Our groundsman Derek Hughes lives in Llanrhaeadr. His father came here from Liverpool and his mother is from Birmingham but all their children, including Derek, were brought up fluent welsh speakers.
He had worked all his working life as a welder/ fabricator up until eight years ago when he began as a a support worker at Galltfaenan Hall in Trefnant where adults with learning disabilities and / or mental health diagnosis are cared for and offered life enablement skills. You will sometime see Derek with some of the Galltfaenan residents at Central Park watching games and sometimes at away matches too. His boss Mrs Adey-Jones is the mother of former Miss Wales, Sian Adey-Jones, who was Miss Wales in 1976 and also a runner up in Miss UK. Sian is just approaching her 60th birthday but Derek assures us she still looks good!
He is remembered in this area as a top goal keeper and was asked how long he had been involved in football He replied " I have been involved since I was 14 years of age and played Summer League and Winter league football for 21 years. I had two spells playing for Denbigh Town but I think my best years, ten in total I think, were at Denbigh Hospital. I had four years at Llandyrnog too before I finished "
The playing surface at Denbigh Town is cared for by Derek and we at Denbigh Town are very proud of it. It is the envy of many clubs throughout North Wales. He can be seen at the ground, generally on a Friday, carrying out maintenance work as well as rolling, cutting and marking out the pitch.
It is probably fair to say that Derek knows every blade of grass at Central Park he said " I first joined Denbigh with my father before the 93/94 season so I am coming up to 25 years at this club " he explained " and have marked pitches for over 1,250 matches walking close to 550 miles in the process "
During those years Derek must have been part of some pretty special moments and was asked what he felt were the best. After some thought he replied " I have seen a lot but I think four big moments in recent years stand out for me. Seeing the flood lights being switched on for the first time was special as was winning the Welsh Alliance league here against Holywell in 2014 when we were unbeaten all season. The best match atmosphere I have experienced here at the ground was the Word Cup Semi Final game when we beat Gap Connahs Quay to reach the final. It was electric that night. Of course, the actual Cup Final in January 2016 at Llandudno against TNS was extra special. There was so much support and game was televised live. Brilliant "
He supports Spurs and his lifelong hero is Pat Jennings.
The picture shows Derek tipping the ball over the bar at Central Park back in 1978 when he was twenty five and playing for Denbigh Town against Nantle Vale in a Cup game. The manager at the time was Gary Thomas and also in the picture is Keith Turner from Ruthin who was in Denbigh side.
Perhaps we should not say this but the pitch didn't look as good then as it does now.
Updated 13:53 - 6 Dec 2017 by Stephen Whitfield