Cambrian’s ‘Class of 2017’ set for coming of age as they gear up for Nathaniel MG Cup Final
Manchester United may be renowned for their “Class of 92’ but when League Cup finalists Cambrian & Clydach Vale line up on Saturday, they’ll be able to boast their own ‘Class of 2017.’
The Tonypandy side take to Jenner Park Stadium this Saturday for their first ever Nathaniel MG Cup Final, in a Cup run which seen them knock out four Welsh Premier League sides.
Just two years ago, Cambrian & Clydach Vale were in a similar situation. They reached a final against all the odds, coming up against Premier League academies in Bangor City and Llandudno, as well as Haverfordwest County and Llanelli.
That day, they lost to eventual winners Swansea City who have had a stronghold on the FAW Youth Cup.
“No doubt the players were heartbroken at the time and on the day when they lost the final in extra time,” said academy director Gareth Evans.
“However, the whole academy were proud of them: they took Swansea City to extra time and were the width of the crossbar from winning the game when Cameron Keetch rattled the bar in the second half of the match.
“They have been valuable members of the first team for years now – all were members of the first team squad during the FAW Youth Cup final season.”
“However, it’s been great to see them develop to young men and now seeing them as not only first-team players but leaders on the pitch and seeing David Thomas as club captain is a testament to that and the belief the management team have put in these players.”
But fast forward two years from Cambrian’s heartbreak in the Youth Cup final at the Cardiff City Stadium and you’ll see a total of seven players who played in that final, involved in the first team.
David Thomas who was the captain that day has the same responsibility on Saturday, in being entrusted with the captains’ armband.
Can Thomas, Cameron Keetch, Kyle Jones, Joe Evans and Sam Jones were also involved that day as the Rhondda side battled but couldn’t come out triumphant on the day.
“We are proud of them every week they put the shirt on so Saturday will simply be another opportunity to support them as Cambrian players.
“They deserve it for the hard work they’ve put into themselves as players and young men.
“They are playing a huge part in taking the club back towards the top of the Welsh League and hopefully into the Welsh Premier League very soon!
“Am I surprised that they are such a huge part of the first team squad? Of course not.”
It may have been a defeat for those six, but Liam Edwards who began his career with Cambrian & Clydach, before moving to Swansea City was on the winning side that day.
It was, in fact, Edwards who struck the killer blow to secure Cup glory for the Swans that day. But now he finds himself in a position of being able to secure Cup glory for the side that gave him his start in football. After FAW Youth Cup glory, Edwards moved to Hull City where he played football for their Under-19s side over the last year.
There is also the possibility of four other youngsters being involved this Saturday. Evan Lloyd, Morgan Grahame, Niall Reed and Scott Lewis have all drifted around the first team this season. Reed is just 16-years of age, whilst the other three are just a year older.
In what is a game against the ‘students’, the Welsh Premier League side find themselves up against a side who possess a lower average of age than them.
Academy director Gareth Evans spoke of the importance of youth ahead of Cambrian’s biggest day.
“We are so fortunate to be able to recruit and have the services of an excellent team of volunteer coaches who put hours and miles to see the players progress and develop.
“As a team of coaches we continually challenge and support each other and take interest in how all age groups are developing and progressing and I think that helps us as coaches to develop ourselves to be the best we can be for the players’ benefits.”
(Featured Image: Cambrian & Clydach Vale BGC)