The best seats in the house

Our week of sun, sand and looking at crap tattoos in South Wales was coming to an end. With work calling us back to London it was time to back up the TBIR bus and head on down the M4. But wait, what is that I can hear calling? Is it a bird? Or a plane? No, silly, it is another football match. AND it is literally on the way home (well bar a mile diversion off the motorway). Now how could I sell this to CMF and the Little Fullers? Of course! It was Port Talbot Town. Hmm, still not enough? Well what about the fact that they wouldn’t have to actually leave the car?

Port Talbot Town’s GenQuip Stadium has one unique value. Certainly something I have never seen since they banned those little blue cars from parking behind the goal at Stamford Bridge for “health and safety” reasons back in the late 1980s. You can drive your car in and park it by the side of the pitch….(steps back awaiting amazed response). Yep, it is genuinely too good to be true.
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The Swans finish underNeath but over Town

In a bizarre arrangement, Swansea City played two back to back friendly games on Saturday against local Welsh Premier League sides.  First up was a visit to The Gnoll, home of Lee Trundle’s Neath, before heading down to Michael Sheen’s club, Port Talbot Town.  As always Abi Davies and Mark Pitman were on hand to give contrasting views on the afternoon’s festivities.  First up is Abi with the events at The Gnoll.

Neath 1 Swansea City 0 – The Gnoll – Saturday 16th July 2011
Swansea City continued their preparations ahead of their début season in the Premier League with back to back friendlies against Welsh Premier League sides Neath and Port Talbot.  Brendan Rodgers named equally strong sides for both games with a mixture of first team and youth players featuring.

The game as The Gnoll was the first chance Swans fans had to see Danny Graham in action following his £3.5 million move from Watford.

Steven Caulker also made his Swans debut against Neath two weeks after agreeing to join the newly promoted Welsh side on a season long loan. Continue reading

Euro glory beckons as Prestatyn show spirit of ’99

Mark Pitman reports on a dramatic ending from Bastion Gardens as Prestatyn Town move to within one win of European football. were on hand for photos.

For Teddy Sheringham and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer in 1999, read Lee Hunt and David Hayes in 2011. The former duo may have won the Champions League for Manchester United in dramatic fashion, but the latter did the same for Prestatyn Town on Sunday in the Welsh Premier League play-off semi-final. The games may seem a million miles apart, but both were among the most important in the history of the two respective clubs, and the goals from Hunt and Hayes mean that Prestatyn Town are now one win away from making their own impact on the European football stage.

The Welsh Premier League has been the subject of some drastic cosmetic surgery this season as the traditional eighteen clubs were reduced to twelve, a mid-season split separated the top and bottom six clubs and the last UEFA Europa League place would be decided not by league placings but by an end of season play-off. The format has confused many, but after nine months of football, five teams entered the inaugural play-off competition last week. Airbus UK Broughton were the first club to be eliminated, and on Saturday it was the turn of Port Talbot Town and Aberystwyth Town to forget a return to European football for another season at least. Continue reading

Blues, and Grist, are back on track

Mark Pitman takes in a much-needed victory for Port Talbot Town in the Welsh Premier League.

It has been an experimental season in the Principality Welsh Premier League with the reduction to twelve clubs coinciding with mid-season split and an end of season play-off for the last UEFA Europa League place. For Port Talbot Town the euphoria of confirming a place in the top half of the table in time for the split was followed by a unwanted but significant line in the fixture calendar that was eventually scrapped on the last weekend of the season.

Since the mid-season split, Port Talbot Town had managed six draws and three defeats as they went into the last match of the season against South Wales rivals Llanelli at the impressive Stebonheath. Manager Mark Jones side had last experienced a Welsh Premier League victory in January, but with a crucial match at Prestatyn in the play-off approaching, a confidence boosting win to take into the match was a necessity and not just a bonus.

The string of recent defeats had been just as frustrating for the loyal and vociferous fans that follow the side across Wales each week as it had been for Jones and his players. With one match remaining to claim a victory, it was decided that the match at Llanelli would double-up as the supporters end of season party, and alternative transport in the form of the train was confirmed as part of the pre-match build-up. Wetherspoons provided breakfast, beer and a base to discuss tactics for the day ahead as a dozen fans began their journey to Llanelli. Continue reading

Hughes header a history repeating derby deja-vu

Ask any Port Talbot Town fan for their most memorable derby goal in recent years and the majority of the Burns Road End regulars will fondly talk of the events that occurred at local rivals Afan Lido on the 26th December 2003. The two sides were juggling for supremacy in the town at the time as Afan Lido adjusted to the promotion of Port Talbot Town to the Welsh Premier League just a couple of seasons before as one of the fiercest games between the two clubs took place on a wet Boxing Day afternoon at the Lido.

Man of the moment Craig Hughes

The game had all the traditional dramas of games between the two sides with the referee being the busiest man on the field as local pride took over the implementation of any tactical plan. A local event for the people of the town, both clubs benefited from a ten-fold increase in attendance when the two rivals came together, and the game of 2003 did not disappoint. For the record, Port Talbot Town won 2-1 with a late winning header from Craig Hughes as he sprung above the opposition defence to capitalise on a superb cross from the right. Then on the 16th April 2011, something all too familiar happened all over again. Continue reading

Saints sitting pretty in latest Aesop variation

The Greek fabulist Aesop was attributed to the famous old fable of the hare and the tortoise and a new re-enactment of the story has evolved from the current Principality Welsh Premier League season. The modern-day comparison reached a poignant stage in the story last week when The New Saints overtook, and then extended their lead, over Bangor City at the top of the table without breaking a sweat while their rivals continued to reacted to letting go a one-time sixteen point lead by further losing ground on their consistent professional rivals with yet another defeat.

The title race began back in August as Bangor City took the proverbial approach of the hare by incredibly winning their opening fifteen league games as their rivals, as steady but also as slow as the hare’s opposing tortoise, dropped four points from their opening five games as the Welsh Premier League began its new-look campaign with results that justified its claim of being the most competitive season in the league’s history. Included in Bangor City’s run of fifteen wins was a 4-3 win over The New Saints, but for all the potential of their flying start, The New Saints have moved into the crucial part of the campaign with the advantage and now look favourites to retain their title of league champions. Continue reading

Team bonding exercise

Despite what you may think or believe, this veritable organ is not just thrown together willy-nilly. As if! There is a plan, an overall structure and a strategy to deliver for our shareholders. Shareholders? Shareholders? Yes indeed. At this point we need to bow, curtsey and generally laud praise in the direction of the mysterious GTC Media. A shadowy, shady company operating from a state of the art office adjacent to an exclusive London golf course, sending email missives to us on a daily basis as to what we should be doing and where. Enron would be proud of the complex structure of legal entities, preferring the glamour of the Isle of Sheppey rather than the Caymans or the Bahamas.

In the past few months they have expanded their operations relying on some new talent to breathe life into our website. Two such stars, unearthed in the valleys of the Tawe in Wales have been Mark Pitman and Abigail Davies. Talk about knowing their subject, these two could win Mastermind, University Challenge and Blankety Blank on their own with their knowledge of the Welsh game at all levels.

What's wrong with stopping in inside lane to take a snap?

As a token of their gratitude I was sent down the M4 to take the team out as a thank you. Some companies whisk their staff off to Las Vegas for a few days of sin, others arrange a weekend on the piss in Prague, and more refined corporations take their key people on a trip to Glyndebourne. GTC? Well how could we really grumble about a trip to see Port Talbot Town versus Llanelli, the Flanking Swansea Derby. Continue reading