Meet the man who has transformed surprise semi-finalists Cambrian & Clydach Vale
From representing his local village of as a player, chairman Phil Williams has transformed the fortunes of his club Cambrian & Clydach Vale.
With more than 30 years at the club, Williams and his brother John, as well as a dedicated committee have seen it all.
In what lies in the village of Tonypandy now is a 3G pitch which is constantly in use throughout the week. Just a few yards is away is a centre which welcomes everyone from the community. The 3G pitch replaced the previous pitch just yards away, as Cambrian previously played on the running track pitch.
The transformation of the club has seen Cambrian become one of the most respected Welsh League clubs around for their commitment to the local community.
However years ago not many would have predicted that Cambrian would be one of the leading lights in the Welsh pyramid system.
“I probably envisaged it but a lot of people thought I was loopy! joked chairman Phil Williams.
“If you put enough into it things do happen. You can make it achievable. It’s a team thing, as long as everyone is behind it. It’s surprising what can be achieved.”
Phil has worked with the Cambrian Trust to make the football club into a community hub.
The Cambrian Trust was set up to get the community involved in football, as well as learning life skills.
“The club and the sides have kicked on. The formation of our academy has been a massive part in the growth of the club as has the Cambrian Village Trust.
“I’m a trustee and founder of the Trust, it started to develop. It’s here to develop football in schools and in the general community.
We’ve really embraced the community and the community has embraced us as well.”
Phil’s father was a committee club member for the Boys & Girls Club, so becoming involved with Cambrian was a natural process.
His involvement in the club has seen his hard work and dedication rewarded through this seasons Cup run, which has brought Williams and others joy.
In the Cup run, they have claimed scalps over three Welsh Premier League sides.
“Once you get involved with something like this it becomes a drug. It’s difficult to get out of it.
“The positives and the uptimes of players performing like they do to get cup runs like this inspires us to be able to continue our input into the club the way we do.”
Cambrian are able to not only boast a senior football team but a Welsh Premier League Development side, which competed for the FAW Youth Cup. It isn’t just football that Cambrian offers to the Rhondda area.
Sixteen people are employed by the club, which has been set up by the Cambrian Village Trust.
It could have been all so different hadn’t John Thomas presented Cambrian’s case to remain in the Welsh League all those years ago in an election, winning by just the ONE vote.
The club has gone from strength to strength and is now able to boast 11 teams. It’s been a good platform for players with 41 signing at pro clubs, as well as three full Wales youth internationals.
It hasn’t just been a platform for players to leave Cambrian though too. The club has benefited from having such a system, that their first team have reaped the benefits. Nine of the current first team squad are academy products, with ten players being under the age of 21.
The academy is the heartbeat of the football club. THey’ve won the U16 FAW Academy Cup three times in the last five seasons. This is despite having significantly less funding than Welsh Premier League clubs.
Phil Williams has praised the academy structure: “It’s created a conveyer belt of talent. To be able to feed the players through and the grounding they’ve had through our academy structure it says it all.
“We’ve become one of the strongest academies in Wales now. A lot goes down to the academy managers in the past.”
With more than half of the side being filled with academy products for this evenings match with The New Saints, it’s a sight to behold and one of the success stories of this seasons Nathaniel MG Cup.
(Featured Image: Will Cheshire)