Clwb Pêl-droed sent out reporter Andrew Evans to catch up Lido ahead of the new season.
Q- The last time I caught up with you it was away at Aberdare Town last season and Lido pushed on and finished in a respectable 8th position in the league. How has the pre-season gone so far for the club and what are your realistic aims for the forthcoming campaign?
A The last three of four seasons have been hugely transitional for us which made pre-season preparations something of a lottery. Last season we consolidated for the first time in that period, so it was of paramount importance that we retained the core squad that finished 8th last campaign. The fact that they’ve chosen to sign for another term is a testament to the unity that the club is forging once again, and to the coaching staff led by Mark Robinson who has always held the club’s best interests at heart. We’ve strengthened in key areas too; the acquisitions of Jordan Edwards (from Goytre Utd) and Sascha Walters (from Carmarthen) shows that we’re intent on mounting a challenge this time around, and the additions of Liam McCreesh and Leigh De Vulgt to the coaching staff is a real signal of intent. There’s a wave of optimism around for the first time in years, so we’re feeling positive ahead of the start of the new season.
Q- Afan Lido is an iconic name for many in Welsh football, and having dropped out of the WPL, how have you found it in Welsh league division 1 travelling to new grounds and clubs throughout South Wales?
A – It’s a lot easier to travel around South Wales than it is to trek up north every other week. We’ve also found that competing at a more regional level creates more local interest and generates bigger attendances; local fixtures will always attract a keener interest from the local fanbase and catch the attention of the neutral.
Q This season will see the derby game back on the cards against near rivals Port Talbot Town. The 1901 ultras at the Sand Siro still like to chant songs regarding Lido showing how much the fixture means to your rivals. How much are you looking forward to renewing old rivalries and hopefully doing a number on the Steelmen?
A- I’d like to think that these fixtures have massive potential. We haven’t played each other for a few seasons. The last time around we faced each other 11 times in two campaigns competitively which took the edge off the fixture somewhat, but the break apart will hopefully have whetted the appetite for a couple of fierce contests. It’s imperative that both clubs join forces to maximise the potential of these fixtures and market them properly around the town and the local area. It would be amazing to see bumper crowds at both grounds and it would highlight the sporting prowess of the town to the Welsh footballing community.
Q You can often be seen tweeting scores out on match days, what is your exact role and involvement at the club and I’d imagine it can be a bit hectic on trying to get a signal and send tweets out in all sorts of weather on match days.
A – I won’t mention any names, but it’s possible, in one ground, to log into the nearby unprotected Wi-Fi of the local police station… I deal with the social media element of the club and I’m involved with many of the off-field projects involving grant funding and licensing.
Q This season in a bid to bolster the strike force at the club you have signed Jordan Edwards from Goytre United. How difficult is it for a club like Afan Lido to attract talent to the club given the competitive league and do you have any up and coming lads through the ranks that could be ones to watch in the future?
A- Our youth system has always been a lucrative production line of talent and it’s no different at the moment. Jack Hurley is one of the most exciting prospects to come through the ranks, and he’s been a permanent fixture in the senior set-up since he was 16 last season. He’s just one of many examples emerging through the ranks again. Afan Lido has always been a club that has given opportunities to youth players, and it gives many youngsters the ambition that they can work their way up to senior level and earn first team credentials.
Q Zombie Nation has now become a cult hit with Welsh football fans and even Merthyr Town fans have voted to use it ahead of kick off. Do the Lido run out to a specific theme song and if you had your choice what song would you like to see the lads run out to?
A- I don’t think we’ve ever had a theme song that we’ve run out to. Mark Jones (ex Carmarthen and Port Talbot Town boss) once suggested to me that we should come out to the Lido Shuffle by Boz Scaggs. That would be a great shout. Not sure many would agree with us, though!