THIS winter has been harsh. Our usually idyllic seaside basin has been victim to some of its harder times in recent history. No more so than for Aber Town FC, whose losses to Port Talbot and Newtown at the turn of the new year just tipping them over the brutal precepts of the Welsh Premier League’s mid-season ‘Super 12’ table split, the absence of Manager Ian Hughes due to illness, and the constant lashings of storms Abigail through to Henry on Park Avenues green pasture.
Facing one of the toughest relegation fights in Europe (Aber now have a one in three chance of an exit) and the constant barrage of setbacks on and off the pitch can leave a team looking tired, playing with their heads down from kick-off and preparing for a bumpy landing in Division One. The stands fall quiet and emptier as the season wraps up and it all ends with a whimper rather than a bang. Well, at least that happens to other teams.
Despite qualifying for the Europa League just two seasons ago, the Seasiders now find themselves in this bottom half dogfight, with those two losses at the end of the autumn season leaving them 9th.
That place in the table does not do justice to the resilience of everything that is Aber. Interim Manager Wyn Thomas has been running the touchline in Hughes’ absence and has his first three pointer after a resilient start to this campaign against Port Talbot. Mud and rain reigned supreme but it was Rhys Griffiths that rose above the turmoil with a late header to clinch the scrap that cold Monday night. Defensive additions has also seen Aber get their first clean sheet in five games, with Ryan Batley returning for another spell with the squad, and the new signing of Kane Owen from Afan Lido, whose impressive performances at left back have had him find success at the former WPL club and in the Cardiff City development team.
All this makes for a great spectacle for what must be some of the most loyal fans on the isle. 172 Green & Blacks took on the elements to scream their hearts out for the boys against Port Talbot and the viewership for the three Aber Town games on S4C has just tipped over 115,000. You don’t buy this support; you earn it. That’s what Town have done this season.
It’s the same players and the same spirit as its been all year, and a promising start was engulfed by challenges from all angles. The frustration of hard work not paying dividends surfaced against that final fateful Newtown fixture, when two Seasiders had the red mist descend and the red card shown. That could’ve set the tone for the second leg but Hughes and Thomas have bought the team the composure needed to survive in this unforgiving league. The next game at Park Avenue is Saturday 27th February against Camarthen Town. Get a seat in the Dias early and come on Aber!