The promotion race in Welsh League Three came to an end last Wednesday, as Caerau’s defeat guaranteed STM Sports and Llantwit Major would be playing in League Two next season.
While both teams will look to win the title, there has been a chance to reflect on a job well done and the challenge ahead from the summer, with both clubs stressing they don’t have the resources to follow in the footsteps of Pontypridd Town and challenge at the top of the division.
STM’s journey is another step in a meteoric rise that has seen the club come from the Third Division of the Cardiff Combination to Welsh League Division Two in just nine seasons and the club is continuing to build off the pitch, introducing an under 19s team in the Welsh League next season.
Secretary and Vice-Chairman Nigel Bircham said, “We weren’t far off promotion last season, our first in the Welsh League. We learnt a lot from that and have shown some extra resolve this time around. Nathan Cadette has done a great job as manager, training is intense and a lot of work goes in during those sessions. We work had during the summer and even though we play at home on 3G, we’ve put in good performances on all kinds of surfaces this season, including some very poor ones!”
Looking at what was possible in Division Two next season, Bircham said, “If we can finish mid table we’ll see that as a success. The playing squad will slate me for saying that, they think we can achieve more! Clubs like Pontypridd have a great set up, but we can’t match that at the moment.”
Talking about the barriers to further success, Bircham added, “Getting promoted again is a big challenge off the pitch. For example the FAW insist we have a 250 seat stand. We’ve currently got a stand of 100, with about 15 people in it each week. However, Geza Hajgeto is now the Chairman, a really young player/chairman, and we are looking to improve off the pitch. We’ve new sponsors on board, a new post-match venue for next season to reveal in August, and other initiatives such as a club lottery. We’re still looking to develop.”
Llantwit Major manager Karl Lewis echoed the views of the tough challenge ahead. He said, “Following this promotion I need to sit down with the board and see if our plans match up, as I’m an ambitious individual who wants to progress.”
Although keen to stress the whole team had played incredibly well, Lewis highlighted high quality defensive displays as a reason for promotion. Lewis said, “We have been difficult to beat and that means we always have the opportunity to go on and win a game. The players are responsible for this promotion they are a fantastic group of lads that are extremely close and have an abundance of football ability which, alongside their work rate, has led to promotion.
“It’s a fantastic achievement for everyone at Llantwit Major that we will be playing in Welsh League Two next season. The club has been working very hard for a number of years to secure itself as a Welsh league club and our promotion only proves this. There are a few players that have been at Llantwit for a number of years now so it’s fantastic that they get to progress and finally leave Welsh League Three.”