With new owners, new players, new management and old faces returning to take care of some unfinished business, it is all change at The Bangor University Stadium ahead of the 2016/17 Dafabet Welsh Premier League season, and Edwards is looking forward to the challenge.
‘I’ve been here quite a while and the only thing that has really changed is the players, which is natural, but the last two or three months have been a little bit strange, but the new owners have come in and everyone is excited.
‘Nev leaving was a real shame for me, because he did an awful lot for me and we got on so well, but the new manager is really experienced, a really good bloke, so hopefully we can do well in this coming year.
‘I’ve played against the manager a few times, when he was a Player-Manager at Llanelli, they beat us in The Welsh Cup Final a few years ago, he won the league with them, so I’m really looking forward to working with him and pushing on for the European places; that’s what we all want.’
10 years later, and Edwards is still immensely proud to represent The Citizens on Wales’ biggest stage, but admitted that staying at Bangor for ten years hadn’t crossed his mind back when he signed for the club:
‘10 years, bloody hell! I probably didn’t think I’d be here 10 years later, back when Clayton Blackmore signed me all those years ago, but ever since I signed I really enjoyed it here, I’ve loved every minute.
‘Nev obviously came in after that and played under him throughout his time here, and he gave me a chance, helped me to improve – I had a couple of seasons where maybe I wasn’t starting as much as I’d like, but we were winning the league and so on back then so I can’t complain too much!’
Neville Powell came in to lead the club from the 2007/08 season onwards, and the rest, as they say, is history as the club embarked upon an unprecedented run of success that comprised of title-winning seasons, European berths, Cup successes and Edwards reserved special praise for Powell and his assistant manager, Marc Limbert:
‘Nev is a great man-manager, so I got on with him from the start, ever since he came in we got on really well. Marc Limbert was another big help to me, he brought my game up to another level!
‘The combination of both of them was great, then Marc left obviously, but Nev was still there guiding me through what I needed to do, and I don’t think I’ve been on the bench for the last three seasons, so it shows I’ve been fairly consistent and that’s the one thing they both demanded from me.
‘I’d just like to thank him, he’s been brilliant with me, he’s looked after me and he’s been a really good manager on and off the pitch, and that’s all you can ask for so I’d just like to thank him.’
Winning a Welsh Premier League title, three Welsh Cups, finishing second in the league once and as runners-up in the Welsh Cup twice isn’t a bad run during 10 years at the club, but there have been plenty of individual highlights really, as the 29-year-old recalled:
‘Winning the league has to be the pinnacle – I didn’t play as much as I’d have liked that season, but that’s why it’s a team game, we all chipped in and did our bit and we got our just rewards in the end.
‘Individually, it’s tough to pick out a highlight – scoring a hat-trick here was really nice, as we beat Aberystwyth 7-1, and I got the Man of the Match, getting to keep the match ball too, which was nice because the game was live on Sgorio too.
‘There’s been a few really, the Welsh Cup Final against Port Talbot I assisted the winner, but there have been plenty of moments during my time here for myself and my teammates to be proud of.’
Sharing the stage with Gareth Bale, Chris Coleman et al is something every Welshman would want to do, and Edwards got to do just that last year, as he was awarded at The FAW Awards night in October:
‘To win Welsh Premier League Clubman of The Year was unbelievable, I got a phone call a few days beforehand saying I’d been invited down, so obviously I accepted and was looking forward to going down with my dad.
‘I didn’t expect to win, I wasn’t sure how many nominees were there and when I found out I’d won I was overwhelmed, that was probably one of my biggest achievements!’
The likes of Michael Johnston and Les Davies will return to Bangor, leaving early from their friendly games in order to attend what is sure to be a great event, and Edwards is looking forward to the return of his former teammates:
‘I’ve been speaking to the lads who won the league on Whatsapp, everyone is pretty excited – it’s not about me though, it is nice for me of course, but it is nice for the other lads to come down and have the crowd appreciate what they achieved.
‘The lads deserve to come and enjoy a celebration of not just my achievements, but what we all did – it will be really nice to see them all because I haven’t seen most of them since we won the league.
‘I just hope we beat them! Some of them are still playing … but no, it should be really good!’
Most importantly, The Citizens star wants to put on a show for the fans, who he hopes to repay this season for their loyalty to the club having gone through a somewhat sub-par few years:
‘These are the best fans in the league, it’s not even close, they turn up week in, week out. We get 800-900 people here on a Friday night, even last season when we were struggling down in 8th or 9th.
‘Hopefully we can repay them this season with a bit of success – obviously there’s a lot of changes here with new management, new players and hopefully we can give them something to cheer about.’
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