South Wales Alliance winner Quinn aiming to keep promotion momentum at Ivor Park
Welsh League new boys Pontyclun are aiming to continue from where they left off last season and hit the ground running when they start off in Division Three of the Welsh League this August.
The Ivor Park team are likely to be the best supported club in the league too, with 500 packing out the ground for the promotion party against Merthyr Saints at the end of last season. That strong feeling of local good will, with thriving junior sections a key part of the club, is likely to play a big part in seeing the club continue to move forward.
Ultimately, however, it is the football on the pitch that makes the most difference and, while of course they scored goals, it was the effort put into keeping clean sheets that saw them promoted as South Wales Alliance champions.
Manager Barry Quinn was quick to highlight how much that had made a difference. Speaking to Y Clwb Pel-Droed, Barry said, “We were well organised and resilient last season. We kept 17 clean sheets in a 30 game season and that kind of commitment gave us a great foundation to build on. But that other ingredient was a togetherness and spirit in the squad – for me that really stood out.”
That team spirit looks set to continue. Pontyclun aren’t planning to rebuild their squad now they’ve made the step up, instead choosing to rely on the core of players who got them here. Quinn said,
“We know it’s going to be a step up in quality, but we are looking forward to testing ourselves. We’ll look to add a couple where we need to strengthen, but it won’t be too many changes. We might be a young team, but we have some Welsh League experience within the squad. That’ll help.”
When you take that step up in football the temptation might be to settle for survival, but you get the feeling the promotion has happened at the right time for Pontyclun, a side feeling they can take this in their stride. Quinn said, “We want to progress and continue the momemtum. We’re not underestimating how tough the divison is, but the players are up for the challenge.”
To help prepare the players for life in their new environment, depth has been added to the coaching set up, with Jonathan Morgan coming into the Management Team alongside Quinn, Martin Lawrence and Huw Jones. Previous First Team Coach Eliot Davey has had to take a step back for health reasons, but remains very much a part of the club including getting involved in off-field projects. Of Morgan joining, Quinn said, “He is a highly respected coach, he’s already made an impression with the squad and he is looking forward to the season ahead.”
And what of those fans? Well as Quinn pointed out to me, there are no real local derbies for the team next season, but they’re looking forward to playing some clubs they’ve never challenged themselves against before and coming up against some old foes in Treharris, Caerau and Penrhiwceiber in particularly. And Quinn added, “We are very lucky to have such a loyal band of supporters, some of come to all of our games. The community are keen to show their support and the players really appreciate it.”
If they can dent the pride of some of the established Welsh League sides, then perhaps we’ll see 500 through the Ivor Park gates more often in the future.
(Featured Image: Same Old Smiths)