Under the radar of mainstream media and away from the excitement of the World Cup, Aberystwyth Town FC are preparing for their European adventure. Beating Porthmadog 5-0 at Park Avenue on Saturday 21st was the first pre-season friendly and a decent way to start gaining their match fitness before the Europa League draw on Monday 23rd June at 12 mid-day.
The last time Aberystwyth were in Europe was back in 2004 in the Intertoto Cup.
“It’ll be bigger this time round”
says club Director Thomas Crockett “last time we played in Newtown but this year we get to hold the game at Park Avenue”; when asked what the difference will be from ten years ago. Aberystwyth have complied with the FAW’s strict league rules to bring their Premier clubs grounds up to the same standard as the rest of Europe. Each year since the creation of the new Welsh Premier 12 team system Aberystwyth have done this and also achieved the UEFA licencing to enable them to play in Europe at Park Avenue.
Gaining a Europa league place is also good for the town in general, with Bari Morgan (Aberystwyth’s longest serving player) saying;
“Getting into Europe means a massive deal to the club and Town, it puts us on the map and financially it’s a massive bonus to the club. It is just reward for all those who work hard behind the scenes.”
There is expected to be a sell-out crowd of 1002 people at Park Avenue for the home leg which will take place on one of the first two Thursday evenings of July. Local player Sion James remembers the atmosphere last time “I wasn’t part of the squad that was in Europe last time but I remember the buzz around the town”.
“As a player this time round it feels brilliant, being an Aber boy too it means a lot to me like I’m sure it does to all the local boys. It’s great for the town and we hope it will be something that will happen year after year”. This is the intent and determination from this talented group of players to ensure that the team can continue to be better and better year on year. Park Avenue and the club as a whole is developing at the moment too with Thomas adding:
“There is a public meeting on Tuesday 24th June 4-7pm to discuss the building development to upgrade Park Avenue (with a 3G pitch). We want to change Park Avenue into a hub for the club and town, which will be open 6/7 days a week to get more people involved in sport”.
The draw on Monday will determine who they are going to play and whether they will get drawn home or away first.
“We haven’t really spoken about who we would like to play at the moment. We’re just happy to be in the draw and we look forward to the challenge ahead”
said Sion when asked who the team would like to play. Bari said “I think I’d prefer to play home first leg so we can hopefully go away with hopefully a lead to look after whilst we’re out there”. Whilst Thomas would prefer the away leg first “as it’s the possible it could go to extra time and pens so the Dias stand could play a big part”. So the club are banking on good home support to see them through a tough draw as they will be going in as underdogs whoever they play.
Officials from Aberystwyth will already be on their way to Geneva for the draw on Monday. Whichever team the club gets drawn against, Aberystwyth will be proud to represent Wales come July with their first game on Thursday 3rd and the second game on Thursday 10th.
To find out more about Aberystwyth Town FC and their preparations then check out their official website
To watch the draw live on Monday 23rd June click here