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Authors Notes

This is something I've been thinking about doing again for a while - a short story based on a game I've been playing but not writing about - my last 'version' was based on my Oxford game (It can be found here; http://www.cmstories.net/archives/stories/1101.html ). This game is running on CM01/02 (3.9.68), with England and Wales in the foreground, and Belgium, France, Italy, Holland, Spain, Germany, Scotland & Portugal in the background)

<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>

Glamorgan Gazette - Sport - Tuesday 9th July 2002

A special feature by Owen Jones

"Tomorrow evening, Rhymney Valley side Pontlottyn Blast Furnace play their first ever match in a European club competition. It has been an incredible transformation for the side - promoted to the Welsh Premier Division last summer after Rhyl's shock defection to the English pyramid, Pontlottyn were merely expected to make up the numbers in the top flight. One man, however, ensured that avoiding the wooden spoon would be no problems. Stuart Fairway took over as Pontlottyn's first manager from outside the village - a former professional player in England, Fairway came into the job with enthusiasm - but it was not enough for the existing, locally based squad. In a move that shocked the village, all 16 members of the squad who had won promotion for Pontlottyn refused to play for the club again, angry that the club had accepted promotion and would now be playing on the national stage. Stuart Fairway accepted this - and then went on to build a squad from nothing that would go on to win the league.

Over the next two pages, we interview the man himself, as well as some of those players he brought in - and who will represent the club on the International stage for the first time.


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Authors Notes

This is something I've been thinking about doing again for a while - a short story based on a game I've been playing but not writing about - my last 'version' was based on my Oxford game (It can be found here; http://www.cmstories.net/archives/stories/1101.html ). This game is running on CM01/02 (3.9.68), with England and Wales in the foreground, and Belgium, France, Italy, Holland, Spain, Germany, Scotland & Portugal in the background)

<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>

Glamorgan Gazette - Sport - Tuesday 9th July 2002

A special feature by Owen Jones

"Tomorrow evening, Rhymney Valley side Pontlottyn Blast Furnace play their first ever match in a European club competition. It has been an incredible transformation for the side - promoted to the Welsh Premier Division last summer after Rhyl's shock defection to the English pyramid, Pontlottyn were merely expected to make up the numbers in the top flight. One man, however, ensured that avoiding the wooden spoon would be no problems. Stuart Fairway took over as Pontlottyn's first manager from outside the village - a former professional player in England, Fairway came into the job with enthusiasm - but it was not enough for the existing, locally based squad. In a move that shocked the village, all 16 members of the squad who had won promotion for Pontlottyn refused to play for the club again, angry that the club had accepted promotion and would now be playing on the national stage. Stuart Fairway accepted this - and then went on to build a squad from nothing that would go on to win the league.

Over the next two pages, we interview the man himself, as well as some of those players he brought in - and who will represent the club on the International stage for the first time.


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Darren Poole

Glamorgan Gazette; Darren, you were the only natural right winger for most of last season - did that put any pressure on you to stay fit?

Darren Poole; Well, every player wants to stay fit - we did have other players who could cover my position, but as you say, I was (and still am) the only natural right winger at the club. I'm just pleased that I kept fit and didn't give the boss any headaches!

GG; I imagine you solved a lot of headaches too - with 33 goals you were top goalscorer last season, how did that make you feel?

DP; Well, it's unusual for a winger to be able to claim top goalscorer for his club, let alone be joint top goalscorer in the league as a whole. I just took my chances when they came along really - the other lads deserve a lot of credit for their performances, and as a winger I know that if you don't get the service, you won't score the goals - so a lot of it is down to the other players.

GG; How about the future, how do you see things going for the club?

DP; Well, on a personal basis I'm 24, and I hope to be around the game for a good 10 years yet! - What we achieved last season was amazing, but there was an element of the unknown about us. Now everyone in the league will be out to beat us, and it definatley won't be as easy!

GG; Yes, that's true - just finally Darren, Silema Wanderers of Malta tomorrow - can you make an impact in the Champions League?

DP; We've got to go into it with a positive attitude. If we can win through the first match, then we will be delighted - but if we get through the second game, then we are 180 minutes away from the Group Stages - and that would probably set the club up financially for years to come. As players, we all obviously want to do as well as we can, but we'll have to take it one game at a time.

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Curtis Jackson

GG; Curtis, last season you became the youngest ever player to play in the Welsh Premier league at the age of 15 - how did that make you feel?

CJ; Well it was an amazing experience, and still is really - I didn't really expect to be involved much last season, but to have started 27 games at my age was very special.

GG; And of course you were able to score quite a few as well?

CJ; Yeah - I got 13 in the end, 10 of those in the league - which was well over my target, although as I said, I played a lot more than I had been expecting.

GG; Obviously there were - and still are - a lot of young players around the club, but you are by far the youngest. Has it been hard for you to settle in to regular football at a young age?

CJ; The other lads have made it as easy for me as possible - obviously it helps that we've been winning so many of our games, but morale at the club is absolutley sky high, and everyone is competing for a place in the team. Hopefully we'll be able to keep the team together and achieve great things.

GG; Ah yes, the future - how far do you reckon you can go in the game? - Last season there were reports that an English side had sent scouts to look at you?

CJ; I had no contact with Burnley - though I think any club worth their salt should be looking at a side who only lost once in the league last season! Personally I want to go as far in the game as I can, all the way up to International level if possible. I doubt it will happen, but I've just got to keep plugging away. As for the future, I'm under contract here until the summer of 2004, when I'll still only be 18 - I can honestly see myself signing another long-term contract here after that, and from then on, who knows?

GG: Just finally Curtis, the game you won against Aberystwyth on the 2nd of March turned out to be the game in which you won the title - did the players have any idea until you got off the pitch?

CJ; Well we obviously noticed that the crowd were very excited, but we weren't sure until the boss told us that Cefn Druids had only drawn - when we found out, there was just the loudest cheers imaginable in the changing rooms! - it was an awesome experience - just like the rest of last season.

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Brian Healy

GG; Brian, captain last season - how did it feel to collect the trophy with some seven league games to go?

BH; Oh it was a great experience - we knew we were close to the title, but when we got the result against Aberystwyth to confirm it, the lads were just over the moon. It was one of the best nights of my career.

GG; Talking about your career, it has been long - is there a temptation to call it a day now?

BH; Yes - I'm 40 now, and I don't know how long the legs will keep going. I had a long spell out at the start of last season, and although I've told the boss I'll be able to play for the first qualifying round matches in the Champions League, I expect to hang up my boots by the start of the domestic season.

GG; What about the future, will you be staying in the game?

BH; At the moment I'm just planning to return to England - there wasn't so much money as there is nowadays when I was in the peak of my career, so I certainly will need to go back to work at some stage - I quite fancy going into the pub game though!

GG; And not just for the 'refreshments' afterwards I imagine! - As a player you have been a battling midfielder - do you ever wish that you had played in other positions?

BH; As you say, a lot of the time it's not the most stylish position to play - you don't always get the credit, but the lads here are a great bunch, and we all work hard for each other. In other teams I've played for it was the midfielders doing the work but getting none of the credit, while here everyone is keen to praise everybody else. It gives the club a great atmosphere, and it's a nice place to play.

GG; How about your successor in midfield - any youngsters we should be looking out for?

BH; There's a couple of young lads in the reserve team who were around last season, but didn't really get involved - one of them, Ryan Dorrian , needed Cruciate ligament surgery at just 16, but he's really come on leaps and bounds since returning to fitness. I'll always keep an eye out for Pontlottyn scorelines, and I think he's a name who will certainly be heard a lot more in the future.

GG; Finally Brian, you haven't been the only player to retire at the club over the summer - do you think the team will miss Sergey Gerasimets on the pitch?

BH; Sergey was a great player - you don't get international caps without talent - but as he's a coach now, I think he'll pass on a lot of his tricks to the youngsters here. I know the boss was hoping he'd stay on as a player, but just having him around the club will still be a great asset.

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Alex O'Reilly

GG; Alex, as the regular 'keeper, last season must have been a bit strange for you - at times you had very little to do!

AO'R; Yes, that's true! - there were some games where I hardly had anything to do, but to be honest, as a 'keeper, that's what you want - the defence last season was almost watertight, and of course we just couldn't stop scoring. For me it was the ideal season.

GG; Do you think it will be a different story this season?

AO'R; Well, you never can tell - there are some very handy strikers in this league - Mike Davies at Cefn Druids, Steve Carpenter at Port Talbot and Graham Evans at Caersws to name three - but in all honesty, I think the other 'keepers in the division are more worried about our attack than anything else!

GG; yes, 111 goals in the league last season - with some huge wins along the way. As a 'keeper, did you feel left out of that at all?

AO'R; I'm sure some of the other lads have said that at this club, we all share the credit - obviously the strikers get the headlines, though Darren Poole said something for the midfielders last year! - but football has always been like that and you just have to accept it. Personally it's not something I'm hugely worried about.

GG; How about you personally, will we be seeing you at the Furnace stadium in years to come?

AO'R; I'd love to stay here. I started my career at West Ham, and went out on loan a few times, but I've only really got regular football here, and you don't want to waste your opportunity of that. The club and the gaffer have been totally honest with me though, and I know that they don't want me to leave. I was offered the chance, earlier in the summer, to talk to a club in Scotland, but the gaffer didn't want to let me go and I chose to respect that. He and the club gave me a big chance here, and though there's always the possibility of a move in the future, at the moment I am very happy to be playing in Wales.

GG; One more thing Alex - tomorrow you'll be in action in the Champions League - are you looking forward to testing yourself?

AO'R; Hugely. It's every players ambition to play in the Champions League, and hopefully we'll be able to stay in it as long as we can. Nobody expects us to reach the group stage, but it's a funny old game, and you never know - although I think I'd be a lot busier than I'm used to if we did! Really, Silema Wanderers are a good team though, so we just have to take it a game at a time. If we can get a result in the home leg, it will make life a lot easier.

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<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by bjorn:

Nice to see you back Stuart, with a fine start as we are used to from you icon_wink.gif <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Nice dig icon_wink.gificon_biggrin.gif

Cheers Bob icon14.gif

Phil Carratt

GG; Phil, last season - how was it for you?

PC; It was amazing. I joined as one of the first players, and I knew that it would definatley be an interesting season when the gaffer told me he had to sign an entire squad. What I didn't expect was how well it went - it was brilliant for all of us.

GG; And especially you no doubt - you really lit up the league with your flair.

PC; Thanks very much - it's something I've always been good at, and last season it all came together for me. I only had a couple of games back home for Stockport, but here the gaffer stuck with me when he had more experienced options available, and I think it worked out.

GG; Yes, Landry Zahana-Oni might have expected to be a regular, but you kept him out of the team for most of the season - did it cause any resentment between the two of you?

PC; Landry is a professional, and he knows that sometimes it doesent all go your own way. When I was injured, he came in and did a very good job, so I was a little suprised to win my place back - but no, there was never any problem between us and I'm sure he'll do very well at his new club.

GG; And how about you? - We're told that you are rated as one of the most valuable players at the club, how does that feel?

PC; Obviously it's an honour - if the chance came to move back to England then I would obviously have to consider myself, but for the moment I'm perfectly happy here. If I keep on plugging away and playing well, then hopefully the club will earn some decent money from me! - I will always hold the club dear to my heart, and even if I do move on, I will always look out for their results. For now though I'm just concentrating on giving all I can for Pontlottyn - I'll let other people talk up my chances of a move elsewhere.

GG; What about Europe - do you feel the Champions League will give the club the chance to showcase themselves?

PC; Definatley - it'll be a huge game tomorrow night, and I hope the stadium will be packed. If we can win, then we'll have a good chance for the second leg in Malta, but whatever the score we'll just give it our best shot. I'm really looking forward to testing myself against players from abroad.

GG; Finally Phil, this season - can the club retain the title?

PC; As players, that is our aim yes - but it will be hard. Clubs will know a lot more about us this season, and I'm not expecting personally to get nearly as much space from defenders as I had at times last year - if they can stop Darren Poole and myself from creating chances for the lads up front, half the battle will be won. It'll certainly be intriguing though to see how teams approach us - we want them to come scared!

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Rhodri Jones

GG; Rhodri, the new captain - how does that make you feel?

RJ; To be captaining a side at 20 is simply amazing - and if we get through the first Champions League round, I'll be captaining a side in Europe after Brian (Healy) retires as well. I never thought I'd be doing it!

GG; It must have been a crushing blow to have been released by Manchester United?

RJ; It was a blessing in disguise really - United released me, and I just wanted to get straight back into the game, so when the boss gave me a call I just had to accept.

GG; Last season you were one of only two Welshman who played regularly for the club - did that cause a problem?

RJ; Not at all. The game now is going global, and although I'd have preferred that all of our players had been Welsh - it would be brilliant for the international team if lads like Phil Carratt and Darren Poole are! - but that's just how football is these days. It's not something I get too worked up about.

GG; As a defender, do you worry that you will be under a lot of pressure in the Champions League?

RJ; You are always under pressure to perform, but that's why we play the game - and challenging yourself against the best is one of the best ways to improve, I've found. At Man United I always wanted to be involved in training with the first team - not so much to make a name for myself, but more to test myself against the very best players in the country.

GG; How about your future - can you see yourself ever playing for Manchester United again?

RJ; Well I left on good terms, I just wasn't at the stage that they needed me at. It's a long way back to the top - but I'm happy here at the moment. Of course all players want to do the best they can, but a lot of the lads here have come in, like me, after leaving other, more well-known clubs, and personally I think the gaffer deserves a lot of praise for sticking with us.

GG; Finally Rhodri, what was the best moment of last season for you?

RJ; It's got to be winning the league - It was a great occasion. Other than that, to beat Bangor City, who knocked us out of the Cup, 6-1 in the last couple of weeks of the season was brilliant!

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Authors Notes

No longer a short story, I'm going for it properly with this one now - Not going to cover every game, but instead going for a Media-Based style of writing with Monthly updates and 'big' news getting it's own, journalistic style writeup (Sort of like my Motherwell story, should anyone remember it)

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David Taylor

GG; David - what a season - you really set the league alight last year.

DT; Thanks very much - Personally I had a great year, as the whole squad did - last season was just an experience I will never be able to forget.

GG; Welsh Player of the Year last season - were you suprised?

DT; Very much so. I had a great year personally, but to pick up a prestigious award like that in your first season of regular football is amazing. I only hope that I can go on to win it again in the future.

GG; So do you intend to stay in Wales?

DT; That's up to the gaffer - I'm under contract until 2005, and I have no intention of going anywhere else at the moment. I'm enjoying my football, and really looking forward to the Champions League.

GG; How far, realistically, do you think Pontlottyn can go in the Champions League then?

DT; All the way! - No, we'd have to be happy with just getting past Silema Wanderers I think. If we do that though, we will be full of confidence for the Second Qualifying Round - and I think all the lads are looking forward to travelling abroad to represent the club. It's going to be an adventure, certainly.

GG; Certainly. Another award you took last season was the supporters player of the year - how much does that mean to you?

DT; A lot. The supporters are the lifeblood of any club, and I'm really pleased that they appreciate me. I was suprised really though, we all thought Darren Poole would win it!

GG; Yes, Darren had a fine year - did having two good wingers help the strikers last season?

DT; Definatley - Darren and Phil Carratt really helped us a lot up front - both by scoring and setting chances up.

GG; Just before you go David, what was your most memorable game of the season on a personal level?

DT; Well, for me it has to be the 5-1 win over Connah's Quay right at the start of the season - it was my first hatrick since youth football, and the last one was a free kick - I was just walking on air that afternoon, and asked to take the free kick about 20 yards out - the skipper told me to go for it, and it just sailed straight in! - I've never scored one like that before, and I'm not sure when, or if, the next one will come along.

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Chris McConville

GG; Chris, what a year for you - Welsh Young Player of the Year and a regular in the team at 19 - how does it feel to be rated as one of the best young players in the league?

CmC; It's a dream come true - I really enjoyed the role I had, roaming forward from midfield, and I was so amazed when they told me at the end of the season that I had scored 17 - as a midfielder, you just concentrate on setting up the strikers, and if any chances come your way you try to score them.

GG; No bookings last season either - are you a Gary Lineker?

CmC; It's an honour to be compared to him! - No, I don't think so. Obviously nobody wants to get booked, but as a midfielder I do have to get stuck in sometimes, and I'm sure that I will pick up a few cards over my career. What Gary did was amazing, but in a different era for the game, and I doubt you'll see it again at the highest level.

GG; Talking about the past, who was your footballing hero as a child?

CmC; When we played at school, I was always Gazza! - I used to play in midfield and I could do a few kickups and tricks, and I think one of the PE teachers gave me it as a nickname.

GG; Yes, you've certainly got a few tricks - does it help to have good technique at this level of the game though?

CmC; I think it helps to be technically good at any level - keeping hold of the ball is the most important thing though, and I still feel I need to bulk up a bit. You do get knocked about a bit at this level, but it's part of the game - I've not had any serious injuries, just a couple of minor knocks, so I'm not too worried.

GG; Remind us again what you were doing before you signed for Pontlottyn?

CmC; I was working for my dad, as a labourer with his building firm! - After I left Lincoln I never expected to get back into the game, so I had to do something. Like I said though, I'm not especially strong, so I was finding it a bit tough, and when I got the call asking if I fancied a trial, I jumped at it - I never did find out who recomended me though, but I guess it was someone at Lincoln - I'm forever grateful.

GG; Any chance that you'll be moving back to England to play soon?

CmC; You never know - but I'm happy at the club for now. I've heard rumours that a club were looking at me, but I never heard anything. Obviously every player wants to play at the highest level they can, and I would love to play for Lincoln again one day - you always want to play for the team you support!

GG; Yes, 11th in Division Three last year, were you pleased as a fan?

CmC; I didn't get much chance to catch up to be honest, with everything that was happening here - but losing two managers to other clubs obviously didn't help. Hopefully we can do something this season, as I think we deserve to be in the Second Division at least. Sincil Bank is a very nice ground these days, and I'm hoping that one day it will see a high level of football.

GG; Just going back to Wales if I may, is the standard of the league higher or lower than you expected?

CmC; I really didn't know what to expect, but there really are some quality players - we've got some lads who really are top quality, and I think some could go all the way. As for the other clubs you only have to look at Steve McCormick - joint to scorer last season with Pooley (Darren Poole), and he's now gone to Rotherham in Division One - clubs are always on the lookout for good players at whatever level, so there's always a chance that lads will be spotted here.

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And finally, we talk to the man who made it all possible - manager Stuart Fairway .

GG; Stuart, last season must have been incredible, especially as your first season in charge.

SF; Well, it started badly with the players all leaving, but once I had brought in a whole new crop, it worked really well - amazingly well in fact. if you'd have told me we'd win the league, I wouldn't have believed you.

GG; And in Europe too - How much of a challenge will that be?

