AGONY WAITING FOR FAW RULING: Porthmadogís ordeal ends in celebration
by Terry Daley, Welsh Non-league Paper (15/6/03)
PORTHMADOG manager Viv Williams has spoken for the first time about the charge, which threatened to undermine the club's bid to return to the Welsh Premier after a five-year absence. And the former Bangor City striker has confirmed that all his treble-winning squad have been invited to remain with the Y Traeth outfit for next season.
Porthmadog, and several other north Wales clubs, were charged with playing an ineligible player - goalkeeper Richard Harvey - and faced a large enough points deduction to have promotion snatched out of their grasp.
"The worst thing was the waiting," said Williams. "It took the FAW an awful long time to come up with the decision just to fine us.
"We were always confident we were not guilty of the charge, but it was still a huge relief to every-one when the decision came through.
"That was on a Thursday, and we went into the following Saturday's game against Buckley needing a point to go up.
"I can tell you we celebrated in style after winning 3-2 and that feeling will always remain with me."
With pre-season just around the corner, is Williams busying himself recruiting players for the new campaign?
"No not really because the plan is to retain all the players, and the truth is they all deserve the chance to play in the Welsh Premier," said Williams.
"I must add to the squad simply because some players might not be able to travel to south Wales in midweek, so we do need some more numbers.
"But the players were brilliant last season and they're all honest, hard-working lads and we'll face the challenge together."
"The squad is very young and Iíve seen the players grow and develop during the last three seasons. "It's not just about skill and hard work, though. The spirit in the side is second to none - and that's vital.
"But we have a bit of experience as well, with players such as midfielder David Evans, who has twice won the title with Bangor."
Williams talked about some of the players' who could make an impression on the WP, starting with top goalscorer Carl Owen, 23, who scored 27 goals last season. "The thing about Carl is he has put in such a tremendous amount of work to add different aspects to his games," said Williams.
"His workrate is very good and he can also hold the ball and bring in other players. It's going to be interesting to see how he copes at the higher level.
"I believe he will and there are others such as Gareth Parry, who scored 13 goals from midfield last season, and full back John Jones, who have been part of our success. They will do well in the Welsh Premier.
"John was playing at a much lower level just a few seasons ago. He has done extremely well to make the leap in class."
Williams showered praise on his assistant, Osian Roberts.
"He's an excellent coach who, if he spots something which is not quite right in a match, gets sorted out on the training pitch.
"The directors and backroom staff also deserve a mention because they have also been fantastic. Don't forget they remained faithful to Osian and I when we previously missed out on promotion.
"They worked extremely hard behind the scenes to get matters right and, without them, this standard of football would not be witnessed at the Traeth."
Williams said the overall standard of the Welsh Premier has improved since Porthmadog were last involved in the league.
"There's no doubt about that," he said, "but it's a challenge we're all looking forward to.
"We're also hoping to attract a few more supporters through the turnstiles, people who perhaps have not visited the Traeth for some time."
Porthmadog were founder members of the League of Wales in 1992-93 and last played in the top flight in 1997-98, when their 17th-place finish meant relegation to the Cymru Alliance.
Loyal firms rally round Port
LIKE most Welsh Premier clubs, newly-promoted Porthmadog rely heavily on funds raised on match days and, of course, the generosity of the business community.
But the Y Traeth side, which clinched the Cymru Alliance to gain promotion to the top level for the first time since 1998-99, has few problems in giving itself a cash boost.
"We are extremely lucky to have a good relationship with our local businesses and we have just signed an extension to the contract with our main sponsors, Allports,'' said Porthmadog chairman Bob Havelock. "It's obviously more expensive to compete in the Welsh Premier and the matter which stands out most is the cost of coach travel to South Wales.
"You're talking in teims of around £500 per trip here and that eats into our budget. but we are lucky to have some excellent fundraisers."
The North Wales club splashed out close to £16,000 on ground improvements to be accepted into the WP and will raise admission prices.
Last season's £3 for adults and £1.50 for senior citizens and children have gone up by £1, though children accompanied by an adult will be admitted free of charge.