Today’s Trefelin BGC Q&A is with Chris Latham, one of the main driving forces behind the clubs’ success over the last few years in his committee role and a former player and coach.
Q. Hi Chris, how are you coping with lockdown and the lack of football at the moment?
It’s hard and frustrating, but the most important thing is everyone’s safety.
Q. You’re General Manager at the club, can you give us some idea of what the role entails?
How long have you got 😂. If I had to list everything we would be here all day, but basically I would say that I oversee things whether it be a football matter, ground related (maintenance/ upkeep /improvements etc) and the general running of the clubhouse. In terms of General Manager, I think that Steve Green (Boss Green) just wanted me to have some kind of title!
Q. Pre-Covid, can you give some details of the work that goes into hosting a first-team game at the Ynys Park? Specifically, the activities that happen on matchday?
Matchday usually starts around 9am. We meet for a coffee and go through the jobs that need doing for that day. Rob Robbins, our bar manager, begins preparing the bar and clubhouse at about 9:30am, and we are all subjected (whether we like it or not) to Owen Money’s Saturday radio show on Radio Wales at full volume for a few hours! The rest of the committee either help Rob or work with me to get the ground and pitch ready. Once these jobs are complete, the changing rooms get prepared with the kits laid out, match balls checked, and warm-up equipment made ready for the arrival of the players and coaching staff.
Around 12:30 the volunteer bar staff or (Robs girls) arrive, having already done the shopping for post match food, not forgetting Port Talbots famous Ron Evans pies which are a must at half time on a cold wet afternoon! The bar and kitchen are then ready to go.
The Teams and officials then start to arrive, from about 1/1:30, then its warm-up time for the players, while the team sheets are handed into officials and announced over the Ynys Park tannoy system. Then its finally kick off time!!!
After the game, the goals and flags are taken down, kits are put on to wash, and one of the committee sells the raffle. Then, hopefully about 6:30, we can sit down and have a pint! As you can see, its a pretty full on day for 90 minutes of football but to be honest the work the committee and the girls do is out of this world, another reason that Trefelin BGC is so special.
Q. Although the club has only played one match since last season, can you give everyone an idea of what went into making the game “Covid Safe’?
It’s been very tough and different to a ‘normal’ match day. Following guidance provided by the FAW we were required to split the ground into different zones with only limited amount of people with certain roles allowed access into these different zones. The players changing rooms were split to allow for social distancing, and different entrance and exit points both to the ground and changing rooms have been created and clearly marked. On top of all this, anyone in the club involved on a match day including players are required to log their medical status into the FAW Covid 19 Medical Assessment database on a daily basis to ensure they are able to safely attend on match day. I must give a massive shout out to Billy Owen from the committee who has taken the role of Covid officer for the club and made this all run smoothly.
Q. Although lockdown has been negative in terms of playing football, has the break given the club opportunities to carry out work which would usually have been impossible?
Massively. We’ve sorted drainage in the far corner of the pitch, we have moved the match officials changing room, and we are in the process of creating a new medical/kit room.
Q. With the promotion into JD Cymru South Division, what do you think will be the most significant challenges both on and off the pitch for the club?
If you think 5 years ago the club was completing in the amateur league, the challenges are huge. In some respect they mirror the position of when we first got promotion to the Welsh League, with new rules and protocols to follow. The good news is there is always help and advice available from the FAW, JD Cymru league and other clubs, of which we are very grateful. With the committee of volunteers the club has we can achieve anything we put our minds to.
On the pitch, personally, I think we will hold our own. We have a good mix of experience and youth. I am very excited to see the boys play at this level. They deserve it. They have stuck together, and with the players Richard has added, I think we will be fine.
Q. Can you let people into any future development proposals at the club?
Yes, we have recently had the stand extended to 250 seats and we plan to put an additional 100 seats in the previously covered standing area along with floodlights. As for the clubhouse, we’ve put in an application to extend and create a function room.
Q. I am sure many readers will remember you wearing the red and black of Trefelin. Can you give us a flavour of your playing career to date? Have you retired now?
Yes 100% retired from the senior game, but I do have a knock with the over 40’s on a Sunday, which is a great laugh with some cracking players that have also become good mates.