SF; Oh an enormous one, certainly. It depends on who we get, of course, but for once, 100% commitment might not be enough. I hope the lads can suprise everybody, but I'm just so proud we are at this stage to be honest.

GG; Do you think Pontlottyn have enough to beat Silema Wanderers?

SF; They are a good team, and perhaps more importantly, experienced in European competition. We will all enjoy the games though, especially the away leg in Malta - the players wives and girlfreinds were pretty excited with that draw!

GG; Well, it's got to be better than Latvia! - Just looking back at last season if I may, who were the players that you think were at the heart of everything good that happened?

SF; You can't answer that without mentioning Darren Poole , who had an absolutley incredible season - and of course David Taylor up front - but all the players had a part to play, and they all thoroughly deserved their Championship medals.

GG; Sticking with the past for the moment, several players have moved on over the summer - would you just like to talk about them for a moment?

SF; Well, players moving on is a part of the game - obviously Brian Healy, Pieter Huistra, Sergey Gerasimets and Gary Blackford have retired. Brian is a legend, and I'm eternally grateful that he has agreed to play two more matches for us against Silema. Sergey - well, Sergey was a fantastic player, but we all knew that he wanted to retire at the end of the season. Having him around as a coach will really help matters. Gary didn't play as much as he might of liked unfortunatley, but he was always solid and never let us down. Pieter is staying on as a coach, with particular emphasis on the strikers. The other two who have left, Landry Zahana-Oni and Darren Bradshaw both moved on for the good of their careers - £20,000 is a great return for Landry, who did very well but just found himself edged out by Phil Carratt, while Darren frequently covered us at the back, and at 35 he wanted to move closer to home, which is very understandable.

GG; How about the future - talk us through the new faces that are confirmed for next season.

SF; Well, there are a couple of young lads promoted from the youth setup - Gareth Rees is a left winger, 17 and a fair prospect - though he has a bit of work to do before I consider him ready for first team football. The other is a defender, Chris Thomas , who we are excited about - he's in the similar mould as Tony Adams - and Tony himself rates Chris quite highly. I've also been able to bring in a defender, Dale Hawtin , from Hyde in England, and Aaron Shanahan , an Irish youngster from Bristol City. We've paid £20,000 for Aaron, and I see him as the successor to Brian Healy. He's a rough diamond at the moment, but as he's only 19, he has plenty of time to shine yet. Steve Soley , a creative midfielder with bags of experience, has joined from Southport as a player/coach, and I'm also pleased that Marcus Richardson will sign in September on a Bosman from Torquay.

GG; You mentioned Tony Adams there - how has having him as your assistant helped?

SF; I was a professional, but Tony Adams has to be one of the ultimate pros - he battled back from his personal demons as we all know about, and for both Arsenal and England he was a hero. I think he'll make a great manager himself one day, but for now I'm delighted to have him as my assistant. He's got a 'never say die' attitude and is great at working with the younger players - most of whom remember him in his prime as they are so young!

GG; Yes, youth has been a big policy of yours - do you deliberatley look for young players?

SF; If a player is available who I think will improve the squad, I will look at him - whatever his age. I think by buying Brian Healy last summer when he was 39 we proved that - experience is just as important as youth, and having an older head like Brian, or Sergey around, it helps to give the kids a guiding hand. The boys here are young and excite me a great deal, but let's not forget that they are young, they will make mistakes, and still have a lot to learn.

GG; So you think you can keep hold of them for a while yet?

SF; Every footballer worth his salt wants to play at the highest level they can. I'm honest with the players if I hear of any interest, and we discuss any official approaches - but just as a personal opinion, I think clubs are sometimes too quick to try and sign young players - they need to be nurtured carefully. Curtis Jackson for example, last season, played too many games in my opinion - he had to, because of injuries, but I would have rather rested him more often. To answer your question though, yes, hopefully we can keep this team together for a while yet.

GG; And just finally, how about yourself - is there any job that would persuade you to leave Pontlottyn?

SF; Just two - The job at Brighton & Hove Albion , where of course I played for many years - the other? - Well, any international job would make me think! - but I somehow doubt I'll get to that stage - for a while yet at least!

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So there you have it - the 2001/02 season, in the words of those who lived it. But what if you didn't see it? - Furnace Park frequently filled up - so if you didn't manage to get to see the team last season - or if you've just come back from the moon - here's what happened in our month-by-month roundup;

July 2001

Pontlottyn Blast Furnace are confirmed as members of the Welsh Premier Division. All 16 Welsh Alliance Championship winning players leave the club on the same day that Stuart Fairway is appointed manager. Lee Lawrence, Rhodri Jones, Robert Lawrence, Peter Huistra, Darren Bradshaw, Chris McConville, Phil Carratt, Curtis Jackson, Alex Kevan, David Taylor and Alex O'Reilly all sign for the club.

August 2001

Darren Poole, Gareth Sutton, Brian Healy, Ben Vaughan, Landry Zahana-Oni, Fred Wilson and Ryan Dorrian all sign in the opening five days of the month, followed by Sergey Gerasimets on the 13th. Pontlottyn win all three scheduled preseason freindlies, beating Buckley Town (6-1), Skewen Athletic (4-1) and Eastbourne United (4-0). The league season kicks off in style with a 3-2 win at Caernarfon Town, followed by a 5-2 thrashing of Total Network Solutions at home. Sergey Gerasimets scores his third in as many games as Pontlottyn round off the month with a 3-0 win over Carmarthern Town in the Welsh League Cup, a game in which striker Curtis Jackson becomes the youngest player to represent Pontlottyn at 15.

September 2001

A busy month sees no less than 8 First Team matches played, with 5 in the league and the remainder in the league cup. All matches, bar one, end victorious for Pontlottyn - including 5-1 anhilations of both Bangor City (League Cup) and Connah's Quay (League). The final match of the month, in the League Cup, is a 1-1 draw, as Pontlottyn need a late Pieter Huistra goal to salvage a point, enough to see them through to the knockout stage. Striker Lee Withe signs on a free transfer.

October 2001

After 8 matches in September, October just has four games - and while league wins over Llanelli (4-2), Cwmbran (4-2) and Aberystwyth (3-0) keep Pontlottyn top, in the League Cup it's a different matter, as Fairway's side fall to their first defeat - Bangor City gaining revenge for humilation in the league with a 3-2 victory at Furnace Park.

November 2001

November sees four more wins - Oswestry (4-0), strugglers Welshpool (5-1), and Bangor City (2-1) are all beaten in the league while Non-Leaguers Briton Ferry are destroyed 5-1 in the Welsh Cup Third Round. Lee Withe scores his first for the club in the victory over Oswestry - he will go on to bag nine in 21 matches for the club.

December 2001

The month begins badly, with the first dropped points in the League - a 1-1 draw with Afan Lido, and what turns out to be the only League defeat all season, to Haverfordwest County (3-2). Pontlottyn get over the disapointment of defeat by thumping Cefn Druids 5-1, TNS 4-2, and Port Talbot 3-0 in the final match of 2001.

January 2002

January's 4 matches are all victories for Pontlottyn - Barry Town (3-1), Caernarfon Town (4-1), Carmathern (3-1) and Caersws (4-1) keeping them at the top of the table. Loanee left back Andrew Kilpatrick arrives from Albion Rovers until the end of the season, as cover.

February 2002

Connah's Quay are beaten twice in a week in both the league (2-0) and Welsh Cup Fourth Round (2-1) - Pontlottyn follow this up with a 4-1 thrashing of Newtown and a rare 1-0 victory over Llanelli. The month is rounded off in style with a 3-1 victory over Cwmbran, in a game which sees David Taylor score his 20th of the season and Chris McConville his 15th.

March 2002

Another 1-0 victory over Aberystwyth - but this time, it's irrelevant as David Poole's 70th minute strike secures the title for Pontlottyn on the Second of March. After wrapping up the league, Pontlottyn crumble in the Cup - going out 2-1 to perennial bogie team, Bangor City (2-1). In the league, the march goes on - wins over Oswestry (3-1), Welshpool (3-0) and an action-packed draw (3-3) with Haverfordwest to round off the month.

April 2002

The league season is completed with four wins from the final four games - Afan Lido (3-0), Cefn Druids (4-2) and Barry Town (2-0) all despatched - but by far the sweetest is a 6-1 demolition of Bangor, in which Darren Poole nets his 30th goal of the season - it later emerges to be Pontlottyn's 100th in the league - from the penalty spot.

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Pontlottyn Blast Furnace - The Squad 02/03

Apps include Substitute apperances


Alex O'Reilly - GK - 22 - Irish;

First Choice last season, and a solid figure between the sticks. £30,000 bid from Partick Thistle rejected over the summer.

Last Season; 39 Apps/43 Conceded - Ave Rating; 7.41

Gareth Sutton - GK - 21 - Irish;

Solid when called upon, but lacking in class compared to O'Reilly. A useful backup, but don't expect great things.

Last Season; 4 Apps/2 Conceded - Ave Rating; 7.50


Robert Lawrence - DR - 19 - English;

Regular at right back, Robert is maturing into a fine player. Solid and dependable.

Last Season; 36 Apps/0 Goals - Ave Rating; 6.89

Lee Lawrence - DL - 17 - English;

A little weak in the challenge, but makes up for this with explosive pace and tenacity - a regular last season despite his tender years.

Last Season; 37 Apps/1 Goal - Ave Rating; 6.81

Rhodri Jones - DRC - 20 - Welsh;

Rock at the back, and the new club captain. Dependable, and an occasional threat at set pieces.

Last Season; 34 Apps/2 Goals - Ave Rating; 6.85

Ben Vaughan - DRC - 19 - English;

Definatley a talent, and a regular last season, but perhaps not yet showing his best form. A good goal record.

Last Season; 36 Games/5 Goals - Ave Rating; 6.69

Dale Hawtin - DC - 26 - English;

New signing from Hyde United. A powerful defender who will add experience to a youthful back line.

Last Season - N/A

Chris Thomas - DLC - 17 - Welsh;

Quick, Brave and with a mean left foot, Chris is one to watch. Second product of the youth system to earn a contract.

Last Season - N/A


Aaron Shanahan - DMC - 19 - Irish;

Signed for £20,000 from Bristol City, the first signing to command a transfer fee. Superb passer, has the makings of a great.

Last Season - N/A

Alex Kevan - MLC - 21 - English;

In and out of the team last season, but reliable when called upon. Definatley a talent, and popular with supporters.

Last Season - 26 Apps/4 Goals - Ave Rating; 7.23

Darren Poole - AMR - 24 - English;

Already a Pontlottyn legend - 33 goals last season, with a record to worry any defence.

Last Season - 42 Apps/33 Goals - Ave Rating; 7.79

Phil Carratt - ML - 20 - English;

A wicked left foot, and a mean crosser - Phil created no less than 21 goals last season. A potential star.

Last Season - 37 Apps/6 Goals - Ave Rating; 7.41

Chris McConville - MC - 19 - English;

Mr Reliable - a midfield Goal machine, Chris exploded onto the scene with amazing impact. Another potential star. Welsh Young Player of the Year.

Last Season - 35 Apps/17 Goals - Ave Rating; 7.60

Steve Soley - AMC - 31 - English;

Player/Coach - an experienced creative midfielder brought in to provide a more attacking option.

Last Season - 9 Apps/3 Goals (Southport), 5 Apps/0 Goals (Leigh RMI - Loan), 4 Apps/2 Goals (Marine - Loan) - Ave Rating; Southport - 7.00, Leigh RMI - 6.00 - Marine - 7.25

Ryan Dorrian - MC - 17 - Welsh;

The only member of last season's squad yet to make a first team appearance - Spent 6 months out after Cruciate Ligament surgery, but potential for the future.

Last Season - N/A

Fred Wilson - MC - 17 - English/Australian;

Rarely used last season, but definatley one for the future. Out on loan for the season to Llanelli.

Last Season - 4 Apps/0 Goals - Ave Rating; 6.25

Gareth Rees - AML - 17 - Welsh;

First of the Youth graduates - on a one year contract with a need to prove himself. Has something, but may not be good enough for this level.

Last Season - N/A


David Taylor - FRC - 20 - Welsh;

A real gem of a player, last season's Fans Player of the Year and Welsh Player of the Year. Awesome goalscoring record, and will only get better.

Last Season - 34 Apps/26 Goals - Ave Rating; 8.24

Curtis Jackson - SC - 16 - English;

A regular despite his tender years, will have to be protected to prevent burnout. Quick, with an eye for goal, Curtis could go a long way in the game.

Last Season - 33 Apps/13 Goals - Ave Rating; 7.59

Lee Withe - FRLC - 20 - English;

Began as a bit-part player, but progressed into a key squad player and substitute. Decent record, will get more of a chance this season.

Last Season - 21 Apps/9 Goals - Ave Rating; 7.29

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June 2002

Steve Soley (15th) and Dale Hawtin (24th) arrive on Bosman free transfers. Gary Blackford and Pieter Huistra retire from football.

Utility man Darren Bradshaw (4th) signs for Hereford on a free transfer. Winger Landry Zahana-Oni (17th) is sold to CPS Glantreath for £20,000, becoming the first player to be sold on for a fee by Pontlottyn.

July 2002

Pontlottyn begin the month with a 2-2 Friendly draw against Rhydymwyn - goals coming from Curtis Jackson and a Darren Poole spot kick - Dale Hawtin also makes his debut in the game. Two days after the game (5th) Sergey Gerasimets ends his playing career to concentrate on coaching.

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The Sun - Football - Thursday 11th July

Disapointment for Welsh Minnows in Europe

'Welsh side Pontlottyn Blast Furnace lost their first ever match in European competition last night. At a packed Furnace Stadium - just one seat in the away end available - Maltese side Sliema Wanderers romped to a 4-2 victory, leaving progression for Wales' only Champions League contenders depending on a result in the Second Leg.

It was Pontlottyn who started the better - Darren Poole having an effort turned over the top as early as the second minute, before Rhodri Jones shot straight at 'keeper Vella from the rebound. Last season's star man started as he had finished last season for the home side - 33 goals in Wales last term - but Poole was a little unlucky on 14, denied by a superb stop from Vella.

On 22 however it was the visitors who took the lead - Camilleri feeding strike partner Simon Farrugia , who made no mistake from close range. Although Pontlottyn looked a little despondent, they soon worked their way back into the match, and on 39, Poole should have headed the Welshmen level with a powerful, close range effort that required a desperate goalline clearance.

With the home side seeming to lack that vital spark, Fairway made one change at half time - replacing Chris McConville with new signing Steve Soley. Soley proved crucial - picking out Darren Poole just two minutes after coming on, to allow the winger to head beyond Vella. While Pontlottyn deserved to level the scores, it was little suprise when the Maltese visitors again took the lead 10 minutes later on 58 - the busy Camilleri floating the ball across goal for Azzopardi to head down at the far post. 'Keeper O'Reilly got a hand to the ball, but it was not enough, and Simon Farrugia tapped home for his second of the match.

Just three minutes later, with their plans threatening to fall apart, Pontlottyn went a further goal behind - in frustrating circumstances for manager Stuart Fairway. A quickly taken Sammut corner was drilled home at the near post by John Aigus , leaving Pontlottyn's hard-pressed defence chasing shadows. With the visitors threatening a rout, Pontlottyn again pulled a goal out of the bag to reduce the defecit - veteran Healy combining well with sub Soley, who knocked the ball into the path of Phil Carratt . Carratt made no mistake - rifling home a superb shot on the volley to leave Vella stranded at his near post.

Pontlottyn continued to press for the equaliser - Curtis Jackson closest on 70 with a half-volley that cracked against the post. It however, would never come - and on 80 another Kevin Sammut corner provided the opportunity for Mario Camilleri to finally kill off stubborn Welsh resistance with a well-taken header at the far post. Despite the scoreline, Mark Vella was the busier of the two 'keepers - and Pontlottyn sub and provider of both goals Steve Soley thoroughly deserved his Man of the Match award. Pontlottyn go to Malta in a week's time, needing a 3-goal victory to progress. Their first taste of European football will have been a bittersweet one - the relative inexperience of the defence in particular perhaps to blame - but manager Fairway can take heart from the performance. Don't write off these Dragons yet...

Pontlottyn Blast Furnace 2 - Sliema Wanderers 4


Farrugia 22

Poole 47

Farrugia 58

Aigus 61

Carratt 64

Camilleri 80

Attendance; 1999

Pontlottyn BF (4-4-2); O'Reilly, R Lawrence, L Lawrence, Jones, Vaughan, Poole, Healy*, McConville (Replaced 45 Soley), Carratt, Taylor, Jackson.


Pontlottyn Blast Furnace would achieve success in the Second Leg - A brace from David Taylor and a Chris McConville strike four minutes from time enough to upset the applecart, and send Fairway's men through to the Second Qualifying Round, potentially four matches away from the incredibly lucrative Group stages of the tournement.

As promised, after the match (19th), veteran Irishman and club captain Brian Healy hung up his boots at the age of 40. Fairway reacted quickly - spending £20,000 to bring in another Irishman, 19-year old Aaron Shanahan from Bristol City. Shanahan started his career at Coventry, before moving Westwards, but never made his debut for the Robins.

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The Sun - Football - Thursday 25th July

Slovaks Shocked by McConville strike

'The Welsh champions charge goes on - Pontlottyn Blast Furnace , who amazingly reached the Second Qualifying stage of the Champions League after beating Maltese side Sliema Wanderers 3-0 at home, have continued their amazing form with a 1-0 victory over MSK Zilina at the Slovakian champions home ground, Pod Dubnom.

A small, but enthusiastic party from Wales travelled with the squad and saw their heroes almost take an immediate lead - Darren Poole rushing an opportunity in the second minute, firing wide after a fine pass from debutant Aaron Shanahan. They would have to wait just nine more minutes for the goal to come - Curtis Jackson flicking on a Shanahan pass for Chris McConville to brilliantly lob Slovakian international 'keeper Branislav Rzeszoto from the edge of the area.

After the goal, however, the first half was a relative anti-climax - just a clearly offside 'goal' for Zilina frontman Hrncar ruled out on the stroke of half time by Swedish referee Martin Ingvarsson. This time, Fairway chose not to adjust his team at the interval - leaving an unchanged side to begin the second half. Zilina again came close - Mintal seeing a half-volley well blocked by O'Reilly on 55 - but the real flashpoint was yet to come.

Frustrated by his lack of success, Zilina winger Martin Vencal kicked out at Alex O'Reilly on 56 - and immediatley saw red. Three minutes later, with tensions still running high, he would be joined by Miroslav Hrncar, dismissed for a second bookable offence after a confrontation with Pontlottyn's Lee Lawrence, who recieved a booking for his part in the incident. When play finally restarted again, Zilina nearly scored - Bartos merely inches wide with a raking free kick from the right.

