WE ALL DREAM of managing Man Utd to Premier League glory on Football Manager, but for one Aberystwyth student that dream has become closer than you might think. In the last month, Dave Webber, a second year Human Geography student, was made first team manager of Dolgellau Athletic. At just 19, this makes him the youngest first team manager of a senior football team in the history of British football.
When asked about the record Dave said: “I’m really pleased to have that record. Over 160 years of football, to be the youngest ever is something I’m really proud of.”
Dave might have his work cut out at Dolgellau, however, as they remain rooted at the bottom of the Mid Wales Division One, the third tier of Welsh football. In fact, Dolgellau lost to Aberystwyth University in the latter’s first game of the season, at Vicarage field, with the University running out 3-0 winners back in October. Dave’s first two games ended in defeat but he remains confident that his team can turn it around; “they’re not the worst set of players in the league but they’re playing like the worst team. They just need to work hard and the results will come.”
Dave started coaching around two years ago in his hometown of Bristol, when he was given the chance to do the FA level one coaching badge through his youth work. He had originally wanted to referee but when the chance to coach a local youth side came along, he took it with growing excitement. “It has all escalated really quickly,” explained Dave. “To go from that to becoming a manager has been a really steep learning curve, but it’s really exciting!”
Dave first became interested in Dolgellau as since coming to Aberystwyth, he had started to watch the Welsh leagues. ”I’d seen them a few times and knew they were a decent bunch of players,” he said, “and when the opportunity became available to apply for the manager’s job I knew I had to take it. I wouldn’t have been too upset if I hadn’t got it, but I would have been upset if I hadn’t even tried.”
Dolgellau have had a torrid time so far this season, winning just one game in 13 and scoring less than a goal a game. However, when asked of his ambitions for the rest of the season, Dave is confident; “well, I promised to keep them up in my application. So that’s what I will have to do.”
Training has been a frustrating experience at times. Dave’s training routine consists of a seven hour round trip, via Machynlleth, which involves a train, a bus and a two hour wait after training to get home. “It is a long way to go and it’s hectic having to do essays on the train after training,” he said, “sometimes I only have three or four players turn up and I end up training the reserves, but I’ve always travelled for coaching and it was too good an opportunity to turn down.” When asked what motivates him to travel so far and go to such great lengths for this job, Dave is adamant; “I just love football.”
As far as a career in the sport goes, Dave is unsure; “it’s just something that started off as a bit of fun and has escalated so quickly. I would definitely take an opportunity if one came along though!” It may be a long and hard season ahead for Dolgellau, but for now, Dave can just sit back and enjoy the ride.