Ground: Richmond Park
Capacity: 3000 (500 seated)
Nickname: The Town
Admission: £5 adults, £3 students/OAP, Free under-12s
Carmarthen (Welsh Caerfyrddin – caer fort + Myrddin Moridunum, Merlin*) is the county town of Carmarthenshire, Wales and is situated on the River Tywi.
* According to some variants of the Arthurian legend Merlin was born in a cave outside Carmarthen, with many noting that Merlin may be an anglicised form of Myrddin. Many scholars dispute this, but the idea remains popular.
Modern day Carmarthen is a midsized town of around 20,000 people. It is served by rail links through Swansea to Cardiff. Carmarthen has a large amount of surviving history including the Roman amphitheatre, and the castle. The Gwili Railway, a section of the former railway line to Aberystwyth, has been re-opened as a heritage railway for tourists. Carmarthen is the site of Trinity College Carmarthen. It also accommodates the headquarters of Dyfed-Powys Police.
Carmarthen has a large proportion of Welsh speakers, with the county of Carmarthenshire as a whole boasting the largest population of such by number (the largest Welsh-speaking population by proportion is in Gwynedd). Although Carmarthen is on navigable water the harbour sees no commercial use, in part due to the treacherous approaches.
Carmarthen is twinned with Lesneven, Brittany (France), Santa Marinella, Italy and As Pontes, Spain.
When Britannia was a Roman province, Carmarthen was the civitas known as Moridunum (meaning sea fort) of the Celtic tribe known as the Demetae. Carmarthen is possibly the oldest town in Wales and was recorded by Ptolemy and in the Antonine Itinerary. The Roman fort can be seen still and is believed to date from AD75-77.
Near the fort is Maridunum Demetarum, one of 7 surviving Roman amphitheatres in the United Kingdom. It was excavated in 1968.
The strategic importance of Carmarthen was such that the Norman William fitz Baldwin built a castle around 1094. The existing castle site is known to have been used since 1105. The castle was destroyed by Llywelyn the Great in 1215. In 1223 the castle was rebuilt and permission was received to wall the town (a murage). Carmarthen was probably the first medieval walled town in Wales. In 1405 the town was taken and the castle was sacked by Owain Glyndŵr.
The famous Black book of Carmarthen, written around 1250AD, is associated with the town’s Priory of St. John the Evangelist and Teulyddog.
Carmarthen hosted the National Eisteddfod in 1867, 1911 and 1974 although, at least in the case of the 1974 Eisteddfod, the Maes was at Abergwili.
How to Get There
Take Carmarthen by-pass (from Abergwili). After approx one mile, at roundabout, turn left and continue past hospital (on left) to mini roundabout. Take left for the centre of town. Continue across large roundabout and in 1 mile mini roundabout into Priory Street. Ground is on the right approx 150 metres behind the Toyota garage.
map to Richmond Park
Nearest railway station: Carmarthen (0.4 miles)
Carmarthen Town v Caernarfon Town, Saturday 19th August 2006
Parking in the vicinity if you turn up after 1:45 pm is more difficult these days; the adjacent public and payable car park being inevitably full. Liddle supermarket have at last woken up to the fact that football fans park there and all mail road bays are of restricted times, so the best option is to park in town car parks and walk, although obviously this can add to your days expense.
Impression from the outside
On entering the ground from the Priory Street car park through one of a double turnstile, the ground is enclosed by a 2 metre high double fence and nothing is visible from the outside. There is also a long path leading from the other side of the ground to the same entry point. Entry is friendly and quick with programmes available at the turnstiles.
First Impression Inside
As is well documented, Richmond Park is a ground under construction… The new 500 seater stand is quite impressive; it was cleverly left open ended each side for future development and this sub structure has now been erected for what is supposed to be a late September completion. The seating in the stand is quite adequate and comfortable and the view is uninterrupted.