As Zilina began to tire in front of a by now baying home crowd, Pontlottyn siezed their opportunity, creating more and more chances from deep. Teenage striker Curtis Jackson was close with a header on 75, before goalscorer McConville saw a shot on the turn hit the base of the post 10 minutes from time. After a pulsating period early in the second half, the match again began to drop off in pace - Zilina resigned to their fate, with nine men not wanting to commit many forward, and Pontlottyn either unlucky or unable in their bid for a further breakthrough.

The result - combined with Pontlottyn's fearsome home record - raises hopes that they could be the first Welsh club ever to reach the Group stages of the Competition. Manager Stuart Fairway isn't so sure, telling The Sun; "It was a fantastic result tonight, but we can't get carried away. Even if we do progress, we would have a very tough match in the Third Qualifying Round - there really are no easy games in this tournement"

Despite Fairway's pessimisim, Pontlottyn fans will be celebrating this result for years to come - and may just recover in time for the second leg, back at The Furnace Stadium, next Wednesday.

MSK Zilina 0 - Pontlottyn Blast Furnace 1


McConville (11)

Attendance; 9373

Pontlottyn BF (4-4-2); O'Reilly, R Lawrence, L Lawrence, Jones*, Vaughan, Poole, Shanahan, McConville, Carratt, Taylor, Jackson.


With morale at an all-time high, a weakened Pontlottyn side edged out Shrewsbury Town 1-0 in a freindly at the Furnace Stadium (28th) - with fringe players including Ryan Dorrian and Gareth Rees handed their first chance to shine.

Despite the best possible warmup however, Pontlottyn's European adventures would end on Wednesday 31st July - MSK Zilina running out 3-0 winners at The Furnace Stadium with goals from Miroslav Petras and a brace from Michal Paraska . Zilina went on to face Racing Genk of Belgium in the Third Qualifying Round. A disapointing end to an epic month.

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August 2002

After the disapointment at the - perhaps a little premature - end of the European campaign, Fairway quickly reacted to keep his squad intact - rejecting a £30,000 bid from Partick Thistle for 'keeper Alex O'Reilly (3rd).

Preperations for the season continued apace - On the 6th, Pontlottyn destroyed Merthyr Saints 6-1, with David Taylor grabbing a hatrick, Darren Poole a brace and Phil Carratt completing the rout. 4 Days later (10th), Curtis Jackson scored twice as Pontlottyn defeated Burton Albion 2-1 at Furnace Park in the last of the preseason matches.

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www.valleytoday.co.uk - Sport - Thursday 15th August 2002

'Youth Starlet Signs New Deal'

" Pontlottyn Blast Furnace have today confirmed that defender Chris Thomas , a recent graduate of the clubs' youth policy, has signed a contract, keeping him at the club until the summer of 2005.

Thomas, 17, is naturally left footed but can play on either the left or in the centre of defence. "We're delighted to have secured Chris" stated manager Stuart Fairway. "It's always good to have local players in the squad, and Chris is a very exciting young player".

For his part, Thomas is pragmatic rather than overly excited. "I know it will be tricky to get into the first team, but I do hope to make the breakthrough sooner rather than later. I'm realistic - there are probably three players before me in the hunt for a place at centre back at the moment, but as I said, hopefully I can impress in the reserves and earn my chance."

The three players that Thomas refers to include club captain Rhodri Jones . Jones, 20, told valleytoday; "We're all excited that Chris has come through - although it makes it harder for myself, Ben (Vaughan) and Dale (Hawtin)! - He's always had talent, which we saw when he was training with us at 16 in the latter part of last season. It can only improve the squad, having youngsters like him and Gareth Rees coming through"

Although not expected to be involved in the squad for Pontlottyn's league opener on Saturday, Thomas is set to make his bow for the club tonight, in a reserve fixture against Afan Lido .


On Friday morning (16th), midfielder Fred Wilson tied up terms with Llanelli - the Australian born midfielder sent out on loan to improve his chances of winning a first team place at the Furnace stadium. A day later, Pontlottyn did begin their title defence with a victory - although winning 2-1 against Afan Lido was not as easy as might have been expected, with the visitors causing problems, Howell equalising Chris McConville's early strike before Curtis Jackson killed off resistance 22 minutes from time.

Immediatley after the match, David Taylor became the first Pontlottyn player to be called for international duty - added to the Wales Under 21 squad for the match against Holland. While the rest of the week was quiet, Fairway made one change for the trip to bottom club Oswestry - bringing in Steve Soley for Chris McConville. An inspired goalkeeping performance from Oswestry's Embleton kept the scoreline down - Lee Withe blasting the only goal of the game on 20. Bad news, however, came in the form of a knock for Phil Carratt , keeping him out for four days.

With Carratt not fit by Wednesday, Fairway handed teenager Gareth Rees his first opportunity, bringing the youth product into his squad for the League Cup trip to Barry Town . Under serious pressure in the opening moments, Barry took the lead in unfortunate circumstances - Aaron Shanahan diverting a shot beyond his own 'keeper. With changes at the break, sub Chris McConville levelled things for Pontlottyn on 50 - before stupidly hitting out at Kennedy on 71 to recieve his marching orders. Barry - the better side - continued to press, and were somewhat unlucky to see a late goal ruled out, with Lawrence Davies offside.

The final match of the month would come on Saturday, with the visit of Carmathern Town - a match that suprisingly saw Chris McConville reinstated to the team after his one-match ban was revoked by the Welsh FA. One change would have to be made though - David Taylor off on International duty, with Lee Withe paird with Curtis Jackson in attack. Carratt also returned - Rees on the bench after a not-unimpressive debut in the League Cup. Pontlottyn finally hit top form - destroying Carmarthern 4-0, with a brace from Curtis Jackson , and solitary strikes from Darren Poole and Chris McConville - the latter scoring his 5th of the season.

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Welsh Premier Division - Saturday 31st August 2002



2002/3 Table


Pos Team Pld Won Drn Lst For Ag Won Drn Lst For Ag Pts


1st PONTLOTTYN BLAST FURNACE 3 2 0 0 6 1 1 0 0 1 0 9


2nd T.N. Solutions 3 1 0 0 2 0 2 0 0 6 3 9

3rd Flexsys Cefn Druids 3 1 0 0 2 0 1 1 0 3 2 7

4th Llanelli 3 1 1 0 4 3 1 0 0 3 2 7

5th Bangor City 3 1 0 1 6 3 1 0 0 4 0 6

6th Connah's Quay 3 1 0 1 4 3 1 0 0 4 2 6

7th Port Talbot Town 3 2 0 0 4 0 0 0 1 0 2 6

8th Aberystwyth Town 3 2 0 0 3 0 0 0 1 1 3 6

9th Haverfordwest 3 0 1 0 2 2 1 1 0 4 3 5

10th Barry Town 3 0 1 0 1 1 1 1 0 4 3 5

11th Caersws 3 1 0 1 9 6 0 0 1 0 1 3

12th Welshpool 3 0 0 2 2 5 1 0 0 4 3 3

13th Afan Lido 3 1 0 1 3 4 0 0 1 1 2 3

14th Oswestry Town 3 0 0 1 0 1 1 0 1 4 5 3

15th Caernarfon Town 3 0 0 1 2 3 0 0 2 0 4 0

16th Cwmbran Town 3 0 0 1 1 2 0 0 2 0 5 0

17th Carmarthen Town 3 0 0 1 2 4 0 0 2 0 5 0

18th Newtown 3 0 0 1 0 4 0 0 2 3 8 0


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September 2002

David Taylor returned from a Wales Under 21 defeat (1-0 at the Amsterdam ArenA) without playing - the striker not involved in the final 16 for the match. September, however, began with a transfer bid - Shamrock Rovers offering £12,000 for goalkeeper Gareth Sutton - an offer immediatley accepted by Fairway. A day later, Sutton agreed the move - Pontlottyn £12,000 better off, but with just one recognised 'keeper.

By Tuesday (3rd), cover had arrived, in the form of Nuneaton 'keeper Chris McKenzie - the 30-year old Englishman on loan for the rest of the season, with Fairway considering a permanent move should the situation merit it. McKenzie, however, would only be on the bench for the second home match against Carmathern Town in a week - this time in the League Cup. The match began badly - Rhodri Jones seeing red for a crude challenge after just nine minutes. With his skipper off, Fairway immediatley signalled for Dale Hawtin to replace Lee Lawrence, going with a 3-4-2 formation. Unsuprisingly, the visitors quickly took advantage of the extra man, and Parker fired them ahead on 16. It took Pontlottyn until the second half - and substitutions - to level, with Darren Poole netting from the spot after Carmarthern 'keeper Brook had too seen red, this time for tripping Soley when through on goal. Carmarthern's young sub 'keeper, Lloyd, tried his best, but was unable to deny Curtis Jackson on 76 - and with the game long since wrapped up, Curtis Jackson netted again in injury time to wrap up the result with a fine, low drive.

After victory would come disapointment - Lee Lawrence fracturing a cheekbone in training to rule him out for a month, while skipper Rhodri Jones recieved a further 2-game ban for serious miscounduct against Carmarthern - the Welsh FA coming down harshly on the young defender for his challenge.

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Glamorgan Gazette - Sport - Friday 6th September 2002

'Bosman Richardson signs for Pontlottyn'

"Torquay United striker Marcus Richardson has finally completed his Bosman free transfer to Pontlottyn Blast Furnace, agreed earlier in the summer.

Richardson, 25, is a centre forward who has had spells at both Cambridge and Torquay since moving into the pro game from Non-League Harrow Borough. He failed to see first team action at Plainmoor, and is now looking to make up for lost time.

"I don't see the Welsh league as a step down" he said. "I hope I can become a regular in the team, which is something I've not really known since I left Harrow".

Pontlottyn manager Stuart Fairway told the Gazette; "Marcus offers us a different option in attack - and although he hasn't been playing as often as he'd like, he's just about to be coming into his prime - I'm sure he can become an important player for us, as well as taking some of the pressure off our three young strikers"

Richardson will go straight into the Pontlottyn squad, travelling to the Deeside Stadium to face Connah's Quay in Saturday's Premier Cup opener.


Connah's Quay would provide Pontlottyn's first opponents in the potentially lucrative Premier Cup competition, pitching Welsh sides against the 'exiled' clubs of Merthyr, Cardiff, Swansea and Wrexham. Faireay cose to keep faith with his attack, putting Richardson on the bench - but the injury to Lee Lawrence gave young Chris Thomas an opportunity to impress at left back, and skipper Rhodri Jones plays his final game before suspension. Quay looked a little suspect at the back, and it was hardly a suprise when Pontlottyn took the lead - Curtis Jackson scoring twice in four minutes (14 and 17) - but on the half hour, Robert Lawrence added a third in bizzare style. The right back attempted to cross from deep, but saw the ball caught by the wind - and sailed over the unfortunate 'keeper Mulliner - not a bad effort for the defender's first goal at senior level. With two changes at the break, including a debut for Richardson, Connah's Quay quickly pulled one back - Alec Sumner blasting home from close range on 48. After a quiet second half, Mulliner again got a hand, but not enough, behind a header - this time Vaughan, from a corner, allowing Darren Poole to knock the rebound home on 88, and seal a fine victory.

With Jones' ban and Lawrence's injury, Fairway made initial approaches on Tuesday (10th) to two Scouts - Richard Kenworthy and Craig Dodds , both Welshman, in an effort to broaden his searches for new blood. With the earlier sale of Gareth Sutton , Fairway had a transfer kitty of £75,000 - and had no intention of letting it go to waste.

While neither man had joined the club by Saturday, Fairway had more pressing things on his mind - namely a match against Newtown and that TNS had leapfrogged Pontlottyn in the league - although with a game in hand for Fairway's side, and over 30 matches to go, he had little worry at this stage in the season. With 19 year old Robert Lawrence as a stand-in skipper, and no defender on the bench, Fairway hoped that the visitors would pose his side little trouble. His wishes would come true - and in some style! - by the 13th minute, Chris McConville had netted twice, either side of a Darren Poole strike to effectivley end the match as a spectacle. Poole added his second on 70 - and when Phil Carratt rifled home from a Thomas cross on 81, the rout was complete. Newtown, to their credit, played fairly well, but had little answer to an electric attacking display from Pontlottyn.

Richard Kenworthy and Craig Dodds both agreed terms on Sunday - the two scouts immediatley deployed to scour the UK and Ireland for new talent, with Fairway especially keen to bring in extra cover in defence, and, to a lesser extent, midfield.

On Wednesday though, thoughts of transfer dealings temporarily sat on the backburner - Barry Town the visitors in a crucial League Cup tie, which Pontlottyn must win - or at least, avoid defeat in, to progress to the knockout stages. Although it was never easy - Barry looked threatening for large periods of the game - Pontlottyn took the lead on 21 through David Taylor , who would also score late on to seal the win. Chris McConville netted in between, bagging his 8th of the season on 71. It wasn't all good news - young Chris Thomas picked up a knock that will see him out for 10 days (knee) - but with the win, Pontlottyn progress to the Quarter Finals, and have a final, 'dead rubber' game against Carmarthern to hand fringe players experience.

He would be joined by goal hero David Taylor on the sidelines - the frontman out for a few days with a bruised shin sustained in training on Thursday (19th) morning.

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Glamorgan Gazette - Sport - Friday 20th September 2002

'Youngster set to sign as Blast battle for Defender'

"Pontlottyn Blast Furnace have been joined in the chase for Albion Rovers fullback Ciaran Hutcheson by Berwick Rangers - with both clubs having £1000 offers accepted.

Hutcheson, 19, has long been admired by Fairway, and is touted as a 'classy, quick and versatile youngster'. Adept on either the left or right of defence, Hutcheson, a Scot, has been quoted in the Scottish media as saying that he is yet to make up his mind over which club to move to.

"I'm hopeful with Ciaran" Pontlottyn manager Stuart Fairway told the Gazette. "He's a decent young player, who will give us cover in a couple of positions. I think we made a good impression when he came to have a look around, and hopefully we can come to an arrangement".

Fairway is also set to sign defensive midfielder Robert Brown . Brown, 17, was spotted playing local football by one of Pontlottyn's new scouts, Craig Dodds . Brown, a Welshman, has been offered a contract until 2005 after impressing on trial at Furnace Park.

"Rob's a good player" said Pontlottyn boss Fairway. "We really think he can do well in the game, although I'm not sure that he's quite ready for regular football just yet. He could do with bulking up a bit, but I'm sure at his age, it won't be a problem".


Saturday (21st) saw another trip for Pontlottyn, with a visit to the in-form Flexys Cefn Druids . With a not match-fit Lee Lawrence answering an emergency call to sit amongst the substitutes, Fairway also called Ryan Dorrian into the squad for the first time, replacing Alex Kevan on the bench - the former Burnley midfielder out of position at left back. Completing the changes, Marcus Richardson also makes his first start, in for the injured Taylor. With a radically altered team, Pontlottyn still raced into an early lead - Chris McConville (11) and Phil Carratt (19) both scoring inside the opening 20 minutes. Alex Kevan , clearly enjoying the chance to bomb forward from left back, was rewarded for a fine overlapping run on 29, firing home a Jackson pass to practically kill off Druids. They would recover slightly in the second half - Andrew Pearson netting on 73 - but other than disapointment for the otherwise impeccable Alex O'Reilly, the effort was never likely to inspire a comeback, and indeed O'Reilly maintained his previous good form to the final whistle - another fairly routine win for Pontlottyn.

Two days later (23rd) there would be disapointment for Fairway - Ciaran Hutcheson chosing to move to Berwick Rangers rather than Pontlottyn, but that was tempered with the return of David Taylor - and the arrival of a new trialist.

16-year old 'keeper Craig Rees , a local lad, approached the club direct to ask for a trial. Impressed by his attitude, Fairway allowed the youngster to train with the Senior squad for a couple of days - and was equally impressed by his ability, Assistant manager Tony Adams in particular happy that Rees should be offered a deal. While Fairway decided not to grant Rees' request for a signing on fee, he was happy to launch a bid for the stopper, keen to have - for the rest of this season, at least - three 'keepers available.

Robert Brown officially became a Pontlottyn player on Tuesday (24th) - with the defensive midfielder pitched straight into a weakened/reserve team for the League Cup trip to Carmarthern Town - Pontlottyn's progress in the competition already assured. His hopes of being able to blood new players however, took a blow in the runup to the game - Lee Withe (groin) succumbing to injury, and being ruled out for a month. Brown, Chris McKenzie, Gareth Rees and Steve Soley however would all start, with Rhodri Jones making his comeback after a ban to boot. Far from being a relaxed end to the Group stage however, the game turned into an exciting, action packed affair, with no less than 8 goals and a string of fine performances. Pontlottyn took the lead as early as the second minute - Darren Poole thundering home a shot from distance, before Marcus Richardson headed home his first in a Pontlottyn shirt from a Rees corner on 10. Two minutes later, David Taylor nodded beyond hapless 'keeper Brook to make it three. Carmarthen, however, still looked dangerous, and the classy Sion Meredith beat three before slotting home a wonderful solo goal on the stroke of half time. Immediatley after the break Marcus Richardson restored the three goal cushion with an unstoppable drive, while on 53 Player/Coach Steve Soley got in on the act to take the scoreline to epic proportions. The home side then did grab one back - Miller tapping home from close range after McKenzie made a fine reflex stop from Meredith. On 81 though victory - all but assured - was totally wrapped up, with Steve Soley netting a second from close range after great work from Poole. In the grand scheme of things it mattered little - but Fairway was especially pleased at goals for new signing Richardson and player/coach Soley - kept out of the regular team by the form of Jackson and McConville respectivley.

In an increasingly positive week, 17-year old Craig Rees put pen to paper on a 3 year contract - just days after his 17th birthday. The final match of the month however, would come on Saturday (28th) - with Haverfordwest County visiting the Furnace Stadium. Rhodri Jones makes his first League start after suspension, while on the bench 17-year old Robert Brown keeps his place. In attack though Fairway sprung his biggest suprise - sticking with goal hero Marcus Richardson, at the expense of teenager Curtis Jackson, relegated to the bench. It proved the correct choice - Marcus Richardson headed the only goal of the game after just 3 minutes - the rangy striker on the end of a Carratt cross. The match had little going for it after that - Blain dismissed for Haverfordwest on 46 - but chances were few and far between, with neither 'keeper in particularly charitable mood. Fairway threw on Soley to liven things up, and the 31-year old did make some intelligent promptings, but the month is rounded off in successful, if unspectacular, style.

Completing the month, the Quarter Final Draw for the Welsh League Cup (29th), would see Pontlottyn pitted against rapidly improving Oswestry Town .

