Just 12 months ago, Garden Village sat afoot the Welsh League Division One table without a single victory to their name. 12 months on, not much has changed, with Village struggling in the bottom half of Division Two, however form goes out the window today as they take on local rivals Ammanford AFC and with David Rimmer’s aim of bringing local players into the first team, there is light at the end of the tunnel for Village.
The two sides haven’t met since 2012/13, when they both played in Division Two, and whilst the two clubs have experienced their own respective hardships in the seasons since, things couldn’t be more different at the clubs now.
As Ammanford were relegated in 13/14 on a technicality, Village were promoted in to Welsh League Division One after an impressive season. Whilst Ammanford built around a core of local youth products, Village are going through much the same process right now. And despite their struggles up until now, their manager David Rimmer is up for the test on Saturday and knows anything could happen.
Ammanford is one of the first games I looked out for. Ammanford is a game that has always been a battle. This week we’ve prepared very well with two sessions and a video session last night. As I’ve told the boys last night, it’s about winning their personal battles and a game that form goes out the window.
He recognises the club has gone through difficult times, but he took the burden on of managing the side, despite a large portion of the squad leaving the club when the previous manager departed. After a couple of seasons in Division One, last season was tough and saw a large turnover in the playing staff. But, Rimmer has been trying to get the club to a more stable position, with a side focused on local players who will be prepared to play for the badge on the shirt.
“Last season was hard to take. We lost 18 players in October/November, and last season it was trying to get our youth players and bring three to four local players in to get ready for this season. But, as a club we all stuck together to make sure we kept three teams going at the club.” Rimmer said.
The former goalkeeper added “The reason behind players coming and going was the ex manager brought in his own players and let a lot of our local players go. 75% of the players that are with us now have come back since I’ve come in.”
Ammanford is more than just a local rivalry though. The club have transferred numerous players over the years, and Village have five players currently who featured for Ammanford last term. Dayle Selvage, Mikey Morris, Kurtis Morgan, Ashley Richards and Matthew Harding all played for Gruff Harrison’s side last term, but rejoined Rimmer’s team either during 2015/16 or at the end of last season.
Their reintroduction to the squad has been invaluable to Rimmer, who has immense respect for the boys.
The five boys who came back to us this year have come from our youth and played for the club before going to Ammanford. I’ve got some much time for Dayle,Mikey, Kurt, Matty and Ash; they give nothing but 100% for me.
Whilst a win is the only target on Saturday, things have gone astray results wise this season for the club. In their last two games after Christmas, the Swansea based side have lost to fellow relegation battlers Aberbargoed Buds and Dinas Powys. Rimmer feels the pain of the losses and wants to fix things today and during the remainder of the season.
Last two games have been hard to take as we haven’t taken our chances and after a great performance up in Briton Ferry just before xmas, we should have taken six points, but we’ve come away with nothing. We’ve got 15 games left and me and the players know we’ve underachieved so far and we’re looking to put things right as from tomorrow.
Whilst things may look a little bleak at the moment, it is clear that Rimmer has a plan and whilst they might have suffered in the short term, the club will be in a better place with the local players instilled in the side come the end of the project.
We want to finish mid table and I’ve given the players targets to get. As results have shown, on our day we can match the top teams, we just need to start beating the team around us and with nine players in the 14 tomorrow coming from our youth, we’ve got a massive togetherness in the club and our season starts tomorrow.
Whilst tomorrow isn’t set to be a title battle, it speaks volumes that there could be as many as 18 local players on the field with both sides promoting youth.
Long may it continue.