WPL 2017/18 PREVIEW: Prestatyn Town
AFTER A SEASON FULL OF DRAMA, CAN PRESTATYN SETTLE BACK INTO THE TOP TIER?
Many clubs can sometimes experience a tumultuous season, full of highs and lows, yet Prestatyn took that to incredible levels in 2016/17.
After an unbeaten start to the season, the club were stunned in October when they received a £53,000 fine from the HMRC relating to player wages and expenses following a 2 and a half year investigation. The club were left with the very real possibility of being forced to go out of business. During this period, the team continued to perform admirably on the pitch, remaining unbeaten throughout. Incredibly, the club managed to raise the £53,000 in 4 weeks as the community rallied around the Seasiders. With the club now out of danger, and the team still unbeaten, the club pushed onwards, and less than 6months later, were able to celebrate promotion to the Welsh Premier League after a 2 year absence from the top flight. As a result of the incredible 2016/17 season, many Prestatyn fans will just be thankful that the club is still in existence, and will be hoping that this season is less eventful.
In preparation of their return to the top flight, the Seasiders have stuck with the squad that performed so brilliantly last season, with brothers Zyaac and Zebb Edwards joining the club from Rhyl FC and Airbus UK respectively. Their other brother Noah is already at Prestatyn Town, and Kai Edwards, now with Connah’s Quay Nomads, started his career at the club, meaning that all 4 brothers have played for the Seasiders. The signing of the Edwards brothers are an ideal representation of the community spirit being built at Prestatyn Town since the club were saved from going out of business. Rather than going out and signing players and dramatically changing the squad, the club have opted for togetherness, signing players who will fit into the squad, and who both have experience at Welsh Premier League level. Only 1 player has departed the club this season, with prolific forward Jordan Davies opting to join Nantwich Town.
The Seasiders have done well in preseason, winning 6 of the 7 games played, beating FC Queen’s Park, Tranmere Rovers XI, Litherland, Newport County, Flint Town United and St Asaph City. The only match they lost was against Tranmere Rovers XI, who they’d already beaten earlier on in their schedule. It’s been an impressive summer for the club, as they hope to hit the ground running against Connah’s Quay Nomads on the opening day (11th August).
Manager Neil Gibson has to take a lot of credit for the way he managed the side last season, especially when most clubs would’ve been distracted by the threat of going out of business. He didn’t panic though, and kept his players focused throughout the tumultuous spell, and it’s an outstanding achievement for the club to be back in the top flight after all that happened. With him at the helm, you can sense that the Seasiders will be confident to take on anyone, and that mentality might see them surprise teams this season. They’re favourites to go down according to many betting sites, but, with a team that has such togetherness, they will feel that they can defy the odds this season.
Zyaac Edwards-Rhyl FC
Zebb Edwards-Airbus UK Broughton
Jordan Davies-Nantwich Town
‘Can the Seasiders stay up this season?’
Photo credit: Football Association of Wales
Photo available from: www.faw.cymru/en/news/gibson-hails-players-following-prestatyn-title-win/