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Welsh Premier Division - Sunday 29th September 2002



2002/3 Table


Pos Team Pld Won Drn Lst For Ag Won Drn Lst For Ag Pts


1st T.N. Solutions 7 3 0 0 7 2 4 0 0 10 4 21


2nd PONTLOTTYN BLAST FURNACE 6 4 0 0 12 1 2 0 0 4 1 18

3rd Caersws 7 3 0 1 12 6 0 2 1 3 4 11

4th Llanelli 7 2 1 1 7 7 1 1 1 6 6 11

5th Bangor City 7 2 0 2 10 6 1 1 1 9 7 10

6th Connah's Quay 5 1 1 1 6 5 2 0 0 7 3 10

7th Port Talbot Town 6 2 0 0 4 0 1 1 2 5 6 10

8th Oswestry Town 7 1 1 2 5 5 2 0 1 7 6 10

9th Aberystwyth Town 6 2 0 1 4 3 1 0 2 5 5 9

10th Haverfordwest 5 1 1 0 6 4 1 1 1 4 4 8

11th Flexsys Cefn Druids 5 1 1 1 5 5 1 1 0 3 2 8

12th Barry Town 7 0 2 1 2 3 1 2 1 7 7 7

13th Carmarthen Town 7 1 1 1 7 7 1 0 3 2 6 7

14th Cwmbran Town 7 1 0 2 4 6 1 0 3 4 9 6

15th Welshpool 7 0 0 4 3 10 2 0 1 5 5 6

16th Afan Lido 7 1 1 2 4 6 0 1 2 2 5 5

17th Newtown 7 0 1 2 1 9 1 0 3 5 14 4

18th Caernarfon Town 6 0 1 1 3 4 0 1 3 1 8 2


The monthly awards also see Stuart Fairway pick up Manager of the Month for the first time this season.

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October 2002

With Chris Thomas returning from injury on Tuesday morning (1st), the youngster would slot right back into the team, ending Alex Kevan's run as an impromptu left back. The Premier Cup trip to TNS came too soon though for Lee Lawrence - with Fairway keen to see both his options on the left of defence back in order to have more options with a congested schedule ahead. Although Fairway was very disapointed to see a lot of empty spaces at the Furnace, he quickly put this behind him when his side were 2-0 up within 6 minutes. The first goal was a real peach - Thomas crossing for Darren Poole to rifle home brilliantly from close range, followed by David Taylor following up to knock the ball home from close range. The 323 that did turn up witnessed something of a spectacle - TNS quickly making up for their shock with a Roberts strike on 8 minutes, incredibly the midfielder's 15th goal of the still-young 02/03 campaign. Darren Poole made his mark on the second half too - scoring with a dipping shot on 53 - 45 seconds before Ward pulled another back for TNS, to keep the game going as a spectacle. With no more games for a week, Fairway kept Jackson on the bench, although Richardson looked a little lacklustre compared to recent showings - but the victory sent Pontlottyn to the top of Group A - with two games played and two wins recorded, qualification is still by no means certain, but looks increasingly likely.

Thursday (3rd) saw Fairway recieve yet another batch of player reports from his Youth scout Jamie Lewis . While he did notice that not many of the listed players were Welsh, one, striker Daniel Lloyd , was allegedly being courted by rivals Bangor City . This, combined with a positive report from Lewis, was enough, and the manager offered both Lloyd and English central defender Chris Kitson , contracts - the two certainly standing out from the crowd as it were, in Lewis' list and player notes.

No match on Saturday (5th) - but there was at last a win for Wales - 2-1 over Turkey at the Millenium Stadium - while Joe Cole gave England victory over Switzerland with the only strike of the game. By the 7th (Monday), Chris Kitson had put pen to paper on a contract, joining Pontlottyn Blast Furnace. The 18-year old central defender would be joining - but Daniel Lloyd wouldn't, the young hitman instead opting to sign for Bangor City. Fairway reacted wryly to the news - already in his short managerial career, Pontlottyn had been involved in some key clashes with Bangor - and he couldn't help but wonder what sort of player he had missed out on.

There was, however, little time to dwell on what might have been - Afan Lido away in the Premier Cup. 32 seconds in, Alex O'Reilly dropped a rare clanger - and the ball - at the feet of Williams, who took advantage to send the home side ahead. It took until the stroke of half time - and an equally bad mistake by Lido 'stopper Thomas for an equaliser, spilling Carratt's cross for Darren Poole to tap home. Both teams had chances in the early exchanges of the second half, but it was Pontlottyn who finally broke the deadlock, Chris McConville netting on the hour with a well-taken header. Although Afan Lido came close - through Reynolds - to an equaliser, it was Pontlottyn who held on, and with two further goals in the final 10 minutes the scoreline perhaps looked a little more comfortable than it actually was - David Taylor (83) and Phil Carratt (86) netting to keep Pontlottyn top of the group.

Thursday (10th) saw a - rather preemptive - draw for the Welsh League Cup Semi Finals, with Fairway noting that should his side beat Oswestry, they would face either TNS or Cwmbran Town .

First, however, there would be the small matter of Oswestry on Wednesday (16th) in the Quarter Finals - with Fairway making one change, bringing in Lee Lawrence at the expense of Chris Thomas. To say it was wet would be an understatment - Monsoon-like conditions at Park Hall Stadium seeing a lot of shots, and a lot of mistakes. Both sides had early chances, but it would be 19 minutes when the first goal went in - Carratt's shot spilt by 'keeper Embleton into the path of Chris McConville , who cracked home the loose ball. After having a strike from Hopkins ruled out for offside, Oswestry continued to pressurise, and two minutes before half time, drew level - David Harthill netting from close range. Pontlottyn took all of a minute to regain the lead - David Taylor heading home a Phil Carratt corner to put the visitors back into the lead. On 58, however, Maloney put Oswestry back into the game with a well-taken equaliser - and Pontlottyn, this time, were unable to come back. McConville had the best chance - seeing a shot smack off the bar - but after a quiet period of Extra Time, penalty kicks were used to decide the game. While the home side missed their first two kicks, McConville and Poole made no mistake for Pontlottyn, before home defender Stephen Roberts and opposite number Rhodri Jones both converted their kicks. With Phil Carratt seeing his effort saved, Oswestry needed a goal to stay in, and Paul Langley obliged - before Curtis Jackson netted to score, and seal the victory for Fairway's men.

Thursday (17th) saw another injury - just as Fairway's squad seemed to be fighting their way back to full fitness. Central defender Ben Vaughan was forced out for a week after suffering concussion caused by a training ground collision - prompting Fairway to bring Chris Thomas into the squad for Saturday's (19th) visit of Cwmbran Town . With several players tired after Wednesday's epic encounter, Fairway also brought Steve Soley and Curtis Jackson back into the side, at the expense of Chris McConville and David Taylor. With Soley succumbing to injury after just 27 minutes, the squad looked even more stretched - and it took his replacement, Alex Kevan - clearly fitter than many of his teammates - to break the deadlock on 46. His goal showed real class, the ex-Burnley man beating one before firing beyond 'keeper O'Hagan. From then on in chances were rare - Jackson probably closest to doubling Pontlottyn's lead.

Steve Soley's injury would be a frustrating one - the creative midfielder out for between two/three weeks with a twisted knee. Sunday (20th) saw the Third Round Cup draw, with Pontlottyn handed a home draw against minnows Cemaes Bay - a pleasing result for Fairway, with his side currently still in the hunt for an unprecedented Welsh quadruple trophy haul.

Monday saw an interesting fax hit his desk - Welshpool put in an offer to take 17-year old winger Gareth Rees on loan for the remainder of the season. Rees, Pontlottyn's first youth product under Fairway's control, had been handed a one-year contract - up at the end of the season - so Fairway was especially keen that the teenager would have the chance to impress at another team. Accepting the offer, he was pleased when it took Rees just 20 minutes to decide that he would make the - hopefully temporary - switch, with Fairway promising that he would keep his eyes open, with regard to offering the lad an extended deal.

Wednesday - and the first of two matches in a week against Total Network Solutions - this one the first leg of the Semi Final in the Welsh League Cup. With TNS looking like Pontlottyn's only real rivals for the League this season, Fairway took some tough decisions, all the while cursing his side's lack of cover, especially for the reliable Poole on the right of midfield - the winger set to be asked to play for a third time in the space of a week thanks to no other option. He did relent with Phil Carratt, bringing in Alex Kevan on the left, and was also able to recall David Taylor up front. David Taylor's pace proved a great asset - the frontman racing onto a Kevan cross to head beyond TNS stopper Doherty. While the first half was all Pontlottyn, Fairway noted some of his players were feeling the heat at the break, and reorganised - Thomas moving to left back to replace the knackered Lee Lawrence, with sub Hawtin on in the middle, while on the right Darren Poole finally made way for Jackson - goal hero Taylor moved to the right wing. One further change had to be made though - McConville too feeling the strain, and replaced by Dorrian on 70, the youngster making his senior bow for Pontlottyn. Six minutes later Alex Kevan grabbed what would prove to be a crucial goal - his rebound coming just five minutes before Nicky Ward pulled one back for a TNS side who seemed to have plenty in reserve, worrying Fairway ahead of the league clash.

Thursday (24th) would prove a great day - not just the return of forward Lee Withe from injury to add another option, but also Ben Vaughan - bringing relief for fullback Robert Lawrence - one of several players who simply had to play due to lack of cover.

Saturday soon came around - with Fairway stressing to his men that this game could potentially decide the title - and with Total Network Solutions missing top scorer Mark Roberts, a midfielder with an incredible 15 goals in 16 games, he hoped that his side would have the upper hand once again. The game began at a frenetic pace, and man of the moment Alex Kevan cracked home the loose ball to put the visitors ahead as early as the 7th minute. Echoing Fairway's comments about the importance of the game, TNS visibly stepped up a gear after going behind - and 10 minutes later, skipper Tim Alexander headed them level from close range. With the score still level at the break, Fairway replaced an unusually subdued Taylor with the returning Withe - but quickly found his side behind for the first time. On 62 sub Scott Ruscoe stole in at the far post to net a neat header, and put the boot very much on the other foot. Like their opponents in the first half, the goal only succeeded in spuring Pontlottyn on, and Irish youngster Aaron Shanahan picked the perfect moment to bury his first for the club - rifling beyond 'keeper Doherty from the edge of the box. With the game balanced on a knife-edge, it would take a moment of class to win it - and probably the most in form player in the Welsh Premier delivered it. Alex Kevan rounded three players before crashing his 5th goal of the season past ex-Derby man Doherty - just confirming what had already been a Man of the Match performance with a wonderful winning goal.

It was enough to sent Pontlottyn three points clear, with a game in hand to boot - and just one more game in October to play. Before that, however, there would be some transfer news...

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www.bbc.co.uk/football - Wales - Tuesday 29th October 2002

'Keeper Kuipers Set For Switch'

" Brighton & Hove Albion goalkeeper Michel Kuipers is set for a sensational £40,000 move to Pontlottyn Blast Furnace after rejecting English Second Division side Cheltenham .

Kuipers, 28, was a teammate of former Albion player and current Pontlottyn boss Stuart Fairway at the Withdean Stadium, and Fairway has admitted that he is 'delighted' to have secured the Dutchman.

"Michel is a fantastic 'keeper" he said. "Alex O'Reilly is a very good 'keeper as well though, and I'm really happy to have two high-quality stoppers on permanent contracts, as well as the young lad Gareth Rees for the future. Having Michel available will really give us a big boost for the remainder of the season - don't forget, we are still competing in four competitions, so I hope we will now have the crucial cover between the sticks should the worst happen".

For his part, Kuipers - a former Dutch marine - told bbc.co.uk; "I'm pleased to be working with Stuart again. We got on well when he was at Brighton, and although it's different now that he is my boss, I had no problem with taking a pay-cut to come to Wales. I am looking forward to getting my career underway again after not being involved much recently at Brighton"

Kuipers is set to make his Pontlottyn debut tomorrow evening, with the Blast travelling to Barry"


Barry Town would indeed be the final opponents of October for Fairway's men - with Kuipers making his debut in the League clash. In the absence of the rested Rhodri Jones, Darren Poole took the captains armband - and it was the stand in skipper who played a key role in the opening goal, putting Carratt away to cross for Aaron Shanahan to net from the edge of the box. 60 seconds later, Michel Kuipers was picking the ball out of his net for the first time - rooted to the spot as a wonderful moved carved Pontlottyn apart before Craig Owen headed the home side level. The leveller had come against the run of play, and it was little suprise when Curtis Jackson shot home on 15 to put Pontlottyn back ahead. Although Barry improved - and in the opening exchanges of the second half, troubled Kuipers on a couple of occasions - it was Pontlottyn who killed off the game with two goals in quick succession. The first came on 55 - sub Marcus Richardson rifling home on 55, before Chris McConville got a toe behind a Richardson cross 3 minutes later to make it four, and end any home resistance. Though he had little to do at times, Kuipers' debut was widely regarded as solid by the visiting support - and a quiet Taylor performance aside, Pontlottyn looked as lethal as ever in attack.

Despite a successful evening on the pitch, the following day in training would reveal a sombre end to the month - both Robert Lawrence (wrist) and Ryan Dorrian (toe) succumbing to injury, ruling them out for around a week apiece.

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Welsh Premier Division - Thursday 31st October 2002



2002/3 Table


Pos Team Pld Won Drn Lst For Ag Won Drn Lst For Ag Pts


1st Pontlottyn Blast Furnace 9 5 0 0 13 1 4 0 0 11 4 27


2nd T.N. Solutions 10 4 0 1 12 6 4 0 1 10 6 24

3rd Caersws 10 4 0 1 15 6 0 3 2 4 7 15

4th Flexsys Cefn Druids 9 2 2 1 7 5 2 1 1 7 5 15

5th Llanelli 10 3 1 1 11 8 1 2 2 11 12 15

6th Connah's Quay 8 1 2 1 10 9 3 0 1 14 8 14

7th Haverfordwest 8 3 1 0 9 5 1 1 2 4 7 14

8th Bangor City 10 3 0 2 14 6 1 1 3 9 10 13

9th Port Talbot Town 9 3 0 1 6 4 1 1 3 6 10 13

10th Oswestry Town 10 1 2 2 8 8 2 1 2 7 8 12

11th Aberystwyth Town 10 3 0 2 7 6 1 0 4 5 7 12

12th Cwmbran Town 10 3 0 2 7 6 1 0 4 4 10 12

13th Afan Lido 10 2 1 2 6 7 1 1 3 7 9 11

14th Barry Town 10 1 2 2 5 8 1 2 2 7 11 10

15th Carmarthen Town 10 1 2 2 10 12 1 1 3 5 9 9

16th Welshpool 10 1 0 4 7 13 2 0 3 5 8 9

17th Newtown 10 1 2 2 4 10 1 1 3 6 15 9

18th Caernarfon Town 9 1 2 1 4 4 0 2 3 2 9 7


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November 2002

Another packed month - seven fixtures scheduled - began with the visit of Port Talbot Town , with Fairway recalling skipper Jones as well as forward Marcus Richardson - the injured Robert Lawrence and exhausted Curtis Jackson both missing out. Aaron Shanahan opened the scoring on 8 minutes - firing home a Lee Lawrence cross to put the home side ahead. Port Talbot had little in the way of reply, and Chris McConville gleefully took advantage of a clumsy challenge on Taylor to make it two from the penalty spot. The visitors did improve a little after the break - Carpenter forcing a good stop from Kuipers - but on 68 Kevan provided the cross for fellow sub Marcus Richardson to head his fifth of the season past veteran player/manager Roger Freestone. The result - combined with a 5-1 hammering for TNS at Afan Lido - moves Pontlottyn 6 points clear at the top, with still a game in hand yet to play.

Fairway chose to start with an unchanged side on Wednesday - Total Network Solutions hosting Pontlottyn in the Second Leg of the League Cup Semi Final. After a very scrappy start in tricky conditions, the visitors took the lead just before half time, with Chris McConville knocking home the loose ball after youngster Thomas came close with an effort from a corner. 5 minutes after the break John Toner put TNS level once more - scoring with a brilliant lobbed shot to leave 'keeper Kuipers clutching at thin air. With a tense athmosphere at Recreation Park, TNS were relentless - and finally, on 81, Ward made the breakthrough - skinning Chris Thomas before beating Kuipers low to his left. Right at the death, Pontlottyn should have levelled to win the game on aggregate - Vaughan unfortunate to miss his kick after a Carratt cross. Extra Time came and went with little incident - and again Chris McConville scored the first penalty to put Pontlottyn ahead on spot kicks. Toner matched it for TNS, before Alex Kevan shot straight at 'keeper Doherty. Perry pulled his wide for TNS, while Carratt, Anthrobus, David Taylor and TNS' Chris Taylor all made no mistake. Richardson's kick for Pontlottyn piled the pressure on TNS skipper Alexander, who lashed the ball behind Kuipers, before sub Dale Hawtin stepped up. His kick - not the best - just crept in, and would prove critical - Ruscoe missing for TNS, with Pontlottyn sent through to their first Domestic cup final under Fairway.

While Fairway was delighted with the result, he was even more pleased with the return of Lee Lawrence on Thursday (7th) to bring a little relief to a squad stretched by the sheer number of matches they had recently played. Although he hardly needed to look, Fairway knew that the League Cup Final would be a huge game - especially with old sparring partners Bangor City winning through to the Final with victory over Haverfordwest.

In fact, it would be Bangor City up next - Fairway's men travelling to Farrar Road for a league clash. As far as he was concerned, the return of Steve Soley couldn't have come at a better time - the player/coach immediatley slotted in to replace a worn-out McConville. It would be an ideal change - Steve Soley marked his return from a knee injury with a bullet header on 24 minutes to put the visitors ahead. Despite the scoreline, Kuipers was quickly the busier of the two 'keepers, and on the stroke of half time, was finally beaten - Daniel Lloyd - who turned down a move to Pontlottyn - able to ram home the rebound from Cable's powerful shot. Five minutes after half time, Lloyd buried another rebound to put Bangor ahead. It was somewhat against the run of play then, when Pontlottyn snatched an equaliser - Steve Soley again netting from close range - on 65. This time, Bangor would fail to respond - Curtis Jackson put Fairway's men ahead on 68, before Curtis Jackson netted again on 75 from a Lawrence flick to put the game beyond reasonable doubt. Bangor played well - and perhaps didn't deserve to go down to two goals - they certainly didn't deserve Pontlottyn's fifth, with Curtis Jackson completing his hatrick after the home defence failed to clear their lines from a loose ball.

Tuesday (12th) - and another Cup match. Connah's Quay the visitors in a Premier Cup clash. Fairway made one change to his side, resting teenage defender Thomas for the returning Ben Vaughan. On a bitterly cold - but at least dry - evening at the Furnace Stadium - Pontlottyn got off to a poor start, conceding a goal to Andy Griffiths after just 19 minutes. Four minutes later, a clearly furious Kuipers was again beaten - Alec Sumner slotting home yet another goal in a superb season for the teenager. Fairway got out the 'hairdryer' at half time - making three changes in a bid to rescue the game. David Taylor rifled home from close range after a Shanahan pass on 68, but it wouldn't be enough - only Pontlottyn's second defeat of the season recorded - but just 602 at the Furnace to see it.

