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“We started with just a field and a dream – now we’re on cloud 9″…Prestatyn Sports

Prestatyn Sports committee: right to left Barbara Smith, Sion Williams, Tom Brooks, John Hargreaves, Steve Roberts, David Judson, Brian Nickson. Missing was Paul Watts. All photographs by DAMON MEAD

When you have to work that little bit harder in life to get the results you want it makes achieving those all-important goals so much more satisfying.

Take Prestatyn Sports – a football club which has never had anything handed them on a plate.

While success on the field since forming seven years ago has been considerable, the club has never received any favours from the football authorities.

In summer 2017, the club was expelled from the Welsh Alliance League on criteria issues surrounding their former home ground at Gronant.

However, well-known North Wales football figure Chris O’Neal took up their case and Sports were reinstated on appeal.

More problems emerged in October 2017, when the club had to withdraw from the Welsh Cup after their ground was deemed unsuitable by the FAW to stage a tie against Caersws.

Despite these blows, Sports battled on and by the end of 2017-18 were crowned Welsh Alliance Division Two champions.

Their promotion to Division One meant they had climbed three rungs of the pyramid to tier 3 within five seasons of formation.

Sports were winners on the field, but their ambitions to grow as a club faced major hurdles. Difficulties in establishing a permanent home base was holding them back.

But the story has a happy ending.

This week the club announced that after seven long years of negotiations, they have finally come to an agreement with Denbighshire County Council and Prestatyn High School on a 25-year lease for The Meadows playing field.

I was the first media guest to be invited to Y Dolydd/The Meadows at the weekend and what an impressive set up I found.

Four months ago Prestatyn Sports had a huge decision to make.

They could stay at Gronant, but the facilities there did not give them a hope of meeting the criteria for higher-tier football demanded through the changes to the Welsh football pyramid from 2020-21.

Moving to a new ground, with an adequately-sized pitch for FAW standards, would set the club up for a brighter future – but could they secure the long-term deal on The Meadows they needed?

Sports took a massive gamble and left Gronant, then began the major task of making The Meadows fit for football at tier 3 and above.

A task force made up of club management, players, supporters and friends all worked together tirelessly to develop a ground to be proud of.

Dressing rooms were set up with showers, plus an officials’ changing room, public toilets, a tea bar, dugouts, barriers and drainage work was carried out on the pitch to create a sturdy surface.

The rewards for all the hard work were realised when the club secured the 25-year lease with the county council and local high school.

Now there is a tremendous buzz about the place.

When I visited on Saturday, they were numerous track-suited Prestatyn Sports personnel working on various tasks.

They also had popular local photographer Damon Mead, who covers the club’s games, on hand to record the goings-on,

Club chairman and joint first-team manager John Hargreaves said the new ground has had a positive effect on everyone; the players are inspired at training and all cannot wait for the season to start.

Despite the fact they finished bottom of Welsh Alliance Division One last season, John made clear everyone is happy to be placed in the tier 4 North Wales Coast East Premier Division this term because of the high standard of opponents and the prospect of so many derbies.

“We’re not saying we’re going to win it, but our aim is to be right up there challenging,” he said.

Prestatyn Sports have not always had the best of reputations, yet on my visit to The Meadows there was only friendliness and humour.

There were no airs and graces for me, I’m no-one special by any means, but these people are too honest to put on a front for the media. What you see is what you get.

There is a certain aura already about The Meadows. Only one thing was missing – 22 players and a ball.

One senses this could become quite a fortress and some amazing memories will be created here.

John went into great detail about the works carried out at the ground – and the team effort behind it.

These are tough times for the world and local sport has been hit as hard as anything.

More than five months without competitive football, but Prestatyn Sports have never taken a backward step, they have pushed hard to make their project a success and they deserve it to be.

Working alongside John Hargreaves, Tom Brooks and many others over the past four months has been Sports joint first-team manager Sion Williams.

He said: “Four months ago we took a massive gamble and the firsts left Gronant as the pitch would never be big enough to comply with higher tiers in Welsh football.

“We had a plan, it was to improve the facilities and our lease at our previous home and our Juniors home – The Meadows.

“The vision behind it was to bring the club back together with everyone, seniors and juniors playing in one site. To create something proper for everyone at the club, not council-rented.

“A place where when you play junior football, you come through and play senior football, same pitch, same facilities, same badge, for the same club.

“The work that’s been carried out there over the last four months is nothing short of a miracle – with a lot of the work carried out by the committee, management, players and a lot of very generous local tradesmen and businesses.

“We started with just a field and a dream, and through hard work, time away from our families, a lot of sacrifice, we finished with facilities that have guaranteed tier 4 status, better facilities for everyone at the club, that’s ours for the club to grow over the next 25 years.”

Prestatyn Sports – A Letter of Thanks

This club has a lot of thanks for a lot of special people that have helped it full-fill a dream that started 7 years ago.

We are now the proud lease holders of our own ground for 25 years and have built from nothing facilities that meet the tier 4 criteria.

In doing so we bring our club back together with all juniors and seniors playing at the same home ground.

