Ynysddu Welfare manager Ben Murphy says that winning the Gwent County League Division Two title is the best thing he’s achieved in his footballing career.
Murphy’s side won promotion last Saturday after beating Lucas Cwmbran 4-0, before winning the title at home with a 2-0 victory over Pill in midweek.
Murphy who stopped playing regularly after taking up management two years ago, overcame last seasons promotion heartbreak, after narrowly missing out on promotion as they finished in third place.
“By a country mile it’s the best thing I’ve done as a player or a manager.” said the Ynysddu Welfare boss.
“Last season hurt a lot but we were beaten by better sides to promotion, Villa Dino won the league at a canter and Fairfield beat us twice so the two best sides went up.
Although disappointing, We knew we had to build on a good season so to bounce back the way we have and win the title convincingly with some excellent sides in the league will take some beating.”
It’s the clubs second league title since the 2012/2013 season after winning the Gwent County League Division Three title, in their first season as Ynysddu Welfare, following the name change from Ynysddu Crusaders.
However, just three years ago after finishing mid-table, the club almost ceased to exist, with the possibility of folding almost a reality. Instead stepped in Mark Giffard, who Ben Murphy later replaced.
“We went through some very tough times three years ago and were very close to folding, thankfully at the last minute we managed to bring Mark Giffard in as manager and he revitalised the club during the season he was here so he deserves an enormous amount of credit.
Behind the scenes we have a small but incredibly dedicated committee and whilst I can’t name them all individually, Chris Jenkins has been with the club for over 20 years and has stuck around at the hardest times, pulling us through them and giving us a platform to build on.”
Giffard’s appointment alongside the arrival of Geraint Griffiths as club Chairman, despite no links to the club, have been praised for their efforts to the club.
“I have to mention our Chairman, Geraint Griffiths. He joined the club 3 years ago with no ties to the club and has transformed us. He has brought several sponsors on board, brought a level of professionalism to the club that I never thought was possible but most importantly has given the players a club they can be proud of.
In the last of Murphy’s tributes to those who have helped the club over the years, is a man who could be described as Mr Ynysddu Welfare, following his involvement with his club over the last few years.
“Ian is well known in footballing circles And is a lifetime member of the club. Having been a former player, manager and secretary of the club no man has put as many hours of dedication into the club as Ian, I’ve grown up playing under him and learnt a lot from him and I hope he’s enjoying every moment of this because he deserves it more than anybody.”
— Adam Dixon (@adxm_dixon) April 17, 2018
After watching Villa Dino Christchurch cruise to the Division title, the second place spot was the only thing up for grabs. Unfortunately for Welfare, they watched on as Fairfield United beat Welfare twice, helping them to that promotion spot.
Rather than dwelling on missing out on promotion, the aims at the start of the season were just promotion, to go one better than they did last season.
“We knew we had to build on a good season so to bounce back the way we have and win the title convincingly with some excellent sides in the league will take some beating.”
We set one target at the beginning of the season and that was promotion. We needed it, a lot of our players could easily play at a higher level and there is only so long you can fight that off without progression.
The message has been the same all year, cup runs or the title were just an after thought until we hit what we set out to do. Of course, when you get on a cup run and become close to winning a league it’s hard not to think about it but the way the players have seen the season out is a testament to their focus throughout the season.
Divisional winning teams have a message and ethos of the club when they are riding a wave of success, for Ynysddu Welfare the emphasis has been on the team spirit and the determination for the club to succeed.
With just eighteen goals conceded this season, the best in the division and the lowest amount of defeats in the league, Murphy has set his side up as hard to beat. Wattsville, Sudbrook and Lucas Cwmbran all have more goals than Welfare, but it’s wins that count when winning titles.
“Our defensive record has been outstanding, it’s the difference between us fighting for promotion and winning the league and I really believe the foundations for that were set in preseason when we played Cwmbran Celtic. We had the run around for 90 minutes but it taught the boys a lesson and how hard you need to work without the ball against a good side so it set us in good stead.
Team spirit and the atmosphere around the club. It means something to every player and they fight for everything.”
After securing the league title, Ynysddu Welfare will now turn their attention towards the Gwent County League Amateur Cup, where they face divisional rivals Abertillery Excelsiors, who were once promotion contenders.
(Featured Image: Ynysddu Welfare FC)