With a quiet week - little incident, other than redoubled effort in training after what Fairway publically desrcibed as a 'terrible' performance - the manager chose to make several changes for the visit of Cemaes Bay in the Welsh Cup Third Round, including chances for youngsters Chris Kitson and Robert Brown, with Steve Soley standing in as skipper. It was a vastly improroved performance - Pontlottyn laying siege to the Non-Leauger's goal, but unable to make an early breakthrough. Things were further interrupted on 53 - Steve Soley forced off through injury - but finally, on 61, Robert Brown put Curtis Jackson through for what would prove to be the only goal of the game. A niggly, tight affair - Dale Hawtin dismissed for two bookable offences late on - at least saw Pontlottyn through to the Fourth Round.

With news of their opponents on Sunday (17th), Fairway was displeased to note his side faced a tough trip to Barry Town . He was even more annoyed that Steve Soley had again succumbed to injury, out for a week with a dead leg. No appeal was forthcoming either against the one-match ban for Dale Hawtin - Fairway instead angry at his summer signing for the dissent shown which led to his initial booking. His mood was scarcely improved on Tuesday (19th) - just a day after returning from a previous knock, midfielder Ryan Dorrian picked up a knee injury in training to rule him out for three weeks.

Injury news went from bad to worse on Thursday (21st). David Taylor picked up a gashed head in training, keeping him out for 10 days. Minor relief came a day later - Steve Soley fit for consideration.

As well as seeing the visit of Llanelli , Saturday also brought Pontlottyn's last home match for over a month - with just the one home match in December coming after Christmas. Despite worrying about the financial propsects that this news brought, Fairway was pleased to have 11 players available who were both fully fit and up for the game - no complaints of exhaustion amongst the ranks today. Despite increased optimisim, Pontlottyn initially founf it hard to convert their possession into chances - and before half time, 'keeper Michel Kuipers was forced into a superb one-handed stop to deny Steven Devonald. The game seemed to need a goal to spark it into life - but unfortunatley, for Fairway, it came for the wrong side - Justin Bridges beating Kuipers on 71 to put the visitors ahead. Their lead would last just two minutes - Darren Poole restoring the status quo with a fine finish after good work from the recently impressive Shanahan. Unfortunatley though, that was that - Pontlottyn dropped their first league points of the season, although - perhaps unfortunatley, for neutrals - TNS failed to take advantage, losing 2-0 away from home.

Again, the week would be quiet - and although welcome news on Friday about David Taylor's return from injury, on the same day Curtis Jackson picked up a bruised head, ruling him out for around a week. The final match of the month then comes away at Connah's Quay , with Taylor returned to the starting lineup. There would be no glorious return to form. Instead - and perhaps worryingly for Pontlottyn - Tommy Mutton put the home side ahead on 37, and the visitors failed to respond. Despite changes in the second half they never really looked like scoring, and when Alec Summer added a second on 79, there would be no way back. Instead, things got worse - Terry completed a fairly comprehensive victory for the 'Quay on 86. A draw, and now a defeat - a sign of things to come as we head into December?

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Welsh Premier Division - Saturday 30th November 2002



2002/3 Table


Pos Team Pld Won Drn Lst For Ag Won Drn Lst For Ag Pts


1st PONTLOTTYN BLAST FURNACE 13 6 1 0 17 2 5 0 1 16 9 34


2nd T.N. Solutions 14 5 1 1 16 7 4 0 3 11 13 28

3rd Haverfordwest 13 5 1 0 14 7 3 2 2 11 10 27

4th Flexsys Cefn Druids 14 3 3 1 13 8 3 3 1 13 10 24

5th Connah's Quay 13 3 2 2 17 13 4 0 2 19 14 23

6th Llanelli 14 4 1 2 16 13 2 3 2 13 13 22

7th Barry Town 14 2 3 2 10 10 3 2 2 12 14 20

8th Bangor City 14 3 0 4 19 15 3 1 3 16 12 19

9th Aberystwyth Town 14 4 0 3 11 9 2 0 5 6 11 18

10th Cwmbran Town 14 4 0 3 10 9 2 0 5 7 14 18

11th Caersws 14 4 1 2 17 9 0 4 3 8 12 17

12th Afan Lido 14 3 1 3 13 11 2 1 4 9 11 17

13th Newtown 14 2 3 2 8 12 2 1 4 11 20 16

14th Oswestry Town 14 2 2 3 12 12 2 1 4 7 14 15

15th Port Talbot Town 14 3 1 3 8 8 1 2 4 7 14 15

16th Carmarthen Town 14 2 3 2 15 16 1 1 5 5 14 13

17th Caernarfon Town 13 2 2 2 8 7 0 3 4 3 13 11

18th Welshpool 14 1 0 6 8 16 2 1 4 10 14 10


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December 2002

Tuesday - and as the players reflected after their frist defeat of the league, Fairway was pleased to welcome Curtis Jackson back to training on Tuesday (3rd) - bringing the youngster straight back into the team to replace Richardson. Wednesday night's trip to Caernarfon Town would be Pontlottyn's first chance to bounce back from that defeat and rather unimpressive showing against Connah's Quay - and they didn't take long to make a positive impression. Curtis Jackson took just 10 minutes to open the scoring - picking up on a poor goal kick to beat 'keeper Willock. Although Pontlottyn looked the better side, Fairway's men lost some of their attacking impetus when Phil Carratt withdrew through injury midway through the first half. With Kevan on in his place, the visitors were forced back, and when Danny Barton put Jason Sadler through for the equaliser on 59, many feared the worst. Caernarfon though failed to follow this up with sustained attacks, and the game seemed to peter out as a spectacle. Two minutes from time however, Chris McConville nipped onto a Taylor cross, putting the ball into the middle - and allowing Alex Kevan to stretch, heading what proved to be the winner past a stranded Willock. It was scarcely deserved, but there would be no way back for Caernarfon - and Fairway in particular was pleased that his side had won their long-awaited game in hand, sending them nine points clear at the top of the table.

Although disapointed to note that Phil Carratt would be out for a fortnight (knee), Fairway was more relieved than anything else that up next would be another struggling side - bottom club Welshpool on Saturday (7th). With goal hero Kevan starting on the left at Maesydre, the Pontlottyn boss was especially keen to see how loaned-out teenager Gareth Rees was doing - just as long as he didn't do too well against his employers. It wasn't Rees who caused the first panic of the day however - it was Aaron Shanahan - dismissed on 8 minutes for the crudest of challenges on the bustling Hendra. Welshpool quickly took advantage of the extra space, and before half time Paul Roberts had netted twice (34 and 42) to leave Fairway fuming at the interval. Things went from bad to their ill-discaplined worse on 57 - Robert Brown following fellow midfielder Shanahan down the tunnel for a second bookable offence as Pontlottyn went into damage limitation mode. The nine men remaining defended with plenty of spirit and even - deep into injury time (93) - pulled one back, through Chris McConville , now top scorer with 15 to his name.

In the changing room after the game, Fairway hit the roof. It was the last thing his side needed - and although the board agreed to file appeals, neither players nor manager expected anything positive back from the Football Association. They would be right. On Tuesday (10th), the same day that Pontlottyn visit Total Network Solutions in the Premier Cup, Aaron Shanahan recieved a further two-game ban for his troubles.

Changes were made with Pontlottyn needing just a point to be sure of qualification in the Premier Cup - and Steve Soley once again took the captains armband in a bid to inspire the side to at least a clean sheet. TNS looked better from the off - and when Nicky Ward put them ahead on 20, doom seemed to set in amongst the away support. Ward then added a second on the stroke of half time - and despite a vastly improved - but still goalless - second half performance, Fairway was still furious with the result.

Worse would come - Wednesday (11th) saw young Robert Brown don a suit for his suspension appeal. It would be in vain - and with closest rivals TNS hosting struggling Welshpool at the weekend, Fairway knew that his side simply had to turn things around on Saturday.

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www.valleytoday.co.uk - Sport - Friday 13th December 2002

'Fairway; "We Must Return To Form"'

" Pontlottyn Blast Furnace manager Stuart Fairway has told his squad that they cannot afford to lose to Afan Lido tomorrow. "It's a big game" he said. "We've simply got to win it, to avoid handing the advantage to TNS. Although, in the worse case scenario, we'd be 4 points ahead still, it would be a huge physcological boost to them in the runup to the busy Christmas period of games".

Pontlottyn have struggled of late, winning just one of their last five matches - compared to an amazing 19 competitive match unbeaten streak from August till November.

"We know that we have been off form of late" said striker David Taylor . "It's something we've been working hard to address, and hopefully we will get it right - teams don't just become bad overnight, it doesen't happen".

The general consensus is that Pontlottyn have not recaptured their sensational form of last season - top goalscorer currently is midfielder Chris McConville , with 15, whilst this time last season Darren Poole had scored over 20. Poole though, is unconcerned. "We'll get it right" he said. "We're still top of the league, and competing in four seperate competitions - in the final of one of the Cups - and seven points clear at the top of the table as well. It's been a good season, but we put a lot of pressure on ourselves with the speed we wrapped it up last season. The players knew it would be harder this time around, and I think that's been proved with recent results".

It remains to be seen weather Fairway will use some of his estimated £55,000 warchest to strengthen the squad in the second half of the season - although the Englishman has not previously been known for spending large amounts of money in the middle of the campaign'


Fairway was pleased with his squad's repsonse to the media - especially Taylor's, with it's emphasis on the work that the team had been doing in training. Although still an incredibly popular figure, Fairway knew that his sides' supporters could be - like all fans - fickle.

Afan Lido came into the match on Saturday (14th) with a similar record to Pontlottyn - 1 victory in their last five matches. This time though, Pontlottyn would have their revenge. In a frenetic opening Steve Soley rammed home his 5th goal of the season from close range (21), and for the first time in some weeks, Pontlottyn finally hit top gear once more. Darren Poole beautifully beat 'keeper Thomas with a one-on-one on 36 minutes, and before the break skipper Rhodri Jones smashed home a third on 44. There was really no way back for Lido in the second half - and while it hadn't started off comfortable for Pontlottyn, Lido never looked likely to trouble the visitors late on.

With Christmas fever in the air, and 11 days until the next match - on Boxing Day - Fairway was delighted that his men had finally got back into their stride. As often at this time of year, he allowed his thoughts to wander to his beloved Brighton & Hove Albion . Bottom of Division One, the Seagulls had recorded just five victories all season. Things could be worse here, he pondered.

There would be a blow on Tuesday (17th) - with an injury to bit-part striker Lee Withe , keeping the frontman-cum-winger out of the reckoning for around 10 days (Neck). Worse was to come on Christmas day itself, with Michel Kuipers twisting his knee in an accident at home - doctors ruling the Dutchman out for 10 days. Whilst Fairway had no problems recalling Alex O'Reilly , Kuipers knew that, after recent results, he may find it slightly more difficult than imagined to win his place back should the Irishman recapture his stunning form of earlier in the campaign. Better news over the festive season came with the return of Phil Carratt from a knee injury - the winger moving straight back into the first team for the Boxing Day trip to Caersws

The festive spirit was very much on show at the Recreation Ground, with Chris Waddle's side coming off the back of a 5-1 thrashing of Aberystwyth. Although back to winning ways, Fairway warned his side that they simply couldn't be complacent - it was, perhaps, the attitude that had led to a dismal December. Less than a minute into the match, Fairway wondered if his men had been listening - Graham Evans blasting the ball beyond a stunned O'Reilly to leave him fuming on the bench. Fortunatley, this time there would be no collapse - Steve Soley took a clever first touch before burying Taylor's cross on 17, and when Curtis Jackson hammered Pontlottyn ahead on 28, things seemed relativley comfortable. On the stroke of half time however, words were exchanged between Chris McConville and Caersws Graham Evans. Within a few seconds, Evans was on the deck holding his face, and McConville had been dismissed for a headbutt on the goalscorer. The 10 men seemed to redouble their efforts after the break, and when Soley set up David Taylor for a third on 58, only one result looked on the cards. Although Evans did pull one back on 82 for Caersws with a well-taken effort, Curtis Jackson's 15th of the season in injury time sealed the victory - and a welcome Christmas present for all at the club.

Someone who wouldn't recieve a welcome Christmas present would be midfielder Chris McConville - fined a week's wages for violent conduct, which he at least had the sense to accept with good grace. The Welsh FA, however, were not happy - and threw the book at the 19-year old, handing him an 8-Game ban.

Alongside McConville, Fairway also rested Robert Lawrence against Aberystwyth Town - Chris Thomas coming into the centre of defence, with Vaughan moving to right back. Pontlottyn got off to a fine start, and on 9 minutes, converted early possesion into a goal - David Taylor diving to head a Lawrence cross beyond 'keeper Morgan. Unfortunatley, the lead would last just a few minutes - on 15, Aberystwyth's Glyndwr Hughes was in the right place at the right time, stabbing home a rebound to put the visitors level. Both sides had chances before the break - Jackson hitting the bar for Pontlottyn - but it was the hour mark before the visitors took the lead. On 60 a drifting Jones corner to the far post was glanced home, Martyn Griffiths getting up well despite the presence of Kevan to leave Pontlottyn chasing the game. This time, they were able to achieve that without folding - and when sub Marcus Richardson put the Blast level on 67 with a half-volley, even the more pessimistic amongst the home support felt their side could get the win. They would be justified in their faith on 77 - Darren Poole scoring a brilliant free kick to put Pontlottyn ahead. There would be one final twist in the tale however - and for second placed Haverfordwest, it would prove crucial - the defecit reduced to just four points when, on 81, Moses Ooaolaleye rifled home an equaliser, the Nigerian youngster bagging only his second of the season.

It would be a frustrating end to a real month to forget for Fairway - although the return of Lee Withe (29th) would provide at least a minor boost.

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Welsh Premier Division - Tuesday 31st December 2002



2002/3 Table


Pos Team Pld Won Drn Lst For Ag Won Drn Lst For Ag Pts


1st PONTLOTTYN BLAST FURNACE 18 6 2 0 20 5 8 0 2 26 14 44


2nd Haverfordwest 18 8 2 0 23 10 4 2 2 12 10 40

3rd T.N. Solutions 18 6 2 1 17 7 5 0 4 15 15 35

4th Llanelli 18 5 1 2 19 15 5 3 2 19 16 34

5th Barry Town 18 2 4 2 11 11 6 2 2 18 15 30

6th Bangor City 18 4 0 4 22 16 5 1 4 22 17 28

7th Flexsys Cefn Druids 18 3 4 3 16 13 3 4 1 13 10 26

8th Connah's Quay 18 3 2 3 18 15 4 2 4 24 23 25

9th Afan Lido 18 4 2 4 16 16 2 1 5 11 14 21

10th Oswestry Town 18 3 2 5 20 18 3 1 4 9 15 21

11th Caersws 18 5 1 4 25 16 0 4 4 9 15 20

12th Aberystwyth Town 18 4 1 4 13 12 2 1 6 10 19 20

13th Caernarfon Town 18 4 3 3 13 11 0 4 4 4 14 19

14th Cwmbran Town 18 4 0 4 10 10 2 1 7 10 21 19

15th Port Talbot Town 18 4 1 3 9 8 1 3 6 8 20 19

16th Carmarthen Town 18 3 3 4 17 22 2 1 5 6 14 19

17th Newtown 18 3 3 4 12 16 2 1 5 11 21 19

18th Welshpool 18 2 0 6 10 17 2 2 6 11 18 14


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January 2003

The new year began with the same, injury-hit problems that the last one had ended - Chris Thomas straining a wrist in training to rule him out for around a week.

With Kuipers only fit to sit on the bench, Fairway stuck with O'Reilly for the opener of 2003 - the visit of Oswestry Town in the league. Once again, Pontlottyn took an early lead - David Taylor rifling home a rebound to put the home side ahead from close range on 13. In contrast to recent weeks, Ponlottyn seemes to approach the game with a positive, upbeat attitude - and when Curtis Jackson reacted quickest to steer home a Carratt cross, only one result looked likely. Although Oswestry pulled one back on 28 through Hopkins, they never looked likely to cause any problems, and as the game progressed, Fairway felt confident that his side were finally back in the swing of things at the top of the table. A third - Curtis Jackson again - followed before the break (36), before Jackson wrapped up his hatrick early in the second half with a shot on the turn on 48. Oswestry were in and out of the game - and perhaps unlucky not to hit the scoresheet in the second half - but Darren Poole did, wrapping up a fine victory on 79 with a powerful shot after a one-two with Steve Soley. Just about the pefect buildup for the League Cup Final in midweek.

A further boost ahead of the final came with the return of Michel Kuipers on Monday (6th) - and without even playing a day later, Pontlottyn's progression in the Premier Cup was assured by other results. That though, could wait - Fairway was on the chase for his second trophy in charge of Pontlottyn.

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Glamorgan Gazette - Sport - Thursday 8th January 2003

'League Cup Glory for Pontlottyn'

' Pontlottyn Blast Furnace have won their first Cup competition under Stuart Fairway's management with a 3-1 victory over Bangor City - but Fairway's men didn't have things all their own way.

On a bitterly cold, wet evening in Bangor, the home side started the better, and on 3 minutes, took the lead. After striker Lloyd - a one-time Pontlottyn transfer target - saw his shot tipped around the post by 'keeper Alex O'Reilly, Warren Gibbs reacted quickest to blast home a Burgess corner. After initial suprise at going behind, Pontlottyn recovered well, and on 17, equalised with thier first chance of the evening.

A clever, quickly taken throw-in by Lee Lawrence allowed winger Phil Carratt to run on, and cut inside - beating 'keeper Martin Davies with a powerful, left-footed effort from just inside the area. After an action-packed opening, neither side found it easy to impose themsleves on the game, with the pitch condition worsening by the minute - indeed there would be just one further first half chance, O'Reilly saving well from Barton.

With Player/Coach Steve Soley suffering a knock, Fairway made one change at half time - bringing Alex Kevan on in midfield to replace the former Southport man. Five minutes later, the change would have an impact - Kevan impeded by Burgess in the penalty box, allowing Darren Poole a chance to net from the spot that the winger wouldn't pass up, netting his 15th of the season. Going a goal behind inspired Bangor, and Alex O'Reilly quickly became the busier of the two 'keepers, denying Shrimpton with a fingertip save on 61, moments after Danny Barton had acrobatically volleyed over the top.

Despite this increased pressure, Bangor were unable to carve out the chance that would lead to an equaliser - and as they ran out of steam, Pontlottyn surged back into the match, with sub Kevan performing well in the midfield 'engine room'. Finally, on 85, Ponlottyn did kill off their opponents, with another substitute - Marcus Richardson meeting a Shanahan cross with a thumping, bullet header. Although Bangor staged a brief revival - Shrimpton seeing a shot well saved - there was never likely to be any way back, and when the final whistle blew it was Ponlottyn skipper Rhodri Jones who stepped up to collect the trophy.

