Published Thursday 17th December 2020 With the end of one of the strangest years we are hopefully likely to see and with no competitive football since February we spoke to our two senior manager’s to gauge their views on how two new squads were formed and what they think the future holds. Both of our manager’s have been in post for many months but neither have managed to take charge of a competitive game of football so far and only a couple of friendlies each under their belts to their name. When they took on their roles they faced almost identical challenges in having to put a squad together from scratch with the majority of former players departing Aberaman Park. Zoe Denman-Ellis is starting out on her road in management with this being her first senior post and COVID has certainly had it’s impact with her saying: “It's been really difficult in terms of planning for the season but we've managed to make the most of a bad situation by focusing on the theory side of football which has been great for the girls to then implement within training. Which really showed in our first friendly especially, when we had a fully fit squad. I feel like it could set us back in our first start as a new team though and especially in terms of the players getting used to my management style. A normal pre-season would have been an opportunity for the squad to bond, get fitness levels up and get prepared and we just haven't had a chance to do that. Injuries are pretty high at the moment too and that's massively down to a stop start stop start to our training and matches but I'm confident in the players themselves that they'll brush off 2020 and start the season confident, whenever that may be” Meanwhile Terry Fitzpatrick who rejoined Aber in the summer has been just as frustrated with the lack of game time: “I think everyone hoped back in the Spring when the season was curtailed that we'd have been back in the swing of things by now, but unfortunately not so. We have been massively disrupted as I'm sure other clubs have, as when the local lockdown's started in September it meant our squad couldn't train together as we had very few RCT based players. In fairness to the lads they all kept working hard and when we came out of the fire break we were able to everyone back together for the first time in 10 weeks. I feel like I should say it's been really tough but the reality is the attitude from the players and staff has made it very easy to adapt and keep spirits high. I'm personally really pleased, and slightly envious that tiers above us are getting back to league & cup fixtures as it paves the way for lower tiered clubs”. On the rebuilding job they have had to do for the men’s team Terry actually thinks the lack of action may also have helped his fledgling team: “As we knew and expected pretty much a whole new squad was needed after the departure of the previous management team. As with everything there are pluses if you look hard enough and I think it is fair to say as hard as it's been not playing competitive games, the extended period was what we needed. We are under no illusions we will be facing very strong, well established teams in our division so the opportunity to be granted this extra time is something of a blessing. I think most clubs would find it hard trying to rebuild a whole squad and then trying to compete with squads that have had the core for a longer period of time and we are no different.* Zoe however has had the reverse of those issues: “At the start of the pandemic it actually put a big stop to recruitment as we had a full squad quite early on which became three as we lost women to work, family and other priorities. Once it was confirmed that the season has ended, it enabled the U16 players to move up and that really changed everything as suddenly we had enough players to start training with properly and means to advertise for more places as people could see we almost had a squad ready. So actually it's been a negative and a positive. I don't feel like we've had enough time to gel as a team as I'd have liked, but the players are all really lovely people and have been a pleasure to coach. They have all naturally bonded over the short space of time and I feel like actually the pandemic hasn't really given me longer to achieve the rebuild at all as we were ready to go this Summer” When friendlies were finally granted by the FAW and Welsh Government it brought with it a fresh set of hurdles to overcome with smaller squad sizes and a few different rules - just another headache for the two manager’s to sort. Zoe said of the changes: “I feel like the limited numbers have actually been unsafe from an entirely different perspective, away from COVID. Obviously, the guidelines have been in place for that purpose. But having women going straight into friendlies after a lockdown, where they'd not been training together, to play full 90 minutes with access to only one sub, has caused plenty of injuries across a lot of the clubs I've been in contact with as well as our own”. With a larger backroom staff Terry has also had to juggle having less staff available too: “We are in the same boat as most other clubs trying to negotiate the restrictions placed upon clubs by the authorities. There is nothing worse than telling 'X' amount of lads they can't be selected due to number restrictions, more so when most haven't played a 'real' game of football in 2020, what with the awful winter we had and then the pandemic. That said the lads understand and we've tried giving as many players as much game time as possible. I'm sure most managers will agree when