Llangollen Town have had a difficult time of things since the change in format of the Welsh Premier League, however the one constant for the club during a rocky period has been their manager Gareth Lloyd and he has big ambitions for the club’s future.
Lloyd is in his third spell in charge of the club, having been made manager for the first time in 2008. He guided the club to success in the 2008-09 Champions Trophy, and was a runner up in the League Cup. But, his biggest achievement had to be his promotion winning campaign to the Huws Gray Alliance and he credits the atmosphere in the dressing room for the success.
“We had a small budget to try and realise our Cymru Alliance ambitions but the key to our success really was the closeness of the group and the fun we had along the way. The changing room had the best atmosphere I have experienced.”
However, the promotion was also the start of a rapid downfall for Llangollen with the new Premier League format coming into place.
“The Cymru Alliance season was a brilliant time for the club but was also the catalyst for a downturn in fortunes that, in all honesty, we are still recovering from.We worked incredibly hard to reach the second tier only to find about two months from the end of the season that 11 clubs would be demoted back to the feeder leagues. We received little by way of support from the relevant authorities at the time and the restructure with 12 clubs in the Welsh Premier saw a short term pain for all bar those in the top flight. As it worked out, the HGA is now the most keenly contested in Wales in my opinion, and the 12 team Premier has helped streamline quality and improved performances in Europe.”
Despite the setbacks, Lloyd still remains a key figure at the club. In their darkest hour, Lloyd answered his club’s call. After departing the club after their demotion, he worked with Airbus as a coach, but in the March of that year, he agreed to return to his hometown club and he has ambitions to take the club back to their glory days in the Cymru Alliance.
“We are now trying to put the building blocks in place to firstly reach tier three again, which must be the minimum level for a club of our size and stature . If we can keep improving our ground, foster better relations and coaching access with the youth set up, then the HGA represents our medium Term Goal.”
Despite the numerous clubs which prioritise immediate success through spending to gain promotion, Lloyd wants a successful club through all age groups. He would like a platform for the youth players to perform at the club.
“One of our main aims is to make sure we provide a club that allows the young players of the town a platform to perform at senior level and at the highest Level attainable. It is a difficult balancing act, some of course fall away and don’t make the grade, and the club will always need players from other areas to improve the side and it makes us better bringing in their experience and knowledge.”
Lloyd is an ambitious manager, with over 10 years management experience, but he always wants to progress with the club and believes they cannot afford to be left behind.
“Progression is key for me. We need to have clear aims and ambitions and we have to have a vision of how we are going to get there. We are really well supported and the football club is a key part of town life for a lot of people.”
But he was keen to implement a hard work attitude in the club.
“Success won’t come without hard work though, and it’s that hard work that has to start now on the field. The off field assistance is now in place. We need to move up from tier four as soon as we can and then try and get back to establishing ourselves amongst the top six of tier three. We need to ensure that we do not get left behind as other sides improve.”
Being one of the favourites for promotion, Lloyd wants to keep expectations realistic, but is adamant the club should look for success.
“We just have to look after ourselves and aim to be in the leading four at Christmas time” before adding “We have to make sure we are playing for something come the second part of the season.”
All at Llangollen will be hoping the club can return to the Huws Gray Alliance in the near futre, and with Lloyd at the heart of the management team, the town can start believing with the core foundations put in place by the young, ambitious manager.