Manager Stuart Fairway said; "We've done very well tonight. All credit to Bangor, they put us under real pressure at times, but I was delighted with the defence. We've improved tonight, getting back to the form we were showing a couple of months ago, and I'm delighted. I had worried that a poor December would have taken it out of the lads, but they are real professionals, and have come to work for this win. They deserve all the praise they will get".

Perhaps one of the key reasons for Pontlottyn's success is the return from suspension of midfielder Aaron Shanahan . The Irishman, 20, only recently returned from a 3-match ban, and manager Fairway feels he is crucial to his sides' hopes. "Aaron has something that very few players in the squad have" he said. "He really does get stuck in, and mixes it, but he's also got the ability to break from his role and play with freedom. It's something I encourage, and although you don't usually expect a central midfielder to go bombing down the flank and cross for a winner, Aaron's cross for Marcus Richardson's goal was just typical of him. He's tenacious, and he could go a long way in the game".

For their part, Bangor played well - creating more chances than Pontlottyn but perhaps letting themselves down with some poor finishing, as top scorer Danny Barton admits. "We just didn't hit the target enough today" he said. "We didn't put the 'keeper under enough pressure, and although Warren Gibbs got the early goal, they (Pontlottyn) were just more ruthless in front of goal".

The victory gives Stuart Fairway his first Domestic Cup in charge of Pontlottyn - and sparks hopes that a now resurgent Pontlottyn Blast Furnace can go on to achieve what would be an amazing - and unprecedented - Welsh Quadruple of the League Cup, FA Cup, Premier Cup and League. The Blast are still top of the table, seven points clear with 15 matches yet to play. For now though, that is in the future - the celebrations for this trophy will no doubt last for some time'


In fact, the celebrations could not last as long as Fairway - or his players - might have hoped - with just one change for Saturday's trip to Carmarthern Town . 'keeper Alex O'Reilly found himself benched despite a fine, Man of the Match performance in the League Cup final, with Dutchman Michel Kuipers recalled to the team after injury. Kuipers, however, would have little to do - Pontlottyn destroyed a dismal Carmarthern - with the home side registering just a solitary shot - off target - all afternoon. The scoring began in the 22nd minute, with Lee Lawrence driving a low shot beyond 'keeper Brook. Brook was dimissed soon after - hauling down Carratt inside the box on 39, but Poole could only steer the penalty straight at his grateful replacement, teenager Fowler. It was in the second half though when Ponlottyn really went for victory - Marcus Richardson driving in the first of four goals for the ex-Torquay man on 49 - his second coming two minutes later (51). Another defensive error led to his hatrick on 72, whilst six minutes from time Darren Poole squared for the big centre-forward to knock home his fourth of the afternoon, and Pontlottyn's fifth. Back in business? - Looks like it.

In fact better news would come after the game, with Haverfordwest losing at home to Llanelli - bringing the gap at the top of the table back to 10 points, and with Pontlottyn again hitting form, few expected Fairway's men to throw away their lead for a second time.

With his side already through in the Premier Cup, Fairway chose a weakened side for Wednesday's (15th) visit of Afan Lido = the final game of the Group stages. 17-year old Craig Rees made his Senior debut between the sticks, with Chris McConville also playing - bans not counting in this competition. Unsuprisingly, Lido attacked from the off - keen to put the inexperience Rees under pressure. The 17-year old responded admirably - making his presence felt with a couple of good stops early on. A minute before half time however it was Pontlottyn who took the lead - Chris McConville poking home a deflected corner to score in his first game of 2003. Soon after the break, it was 2 - Curtis Jackson (53) cracking home a Kevan cross to put the home side in cruise mode. Lido were still stubborn in their restistance though, and indeed on 61 Reynolds struck the woodwork with an angled drive. Youngster Rees impressed too - a fingertip save on 64 from Gibson. Afan Lido finally ran out of steam, and a lazy rather than malicious, push on Jackson on 77 resulted in a spot-kick. With just 13 minutes remaining of - most probably - the only match he will play in January, Chris McConville sent 'keeper Thomas the wrong way from the spot, sealing a comfortable victory for Pontlottyn - and setting up a plum tie with English Division Two leaders Cardiff City at the Furnace Stadium in the Quarter Finals.

Despite Rees' performance - and that of Chris Kitson , voted Man of the Match after a solid showing, Fairway returned to a more orthodox lineup on Saturday, with Caernarfon Town visiting in the League. On a bitterly cold afternoon the home side began brightly, and Steve Soley opened the scoring with a glancing header - meeting Carratt's near-post corner to great effect. Two minutes later, Blast had doubled their lead - with Carratt repeating his trick, this time David Taylor nodding the ball beyond 'keeper Curtis. It wouldn't all be Pontlottyn - Sadler struck the post for Caernarfon - but on 29, any hope of a comeback was effectivley killed off. A surging run from Shanahan, ending in a perfect slide-rule pass, gave Steve Soley the chance to drive his second of the afternoon beyond Curtis. Despite hitting the post on the stroke of half time, the visitors offered little in the second half - and Pontlottyn could have made it four right at the death with a Taylor diving header. The scoreline, however, was not especially representative of the game - Caernarfon were perhaps a little unlucky, with Kuipers inspired in goal for Fairway's men.

On Monday morning the increasing harmony - and availability - of Pontlottyn's squad was reduced once again, with skipper Rhodri Jones ruled out for 10 days with a gashed head. The defender did return to light training by the end of the week, but Fairway still considered him unfit on Saturday, with Chris Kitson called into the squad for Saturday's (25th) trip to Newtown . Within the first minute Pontlottyn were ahead - and they never looked back. Pontlottyn immediatley won the ball from the centre, and when Richardson knocked a pass on, Phil Carratt drilled the visitors ahead. On 11 David Taylor made it two - a well taken chance after a terrible Norris goal kick doubling the lead. It took just a further 10 minutes before Marcus Richardson made it three - Aaron Shanahan providing the assist for the rangy ex-Torquay man to nod home. With all hope seemingly abandoned by Newtown, David Taylor met a Soley cross with a firm diving header to make it four on 24 - and when Marcus Richardson prodded home a Carratt corner on 37, several Newtown fans gave up and went home. After such an exciting first half, the second was never going to be much of a spectacle - and with no shots recorded, those who left at the interval were perfectly justified. Newtown - especially loanee 'keeper Norris - were woeful, and their position of 13th does look a little high at the moment.

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Welsh Premier Division - Saturday 25th January 2003



2002/3 Table


Pos Team Pld Won Drn Lst For Ag Won Drn Lst For Ag Pts


1st PONTLOTTYN BLAST FURNACE 22 8 2 0 28 6 10 0 2 36 14 56


2nd Llanelli 22 7 1 2 25 18 7 3 2 27 18 46

3rd Haverfordwest 22 9 2 1 26 13 4 3 3 14 13 44

4th Barry Town 22 4 5 2 16 13 7 2 2 20 16 40

5th T.N. Solutions 22 6 3 2 18 9 5 1 5 16 17 37

6th Bangor City 22 6 0 4 28 16 5 3 4 26 21 36

7th Afan Lido 22 5 2 4 19 18 5 1 5 18 16 33

8th Flexsys Cefn Druids 22 4 5 3 20 15 3 4 3 14 13 30

9th Connah's Quay 22 3 4 3 23 20 4 3 5 24 25 28

10th Oswestry Town 22 4 2 6 22 20 4 1 5 13 21 27

11th Cwmbran Town 22 6 1 4 15 11 2 2 7 11 22 27

12th Port Talbot Town 22 6 1 3 11 8 1 3 8 8 23 25

13th Newtown 22 4 3 5 17 23 3 1 6 14 25 25

14th Caersws 22 5 1 5 26 19 1 4 6 15 23 23

15th Aberystwyth Town 22 4 1 6 17 18 3 1 7 13 21 23

16th Caernarfon Town 22 4 4 4 15 16 0 4 6 6 21 20

17th Carmarthen Town 22 3 3 6 17 32 2 2 6 9 21 20

18th Welshpool 22 2 0 8 10 21 2 2 8 12 23 14


With a 5-0 victory to round off the month, it was perhaps a suprise that Fairway didn't collect the Manager of the Month award - that instead went to Peter Nicholas of Llanelli.

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Febuary 2004

Although Fairway was able to recall skipper Rhodri Jones , he would have Marcus Richardson unavailable (Neck) for Saturday's (1st) visit of Cefn Druids , instead recalling youngster Curtis Jackson in attack. Despite the teenage 'goal machine' present in attack, it was one of Pontlottyn's few 'veterans' who opened the scoring - Steve Soley curling home an effort from distance to beat 'keeper Thomas. Young Jackson was having a frustrating afternoon - twice denied before half time, but it was 'keeper Michel Kuipers who did the most to keep Pontlottyn ahead before the break - making blocks from Parry and Plant in a frenzied scramble on 44. The second half continued in the same, disjointed fashion of the first - and with a goal needed to settle the game down, a lot of game time was taken up with scrappy midfield play. It would lead to Pontlottyn's second goal - Carratt's shot on 69 parried by Carl Thomas straight into the path of Steve Soley , who was on hand to steer home his second of the afternoon, and 10th of the season. The visitors still looked to have something about them, and on 76 netted a probably deserved goal. Paul Mazzarella - a busy force in midfield throughout - took the ball down the left, crossing brilliantly for Raith Plant to power a header beyond Kuipers. Any thoughts of an equaliser would be killed off four minutes before the final whistle - Phil Carratt drilling the ball square for left-back Lee Lawrence to pop up as an unlikely match-winner. With 11 games remaining, Fairway's men lie 10 points clear of a resurgent Llanelli at the top of the Welsh Premier - and unless a calamitous collapse, such as that happened before Christmas, repeats itself, the trophy should be on it's way to the Furnace Stadium once again.

Monday morning (3rd) would see a welcome return for Marcus Richardson . Far from being the bit-part player some had expected, Richardson has developed into a crucial member of the Pontlottyn squad - with an impressive 13 goals in 19 starts, with a further 8 substitute appearances.

Despite the availability of Richardson, Fairway chose an unchanged side for Saturday's trip to Barry Town in the Cup. With a place in the Quarter Finals at stake, he wanted a victory - but also had an eye on a particularly difficult Midweek match. Pontlottyn began well, and on 16, took the lead - Darren Poole hitting a rising shot that crashed off the bar on it's way into the net. Steve Soley also wanted in on the act - and it was his first-half brace (24 and 36) that convinced Fairway the day was won. Three changes at half time took a little of the momentum out of Pontlottyn's attacks - although sub Withe struck the post - but Chris Fowler's 86th minute goal proved just a consolation for the home team. With progression in one Cup assured thoughts could now turn to arguably one of Pontlottyn's biggest games of the season - the Premier Cup Quarter Final. In the same stage of this - the FA Cup, Pontlottyn were drawn to face currently managerless Cwmbran Town .

Tuesday's (11th) saw Pontlottyn welcome Cardiff City - one of the so-called 'Welsh Exile' clubs - brought with it it's own problems. Curtis Jackson succumbed to an ankle strain on the morning of the game, keeping him out for 3 weeks, and Fairway also had something of a dilemma in midfield, with Chris McConville's suspension now up. As it was, the young midfielder would only make the bench, with Richardson, as expected, returning for Jackson in attack.

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Glamorgan Gazette - Sport - Wednesday 12th February 2004

'Quadruple Dream Still on After Incredible Premier Success'

'Pontlottyn Blast Furnace could still be on for a remarkable Welsh Quadruple after defeating English Second Division leaders Cardiff City 2-1 at a packed Furnace Stadium last night. With his side top of the table, already winners of the League Cup and through to the Quarter Finals of the Welsh FA Cup, The Premier Cup, which pits Welsh Premier sides against the four 'exiled' clubs of Cardiff, Swansea, Wrexham and Merthyr Tydfil, represented possibly the biggest challenge for Stuart Fairway's celebrated young side.

Cardiff - who began with players including England 'keeper Richard Wright, Norway star Alf-Inge Haaland, Wales international Robert Earnshaw and Australian international Danny Invincible, started the better side - and Pontlottyn's hopes looked to take a serious blow as early as the third minute - captain Scott Young , allegedly being courted by Premiership side Middlesbrough, heading home Jason Bowen's corner to put the 'English' outfit ahead.

Although shaken by the early goal, Pontlottyn responded admirably - and twice struck the woodwork, through Taylor on 10 and strike partner Richardson 4 minutes later. Kuipers was still the busier of the two 'keepers though - and Cardiff themselves were inches away from a second before the break, with the Dutchman unable to do anything about Robert Earnshaw's piledriver, and then header, against the crossbar. With one change at the break Fairway replaced a susprisingly lacklustre Poole with returning midfielder Chris McConville.

McConville, just back from an 8-match suspension, would have a key role to play - combining with Aaron Shanahan on 59 to set up Marcus Richardson for a very-well taken header that gave ex-Arsenal and Everton man Wright no chance. After the initial shock of conceding, Cardiff seemed to settle down to midfield play, with tight, defensive-minded manevuers and little in the way of attacking endevaour throughout the second half. Pontlottyn too seemed content to play out time, and at times seemed almost dumbstruck that they were holding the Second Division leaders.

Towards the end though the home team stepped up a gear - Chris McConville had a shot tipped wide on 85 before three minutes later came the stuff dreams are made of. 20-year old right back Robert Lawrence found himself in the right place at the right time - heading a cross from namesake Lee beyond Wright. There would be no comeback - Scottish prodigy Andy Rodgers did come close in injury time - tricking the goal's provider but then blasting over the top with Kuipers racing to narrow the angle.

After the match, the sheer gulf between the two sides was exposed. Furious Cardiff chairman Sam Hammam said; "I've spent £8.5 million on players this season. The Pontlottyn chairman has told me he has spent £60,000 - yet they seemed much more willing to fight for the cause, and got a result that, if you had told me it would happen before the game, I would have laughed about. I'm not happy at all".

Pontlottyn manager Fairway was more keen to focus on his own team than the 'superior' opposition. "We just went out and gave it 110%" he said. "I stressed to the lads ahead of the game how hard it would be, but they didn't get overawed and just gave it their all. There's a lot of tired players back in that changing room, and I know how they feel. It was an immense performance, from the 'keeper to the strikers"

After dumping perhaps the favourites for this competition out, Pontlottyn now face Connah's Quay over two legs in the Semi Finals. Quay, who have beaten Pontlottyn in their last two meetings, also beat English-based opposition, knocking out Merthyr Tydfil'


Despite the heroics of Chris McConville, Fairway chose to stick with an unchanged side on Saturday for the League trip to Cwmbran Town . With the home side appointing legendary striker Dean Saunders as manager during the week, kickoff was - understandably, in Fairway's eyes - delayed whilst the ex-Liverpool man was presented to the crowd. With the formalities out of the way, Pontlottyn proceeded to ensure the Saunders era at Cwmbran wouldn't start with a victory. On 10 minutes Shanahan set up young David Taylor for a bullet header at goal - only for 'keeper O'Hagan to block. Marcus Richardson made no mistake, practically running the rebound into the net. Just under 20 minutes later, O'Hagan repeated his 'party trick' - this time spilling a Richardson header for Steve Soley to tap home from close range. It wasn't all Pontlottyn - Saunders will have been pleased with Chris Summers in particular, who caused problems and headed wide just before the interval, but the performance of stopper O'Hagan would be less impressive. Again, this time in the second half, the 31-year old dropped a clanger - and the ball - at the feet of David Taylor , who needed little invitation to poke home his 17th of the season. A fourth would have been harsh - and as the game progressed, O'Hagan did become more of a presence between the sticks, with a couple of good stops late on. A fine victory was rendered even more important after the match - Llanelli falling to defeat, to leave them in third - and Pontlottyn 12 points clear of Haverfordwest County at the top.

Another League match would follow on Wednesday (19th) - Total Network Solutions the visitors to the Furnace Stadium - and with just 10 games to go, talk of the title was really starting to spring up in both the stands and the changing room. Fairway took time out to remind his players that they still had some way to go yet - and also to introduce one of next season's new faces. Partick Thistle frontman Paul Walker would be joining on a Bosman free at the end of the season, and the manager was rather excited. Walker, 25, is a versatile player, with experience as both a centre-forward and a goal-getting left winger. Although especially known for his pace, a video and scout reports had convinced Fairway that Walker could to a job in the Welsh league. There would be just one change for the match against TNS - a clearly exhausted Rhodri Jones rested, with young Chris Thomas in his place. After a slow start to the game in tricky, windswept conditions, it was TNS who took the lead on 19 - with midfielder Mark Roberts continuing his amazing strike rate that has brought him 22 goals this season. Few had expected the visitors to open the scoring, and fewer still expected them to add a second - but on 30 John Toner did exactly that, shooting under the diving Kuipers as Roberts turned provider. With geniuine fears setting in amongst the home support - and players - Darren Poole did his best to allieviate concerns on 39, sending the 'keeper the wrong way after Perry had handled a Soley cross inside the box. With an ear-bashing at the interval, Fairway replaced Soley with McConville - but on 53, Wood crossed for Nicky Ward to rifle a third, ending any hopes of a comeback. He was at a loss to explain it - things failed to improve late on, with the result ending a run of 13 games unbeaten in all competitions.

Although a little disapointed, Fairway chose not to give his young team an ear-bashing - instead deciding that tiredness had played it's part. Therfore, for Saturday's (22nd) penultimate game of the month, away at fellow high-flyers Haverfordwest County , he rang the changes - bringing McConville, Jones and Kevan at the expense of Soley, Robert Lawrence and Carratt. The first half was - unfortunatley - not characterised by good play, but by unfortunate injuries. Whilst dangerman Matthew Lee-Williams limped off for Haverfordwest on 4 minutes, Alex Kevan had to be carried from the field just before half time, with Fairway particularly worried about his midfielder after a crunching challenge. With the game 'needing a goal', Fairway was unhappy to see it come for the opponents - Haverfordwest taking a less than deserved lead on 68 through Tom Billing. Three minutes later, and the scores were level - after a dire first half, all the afternoon's goal action was packed into a short spell, with Marcus Richardson getting Pontlottyn out of jail on 71 with a thunderous drive from Darren Poole's inswinging cross. There would be no glorious ending, although both sides had late chances a draw was perhaps the fairest result.

With the matches for the month now at an end, Fairway had a difficult decision to make. First of the youth products, winger Gareth Rees , would be out of contract at the end of the season. In his two senior starts for Pontlottyn - both in the Cups - the 17-year old had performed reasonably well, but, by all accounts, his loan spell at struggling Welshpool had revealed serious limitations to his game. In order to be fair, Fairway took the decision to end the loan spell - bringing Rees back to Furnace Park for three months that would prove crucial to his chances of staying involved with his hometown team.