I say we look forward to being able to select the normal amount of players for a game. The staffing has been difficult too as I don't want any of them to feel they are not a vital part of this rebuild but again they have been more than brilliant in understanding* With the players recruited for the two teams the management duo were glowing in their praise of the new Aber players with Terry commenting: “I'm thrilled with the lads who we have brought in and they are all the right type of players for this club in it's rebuild. We have brought in players who may or may not be 'well known' & I hear words mentioned about their age or their quality ect. I have no doubts many of our squad would fit into higher tiered clubs and the reality is we may have a real struggle to keep hold of some of these players, but that's a good battle to have. The variety of backgrounds, locality and skill sets are bonded by one thing, a unwavering great attitude. I can not speak highly enough of the way the lads conduct themselves both on and off the pitch, added to that they all thrive from the coaching. However the team togetherness is something quite special too and that will be the glue that keeps us solid in tough times, and there will be tough times we have no doubt about that at all, but also give us strength to turn the fortunes of the club around. We have a young, dynamic and exciting group of young men that want to play football. Our task now is to develop these players into how we feel is best to represent the club, in a playing capacity.* The facts have been well presented by many in the past that without budget you won't get players in, and I think it's safe to say that myth has been put to bed” added Terry. “The players we have attracted are here because they embrace the challenge that presents itself to us. Aberdare Town has in the last few seasons been far from what should be expected in terms of results and our league status belies that fact. It would be easy to look back and say if this, or if that, but that's counter productive. What matters is here and now & what's to come. It's important to learn from the past, but you should never let those past mistakes determine your future & our players are determined to give the best account of themselves and proudly represent our club.* Zoe was equally as pleased with those who are set to pull on the yellow and black: “Beyond pleased, it's a dream squad for me. I could never have imagined these players here at the start of the year when we didn't have anyone at all. They're heavily committed and never complain, despite the crazy-ness of this year and constant last minute changes and cancellations of training and matches throughout. Every player knows when to have a laugh and when to listen and take on notes, which is fantastic for me as I like to create a relaxed and fun environment, with a touch of professionalism for the game. They've really given everything to training and matches and I am so proud of how much they've developed over such a short space of time. Especially my players that came to us having never touched a football before, and yet now they're first team selections! They've also been so supportive of each other, despite barely knowing one another, during these trying times and I can't be more grateful for the squad we have here and the new players that have recently joined us too. Whatever happens, I know we will have a fantastic season as a team” On a final, and fitting note, both managers took the time to praise the staff around them. Zoe, having made a couple of changes since being appointed with the departure of two staff said: “'I’ve been really impressed with Liam (Pryor) and Leanne (Williams); they've both made my role here much easier, and after the loss of two valuable members of my backroom team I had worried that we would struggle as a three. But I feel fully supported and they've really stepped up within their roles, but to obtain the Tier 2 Licence that we want to move our women’s team forward we will still need to add at least a qualified first aider to our team which the Club have agreed to fund the qualification when we identify the right person. We're also looking to give back into the community and put some of our players through their coach education, so I'll be sure to give them a chance to help out too”. For the men’s side Terry said: I'd like to say a massive thank you to my backroom staff or Scott (Davies), Ryan (Davies), Matt (Randall) and Rob (Jones) who are a pleasure to work with. They all bring something to the table and are a massive part of the reason so many quality players love training so much. It does not go unnoticed by me in their value in reaching our targets. Like Zoe the Club have agreed to fund the qualification needed for a first aider to come as part of the team and that is something we hope to complete in January”. Zoe and Terry finished up by jointly saying: “A huge thank you to the committee and volunteers who have been incredibly supportive of what we are trying to do and also another thank you is to the sponsors, who in the tough economic times, still have provided valued and needed financial support which we are really grateful for. Finally, we both wish everybody reading this a great Christmas and New Year and we hope everyone remains in good health. Hopefully in the New Year we will be able to meet again at a game and get back to what football is really all about the way it brings people together regardless of opinions, in a vital social aspect.* #UPPATOWN
