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Team of the week: West Dragons FC

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west dragonsTHE history of West Dragons Football Cub spans across a very short period from 2008 to the present day. They were formed in 2008 by brothers Jamie and Lee Palmer, who with great ambition, courage and determination have bought the club to where it is today.

They also stated that the main philosophy of the club was to “give young players the best opportunity to succeed in an environment where they can play with freedom, courage, belief and to be successful”.

The club started the 2008-2009 season in Division 5 of the Pembrokeshire League. During that season the team played their home games in Crundale at the Rudbaxton Community Playing Field. The Palmer brothers approached local businessmen Karl Potter (The Glen, Haverfordwest) who became club chairman – who invested £500 in return for a direct interest in running the club.

Finally Jayne Thomas was added to the committee as club secretary and she stills holds that position today. Other sponsors such as G and G Builders Pembrokeshire Ltd, LNG South Hook invested to help fund facilities and equipment including a sit-down mower much to relief of then part time groundsman who for the first month of the season cut the whole pitch weekly with push on mowers taking an amazing five hours to complete.

Under the management of Jeremy Thomas and Deny Barrett the club began playing in the Pembrokeshire League. In October of 2008, the club made a move to bring in Lee Morgan as manager and finished the season as Division 5 league and cup winners beating St Clears in the final remarkably the club remained not only unbeaten but didn’t draw or lose a game in those respective competitions. Showing ambition the club was helped to success with the likes of Jonathan Clarke, Jay Brockway and Matthew Watters.

During the pre season of 2009-2010, West Dragons made Bob Nelson their new first team manager. After a strong start to the league campaign, West Dragons slumped in a run of games including a two leg cup defeat to Tenby United which ended Nelson’s campaign as manager.

Morgan returned to the helm in November and guided the team to the division title with the clinching victory coming in a game against Clarbeston Road where Simon Thomas scored the winning goal.

Off the field there was also change. Terry Worsley was appointed new club chairman and West Dragons replaced The Glen, Haverfordwest with The Labour Club, Haverfordwest as their new main sponsors. This time local businessman Eddie Wells invested in the club and still to this day does so as the club’s main sponsor. The club also made a ground move to The Pavillion Playing Fields, Portfield after agreeing a lease with Tasker Milward School and Pembrokeshire County Council for the use of the playing field which includes two full size pitches.

The Pembrokeshire League season 2010-2011 for West Dragons started in Division 3. The season ended in promotion with a second place finish in the division. They also managed to secure a division cup win with a 3-2 victory over Broad Haven, after trailing by two goals with only 30 minutes to play.

More history was created with a reserve team being introduced to Division 5 under the guidance of Deny Barrett and an under 14s junior team supervised by Jeremy Thomas and Jamie Palmer with fourth and third place finishes respectively. Off the field committee members were added and Karl Davies became the club’s groundsman on a permanent basis. On to Division 2, Morgan’s ambition was to achieve promotion in season 2011-12. The Dragons more than held their own in this division by comfortably beating teams and were third by Christmas. In February manager Lee Morgan decided to step down due to university commitments.

The committee decided that Jamie and Brother Lee would run the team until the end of the campaign. The Palmers decided to make Chris Darlington club captain and adopt the same style of play Lee Morgan installed. It certainly worked because the Dragons found themselves in another cup final after beating Saundersfoot Sports 2-0 in Division 2 cup semi final, Steven Dockerty and Mike Turpin with the goals. The league campaign ended with the reds narrowly missing out on promotion finishing third in the division.

In summer 2012-13 West Dragons committee appointed Nigel Delaney as their new manager. Delaney was recommended to the club and after meeting him and knowing his footballing background they knew he was right choice to bring club forward. This was Delaney’s first management job after a very successful playing career. Nigel had Mark Falzon helping him train the team for short spell but asked Byron Phillips to assist him. Phillips had recently managed Monkton Swifts.

Under Delaney the Dragons were unstoppable in the league losing only two games all season after comfortably achieving promotion. The target for the club was the achieve promotion but to do it in Delaney’s first season was great achievement.

The Dragons also made it to their first ever senior cup final after beating Hakin United 4-0 on the Bridge meadow in the semi final. The Dragons were the first side since 1989 to reach senior cup final and not to be playing in Pembrokeshire’s top division. The Reds faced Johnston the final at the Bridge Meadow Stadium watched by a record attendance with more than 1400. The Dragons finished runners up in final after losing 3-2. It was great effort by everyone involved with the club, considering the reds were trailing 3-0 at half time we showed great character in second half scoring two goals and giving Johnston a fright when Niall Kinsella hit bar in last 10 minutes of game.

A lot of credit had to go Nigel Delaney after what he achieved in season 2012-13. In this season West Dragons also had a successful season with their second side after manager Mark Hix guided his team to win the Division 5, an ambition the club felt had to be achieved if club was going to progress as a club.

The Dragons under 16s also had brilliant season after winning their league. The club was delighted to win their first junior title and glad the majority of the team has stayed with club in the senior level.

The Juniors also made it to the under 16s cup final but came runners up to Carew losing 2-1 at Marble Hall, Milford Haven. The club also started up a under 10s team and the team was managed by former Dragons player Simon Owens. The reds ambition is to bring juniors through every age group. The start of this season has been a success so far with some impressive performances and causing some shock results. Off the pitch Nigel Delaney decided to step down as manager, but deserves great credit for his effort and dedication he gave to club. Byron Phillips was appointed manager and Ritchie Brill as assistant manager. Phillips assisted Delaney so was the obvious choice to replace him. Mark Hix also stepped down as manager and was replaced by player-manager Dai Upward; Dai captained the seconds to previous season.

