WHAT A SUMMER… FULL OF EXCITEMENT & DISAPPOINTMENT!
by Ton Pentre AFC LTD Board on 31 July 2016
Well, what a summer it’s been so far! The exploits of the Wales football team has set the nation alight, and our football community must now ride on the crest of this wave of euphoria to build renewed momentum for the beautiful game in here in Wales.
When not enjoying the sights and scenes of France, the Board of the Rhondda Bulldogs has been extremely busy in the closed season in progressing a number of key agendas.
We have been building new alliances and partnerships with a range of stakeholders to secure the expansion of the footballing side of the club that will see us reach much farther into our community with the addition of our reserve team and potential new elite provision at youth level. The club will soon be launching our new strategy, ‘Leading Football Excellence in Your Community’, but it is important that this strategy is more than words – we want the club to be powerhouse for our community and society.
21 April 2016 was a momentous day in the history of Ton Pentre AFC – this was the day that the club formally transferred to a Community Benefit Society (CBS). In essence the club will now be owned by the community through the release of individual shares. Much more information regarding the CBS model and how the community can engage with our new structures will be released in detail before the start of the 2016/17 season, so watch this space.
As ever, the summer has not be all plain sailing. Following a number of commitments made to us by fellow football clubs, we prepared a mouth-watering pre-season programme but through no fault of our own a large part of this schedule has come apart at the seams.
Back in March 2016 we agreed a very attractive and highly symbolic pre-season friendly with the City of Liverpool FC (COL). Like us, COL is a newly formed supporter owned CBS football club, but unlike us the club has no previous history – it is effectively starting from scratch this season.
The vision underpinning the COL is powerful in that it will give the people of Liverpool a fan owned club which can be shaped by genuine football supporters. This is very salient in the modern era of corporate owned football clubs neglecting the needs and views of long term supporters. The preseason encounter was postponed at short notice by COL due to the logistics of travel to South Wales, and it was clear that the commitment to play this game was made before the club had recruited its players given this is their first season.
Even though we were extremely disappointed and frustrated with the postponement, we accept that this was unfortunate teething problem for COL. Let us hope we can reschedule for next year, and we must acknowledge the support of Penydarren BGC for stepping in so late to replace COL.
The COL episode has caused much disappointment, but this is a mere blip compared to the catastrophe surrounding the proposed Cardiff City game on 6 August 2016.
Ton Pentre AFC has been active dialogue with City since July 2015 regarding the pre-season clash, with the occasion also planned to mark the 30th anniversary game of the Bulldogs FA Cup encounter against City in 1986.
Given the long standing arrangement with City, we had planned a range of activities on the day including the invitation to many of our former players to come along to Ynys Park as guests of honour to mark the occasion; and furthermore we had in the pipeline fundraising initiatives with our charity partner, Tenovus Cancer Care.
To receive notification from Cardiff City with little over 2 weeks’ notice that a representative team will not now be making the 20 mile trip to the Rhondda has created significant disappointment at the club particularly in light of the 12 months of planning and preparation. The postponement of the match will not only be a disappointment to all connected to Ton Pentre AFC, but also to many City supporters in the Rhondda.
Alas, it’s not all doom and gloom. The highlight of the summer for us was clearly the Brian Lomax Supporters Direct Cup clash against Newport County AFC on 28 July – this was a major coup for the Rhondda given that other clubs to host this supporter owned football club celebration are FC United of Manchester, AFC Wimbledon, Enfield Town, Wrexham, Merthyr Town and Luton Town. The Newport game had been moved once due to the Wales v Portugal EURO 2016 semi-final… We think it’s fair to say it’s been one of those summers… but when the match got played the Bulldogs lifted the trophy with a 5-0 win!
We look forward to seeing you all Ynys Park during the forthcoming season and please speak to us about how you can own the club at the heart of your community. These are exciting times!