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Published Thursday 17th December 2020 With the end of one of the strangest years we are hopefully likely to see and with no competitive football since February we spoke to our two senior manager’s to gauge their views on how two new squads were formed and what they think the future holds. Both of our manager’s have been in post for many months but neither have managed to take charge of a competitive game of football so far and only a couple of friendlies each under their belts to their name. When they took on their roles they faced almost identical challenges in having to put a squad together from scratch with the majority of former players departing Aberaman Park. Zoe Denman-Ellis is starting out on her road in management with this being her first senior post and COVID has certainly had it’s impact with her saying: “It's been really difficult in terms of planning for the season but we've managed to make the most of a bad situation by focusing on the theory side of football which has been great for the girls to then implement within training. Which really showed in our first friendly especially, when we had a fully fit squad. I feel like it could set us back in our first start as a new team though and especially in terms of the players getting used to my management style. A normal pre-season would have been an opportunity for the squad to bond, get fitness levels up and get prepared and we just haven't had a chance to do that. Injuries are pretty high at the moment too and that's massively down to a stop start stop start to our training and matches but I'm confident in the players themselves that they'll brush off 2020 and start the season confident, whenever that may be” Meanwhile Terry Fitzpatrick who rejoined Aber in the summer has been just as frustrated with the lack of game time: “I think everyone hoped back in the Spring when the season was curtailed that we'd have been back in the swing of things by now, but unfortunately not so. We have been massively disrupted as I'm sure other clubs have, as when the local lockdown's started in September it meant our squad couldn't train together as we had very few RCT based players. In fairness to the lads they all kept working hard and when we came out of the fire break we were able to everyone back together for the first time in 10 weeks. I feel like I should say it's been really tough but the reality is the attitude from the players and staff has made it very easy to adapt and keep spirits high. I'm personally really pleased, and slightly envious that tiers above us are getting back to league & cup fixtures as it paves the way for lower tiered clubs”. On the rebuilding job they have had to do for the men’s team Terry actually thinks the lack of action may also have helped his fledgling team: “As we knew and expected pretty much a whole new squad was needed after the departure of the previous management team. As with everything there are pluses if you look hard enough and I think it is fair to say as hard as it's been not playing competitive games, the extended period was what we needed. We are under no illusions we will be facing very strong, well established teams in our division so the opportunity to be granted this extra time is something of a blessing. I think most clubs would find it hard trying to rebuild a whole squad and then trying to compete with squads that have had the core for a longer period of time and we are no different.* Zoe however has had the reverse of those issues: “At the start of the pandemic it actually put a big stop to recruitment as we had a full squad quite early on which became three as we lost women to work, family and other priorities. Once it was confirmed that the season has ended, it enabled the U16 players to move up and that really changed everything as suddenly we had enough players to start training with properly and means to advertise for more places as people could see we almost had a squad ready. So actually it's been a negative and a positive. I don't feel like we've had enough time to gel as a team as I'd have liked, but the players are all really lovely people and have been a pleasure to coach. They have all naturally bonded over the short space of time and I feel like actually the pandemic hasn't really given me longer to achieve the rebuild at all as we were ready to go this Summer” When friendlies were finally granted by the FAW and Welsh Government it brought with it a fresh set of hurdles to overcome with smaller squad sizes and a few different rules - just another headache for the two manager’s to sort. Zoe said of the changes: “I feel like the limited numbers have actually been unsafe from an entirely different perspective, away from COVID. Obviously, the guidelines have been in place for that purpose. But having women going straight into friendlies after a lockdown, where they'd not been training together, to play full 90 minutes with access to only one sub, has caused plenty of injuries across a lot of the clubs I've been in contact with as well as our own”. With a larger backroom staff Terry has also had to juggle having less staff available too: “We are in the same boat as most other clubs trying to negotiate the restrictions placed upon clubs by the authorities. There is nothing worse than telling 'X' amount of lads they can't be selected due to number restrictions, more so when most haven't played a 'real' game of football in 2020, what with the awful winter we had and then the pandemic. That said the lads understand and we've tried giving as many players as much game time as possible. I'm sure most managers will agree when I say we look forward to