Pontypridd’s rise as a pheonix from the ashes has been one which has been well documented. High profile friendlies against Valencia and Deportiva La Coruna, and narrowly missing out on consecutive promotions is evidence of the exhaustive efforts of the club to bring top tier football to the town of Pontypridd. Often left in the shadow of their famous rugby neighbours Pontypridd RFC, the football club are riding a wave which is yet to crest.
A lot has changed in just three years at Pontypridd. The work the Broad’s have done in bringing success to the Valley’s outfit has been clear to see on the pitch. Promotion from Division Three came about in 2015/16, and were pipped at the post to the final promotion spot in their first year back in Division Two by Cwmamman United. However, this has not been a stumbling block to their progression, as the Rhondda based outfit sit in third place, four points off top spot with three games in hand on leaders STM Sports.
The football club are riding a wave which is yet to crest
The aim for the managerial duo has always been progress, and the Broad’s have yet to take their eyes off the ball. 2017/18 has so far been a repeat of every other season in charge for the brothers, as small steps form part of the process of moving forward. But, for the club, things are starting to move forward off the pitch that are aiding the overall aim of being the best they can possibly be. A growing coaching team, a new ground with improved facilities to aid attractive football, and a fanbase, that is slowly, yet surely, starting to jump on the wave of success of its town’s football team, and the Broad’s are enthusiastic about the changes.
“It has been a lot of hard work but things are coming together off and on the pitch and we are enjoying the season so far. Of course we hope for promotion, but this is a very difficult league and there are no guarantees at this level.
I would say the biggest sign of progress is that the club is creating and sustaining links across the town. We are slowly building a fanbase and we now have a great team working behind the scenes. Anyone involved with Welsh League football would know that Pontypridd historically could be a bit ‘short term’ and sometimes attracted the players for the wrong reasons. We have worked hard to change that.”
a fanbase, that is slowly, yet surely, starting to jump on the wave of success of its town’s football team
The club have added Rhys Carr as a fitness coach, thanks to Damien’s work with Bristol City, and since moving to the new USW Sports Ground, the club have utilised the links with the university in order to add first team match analyst and USW student Rhys Morgan to their growing backroom staff.
All signs are positive for the club, whose recent move to the USW Sports Ground will help them to meet new tier one ground criteria if they were to attain promotion at the second opportunity this time round.
However, the move away from Ynysanghard Park led to some criticisms from those on the outside. A departure from the ground they had played at since their merger with Ynysybwl in 1992 was seen as a byprodut of modern football, and one which amplified the loss of identity and history of another local football club.
But, despite the critique labelled at the Division Two outfit, the short-termism of Pontypridd AFC is a thing of the past. The long term vision of the club is the backbone of their success, and it is translating into success on the pitch too. Despite the opprobrium from the minority towards the move, those who regularly follow the club will know that the identity of the club is strengthening with the inclusion of youth team graduated, which is only bringing the town closer together. And the selection of youth team players with Pontypridd’s interests at heart, is something the managerial team take pride in.
“For the first time, Pontypridd is seeing the work of our youth section appear in the first team on a regular basis.
It’s great to see youth lads coming through into the first team. Of course not all lads will progress into the first team, that’s the nature of football. Most importantly, we aim for them to have an opportunity to come through and represent their town at Welsh League level if they put in the work and impress in our development section.
“The last few years have been centred around creating a more sustainable model to ensure the club can continue to be a success.”
For the first time in recent history, Pontypridd football club seems to be thriving off stable foundations. From being on the verge of folding, with just a bag of balls and two players signed on, the club are moving forward at the rate of knots. The short-term vision has been dropped, and forward thinking innovation has replaced it.
For those associated with the club, it isn’t the loss of an identity known to many outside the club, but the cultivation of a new, stronger identity that is truly uniting one town to its football club, in what may one day rival the support of its rugby counterpart.
It may not be this year that the club forces its way into Division One, but much is to be proud about with the positive steps being taken in order to provide Pontypridd with a football club it has been and can continue to be proud about.
FEATURED IMAGE: Will Cheshire