MANY involved within the North Wales football scene would agree that Jay Gibbs is one of the most naturally gifted players around.
Now 28, the talented midfielder has enjoyed a brilliant career to date turning out for some of the region’s biggest clubs at various levels in the Welsh pyramid system.
Gibbs, who is from Holyhead, began his career in his hometown with Hotspur, progressing through the youth system there.
A two-year scholarship at Tranmere Rovers saw him go on to be capped for Wales’ under 19’s in 2010, playing in matches against Scotland and Ireland.
When his time at Rovers was up, having played for their first team in many a friendly, Gibbs returned to Hotspur.
He then went on to play for Caernarfon Town briefly, scoring four goals in three matches (including two against Hotspur) before he went back to Hotspur once more. And it was there that he would really begin to stand out from the crowd on Anglesey.
In 2011/12, Gibbs scored 26 goals in 27 matches and was Managers Player of the Season as the club won a Welsh Alliance, Cookson Cup and Barritt Cup treble.
In the following season, he moved on to Glantraeth, but after three goals in five games there, he would return to Hotspur once more during that campaign, scoring six goals.
In 2013/14, he maintained great form for Hotspur, netting a further 17 goals as the club won the Meditel Gwynedd Cup.
Gibbs then went on to return to Caernarfon Town briefly in 2014/15 before again returning to Hotspur, where he scored five times after re-singing in January 2015.
However, come May 2015 Gibbs was back in the yellow and green of Caernarfon under manager Iwan Williams. The 2015/16 season saw him become a vital component within the team, scoring 10 goals in 35 matches, as the Cofis won the Huws Gray Alliance and League Cup double and he was voted Player of the Season for his efforts.
He then started the 2016/17 with Caernarfon before again moving back to Hotspur before returning to Caernarfon once more in December 2016 – where he would go on to win a League Cup medal once again and the Huws Gray Alliance title for a second time in his career in 2017/18.
2018/19 saw Gibbs move to Welsh Premier club Llandudno before switching to Porthmadog, who were in the Huws Gray Alliance.
The summer of 2019 saw him enjoy more success as part of the Ynys Môn squad which won gold medals at the Island Games Tournament held on home soil. He played a big role in the heart of the midfield during the tournament, playing every single minute, and also grabbed himself a goal in a 3-1 win over Orkney on matchday two.
That was the first time Gibbs had represented the island team – despite his undoubted talent.
Asked about they he had never played for the Môn team previously, he said: “I never believed the best players were always picked so didn’t want to waste my time. But, as soon as I knew Campbell (Harrison) and Iwan (Williams) were in charge I wanted to give it a go.
“I was buzzing we won it and I was the only player who played every minute of the tournament too so to play five full games in six days having not played for almost six months before the tournament was good.”
The 2019/20 season, eventually cut short by the coronavirus pandemic, saw Gibbs return to Porthmadog – where he played alongside fellow Môn star Paul Pritchard, as well as John Littlemore, Mel McGinness who signed after the gold medal success of the summer. The club endured a difficult season however and were subsequently relegated to tier three.
Talking about some of the career highlights to date and the influence of coaches and players around him, Gibbs said: “Highlights of my career is a tough one as I never enjoyed the good days until I look back. But beating second placed Cefn druids 7-0 in their own ground (with Caernarfon Town in April 2016) was one of the best days I’ve had.
“Iwan Williams (Caernarfon Town manager now with Penrhyndeudraeth) was brilliant with me. I felt like when I played for him, I never wanted to let him down – even though I definitely did a few times. But, he has always been a class act and goes above and beyond for his players!
“The best player in Welsh footie for me without doubt is Darren Thomas. I loved being on the pitch with him – he could turn up drunk and still do something special. Graham Austin was the best leader though – he could play through injuries and header absolutely anything. He was always good at keeping me in line which isn’t an easy task!”
Midfielder Gibbs has now returned to his beloved Hotspur ahead of the 21/22 campaign. They will play in the JD Cymru North (tier two) after winning Welsh Alliance One in 2019/20.
Talking about his reasons for signing for Hotspur, Gibbs said: “I rejoined Hotspur because, in all honesty, they seemed to have started fresh after getting relegated and then promoted it seemed like an exciting move. I think that, had there not been a pandemic, we would have done really well in the season with the squad we had and still hope to have this year.
“My hopes for when footie returns is to hopefully win as many games as possible and score a few goals so my daughter Sofia can see her dad do what he does best!”