Cup debutants Pencoed Athletic hoping to progress further in prestigious Welsh Cup
In the county borough of Bridgend, lies Pencoed Athletic Amateur, a fifth tier Welsh team making their Welsh Cup debut this season.
After overcoming Newcastle Emlyn in the Round One Qualifying stage, they’ve been given a chance to progress further having drawn Llantwit Fardre, a team who play in the division below them.
But for a team only four divisions away from Welsh football’s top flight, it is interesting to see such a club only make their Welsh Cup debut now, 86 years on after their first ever league game.
The Pencoed boss Mark Powell has been on at the club to enter in the Welsh Cup since taking over but the cricket seasons have always forced Pencoed to miss out but due to the cricket league folding, it’s now Pencoed’s time in the cup.
“I’ve been onto my Chairman and Secretary for several years to enter. The cricket seasons has previously been the problem as we couldn’t host home games early on.
This year the cricket has folded hence our first ever entry. I cannot believe its the 1st time in 86 years. I’m all for the Cups. The bigger the better, it’s always a great buzz they create.”
At Pencoed there’s a good community feel around the place, with coaches and players alike all singing from the same hymn sheet, with the one common purpose, which is to take their local team to as far as they can go.
Now for some, the cup may be a distraction but this isn’t the case for Pencoed Athletic who entered themselves in this season’s Welsh Cup.
“It’s such a great great competition to be involved in. Everyone at the club is on a high at the moment and looking forward to Saturday. If we should progress I don’t mind who we face to be honest but it would be nice to lock horns with a big name club.”
Manager Mark Powell who is Pencoed born and bred had a small playing career after spending time on the books at Cardiff City, where he played alongside legendary Welsh Premier League forward Chris Summers, he moved on to AFC Bournemouth.
That move came about after he was signed by experienced Premier League manager Harry Redknapp, where he was given the opportunity to train alongside Jamie Rednapp, Sean O’Driscoll, Tony Pulis, David Armstrong and Gerry Payton.
But unfortunately the move to Bournemouth was a short one as he moved back to Wales and featured under the late Alan Ball at Caerau, before bringing his career to an end after a spell with the side he manages now, Pencoed Athletic.
Sixteen years later though, Powell found a route back into football through the love of the game, he helped coach his sons before moving to coach the Bridgend Development youth team at Cardiff City for two years.
Fast forward two years and eighteen years on from his decision to leave the game, he was given the opportunity to manage his hometown team and was tasked with the job of keeping them in the Old Amateur League 2.
With the help of the late legend Mel Hopkins and his trusted coach brian Lamont, the objective was to achieve Welsh League football for the town of Pencoed.
His double-tasking job of coaching the boys club helped keep the club fresh with local talent, with first dibs on whatever talented players came through in Bridgend.
And now Pencoed will move on to a different objective for the time being, which will be to progress to the next round of the Welsh Cup, which would be an added incentive and a boost to the town of Pencoed, in helping them achieve that Welsh League ambition.
The only time Pencoed and Mark Powell have got anywhere in the cup was getting to the last sixteen of the FAW Trophy last season, where they narrowly lost on penalties to Welsh League side Trefelin Boys & Girls Club.
Fortunately for Pencoed, they’re familiar of their Cup opponents after playing them in the division last season and Powell was surprised to see the club relegated to a lower division, considering the setup.
“We’ve faced Llantwit Fardre a few times over the years. Last season we drew twice in one game it was an epic 3-3 draw down at ours.
They have a great set up there with facilities, I was shocked to see them relegated last season to be honest.”
Powell has also put praise in to his current squad, stating how happy he is to work with his current squad, after signing Welsh League striker David Lewis.
“As for us we’ve kept the majority of squad and as usual re-cyled from within our great boys club conveyor belt.
There’s so much exciting talent here to work with. We hace just signed an ex Welsh League striker in David Lewis. I’m sure once fully fit he will add something to our front line options.”
And with a healthy working relationship with the Chairman and and club secretary, Powell has paid tribute to those behind the scene as the three, stating how important Peter Bowen was to helping shape up Pencoed’s current setup
He brought me to the club and has backed us 100% ever since. Does everything on match days bar play!
He’s held this Club together like glue for over 20 years. I’m a local lad, I’ve lived here for 38 years and I’m so proud of the Club and the Town which is growing with nearly 20,000 people leaving here it deserves Welsh League football and thats what we will endeavour to deliver.
Last season was the best in the Clubs history I was told. However great to hear and be part of we must concentrate on the here and now and keep improving to achieve even more.”
And by progressing to the next round of the Welsh Cup in their first season, they could do that.