WELSH PREMIER FOOTBALL

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Andy Legg
Legg enjoyed considerable management success at Llanelli.

WHEN the final whistle went on Andy Legg's managerial spell with Llanelli, the announcement of his departure in November 2012 was one of the most predictable episodes in a season that had so many off-the-field worries.
Having suffered life- threatening medical worries that led to a premature end to his playing career at the highest level, his resignation following weeks of trying to solve the financial worries of players and the club seemed to be a sensible option.
To Legg's credit, he lasted longer as manager than many other famous football personalities in the Reds' topsy-turvy history and was able to walk away with dignity, rather than being pushed.
The club appeared to be losing the vastly experienced former Wales international in April 2009.
It was uncertain whether he would sign a new contract after Peter Nicholas had guided the Reds into Europe during that season.
However, when the chairman Nitin Parekh surprisingly axed the manager who had guided them into Europe, the Champions League and a first ever Welsh Premier title, Legg was appointed as a popular successor.
It seemed ironic that a player who Nicholas brought in to add experience to their European baptism was to benefit from the controversial departure of a Welsh playing legend.
During an outstanding career at the top level, he made more than 600 Football League appearances in total for Swansea City, Cardiff City, Notts County, Birmingham City, Peterborough and Reading.
Legg, who also gained six Welsh caps, had resigned as manager of Hucknall Town in the Conference North when Nicholas invited Legg to be involved in the Reds' first ever European appearance in 2006.
He proved to be a key figure in a memorable 2-1 opening leg away win against Swedish team Gefle.
As well as creating many goals with his long throw-ins, Legg's work rate and vision proved a key part to the club's success under Nicholas.
Despite having had a slimmer budget than his predecessor ever had, Legg managed to keep the success story going in his new role at Stebonheath.
Without making major surgery, he added more depth to the squad. In Legg's first game in charge, he masterminded a notable 1-0 away win against Scottish Premier League side Motherwell in the Europa League, before losing the home leg 3-0.
Despite injuries, suspensions and other distractions, Legg still managed to keep the club in the Europa League in which they recorded another historic win over former European giants Dynamo Tbilisi at Parc y Scarlets at the start of last season.
However, Legg's spell as manager will probably be remembered for bringing the Welsh Cup to Stebonheath for the first time ever in 124 years.
It proved one of the proudest moments of his impressive career when he fulfilled one of his managerial ambitions to lift the trophy in May 2011 at Parc y Scarlets.
Making up for controversial disappointments in previous seasons, the Reds played champagne football to topple holders Bangor 4-1 in the final.
Legg must have felt it has been one big hangover since then, but he must be applauded for still getting Llanelli to Europe again at the end of last season, and for conjuring up notable results in difficult circumstances in the opening months of 2012/13.
After a long period out of management, Legg returned to the league in the summer of 2016 to take charge of Bangor City, but his reign only lasted four months before the club's owners appointed Ian Dawes.
[Barrie Thomas]

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23 July 2017

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