being able to select the normal amount of players for a game. The staffing has been difficult too as I don't want any of them to feel they are not a vital part of this rebuild but again they have been more than brilliant in understanding* With the players recruited for the two teams the management duo were glowing in their praise of the new Aber players with Terry commenting: “I'm thrilled with the lads who we have brought in and they are all the right type of players for this club in it's rebuild. We have brought in players who may or may not be 'well known' & I hear words mentioned about their age or their quality ect. I have no doubts many of our squad would fit into higher tiered clubs and the reality is we may have a real struggle to keep hold of some of these players, but that's a good battle to have. The variety of backgrounds, locality and skill sets are bonded by one thing, a unwavering great attitude. I can not speak highly enough of the way the lads conduct themselves both on and off the pitch, added to that they all thrive from the coaching. However the team togetherness is something quite special too and that will be the glue that keeps us solid in tough times, and there will be tough times we have no doubt about that at all, but also give us strength to turn the fortunes of the club around. We have a young, dynamic and exciting group of young men that want to play football. Our task now is to develop these players into how we feel is best to represent the club, in a playing capacity.* The facts have been well presented by many in the past that without budget you won't get players in, and I think it's safe to say that myth has been put to bed” added Terry. “The players we have attracted are here because they embrace the challenge that presents itself to us. Aberdare Town has in the last few seasons been far from what should be expected in terms of results and our league status belies that fact. It would be easy to look back and say if this, or if that, but that's counter productive. What matters is here and now & what's to come. It's important to learn from the past, but you should never let those past mistakes determine your future & our players are determined to give the best account of themselves and proudly represent our club.* Zoe was equally as pleased with those who are set to pull on the yellow and black: “Beyond pleased, it's a dream squad for me. I could never have imagined these players here at the start of the year when we didn't have anyone at all. They're heavily committed and never complain, despite the crazy-ness of this year and constant last minute changes and cancellations of training and matches throughout. Every player knows when to have a laugh and when to listen and take on notes, which is fantastic for me as I like to create a relaxed and fun environment, with a touch of professionalism for the game. They've really given everything to training and matches and I am so proud of how much they've developed over such a short space of time. Especially my players that came to us having never touched a football before, and yet now they're first team selections! They've also been so supportive of each other, despite barely knowing one another, during these trying times and I can't be more grateful for the squad we have here and the new players that have recently joined us too. Whatever happens, I know we will have a fantastic season as a team” On a final, and fitting note, both managers took the time to praise the staff around them. Zoe, having made a couple of changes since being appointed with the departure of two staff said: “'I’ve been really impressed with Liam (Pryor) and Leanne (Williams); they've both made my role here much easier, and after the loss of two valuable members of my backroom team I had worried that we would struggle as a three. But I feel fully supported and they've really stepped up within their roles, but to obtain the Tier 2 Licence that we want to move our women’s team forward we will still need to add at least a qualified first aider to our team which the Club have agreed to fund the qualification when we identify the right person. We're also looking to give back into the community and put some of our players through their coach education, so I'll be sure to give them a chance to help out too”. For the men’s side Terry said: I'd like to say a massive thank you to my backroom staff or Scott (Davies), Ryan (Davies), Matt (Randall) and Rob (Jones) who are a pleasure to work with. They all bring something to the table and are a massive part of the reason so many quality players love training so much. It does not go unnoticed by me in their value in reaching our targets. Like Zoe the Club have agreed to fund the qualification needed for a first aider to come as part of the team and that is something we hope to complete in January”. Zoe and Terry finished up by jointly saying: “A huge thank you to the committee and volunteers who have been incredibly supportive of what we are trying to do and also another thank you is to the sponsors, who in the tough economic times, still have provided valued and needed financial support which we are really grateful for. Finally, we both wish everybody reading this a great Christmas and New Year and we hope everyone remains in good health. Hopefully in the New Year we will be able to meet again at a game and get back to what football is really all about the way it brings people together regardless of opinions, in a vital social aspect.* #UPPATOWN
Manager’s positive at the end of the year
#uppatown
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