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Welsh Premier Division - Friday 28th February 2004



2002/3 Table


Pos Team Pld Won Drn Lst For Ag Won Drn Lst For Ag Pts


1st PONTLOTTYN BLAST FURNACE 26 9 2 1 32 10 11 1 2 40 15 63


2nd Haverfordwest 26 10 3 1 29 15 6 3 3 20 14 54

3rd Llanelli 26 8 2 2 30 22 7 3 4 29 24 50

4th Barry Town 26 6 5 2 19 14 7 3 3 23 20 47

5th T.N. Solutions 26 8 3 2 23 11 6 1 6 21 21 46

6th Afan Lido 26 7 2 4 26 21 5 1 7 20 22 39

7th Flexsys Cefn Druids 26 5 6 3 24 17 4 4 4 18 17 37

8th Connah's Quay 26 6 4 3 30 23 4 3 6 24 26 37

9th Bangor City 26 6 0 6 31 26 5 3 6 28 25 36

10th Cwmbran Town 26 7 1 5 18 14 3 2 8 17 27 33

11th Port Talbot Town 26 8 2 3 17 12 1 3 9 10 26 32

12th Newtown 26 5 3 5 18 23 4 2 7 19 31 32

13th Oswestry Town 26 4 3 6 25 23 5 1 7 17 26 31

14th Aberystwyth Town 26 5 1 7 18 19 3 2 8 15 25 27

15th Caernarfon Town 26 5 4 5 18 18 1 5 6 11 24 27

16th Caersws 26 5 1 7 27 24 2 4 7 18 26 26

17th Carmarthen Town 26 3 3 8 19 36 2 2 8 10 25 20

18th Welshpool 26 3 1 8 15 25 2 3 9 13 25 19


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<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Terk:

enjoying the story and the success so far, d_s icon14.gif

just noticed as well that your title hasn't yet been edited (by having the 'a short story' bit removed) do you still want that done? <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Cheers. Yes, that would be great icon14.gif

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Cheers Terk

March 2003

<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>

www.bbc.co.uk/football - Wales - Saturday 1st March 2003

'Rees to go as Fairway lists 'keeper'

"After rejecting a £30,000 bid for goalkeeper Alex O'Reilly last summer, Pontlottyn Blast Furnace manager Stuart Fairway has slapped the Irishman on the Transfer List in a bid to cut the wage bill at Furnace Park. "Alex is a good 'keeper" he said, before adding; "But Michel Kuipers has come in and forced him out - we've got young Craig Rees as another option, and I feel it's only fair to reduce our wage bill and get Alex the first team football he deserves elsewhere"

O'Reilly, 23, is known to be interesting Scottish side Falkirk , as well as other clubs across Europe. Meanwhile, Fairway has also confirmed that young winger Gareth Rees will not be offered a new deal at the end of the season. "Gareth was the first youth player to break through under my reign, and of course I'm sorry to be letting him go" he said. "But we feel that Gareth just isn't good enough for this level, and although he will be retained until the end of his contract, there will be no new deal at the end of the season".


With transfer news out of the way, Fairway was pleased to be able to select a side for the first time in a week - Barry Town the visitors to the Furnace Stadium. Although now 'only' nine points clear at the top of the table, Fairway was mindful that this time last season, his side had won the title - and was keen to get that particular trophy wrapped up as soon as possible. His side, however, seemed to have other ideas - the defence all at sea early on, with Craig Owen taking advantage to sidefoot past a stranded Kuipers. As it was, Pontlottyn's equaliser on 22 was somewhat fortuitous as well - Lee Phillips deflecting an angled McConville drive past his own 'keeper. The goal gave Pontlottyn a boost, and on 44, Phil Carratt swept them into the lead after finding half a yard inside the box. Still Barry - and young forward Owen in particular - wouldn't give in, and bedore the break the visitors levelled, a volley providing the 18-year old's 11th of the campaign. After a disapointing first half though, the second half belonged to Pontlottyn - Shanahan hit the bar on 50, before Chris McConville finally put Pontlottyn ahead once more from the spot on 69. Though Barry looked to have little left in reserve, Darren Poole sent waves of relief around Furnace Park in injury time - before Chris McConville netted what, at the start of the day, looked like an unlikely fifth goal - the midfielder cracking home a wonderful drive to complete his 'pennance' after that 8-game ban.

With the victory, and poor results for the two chasing sides of Haverfordwest and Llanelli, Fairway was pleased that his side again siezed the initiative, moving back up to 11 points clear in the process. Perhaps - for the second season in a row - the title could be won in March. The week passed quietly, although on Friday Fairway was pleased to welcome Curtis Jackson back after recovering from a strained ankle. The striker - with 19 to his credit this season - was performing above Fairway's expectations, with the manager particularly wary of his tender years. With that in mind, Jackson would only make the bench in an otherwise unchanged side for Saturday's (8th) trip to Cwmbran Town in the Quarter Finals of the Welsh Cup. Dean Saunders men looked in confident mood - but just 6 minutes in, this optimistic start was crushed in emphatic fashion - Marcus Richardson scoring number 17 for the season with a powerful effort. On 15 however, Pontlottyn were pegged back - bit-part striker Mattie Davies staking his claim for more regular involvement with a powerful shot past 'keeper Kuipers. Chances then came thick and fast for both sides, with Cwmbran 'keeper O'Hagan in particular impressing after some calamatious handling in the League clash between the two sides last month. By far the best chance of normal time, however, came right at the death - and from an unlikely source. Sub Ryan Dorrian, hardly a regular for Pontlottyn, got real power behind his shot, but just dragged it wide with the 'keeper beaten. Extra Time though was by far a more nervy period for the visitors - both Chris Summers and especially Mattie Davies unfortunate not to end Pontlottyn's quadruple dreams. The inevitable came moments later - a final whistle that ensured spot kicks would settle this tighest of cup ties. Cwmbran kicked first - and Summers promptly missed, sending his kick straight at Kuipers. McConville then put Pontlottyn ahead, before Davies, Poole, Cwmbran's Thomas and Rhodri Jones for Pontlottyn all successfully converted their kicks. The vital kick for Pontlottyn came from Phil Carratt - and while he made no mistake, battling Cwmbran winger Adam Moore balooned his kick over the bar to end his teams' hopes. It was a harsh way to end what had perhaps been Pontlottyn's most even match of the season - both 'keepers totally exhausted at the end of 120 epic minutes.

Although he felt sorry for opposite number Saunders, Fairway felt more relief than anything else - his side had, yet again, won a crucial game - and will play Haverfordwest County in the Semi Finals. As well as the draw on Sunday, Fairway also had a transfer bid to deal with. Some £20,000 less than the previous year - but this time, Alex O'Reilly could go. £10,000 was enough to secure talks, and both Malmo FC and Falkirk took the opportunity. It took the Irish stopper just 12 hours to decide his future lay in Scotland, rather than Sweden - moving to become one of six 'keepers at the Scottish Division One outfit. Fairway immediatley promoted young Craig Rees to the first team squad - confident that the teenager, an impressive cup display under his belt earlier in the campaign, had what it takes if called upon.

Despite his confidence about Rees, Fairway was also keen to bring in - at least on a temporary basis - a third 'keeper, to add extra cover. Again he went back to England - with Nuneaton Borough stopper Chris McKenzie asked back for a second spell at Pontlottyn, until the end of the season. With McKenzie - and Nuneaton - mulling over the bid, it would be Rees on the bench for Saturday's (15th) trip to Port Talbot Town , a match which would also see a return to fitness of midfielder Alex Kevan . Other than the the two changes on the bench, Fairway made no other switches - knowing that victory would practically end third-placed Llanelli's Championship charge, and seriously dent the hopes of Haverfordwest. With this on his mind, an early goal certainly helped matters - Chris McConville thumping home his 20th goal of the season on 12. The lead wouldn't last long - Craig Hanford a hero for Port Talbot, scoring his second of the season on the half hour in some style. Despite running the play, Pontlottyn found it difficult to convert possession into chances - and after a frustrated Richardson saw yellow just before the break, Fairway swapped him with Jackson in a bid to inject pace into the front line. If anything though, it was Port Talbot who seized the initative after the break - Kuipers making a superb one-handed stop to deny Carpenter, before finally, the home side made a breakthrough - sub Mark Dodds meeting a superb Regan cross on 78 to head Port Talbot into the lead. This spurred Pontlottyn into action - Carratt had a stinging volley well held by the experinced Freestone, before Poole hit the side netting. Finally, in injury time, the Port Talbot player/manager would be beaten - Jackson's volley skidding on the wet turf, giving Freestone no chance - and David Taylor was in the right place to smash home the rebound. It was indeed unfortunate for Freestone's players, who had given it their all - and were very close to securing what would have been a memorable scalp. The title would have to wait - but for how long?

On Monday morning Chris McKenzie put pen to paper on a loan deal - his second stint at Pontlottyn in a single season. Although losing his understudy status didn't seem to phaze young 'keeper Craig Rees , Fairway was at pains to point out to the teenager that he would get his chance next season - with less reserve team action, but more travelling with the First Team squad - perhaps, both Fairway and Rees hoped, in Europe to boot.

McKenzie's chance in the first team would come sooner than anyone expected - Kuipers suffering from an unexplained lack of fitness ahead of Saturday's (22nd) visit of Bangor - minus their star striker, 21-year old Gareth Barton, away on International duty with the Wales Under 21's. The big Dutchman did make the bench - between the sticks the only change to the team that were held a week previous. A sellout crowd packed the Furnace Stadium - but the vast majority were to be disapointed. Bangor began very well, with McKenzie picking the ball out of his net three times in five minutes (20, 23 and 25) - with Daniel Lloyd, a striker who could have signed for Pontlottyn, claiming a hatrick. It looked hard to see a way back for Pontlottyn after that - although Marcus Richardson restored some hope on 70 - but by the time Chris Ware had added a fourth on 76, the game was long since lost. Despite conceding four however, McKenzie stood up well in a hard-pressed defence. One of those days for Pontlottyn? - It certainly seemed so, with Fairway at least releived to note that both Llanelli and Haverfordwest slipped up - the latter side gaining the only point of any of the top three on Saturday.

With Michel Kuipers returned to the team for the trip to third-placed Llanelli on the final weekend of March, Fairway got one of the more intelligent members of his squad to do the maths. Two victories would do it - and where better to start than here. It certainly began well - Darren Poole shot Pontlottyn ahead from the game's first attack on 15 - but on 23, Steven Devonald provided the corner for young striker David Hughes to head Llanelli level. Three minutes later, Healey found Carl Mainwaring - and 'Napoleon' grabbed his 15th of the season with a shot that would have tested the best of 'keepers, through a crowd of players. Llanelli continued to pressurise - even midfielder Fred Wilson, on loan from Pontlottyn, close with a rising drive. Fairway, however, had his half-time notes ripped up - but in the right way. On the stroke of half time David Taylor struck a crucial equaliser after Hidie had failed to deal with a Richardson effort - and the game was again on. Pontlottyn went all out for victory in the second half - but hadn't reckoned on giving away a silly free kick on 53. Marvin Arthur blasted Llanelli back into the lead, and they never looked back - 19-year old stopper Hidie had the game of his life in goal, and some wasteful finishing denied Pontlottyn the victory Fairway so craved.

<pre class="ip-ubbcode-code-pre">


Welsh Premier Division - Saturday 29th March 2003



2002/3 Table


Pos Team Pld Won Drn Lst For Ag Won Drn Lst For Ag Pts


1st PONTLOTTYN BLAST FURNACE 30 10 2 2 38 16 11 2 3 44 20 67


2nd Haverfordwest 30 12 3 1 34 17 6 5 3 21 15 62

3rd Llanelli 30 10 2 3 36 29 7 3 5 30 26 56

4th T.N. Solutions 30 8 5 2 23 11 6 3 6 24 24 50

5th Barry Town 30 7 5 3 23 18 7 3 5 27 28 50

6th Flexsys Cefn Druids 30 7 6 3 29 18 5 5 4 20 18 47

7th Connah's Quay 30 8 4 3 34 23 5 3 7 29 30 46

8th Afan Lido 30 7 4 4 28 23 6 2 7 23 23 45

9th Bangor City 30 7 1 6 38 30 6 3 7 32 27 43

10th Cwmbran Town 30 8 1 6 22 18 4 2 9 21 30 39

11th Newtown 30 7 3 5 22 24 4 3 8 19 33 39

12th Caersws 30 6 2 7 32 26 4 4 7 23 28 36

13th Oswestry Town 30 5 4 6 28 25 5 1 9 19 30 35

14th Port Talbot Town 30 8 3 4 19 16 1 4 10 13 32 34

15th Aberystwyth Town 30 6 1 8 21 23 3 2 10 16 31 30

16th Caernarfon Town 30 5 5 5 19 19 1 5 9 12 30 28

17th Carmarthen Town 30 4 4 8 21 36 2 2 10 11 30 24

18th Welshpool 30 4 1 9 17 27 2 4 10 15 29 23


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April 2003

Suddenly, things didn't look quite so promising. Four League games to go, and a gap of just five points at the top of the table - as well as three critical Cup matches - a one-off Welsh Cup Semi Final, and the Two legged Premier Cup affair, on the cards in April. A crucial month would begin with some bad news - Dutch coach Pieter Huistra telling Fairway he had no intention of extending his contract when it expired at the end of the season. Just to further dampen the manager's spirits, scout Jamie Lewis , also out of contract in three months, also refused talks over a new one.

The backroom problems, however, would have to be put to one side as Fairway named an unchanged side for the first game of the month on Saturday (5th). Haverfordwest County the hosts - and a place in the Cup Final the prize.

<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>

www.valleytoday.co.uk - Sport - Saturday 5th April 2003

'Back to Business - Pontlottyn Blast into Cup Final'

'Pontlottyn Blast Furnace have shrugged off recent poor results to beat Haverfordwest County 3-1, and put themselves into the Welsh Cup Final against Newtown .

After shaky performances of late, Pontlottyn got off to the perfect start - with David Taylor meeting a Chris McConville cross after just two minutes to head the ball past 'keeper David Blower and claim his 20th goal of the season. Just nine minutes later, the home side at the ball in the net - but, to the consternation of the home crowd, referee Jones ruled out a Price effort for offside. The disallowed 'goal' only seemed to spur Pontlottyn on, and on 19, they went 2-0 ahead. Captain Rhodri Jones , who has already lifted the League Cup this season, climbed to glance home Phil Carratt's whipped-over corner - and plenty in the away end thought victory was assured.

As it was, Pontlottyn would have to work a little harder - Tom Billing forcing Kuipers into a fine save on the stroke of half time. The loose ball fell to Alex Davies , and the 22-year old attacking midfielder siezed his chance, striking the ball powerfully, but keeping it low, to evade the desparate hands of the Dutchman and make things a little less clear-cut.

While the Second half began in quieter fashion, on 51 came a moment that David Taylor may live to regret - the goalscorer picking up a booking which will see him miss Pontlottyn's crucial League match against Connah's Quay next week. Despite this, he didn't seem too downbeat - not allowing the upcoming ban to affect his perfomance - and on 72, Taylor's pace down the flank set up a chance for sub Steve Soley to cross - Aaron Shanahan gleefully connecting to send the ball beyond Blower and into the net. This time, there would be no comeback - with the victory ending a 4-game streak without a win.

Manager Fairway however, was just relieved to get the game out of the way. "I always expected it to be tough, and they certainly gave us a good workout" he said. "Haverfordwest have some great young players, and I expect this last month to be very tough in the league".

Opposite number Deryn Brace , one of the youngest player/managers around at 27, said; "I don't think it'll be a physcological blow in the League race. Obviously we wanted to do as well in the Cup as we can, but as the cliche goes, we will now be able to concentrate on the league, whilst Pontlottyn are still competing in three competitions. I hope we can bounce back from this to overhaul them in the title race - we don't want them having everything their own way!"

Despite Brace's comments, it does indeed look as if Pontlottyn could go on to acheive the Quadruple - with the League Cup already won, and a crucial Premier Cup Semi Final First Leg match ahead in midweek. With that in mind perhaps, Fairway made three changes after 66 minutes - but for now, there is only one Cup Final on the lips of Pontlottyn fans everywhere"


It would be a risk - but one Fairway would have to take. With one eye on the League match - ironically also against Connah's Quay on Saturday, he left out Darren Poole, Robert Lawrence and Phil Carratt for Tuesday's (8th) First Leg of the Premier Cup Semi Final. On a cold, but dry evening at the Furnace Stadium, Fairway was delighted when, with his side's first real attack, one of his 'stand-ins' put them ahead. Alex Kevan , a man who has so often this season been in the right place at the right time, did it again - a downward header from McConville's wicked cross to beat 'keeper Mulliner. Although 'Quay were shocked by the goal, they were still a potent threat - and just before the break, veteran Kenworthy put through the lethal goalscoring teenager Alec Sumner, only for Kuipers to 'earn his corn' with a stunning stop. The visitors again attacked after the break - both Terry and Sumner causing problems, before Steve Soley netted with a beautiful chipped shot on 62 to beat the stranded Mulliner. The 'keeper had strayed off his line, and when presented with a Kevan pass, Soley tried something that usually wouldn't even work on the training ground. This time, it did - dropping just behind the desparing stopper to double Pontlottyn's lead. While the crowd - a miserly 193 - was of huge disapointment for Fairway, Connah's Quay were still more of a worry - and on 69, Alec Sumner finally pulled one back. With 'away goal' alarm bells ringing in his ears, Fairway was amongst the most enthusiastic in clapping 'keeper Kuipers after a tremendous stop from Mutton on 72 - but even more so right at the death. A dangerous Kevan ball into the box fell just pefectly for Marcus Richardson to connect - and send Pontlottyn into the Second Leg on a far healthier footing.

Before all that though, there would be a League match - again at home, and again against Connah's Quay - to worry about. With things increasingly tense at the top, Fairway recalled Poole, Lawrence and Carratt - but would rest Rhodri Jones, Chris McConville, Alex Kevan and had to do without the banned David Taylor. Again Fairway turned to his mathematicians. Again, they told him that two wins would be enough - the league would not be won this afternoon, regardless of how Haverfordwest fared at Newtown. Despite this, stand-in skipper Steve Soley looked delighted with his 15th of the season on 11, and things would only get better. The back-in-favour Curtis Jackson drilled home a second on 16 for his 20th, and then on 22, another - the youngster bagging the Third of the afternoon from Thomas' far post cross. On 30 however, Robert Lawrence limped off to be replaced by Jones - with Fairway silently praying that his side suffered no further injuries. At half time, he took the decision - hauling off Carratt and Richardson with an eye on the Premier Cup match in midweek. Connah's Quay took advantage of the extra space, and on 58 - two minutes after Kuipers had punched clear - Alec Sumner pulled one back after a fine jinking run. 8 minutes later, Kuipers was unable to deal with the youngster a second time - and Sumner poked home his second, bringing the scores to 3-2. With Pontlottyn in something resembling disarray, Tommy Mutton stabbed home an equaliser five minutes from time - bringing a sold-out Furnace Park to - at least in the home end - silence. One further twist, however, was yet to come - and Steve Soley provided it - crashing home a Poole cross to seal the victory. A nervy wait would then follow...

