WELSH PREMIER FOOTBALL

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Farrar Road BANGOR City players will run out at Farrar Road for the last time on Tuesday in an historic day for the famous North Wales football club. Here Darren Devine of Wales Online talks to club staff about taking on the likes of Atletico Madrid and Napoli at the ground that’s been home for nearly a century.

IT has hosted some of the giants of Europe. And in the past couple of decades, Bangor City’s Farrar Road has been a mainstay in the elite division of Welsh football.
But for those who proudly recall the nights when the Citizens took on the might of Atletico Madrid, or 10,000 crammed inside for a Welsh Cup final against Wrexham, it’s certain to be an emotional farewell next Tuesday when the team run out for the last ever time there.
Bangor fans will be saying goodbye to their old ground when they take on Welsh Premier rivals Prestatyn Town, as the Citizens move to a purpose-built stadium next month.
Among the select few who can claim to have witnessed almost all the highs and lows of the past 40 years is club secretary Gwynfor Jones.
And though hoping to see his team write a new and successful chapter in their history following the planned move to Nantporth on the outskirts of Bangor, Mr Jones says Farrar Road evokes an abundance of cherished memories.
The 44-year-old was first brought to the ground aged four by his father Alun – the day that began his lifelong association with the Welsh Premier League champions.
Mr Jones says of the club’s many memorable nights, the 1984-1985 season clash with Madrid in the Cup Winners’ Cup and the 1977 clash with Wrexham stand out.
He said: “There’s so many (memorable nights) to choose from. You can go back to Atletico Madrid in the 80s and Wrexham in the Welsh Cup Final when there were 10,000 people packed in for the first leg.
“We also played Swansea in the Welsh Cup when they were in the First Division.”
Mr Jones, who also lists last season’s triumph in the Welsh Premier League as one of the club’s finest hours, said the Farrar Road exit has been driven by the ground’s owners Gwynedd council, who want to see an Asda supermarket built on the site.
Bangor’s new home at Nantporth has been built by developers Morbaine and the move will see them swap Farrar Road with its 1,100 capacity for a ground that holds up to 3,000. Though at first reluctant, Mr Jones said the club, which attracts average gates of 600, is now embracing the move.
They expect to kick off their stay at Nantporth with a friendly against Wrexham next month.
Mr Jones added: “There’s room for expansion and the hope is that in years to come, the Wales FA will work with us to make our ground the top ground in North Wales, apart from Wrexham, so we can stage things like UEFA U21 matches.”
Mr Jones, who has had some success in passing on his passion for Bangor to 13-year-old son Liam, said: “My dad started watching them in the 1950s and he watched them against Napoli (after a 1962 Welsh Cup win) – that was one of his best stories.
“There were five children – four boys and a girl – and he took all four boys to the games. The other three have stopped watching because of family commitments.
“They go occasionally and will be there on Tuesday, but I’m the only one who has carried it through from the family.”
Mr Jones, who as well as volunteering as the club’s secretary works for the Royal Mail as a manager, added: “People keep telling me how honoured my dad was that I became secretary of the club.
“Unfortunately, he passed away (after a sudden heart attack aged 73) a couple of weeks before we won the League in April.
“When my father passed away, we were second in the League behind the New Saints. Everyone had written us off and I still say fate played a part when we won the last three games.
“After we won the league, some of the players and the manager said, ‘We won that for your dad’. That’s the sort of club it is to be honest – it’s a family club.
“It’s an absolutely superb club to be involved in.”
City’s current manager, Neville Powell, is a former Citizens midfielder who played against the Spaniards.
Alongside the three Welsh cups and one league title he’s won as a manager with them, the contest with Madrid is one of his stand-out memories.
“I remember we stayed in a health lodge in Snowdonia a couple of days before the game,” said Powell, 48.
“We trained up there and we were travelling down on the team bus at around 4pm on the night of the game.
“There were thousands of Bangor fans out on the road up to the ground. It was a bit scary really.
“Madrid had just beaten Celtic 6-1 in the previous round. Celtic were champions of Scotland by a mile. We thought we were going to be right up against it.”
As it turned out, despite going 2-0 down in the first five minutes, the Citizens were knocked out just 3-0 on aggregate by Madrid.
Like Mr Jones, the manager believes it’s now time for the club to look forward to making new memories at Nantporth.
“It’ll be really sad to move, but on the other hand we’re moving to a fantastic new stadium and football moves on and you have to move with it.”
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30 March 2017

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