Opposite the main stand there is the changing facilities with an impressive corporate suite above. There are temporary portacabin type buildings behind the Priory Street goal (including the snack bar), which does not create a very professional image. A nice touch at Richmond Park is the small purpose built covered area at the Priory Street corner flag for disabled people/wheelchairs.
Always informative at Carmarthen and well presented.
This is one area which falls well short of what is required. As far as I could tell there were two urinals and one WC situated in the changing room area, which in itself made me feel uncomfortable. I suggest that two toilets are constructed, one on each side of the ground – one WC to serve around 350 people speaks for itself – I suggest this is made mandatory for every club in summer 2007.
Public Address system and Announcer
PA is very good, I regret to state that I think the announcer would be more at home in a village carnival. Football people want the facts presented clearly and without waffle, he goes on and on but full marks for adopting a bilingual policy though!
Food and Drink
During all my visits to Richmond Park I have found that they serve typical football fare; it is perfectly acceptable with generous cups of tea and coffee, always served by friendly staff – No complaints.
Carmarthen is a thoroughly nice day out, everyone I have talked to and asked for help have been nothing less than super!
Ground review from the Groundhopper section of the official Welsh Premier website
Rivals: Aberystwyth, Haverfordwest, Llanelli
The club was formed in 1948 and initially admitted to the Carmarthenshire Association Football League. The club’s present ground, Richmond Park, has been its home since 1952, a year before Carmarthen gained election to the Welsh League (Second Division West). After six seasons, promotion to the First Division was achieved (in 1959/60) although thereafter they failed to make any significant impact.
Drifting Slowly Upwards
During the 1970s and 1980s, Carmarthen F.C. drifted along. Indeed, by the 1990s, they were still in the lower levels of the Welsh Football League, but the formation of the national competition in 1992/93 gave Carmarthen Town the necessary target for expansion on and off the pitch. This quickly culminated in promotion to the League of Wales in 1996 and proved to others what can be achieved with planning and desire.
Looking back at the club’s record in the Welsh League, there has been little to enthuse over, particularly since the early 1970s. Promotion from Division One to the Premier Division was missed by a mere three points in 1972/73 (Lewistown and Maesteg Park Athletic going up instead), yet within two years Carmarthen just escaped relegation, finishing in 15th position.
The following season (1975/76), however, there was to be no escape and the club slipped into the relative oblivion of the Welsh League Division Two until the end of the decade.
Three seasons back in Division One (the middle one of the three Welsh Leagues operating at the time) saw Carmarthen twice finish 12th before further relegation (along with Aberaman and Pontyclun) in 1981/82 took them into the lower reaches for a lengthy period. Indeed, it was to be ten years before the club achieved promotion although they developed a penchant for finishing fifth – on no fewer than six occasions! Those seasons were not without statistical success as they produced 154 league victories and a total of 583 goals.
Promotion at Last
At last, in 1991/92, promotion was achieved, along with AFC Porth. That season, Carmarthen won 22 of their 32 league fixtures and in so doing conceded a mere nineteen goals. Indeed, it followed three relatively successful terms when the club had finished 5th, 6th and 5th once again and it was the tightening up of their defence that was the key to success in 1991/92. The previous season, for instance, Carmarthen conceded 38 goals more than in their promotion year.
Promotion from the 2nd Division to the 2nd Division
Ironically, the re-titling of the Abacus (Welsh) League structure in 1992/93 meant that Carmarthen, though promoted, were still a Second Division side as the National Division had become Division One! Only two years were spent at that particular level for, after finishing 5th (once more) in 1992/93, Carmarthen achieved promotion to the top flight the following year, finishing third on the tails of Taffs Well and Treowen Stars. Of the three promoted clubs, it was Carmarthen Town that made the most impact on Division One. In their first season there, the Richmond Park side finished 3rd behind Briton Ferry Athletic (promoted to the League of Wales) and Haverfordwest County and won twenty of their 36 league games scoring 89 times in the process.