In the changing room after the game, Fairway absorbed the news. Haverfordwest County could only draw with Newtown - meaning Pontlottyn just needed a draw to seal their second title in succession. Before that though, there would be a third game against Connah's Quay - this time at the Deeside Stadium - back in the Premier Cup. Pontlottyn would have to go through that game without Robert Lawrence - the right back ruled out for 10 days after suffering a bruised thigh in the epic victory. He evaulated his options on Tuesday morning. Lawrence was definatley out of Saturday's 'League decider' whatever - but with his side carrying a 2-goal advantage, he had contemplated fielding a weakened team. In the end, after hours of debate with Assistant Tony Adams, he decided against it - although Darren Poole would miss out, with 'forgotten man' Lee Withe operating on the right in his place. Fairway's final instructions to his men were blunt - "get it wrapped up early, then start thinking about Saturday. No silly injuries". Steve Soley obviously heard the first part of his instruction - drilling home a Withe cross in the second minute to practically end Connah's Quay's hopes. 10 minutes later though, an injury to Phil Carratt certainly wasn't in the script. As Fairway worried about his young winger, Curtis Jackson put the game beyond reasonable doubt - heading home a Soley corner in the 37th minute to make it 5-1 on aggreagate. The Second Half was a real washout - 'Quay, sensing their lack of hope, seemed to play within themselves, with even Alec Sumner proving little threat. They managed just two chances all evening - while Pontlottyn were hardly better themselves. That though, would not be a problem - they had done it, and would be in the Final of the Premier Cup - against Wrexham .

The news on Phil Carratt wouldn't be so good. A broken toe for the 20-year old would keep him out of Saturday's crucial league game with Aberystwyth Town - but he would be back in contention for the two Cup Finals, both in the early part of May. He looked over his team again in the changing room. Breezy and wet outside - with a humid feel thanks no doubt to some recent thundery showers. Just the sort of weather in which 16th placed Aberystwyth could cause an upset. This time, Fairway expected no favours from Deryn Brace's Haverfordwest - they too would travel, but to bottom of the league Welshpool, a game that, even on a normal day, they would be expected to win comfortably, let alone one as important as this. They all knew a point would do - but, as they prepared to step onto the field at Park Avenue, Fairway reminded them that it was not what their supporters had travelled to see. More importantly, it was not what he wanted to see.

<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>

www.bbc.co.uk/football - Wales - Saturday 19th April 2003

'Pontlottyn Champions Again'

'Pontlottyn Blast Furnace have secured their Second Welsh Premier League Championship in succession with a 4-0 demolition of Aberyswtyth Town at Park Avenue this afternoon. Although Second-Placed Haverfordwest County destroyed Welshpool 5-2, it would not be enough, with Deryn Brace's men needing Pontlottyn to lose their final three games of a hectic season.

With a place in the Premier Cup Final secured in midweek, Stuart Fairway's side looked likely to win the league here from the off - going a goal up inside five minutes when Lee Lawrence fired home a Taylor cross to put his side ahead. When David Taylor notched up a second six minutes later - steering home a Chris McConville pass - the day looked all but over for the hosts, who have had a dreadful season.

Pontlottyn then went goal-crazy - Alex Kevan scoring twice in three minutes, on 19 and 22, to end any resistance, the first a powerful header and the second a wonderful shot to conclude a mazy run. From then on, the game really became the supporting act - Pontlottyn's army of supporters celebrated on the terraces, also including the Aberystwyth fans who have seen precious little success this year. Whilst the second half was a patch on the first for entertainment - the rain strengthening - supporters of both teams stayed behind to clap the worthy Champions off a rain-lashed pitch at the end.

Speaking after the game, Pontlottyn Manager Stuart Fairway said; "I'm so pleased, and I'm so proud of my players - this meant a lot to them, and today they've paid our supporters back for those poor performances both last month, and just before Christmas. I'm happy for me, but most of all, I'm happy for the players - this is just an amazing experience, and one that's even better than last year"

Pontlottyn could still make history - with the League Cup in the bag, and now the Championship, the Blast now have the Finals of both the Welsh Cup and Premier Cup competitions to play - both coming at their own fortress-like Furnace Park home. Captain Rhodri Jones however says the players are not phased at the prospect. "We all want the Quadruple" he said. "It's not been done before, so to get our names in the record books would be brilliant. We know it won't be easy - Newtown and Wrexham are both good teams, and we will have to work hard for it - but this season, we've proved that we're not afraid of a battle".

Pontlottyn will be presented with the Trophy next Saturday, ahead of their final Home League game of the season, against Caersws .


Now they had done it - The League in addition to the League Cup, and for Fairway, the realisation of a dream - for the second season in a row, Pontlottyn Blast Furnace would be competing for the European Cup. It might not be a long run in the competition - but the opportunity was enough for most.

There would be just one change on Wednesday (23rd), with Steve Soley back into the side in place of McConville for the League visit of bottom club Welshpool . With the hard work done, and Welshpool 'celebrating' another abysmal campaign at the bottom, little was expected of the game - and other than a 6th minute disallowed goal for Pontlottyn, there was indeed little for referee Thomas to worry about. Both sides had chances, but the game - unfortunate for the 1998 in attendance - had the feel of what it was, an end of season game between two sides who could do little to improve their current, but totally opposite, positions. Pontlottyn did seal it - on 79 Steve Soley added number 18 for the season with a low drive following Kevan's pass. Not that it mattered now, but Fairway also noted another defeat for Haverfordwest - a 1-0 reverse against Cefn Druids - bringing the gap between the teams back to 10 points.

The following morning Robert Lawrence returned to training - Fairway keen for him to be involved in the climax of the league season against Caersws on Saturday to build up fitness ahead of the two Cup Finals. It was on Friday however that Fairway was reminded of the 'other side' of this success. In what is likely to be his final match for Pontlottyn, young Gareth Rees put in a Man of the Match performance - and scored - for the reserves in a win over Caersws. It would come too late to save his career at his boyhood club, but Fairway hoped that some - lower-league - suitors had scouts in attendance for the performance.

Fairway recalled both Lawrence and Chris McConville for the final league match - which, of course, began with Rhodri Jones collecting the Championship trophy from Welsh FA president David Collins . With the 'suits' in attendance, Fairway told his side to go out and impress - and impress they did. Alex Kevan curled home a brilliant opener on 4 minutes to claim his 10th of the season, while three minutes later Marcus Richardson notched up his 20th, heading home a Shanahan cross. A third quickly followed - Aaron Shanahan joining the 'record men' with his fifth of the campaign. Mistakes for Pontlottyn have been rare this season - but on 34, Marcus Richardson put through his own net, diverting a Howells free kick past Kuipers. Just before the break Graham Evans pulled the scores back to 4-2 - and those from the Welsh FA certainly had an entertaining game, if not a technical demonstration of how the game should be played. While on the pitch the second half was little to write home about, off it, Collins was making another presentation - a cheque for £180,000 for winning the League. It - and, of course, the 4-2 victory - would prove an ideal end for the League season. With it out of the way, the Cups could take priority.

<pre class="ip-ubbcode-code-pre">


Welsh Premier Division - Sunday 27th April 2003



2002/3 Table


Pos Team Pld Won Drn Lst For Ag Won Drn Lst For Ag Pts


1st C Pontlottyn Blast Furnace 34 13 2 2 47 21 12 2 3 48 20 79


2nd Haverfordwest 34 12 3 2 34 18 7 6 4 27 19 66

3rd Llanelli 34 11 2 4 43 35 7 5 5 31 27 61

4th T.N. Solutions 34 10 5 2 28 11 6 5 6 28 28 58

5th Barry Town 34 9 5 3 26 19 7 5 5 28 29 58

6th Connah's Quay 34 9 4 4 38 27 6 3 8 33 34 52

7th Flexsys Cefn Druids 34 7 7 3 31 20 6 5 6 22 22 51

8th Bangor City 34 8 3 6 41 32 6 3 8 33 29 48

9th Cwmbran Town 34 9 1 7 25 20 6 2 9 24 31 48

10th Afan Lido 34 7 5 5 28 24 6 3 8 26 28 47

11th Newtown 34 8 4 5 25 26 5 3 9 22 35 46

12th Caersws 34 7 3 7 34 27 5 4 8 29 35 43

13th Port Talbot Town 34 10 3 4 24 19 1 4 12 14 35 40

14th Oswestry Town 34 5 5 7 30 28 5 1 11 22 36 36

15th Caernarfon Town 34 6 6 5 21 20 2 5 10 15 33 35

16th Aberystwyth Town 34 7 1 9 22 27 3 2 12 18 35 33

17th Welshpool 34 5 2 10 22 34 2 4 11 15 30 27

18th Carmarthen Town 34 4 4 9 22 38 2 3 12 11 35 25


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May 2003

"I'm sorry Phil".

The winger nodded sadly - as did Fairway - the 20-year old having failed a fitness test on his broken toe - and ruling him out of a place in the team for Sunday's (4th) Cup Final. Elsewhere, there would be some tough decisions to make - but other than Carratt, Fairway had no injury worries. The weather would be suitable - dry and warm, with a pleasant spring sunshine breaking through some early morning mist.

<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>

www.bbc.co.uk/football - Wales - Sunday 4th May 2003

'Three Down, One to Go as Pontlottyn Snatch Cup'

'Pontlottyn Blast Furnace have continued their incredible season by beating Newtown 2-1 in a nervy Welsh Cup Final. Pontlottyn, who had already won the League and League Cup, have now completed the treble - but certainly had to work against a tough Newtown side.

Newtown started the better after a nervy opening period, and on 18 minutes, Paul Roberts rifled a shot against the upright. The visitors did look the better side - restricting Pontlottyn to midfield scrambles, and on 34 it needed a fine stop by Michel Kuipers in the Pontlottyn goal to deny David Watkins. Perhaps suprising then - but it was in fact Pontlottyn's first chance that gave them the lead on 40. Richardson won the ball in midfield, and swept it wide for Lee Lawrence to hit a deep cross. David Taylor was on the end of it - outjumping Anuerin Thomas to head Pontlottyn into the lead. Within 60 seconds Newtown were level - Wickham swooping onto a well-worked pass, before keeping his cross low - Paul Roberts crashing home an unstoppable drive to keep things tight into the half time interval.

With Marcus Richardson unusually subdued, Fairway replaced the striker at half time - but how many managers have the luxury of Curtis Jackson on the bench? - the prodigious 17-year old delivered, with a stunning volley on 59 from Shanahan's deep ball into the area. With victory seemingly assured, the game lost a lot as a spectacle - but in the 'finest' traditions of Cup Finals, neither side ever hit anything approaching top gear.

Right at the death, Newtown could have forced extra time - Roberts dragging the ball back, only for sub Terry Green to head over the top, with Kuipers never threatened. The final whistle came moments later - Rhodri Jones collecting the Cup - and for Pontlottyn, the dream of an unprecedented Quadruple is still very much on'


Whilst on the pitch it was all sweetness and light ahead of the Premier Cup Final, off it was a different matter. Scout Jamie Lewis , Coach Pieter Huistra and young winger Gareth Rees all left on Tuesday (6th) at the expiration of their contracts. By Wednesday, Phil Carratt returned after injury - and walked straight back into the team. Although Fairway felt it harsh on Alex Kevan , Carratt is a more natural winger - and with a very tricky game against Wrexham to complete the season on Sunday (11th), he felt that Carratt's natural energy and pace would present more of a threat.

It would be the only change to his side - Rhodri Jones leading them onto the Furnace Park pitch for the final time this season. Three trophies down, one to go. Would they do it? - Could they do it? - Fairway swallowed hard. He would soon find out...

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www.bbc.co.uk/football - Wales - Sunday 11th May 2003

'Kings of Wales - Pontlottyn add to Trophy Haul'

'Pontlottyn Blast Furnace have become the first team to win all four domestic Welsh trophies in a season, after defeating Wrexham 4-2 on penalties to win the Premier Cup. The game - at a packed Furnace Park - started in the worst possible way for the hosts, with right-back Robert Lawrence limping off within the opening minute to be replaced by Chris Kitson.

Both teams had chances in the first half - the best probably coming for Pontlottyn on 29, when McConville forced Irish 'B' 'keeper Joe Murphy into a fine reflex save. Wrexham's best move came on 44, entirely crafted in the Carribean - Trinidad & Tobago international Carlos Edwards crossed for club and country teammate Hector Sam, only for the 21-goal hitman to crash a drive over the bar.

After a scrappy start to the second half, Wrexham's superior fitness began to tell, with the English-based side seeming to camp inside the Pontlottyn area at times. Michel Kuipers was quickly forced into action, making four stops in the space of a minute on 70, before Fairway wisely injected some fresh legs in the form of Steve Soley (Replacing McConville) and Curtis Jackson (Richardson). Although desperatley hanging on at times, Pontlottyn did threaten on 88 - Darren Poole slashing wildly at a cross, volleying well wide of Joe Murphy's posts. Despite Wrexham looking the better side, Extra Time saw things even up - both sets of players seeming to tire, with penalties the inevitable result. The home side kicked first, with Darren Poole scoring, before Hector Sam replied for Wrexham. David Taylor then made it two, before Mark Evans thumped his shot against the post to hand Pontlottyn the initative. Phil Carratt made no mistake, whilst Wrexham's Bennett kept his side in with a low, powerful effort. Sub Curtis Jackson then scored to pile the pressure on Man of the Match Tony Barras. The 32-year old defender wearily stepped up, and shot at goal - only to be denied by a superb Kuipers save.

Speaking immediatley after the game, a clearly emotional Stuart Fairway said; "I'm so proud, so very proud - we've achieved what nobody said we would, and I'm delighted for the boys. This means so much to all of us".

Pontlottyn, who were awarded £100,000 in prize money after their victory, are confident that they will be able to keep hold of both their manager and multi trophy-winning squad. Chairman Fred Watson told BBC Sport; "Stuart has achieved miracles here, and we want him to stay as long as possible. Of course, he should be attracting the attention of other clubs, as should our players, but there is absolutley no way we want to loose any of them. Stuart will be given a substantial amount of money to spend next season, should he want to improve the squad of course".

Despite Watson's optimisim, it's hard to see Fairway staying in Wales forever - and certainly that will also be the case with some of his young squad. Tonight though, any fears of Pontlottyn fans are far away - the Quadruple is something worth celebrating'


On Wednesday (14th) Fairway collected the Welsh Manager of the Year award - but, unlike last season, there would be no prizes for his players - David Taylor's Runners-Up medal in the Welsh Young Player of the Year category. Taylor's award - or perhaps, his 22 goals this season, earnt him a callup to the Wales Under 21's - back in the squad for a game against Portugal.

While Taylor could live it up at the expense of the Welsh FA, Fairway had a hard decision to make. A bid of £20,000 was in - skipper Rhodri Jones the target on Saturday (24th) - and by Sunday, Jones had agreed a move to St Patricks Athletic . Although pleased with his captain, Fairway couldn't ignore the bid - and with the promise of over £200,000 to spend in the summer, he decided to cash in. Also leaving the club - albeit in June - was Fred Wilson . After a season on loan at Llanelli, Fairway came to another tough decision, listing the Australian-born youngster. Perth Glory were waiting with the invitation, and the £10,000 cheque - enough for the midfielder to return home.

Jones' replacement would arrive before the end of the month - Fairway announcing the first Andorran to play in Wales, with the signing of 8-times capped Chema on a free transfer. As the central defender, a natural left-footer, booked in, loanee goalkeeper Chris McKenzie booked out - heading back to Nuneaton after his second loan spell at the Furnace Stadium.

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June 2003

While Fred Wilson left the club on his pre-arranged transfer back to Oz on the 8th, Fairway would have to wait until the 22nd of the month, a Sunday, to discover his 'duties' for next season. This time, the board knew what to expect - or at least, knew what they wanted. The title - a 'Serious Championship Challenge' the official wording, but Fairway knew exactly what that meant. More positivley, David Taylor collected the Fans' Player of the Year award for the second time in a row - but it was what his board wanted that worried Fairway the most. Indeed, it left him - for the first time - considering his own future.

Any thoughts of departure would be put off - at least temporarily, as Fairway waited for the Champions League draw on Wednesday (25th). Before that though, he would have to - with a heavy heart in some cases - reject approaches for Preseason Friendlies. With an eye on Europe, Fairway decided against his side hosting Tottenham Hotspur and St Eitienne amongst others. He would chose the Friendly opponents on his own terms - should he still be here...

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www.valleytoday.co.uk - Sport - Wednesday 25th June 2003

'Pontlottyn off to Azerbijan in Euro opener'

'Pontlottyn Blast Furnace have been drawn against Neftchi Baku in the First Qualifying Round for the European Champions League. Should Stuart Fairway's men - as expected - overcome their opponents, they face a far more challenging tie against FC Kobenhavn of Denmark in the Second Qualifying Round.

For More Reaction, see tomorrow's Glamorgan Gazette


It made up Fairway's mind for him - his time at Pontlottyn should end. The promotion of a third Youth product, 17-year old midfielder Paul Edwards did make him briefly reconsider, but the suprise retirement of Scout Craig Dodds did little to alieviate the growing resentment Fairway felt towards his board of directors. Pressure was fine - but to publically pile it on his young team, and - to boot - continually ignore his request to improve Pontlottyn's woeful training facilities or usually-packed Furnace Stadium, was more than enough.


On the 30th of June 2003, Stuart Fairway resigned his post as manager of Pontlottyn Blast Furnace. In two seasons, he won Two League Championships and all three Welsh Cup competitions once. In addition, in 103 games, his side lost on just 13 occasions, drawing even less - 11, with 288 goals scored and 117 conceded.

On a Personal basis, Fairway collected Nine awards, including Two Welsh Manager of the Year accolades, and also earnt himself a reputation of 'Fair' in Wales - surpassing even that of National coach Mark Hughes.

Authors Notes;

Thanks for reading this one, it's been a pleasure to write. I have decided to end the story here for a couple of reasons - namely the forthcoming release of Football Manager 2005 ( \o/ Gratis copy, again icon14.gif ) - and that I also feel the story has reached a natural conclusion. I could bang on for years trying - and, no doubt, failing - in European Competition, but to be honest I think it would be pretty dull to read, let alone write about. This game will continue 'offline' - I've resigned and am just going to see if any jobs come up.

I have enjoyed it immensley though - to be honest, I had totally forgotten that I switched Pontlottyn into the League, so when I saw them again, it made sense to manage. Incidentally, I believe I was bloody lucky with the players I bought - just a basic 4-4-2, and well, the stats speak for themselves. I hope you have enjoyed reading, and I'm looking forward to writing my first Football Manager story. I've got a good idea who I'll be in charge of as well...


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