Coming up to Christmas break and the Dragons are currently in fourth place in division 1, five points off top of the league and the club is hoping to keep playing the football they have been playing and finish in the highest place they can. The second team is also holding their own in division 4 and hope to continue in the hard work everyone’s put in.

West Dragons would like to wish all their players a merry Christmas and a Happy New Year and look forward to seeing everyone back in the New Year.

News

Wales international Johnny Williams signs new Scarlets contract

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THE SCARLETS said this week that they are delighted to announce that Wales international centre Johnny Williams has signed a new contract with the club.

The 27-year-old joined the Scarlets from Newcastle Falcons in 2020 and after just four appearances earned his first Wales cap, against Georgia in Llanelli.

A powerful-carrying presence in the Scarlets midfield, he has since made 46 appearances, scoring six tries, including a memorable interception in last season’s Challenge Cup quarter-final win over Clermont Auvergne.

He has won seven caps for Wales, featuring at the 2023 Rugby World Cup in France.

Scarlets head coach Dwayne Peel said: “Johnny has been a key member of the side in recent years. He’s a player who is a dynamic carrier, is physical with and without the ball, has a good skill set and has an impact on every game he’s involved in.

“He is an important cog in how we look to play and it’s fantastic that he has agreed a new contract with the club. I know the fans will be thrilled with this news and, along with the likes of Eddie James, Joe Roberts and with Macs Page coming through, we have a lot of talent in that midfield pool for the coming years.”

Johnny Williams said: “I am delighted to have signed a new contract. It has been a frustrating season in terms of results, but I am excited by the potential of the squad we are putting together.

“A lot of young boys have put their hands up and we showed during the final few games of the season the kind of rugby we can produce.

“Pre-season will be around before we know it and I’m looking forward to getting stuck in, ready for a big start to next season.”

Johnny is the latest player to recommit to the Scarlets ahead of the 2024-25 campaign, following Tonga lock Sam Lousi, Wales internationals Tom Rogers and Harri O’Connor and back-rowers Dan Davis and Ben Williams.

Scarlets have also strengthened their squad with the addition of hooker Marnus van der Merwe (Toyota Cheetahs), prop Alec Hepburn (Exeter Chiefs), full-back Ellis Mee (Nottingham), lock Max Douglas (Toyota Canon Eagles), Wales international prop Henry Thomas (Castres Olympique) and back-three player Blair Murray (Canterbury).

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Osasuna welcomes Haverfordwest County A.F.C.

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THE PRESIDENT of Haverfordwest County AFC, Rob Edwards, visited the Navarrese club to learn more about the work the Club is doing on and off the field

Pamplona (Wednesday, June 19, 2024) – Club Atlético Osasuna welcomed Haverfordwest County A.F.C. president Rob Edwards this morning. During his visit, the president of the Cymru Premier team, the top tier of Welsh football, met with Rojillo president Luis Sabalza to talk about the work Osasuna is doing on and off the field. Later, he visited the Tajonar Sports Complex to learn more about the job done at the academy level. Today’s meeting was the Union of European Clubs Board members’ first meeting.

For the president of the Navarrese club, this type of encounter is essential as it showcases the growth Osasuna is having at a global level. “I think it is crucial because, recently, it seemed as if Osasuna only had relevance in our region and our community. However, Osasuna has gained worldwide notoriety through the Spanish Supercup and the Conference League. It has brought us a ton of joy that many clubs and executives want to come to know Osasuna and the work we do on and off the field and with our academy because it shows that we are not only doing good; we are doing great. Our goal is to make Osasuna known worldwide,” Sabalza said.

Haverfordwest County A.F.C. sees Osasuna as a model club for growth. “We are a small club, and we are looking to grow on and off the pitch, as well as our infrastructure, fan engagement, and community reach. It is always fascinating how bigger clubs can fix these problems… The objectives and solutions are very similar despite the size of the club compared to ours. Many clubs outside the elite European group will have the same challenges. It is great to understand how they overcome them and how they continue to grow and develop,” Edwards mentioned.

It is not only Osasuna’s front office work that caught the attention of the Haverfordwest County A.F.C. chairman but also the club’s work at the academy level. Edwards visited the Tajonar Sports Complex to learn more about the academy. While in Tajonar, he met with Tajonar director Ángel Alcalde and Tajonar technical director Patxi Puñal, who presented him with ‘Método Tajonar,’ the academy’s work method.

“[Osasuna and Haverfordwest County] share the same ethos of bringing through young players to the first team and giving young players a pathway into a career in football. I think the mindset of a club like Osasuna and what we are trying to achieve in Wales at our club is very similar. It’s been really interesting to come and understand how you work with the local community and how you engage to fill up the stadium and create such an amazing atmosphere,” Edwards highlighted.

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Haverfordwest County officials to visit Atlético Osasuna for strategic discussions

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NEXT week, Haverfordwest County A.F.C. chairman Robb Edwards and COO Beccy Nuttall will travel to Spain to visit Club Atlético Osasuna. During their visit, they will engage in high-level discussions with Osasuna’s upper management, focusing on community and fan engagement strategies.

In April, both Haverfordwest County A.F.C. and Club Atlético Osasuna were appointed to the Executive Board of the Union of European Clubs (UEC), an international organisation established in April 2023. The UEC was founded to provide a voice to the 92% of professional football clubs that often go unheard. The Union aims to democratise decision-making processes in European football, ensuring that each club has a vote and that the destiny of the sport is not determined solely by the wealthiest clubs on the continent.

“We look forward to this meeting with Osasuna and hope our collaboration with other clubs continues to grow,” said Edwards. The upcoming visit underscores the commitment of both clubs to fostering stronger ties and working collaboratively to shape the future of European football.

The discussions will likely cover a range of topics, from enhancing fan experiences to developing community outreach programmes, reflecting the shared values and objectives of both clubs within the UEC framework.

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