Thursday, 23 May 2013

Former Wales star Allen helps put Llanberis FC on the map

Former Norwich City, Millwall and Wales striker Malcolm Allen has spent the past season coaching his old club Llanberis FC, with the TV cameras following him along the way.

The S4C Sgorio commentator returned “home” to guide them through the season, with the local people involved with the club starring throughout. The series will be aired on S4C.

Former Wales international Malcolm Allen with the Llanberis FC squad.

“It’s 30 years since I left Llanberis FC, the village has changed but the people haven’t,” said Allen, who grew up in the nearby village of Deiniolen. He began playing football as a young lad there, and if you played well for Deiniolen, the next step was to play for Llanberis.

That’s what Allen did at 15 years old, adding: “Some people in the village would tease me and call me a traitor for going to play for Llanberis. But what I used to do was play for Deiniolen Under-16s in the morning then Llanberis in the afternoon.”

In the slate quarry region of North Wales, Llanberis FC is still respected as the big local team. Established by quarry workers in 1890, it has a long and rich history of success, Cups and titles. June 2012 marked a new chapter in their history as they won promotion to the First Division of the Lock Stock Welsh Alliance Football League and opened new changing room facilities.

Allen’s journey begins as an Italian team comes to Llanberis for a pre-season friendly to mark the opening of the new building. There to lead the proceedings was club president Arwel Jones and local AM Alun Ffred Jones, who produced the hit S4C comedy ‘C’Mon Midffild’.

There’s an echo of that series in this one because the people of Llanberis are the stars of the show. Among the big characters are Terry and Colin Saynor, team coaches and former players. Their connection with the club spans several generations and each week without fail their mother, Pat, can be seen cheering on the lads from the touchline with her friend Anti Nellie (who is 89!) by her side.

The team itself is also brimming with characters and inventive nicknames. Gethin ‘Wex’ Wakeham is the captain and David ‘Didi Aguero’ Jones the star striker. Gwyn ‘Hank’ Ianto proudly carries the title of most unfit player, and will drink almost anything from behind the bar.

Llanberis’ very own Harry Styles is one of their young defenders, and ‘Tybs’. or Llion to give his real name, turns his hand to almost any task, despite his limited training, including team physio and water boy.

As Malcolm joined CPD Llanberis in July 2012, they were preparing for the challenge of playing in a higher league and against teams who could afford to pay generously for their players – something they don’t do.

“We didn't want to be a team that was there simply to make up the numbers,” he added. “We wanted to make our mark in the league. We had to believe that we were good enough to hold our own against the larger clubs.

“We couldn't compete with their money – but we could compete with hard work.”

Allen's most prolific spell at club level came at Millwall in the early 1990s where he scored 24 goals in 81 games, also having spells with Watford, Aston Villa, Norwich City and Newcastle United. He also played 14 times for Wales, scoring three goals, with his last appearance being in that ill-fated defeat to Romania in 1993 that ended Wales' hopes of reaching the 1994 World Cup in the USA.

How they fared when they came up against the big guns of Hollywell, Denbigh and Caernarfon can be seen in the series where they’ve got everything to play for.

The series first airs on Thursday, June 6 at 9.30pm.


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