It was Carmarthen’s turn for glory just twelve months later, however. A superb season in 1995/96 ended with Carmarthen winning the league championship by six points from the unfortunate Haverfordwest County (who eventually made it back to the League of Wales in 1997). In the process, the team scored 101 goals, including nine at Brecon and seven at Risca and won 25 games against just two losses (inflicted by AFC Porth and Treowen Stars). For good measure, the club also won the Cyril Rogers (Welsh League) Cup.
Local Boy Done Good
Promotion to the League of Wales had been achieved and, after a season of consolidation, Carmarthen were early pacesetters in 1997/98. The club continues to be well-supported, last year’s average ‘gate’ though marginally down on 2002/2003, was still the fifth best in the Welsh Premier. The club’s captain in 1997/98, Mark Delaney, joined Cardiff City, and quickly established a place for himself in the first team. His performances caught the eye of Aston Villa ‘boss John Gregory who took the player to Villa Park in March 1999, where he has rapidly matured into a Premiership regular. Mark progressed to the senior Welsh squad for the Euro 2000 match in Minsk against Belarus.
Twelfth in the final standings in 1997/98, Carmarthen Town bettered that in 1998/99, finishing 9th in the table and missing out on a place in the F.A.W. Premier Cup on goal difference only. They can claim to have ended Barry Town’s long unbeaten away record in December 1998, however.
Carmarthen more than matched that feat by reaching the Welsh Cup final in May 1999, for the first time in the club’s history. Unfortunately, having taken the lead just minutes from the end of extra-time, Carmarthen allowed Inter CableTel to equalise and go on to win a penalty shoot-out. Thus, a first tilt at European competition was agonisingly lost. Having just missed out on a top three finish five years ago, Carmarthen Town achieved that objective in 2000/01 to qualify for the UEFA InterToto Cup competition. Their opponents were the Swedish side AIK Stockholm, ten times winners of their national league championship. A highly creditable 0-0 draw was achieved in the ‘home’ leg (played at Aberystwyth) before the Swedes ran out 3-0 winners in the second match.
From Bad to Better
Only four wins in the second half of each of the next two seasons saw the club slip to finish tenth in the final table in 2001/02 and fifteenth the following year. Yet, despite another difficult season by the club’s own high standards, they reached the final of the 2003/04 Loosemores of Cardiff Welsh Premier Challenge Cup competition, after defeating Caersws 1-0 in the second leg of the semi-final only to lose to the all-conquering Rhyl team in the final.
Season 2004/05 saw parity restored with new manager Mark Jones lifting the side up to 6th place in the final league table and to the finals of both the Loosemores Challenge Cup and the Welsh Cup. Carmarthen reversed the previous year’s result in the League Cup final, beating Rhyl 2-0, but went down by the only goal of the game to Total Network Solutions in the Welsh Cup. Nevertheless, their appearance in the final earned Carmarthen Town a place in the UEFA Cup and a tie against the Irish cup winners Longford Town. Despite going down 2-0 in Ireland, Carmarthen stormed back to take the second leg 5-1 and earn a match against the Danish side FC Copenhagen.
Town performed with great credit against the international laden Danish side who recorded a 2-0 score line in both ties.
The 2005/06 season saw Town once again involved in a FAW Premier Cup campaign with an exciting win over Cardiff and a narrow extra time semi final defeat in front of a near capacity crowd against Swansea City. Following a quarter final Welsh Cup exit, late season momentum saw Town gain a fourth place finish that provided a second consecutive season of European football.
Defeats in both ties against Finnish League leaders Tampere United ensured there was no repeat of the previous year’s European euphoria and, with the departure of several key players, Town face a period of change in playing personnel.
Welsh Cup runners up: 1999-00, 2004-05
Loosemores of Cardiff Challenge Cup runners up: 2003-04
UEFA Intertoto entrants: 2001-02, 2006-07
UEFA Cup entrants: 2005-06
Welsh League 1st Div (2nd level South) champions: 1995-96
Richmond Park, Priory Street, Carmarthen, SA31 1LR
Tel: 01267 232101