This has been a very ambitious project filled with learning curves, failures, angst , limits but ultimately triumph. We finally have a home to call our own.

I’d like to start by thanking Committee member Barbara Smith who over the last 3 years has tirelessly dealt with the re-negotiations of our original lease.

She has worked closely with the school and the council to first improve the original lease, remove some of the conditions, and then to see it to conclusion.

This is no easy task…many would have given up on this after a year but not Barbara – she carried on fighting our corner, and was in constant dialogue over e-mail between 3 parties.

I don’t think anyone else could have done this, you have given this club a home, we are forever in your debt, well done.

Secondly we would like to thank the Denbighshire County Council and the education department for the negotiations and for the amazing grant they gave us for the railings.

Massive thanks to Rebecca Williams, Helen Warburton, James Curran, Amy Selby and Gerald Thomas. Without your help advice, patience and correspondence the lease would never have been possible.

Mr Neil Foley the headmaster of Prestatyn High School for hearing our plea on social media, for giving us his precious time and ultimately his blessing for the lease.

Past committee members for raising some of the money used from events like the Frankie Allen night and other fund raisers throughout their years of service to the club.

For starting this amazing club and having the idea for the planning permission and original lease on The Meadows that was put in place and passed all those years ago. You had a vision back then; we thank you for it, I hope the current committee have seen that vision for the club through.

The current committee for raising part of the money used through fund raising, finding sponsors and grants.

For acting fast, making important decisions throughout the 4 months and taking the gamble on moving the first team when the uncertainty and risk was so big.

Andy Billy, Phil Hughes, Anthony Nickson and Jimmy Hughes for their help with machinery and groundwork on the diggers and dumpers.

Steve Roberts, Gwyn Williams, Mark Price, Jon Harkin, Chris Kelly, Sam Herd, Ryan Jones, Cy Williams and Ian Dunn for all their help on the barrows and ground works.

Martin Hargreaves for groundworks, drainage, rendering at the ground.

Barry Sharp Electrical LTD for all his work on the electrics, re-wiring, pat testing and earthing in the cabins.

Aled Evans from Bespoke Plumbing Solutions for agreeing to sponsor the first team and all his work and plumbing in the containers.

Peter Morris and his father Stephen Morris for all their had work on the block work on the dugouts . Doing the job as a favour to the club. Not many would give back to the community like that, great lads and always in the Prestatyn Sports family.

Paul Watts for his work marking the pitch and burning the lines in, and his continued work cutting and looking after the surface and groundwork.

P. W Dalimore Fencing LTD for doing an amazing job on the railings that proudly sit around our pitch.

Brian Nickson for his work on the new soak away drainage, to improve the playing surface for everyone at the club juniors and seniors alike.

Alan Richards and Sion Williams for their time in helping paint ceilings and outside of the containers .

The players and parents and anyone that has worn the red shirt in the past, for believing and supporting this club in these hard times.

The locals from the area of Roundwood Avenue all the way down to the Meadows Avenue that use the fields. Thank you for all your kind comments on the work we have done as you have been walking past. We hope you will join us on a match day to support your local club.

Finally the 3 architects of the project John Hargreaves, Thomas Brooks and Sion Williams. There isn’t a weekend gone by without work and commitment from the 3 of you.

Whether it be painting, groundwork, roofing, fixing, showers, reinstating, slabbing, organising, you have turned your hands to everything.

There was plenty of arguments and disagreements along the way, but you got there in the end. You have seen the job through to an amazing conclusion.

There is still more to achieve through the planning that won’t stop, but for now this is everything we need. A home to call our own.

Thanks

Everyone At Prestatyn Sports

Prestatyn Sports – league record

Prestatyn Sports – 2014-15 quadruple winners

2013-14
Vale of Clwyd and Conwy Division One runners-up: P 18 W 14 D 1 L 3 GF 81 GA 21 Pts 43
2014-15
Vale of Clwyd and Conwy Premier Division champions: P 20 W 19 D 0 L 1 GF 107 GA 20 Pts 57
2015-16
Welsh Alliance Division Two (6th position): P 24 W 11 D 4 L 9 GF 72 GA 57 Pts 37
2016-17
Welsh Alliance Division Two (3rd): P 26 W 17 D 2 L 7 GF 93 GA 51 Pts 50 * 3 pts deducted
2017-18
Welsh Alliance Division Two (1st): P 28 W 24 D 3 L 1 GF 117 GA 30 Pts 75
2018-19
Welsh Alliance Division One (7th): P 28 W 12 D 3 L 13 GF 53 GA 56 Pts 39
2019-20
Welsh Alliance Division One (16th): P 20 W 0 D 2 L 18 GF 27 GA 72 Pts 2.

League stats
Played 164
Won 97
Drawn 15
Lost 52
Goals For 550
Goals Against 307

Honours

2014/15 – Vale of Clwyd and Conwy League Premier Division champions, NWCFA Intermediate Cup winners, Premier Cup winners, Presidents Cup winners
2016-17 – Division Two Take Stock Van Hire Challenge Cup winners
2017-18 – Welsh Alliance Division Two champions

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