but to be honest it is something that I have sometimes regretted not giving it a shot because who knows what might have happened,” Jordan said, “but there is no going back and I am aiming eventually to play for the senior side at Haverfordwest County, and see how things go after that.”

It is now great for Jordan that as well as turning out for Haverfordwest County Youth in midweek or on Sundays he is also able to play for West Dragons on Saturdays, playing at the heart of their defence alongside brother Lee.

“He has been a great help since I got in the first team and looks after me if I make a mistake. He also encourages me to go up for corners and free kicks, and I take the penalties – so at the moment I’m a central defender who is top scorer!

Talk to Jordan for a while and it is easy to see that West Dragons run of recent good form has seen them ensure their division one status for next season after looking favourites to endure the ‘dreaded drop’ at one time.

“It’s been brilliant,” he admits, “and I put it down to great team spirit and never knowing when we are beaten.”

He had started out in West Dragons’ second team, making his debut for the club in a 2-1 success at Broad Haven, and was soon drafted into the firsts by then manager Nigel Delaney.

“I soon adapted to the physicality of the game at that level and there was a quicker pace, which I liked. It’s been good this season and winning four and drawing one of our last six league matches has been brilliant!”

With his brothers’ influence in the garden he learned to ‘get stuck in’ as they say but it hasn’t been without cost because so far he has sustained a broken wrist and ankle, put his collar bone out and damaged his knee ligaments when he mistimed a tackle at St Clears.

“But I have been building up my core strength in training and in the gym – and I’m gradually learning, as I gain in experience, how timing of tackles is more important than ‘big hits!”

Luckily, Jordan is a quick healer as well as a good trainer and enjoys the twice-weekly sessions at the Conygar Bridge Meadow Stadium alongside three visits each week to the gym.

“On Tuesdays, Steve Batty has us working at fitness and on core skills, whilst Thursday evenings include more general training and tactics that helps when we take on good sides.”

When Steve contacted Jordan to play for Haverfordwest County Youth he discussed it with his family and they go along to watch his games there after he decided it was worth giving it a go.

“I played my first game against Llanelli at Stebonheath Park and we won 5-1 but it was a real eye-opener because it was far more technical than I imagined, with the emphasis on good defence and a solid build up where possession was very important.

“Then we played Merthyr Town at home in a tough floodlit clash and although they were second in the table we beat them 1-0 and they rarely looked likely to score, which was what we wanted.

“I had played against Owen Coombs for a few years but we quickly settled together as central defenders and since then we won 10-0 at West End and 1-0 at home in another physically hard match against Carmarthen Town.

“So I’m pleased that I have started with four wins in a row where we have scored 17 goals and conceded only one. I’ll settle for that,” he admits with a chuckle!

At the moment Jordan works in pest control with Richard Walters, who is good at allowing time off for footballing needs in evening matches for the Young Bluebirds.

Steve Batty told us,

“Jordan has all the attributes needed to eventually progress to the first team and if he keeps putting in the effort he is making now then we are going to hear lots more about him.

“As well as being a tower of strength on the pitch he has fitted in well with the other players off it and it is a pity we didn’t have him from the start of our campaign.”

High praise indeed from an astute reader of footballing skills in young players and we will watch Jordan Thomas’s progress with great interest at the Conygar Bridge Meadow Stadium!