Afan Lido Juniors
Baglan BC U16’s
Port talbot Youth
Amazon then Dunes (Sunday League)
Afan Lido FC
Q. Do you have any specific highlights from your playing days?
The days with the Four Winds/Dunes were special days. Obviously, the success with Trefelin amateur league and then getting to the Welsh League is well up there and seeing what it meant to Boss Green and others involved.
But I have to mention the year with the Lido is probably up there as the best. To go from playing local league and then a year later to be included in the Welsh Cup final team is something I’m personally proud of.
Q. Thinking back to teams you played with, how would they compare to the current Trefelin first-team squad?
Now that’s a tough one. Football has changed so much. I really couldn’t say, but the current squad has something special. It reminds me of when I was playing, the closeness the boys have got not only on the pitch but good mates off the pitch to.
Q. How do you see the club in 5 years from now?
Hopefully, continuing with the great work of everyone involved to date and seeing the progression of the junior section. Fingers crossed they will produce the next generation of players like the current crop.
Q. Who do you support and why?
Manchester United. Growing up, my father was a United fan and took me up to old Trafford a few times, and it started from there.
Q. Best moment in football, either playing or watching?
I’ll have to say the Trefelin winning the League Cup Final v Llanelli AFC. We had narrowly missed out on promotion from Welsh League Division 3 and Llanelli AFC had just been promoted to the Welsh Premier League. On paper we shouldn’t have had a chance, but the boys believed in themselves, and did the job. The amount of supporters we took to Garden Village was awesome and the way we played was definitely one of the best moments I’ve been involved in.
Q. Funniest moment in football?
I’ve picked 2 from a very long list. First one from Sunday league days playing for the Dunes against Bay View ( a big local derby) at Vivian Park. A few days earlier Andy Wright (now our physio) had had his bike pinched. Half way through the game, a boy rides past the field, and Andy shouts…… “Oi you ****, that’s my bike!” Dai Powell (the match referee) has no option than to stop the game because all the players from both teams are chasing this boy (and the bike) down Sandown Road. We get back to the field after a while, and Dai Powell asks, “Did you get the bike?” Yes we say. To which he replies “Great, right drop ball then” and we carry on 😂.
The second one was playing for Trefelin away at Sully Sports. I dislocated my finger and the bone is poking out. As I come off the pitch, Michael Cook (Cookie) says to me “what have you done son?” After showing him my finger, he says “that doesn’t look good'” and walks off. Not knowing what to do I next, I sit on the sidelines only to look up and see I Cookie is back with the medical bag. He has put on surgical gloves, lit a fag and is carrying can of deep heat!!! “What are you doing?” I asked him. He said “I’ll just give it a spray now and pop it back in!!”
Safe to say, that did NOT happen, and thankfully Dai & Dawn Morgan drove me to A&E for the professionals to sort my finger 😂.
Q. Best all time XI this can be made up of one team or players who have been playing since you were born?
- Neville Southall
- Gary Neville
- Gary Speed
- Rio Ferdinand
- Japp Stam
- Roy Keane
- Cristiano Ronaldo
- Paul Scholes
- Wayne Rooney
- Lee Trundle
- Ryan Giggs
Manager: Michael Cook
Q. Favourite Drink?
Q. Favourite Food?
Steak with all the trimmings
Q. Ideal night out?
Has to be Sunday club with the veterans’ team ( Laura, my wife is going to kill me)
Q. What’s the first thing you plan to do once the world is back to ‘normal’?
The first thing I’m going to do once the world is back to normal is get on a plane and go on holiday.
Thanks, Chris. That was a fascinating insight into your role at the club and the amazing amount of work that goes on behind the scenes to prepare the ground for a matchday. You are obviously hugely passionate about the club and football in general. Many players who have been treated by the number one medic Cookie, will recognise his treatment methods which tend to be similar whatever the injury!!! The game halted to chase the bike thief is brilliant, and I am sure some of our readers would either have played in that game or be aware of it via Port Talbot football circles, so its great to have a first-hand account 😂.
Everyone at the club would like to thank you personally for your tireless work at the club, but I am not sure you will ever live down the ideal night out answer with Laura!!!