Another summer, another football club’s dreams shattered.
Menai Bridge Tigers have lost their appeal to the Football Association of Wales against the Welsh Alliance’s decision to refuse them promotion to Division Two of that league next season.
The reason? The Anglesey club reports it is down to inadequate toilet facilities.
Talk about taking the p***
Had the Tigers been given a little more time to correct the issue I am sure they could have obliged.
Instead, the considerable effort which went into the club winning its first-ever Gwynedd League title has gone to waste.
The players who battled their way through 20 matches, winning 18 and losing just one, have had their dreams of representing the club at a higher level wrecked. All for the sake of being able to spend a penny.
Back in the summer of 2008, a phenomenal task force almost rebuilt Prestatyn Town’s ground to ensure they could take their rightful place in the Welsh Premier League.
An awful lot more needed to be done than provide decent khazis at Bastion Gardens, but the super-human DIY SOS style work crew got everything ready in time to meet the required criteria and the rest is history.
I am pretty confident the good people of Menai Bridge and surrounding area could have clubbed together to win this unwelcome “game of thrones”.
But neither the Welsh Alliance nor the FAW seemed to want to give them the opportunity.
Instead, jobsworths with very questionable respect for grassroots football put an X instead of a tick in the box and Menai Bridge are back to the drawing board. All because of a couple of lleodd chwech.
I’m no expert on Welsh Alliance League grounds, but I’ve had it on good authority that some of its clubs have been given considerable time to get their facilities up to scratch – considerably longer than Menai Bridge were – and some still haven’t done so. Is it a case of one rule for some, and another for others? Hardly fair play is it?
The idea is surely to encourage not discourage clubs seeking to improve themselves. Surely there should be a little more help and understanding along the way.
Menai Bridge did not finish their season until May 17 – later than the vast majority of clubs. Shouldn’t that have been taken into account by the Welsh Alliance and the FAW when making their decision?
The Welsh Alliance and FAW has recent form when it comes to ruining certain clubs’ progress.
Only last summer, CPD Pwllheli’s season was almost poleaxed before it started, when the Welsh Alliance granted the club permission to stay in Division One after Trearddur Bay United’s resignation, yet was told by the FAW they had broken the rules and the Cardiff ‘Taffia’ demanded the Llyn side drop to Division Two.
An understandably frustrated Pwllheli had to start the season nearly three weeks after everyone else.
The result? A team which could easily have been challenging for the title saw their hopes diminish in the closing weeks due probably to the expected fixtures backlog.
That saying: “The left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing” immediately sprang to mind. Shambles.
Remember the case of Prestatyn Sports?
They faced serious opposition from the “your faces don’t fit” brigade. In summer 2017, the club was expelled from the Welsh Alliance on ground criteria issues.
However, well-known North Wales football figure Chris O’Neal took up their case and Sports were reinstated on appeal.
Not only that, a few months later their facilities were passed fit to elevate to Division One.
This club overcame the hurdles and created their own turning point.
Menai Bridge were not given the same chance when surely they deserved one.
Menai Bridge Tigers said…..
On social media last weekend, Menai Bridge reported….
“So disappointed to let you all know that we lost our appeal for promotion today!! We lost our appeal on the basis of inadequate toilet facilities and not the pitch as some have said!!
“Firstly it’s so disappointing for the players who worked their socks off to win that league to not be able to go up and secondly to the management and behind the scenes staff that give up their time for this club.
“We feel that clubs in the past with lesser facilities have been allowed to go up and have been given time to improve their facilities, where we have just been told NO!! In our opinion the team that wins the league should win promotion end of story no grey area.
“The club would like to thank Sean Brett, Graham Hughes, Christopher James O’Neal for leading the appeal over the last few weeks and also a huge thank you to all the support. A statement about the future of the club will come next week.”
On their Facebook page, the Welsh Alliance stated….
“At tonight’s appeal at Menai Tigers ground, the Welsh Fa upheld the decision to not accept their ground into the Welsh Alliance for next season as it does not meet the ground criteria for tier 4 clubs in Wales.
“As runners up in the Gwynedd League, Gwalchmai, whose ground has passed the criteria, will be put forward at the AGM at the end of the month, for promotion to Welsh Alliance Division 2.”
What next for the Bridge? The club says it will make a statement about its future this week.
Will the club even be able to carry on? Will those players who stormed to the Gwynedd League title want to stay at that level next season?
Long-serving manager Sean Brett has already left the club and joined Gaerwen – although Sean made this decision before knowing about the promotion problem, telling Grassroots North Wales he felt it was time for a fresh challenge.
One positive to come out of this is the promotion of Gwalchmai, who finished well-clear in second place in the Gwynedd League. This is a good club with a fine tradition – they did not want to go up in this way, but have to accept the chance now it has been offered.
This whole saga, however, leaves a bad taste in the mouth.
Anyone being told Menai Bridge had been refused promotion but were unaware of the reason may well have assumed it was down to their pitch, the surface of which is admittedly not the best.
But of course, the quality of pitches does not even come into consideration under the FAW’s criteria. Senseless. Still, it seems they’d rather we be a nation of 3G.
No, the Tigers are being denied the right to advance to the next level because of toilets.
More evidence that where the FAW and certain leagues are concerned, grassroots football is being flushed down the bog.