Ground: Cwmbran Stadium
Capacity: 10500 (2200 seated)
Nickname: The Crows
Admission: £6 adults, £2 student/OAP/other
Cwmbran is a new town in southern Wales, established in the 1950s to provide new employment in the south eastern portion of the South Wales coalfield. ‘Cwmbran’ means ‘valley of the crow’. Based around the villages of Old Cwmbran, Pontnewydd, Upper Cwmbran, Croesyceiliog, Llantarnam and Llanyrafon, it has grown to house 50,000 people.
Sitting as it does on the corner of the South Wales coalfield it has a hilly aspect to its western and northern edges, with the surrounding hills climbing to over 1,000 feet. The Afon Llwyd forms the major river valley; although the most significant water course is probably the remains of the Monmouthshire canal. To the east of Cwmbran the land is less hilly, forming part of the Usk valley.
Cwmbran Shopping Centre is the largest under-cover shopping centre in Wales. Unlike most shopping centres, which are usually situated on the outskirts of towns and cities, Cwmbran’s town centre is formed wholly by the shopping centre.
The town is perhaps most widely known now for its international sports stadium, home to international athletics events in the 1970s and 1980s. The stadium is also the home of the town’s football team, Cwmbran Town. Separate grounds at Pontnewydd and Croesyceiliog house the town’s two senior rugby teams, Cwmbran and Croesyceiliog, although many more of the town’s residents owe their allegiances to the rugby sides in the older, adjacent town of Pontypool, and city of Newport.
Cwmbran is twinned with Bruchsal, Germany.
It is often joked that Cwmbran has the most roundabouts per square mile. This gives the town its nickname as ‘Home of the Roundabout’.
How to Get There
Leaving the M4 motorway at Junction 26, follow the A4042 and the A4051.
Bear right at the third roundabout on A4051 and follow signs to Cwmbran Athletics stadium.
map to Cwmbran Stadium
Parking: Large car park.
Nearest railway station: Cwmbran (1 mile)
Rivals: Barry, Carmarthen
The first meeting of Cwmbran Town AFC took place at the Railway Inn, Cwmbran at the beginning of the 1951/52 season, following the disbanding of Whiteheads AFC. Their first season saw Cwmbran compete in the Monmouthshire Senior League, playing their home matches at the picturesque Cwmbran Park ground.
After an absence of a year whilst resurfacing work was carried out, the club returned to Cwmbran Park and proceeded to finish as runners-up in the Monmouthshire Senior League, but going one better in the Monmouthshire Challenge Cup. Indeed, they also won that competition in the following season (1955/56).
From Parks to Stadium
In 1960, Cwmbran joined the Welsh Football League and, after several years of playing on local parks, moved to the fine facilities at Cwmbran Stadium in 1975. The ground has an estimated capacity of 12,000 which includes seating for 2,000 spectators under cover. The stadium also has bar facilities, a restaurant and parking for over 500 vehicles.
Down and Up
Results off the field, however, took a turn for the worse when, in 1977/78, the club finished bottom of the Premier Division and were relegated to Division Two having accrued only eight points from their 34 matches. At the end of the 1980/81 season, Cwmbran languished in 16th place but the following year saw the club’s fortunes change. Improved performances on the field earned Cwmbran 2nd place in the league and promotion back to the Welsh League Division One.
In their first season back, Cwmbran finished in a respectable 8th position and were invited to become founder members of the Welsh League National Division. Thereafter, the best position achieved was 3rd in 1986/87, though this could have been bettered three years later when, in a seemingly unassailable position in early March, Cwmbran contrived to lose seven of their last ten games and could only finish fourth.
Full Membership of FAW
In 1986, they became full members of the Football Association of Wales and were chosen as one of the 14 Welsh clubs to participate in both the F.A. Cup and F.A. Trophy competitions. In 1985/86, Town were beaten finalists in the S.A. Brain Cup losing 1-0 to Pembroke Borough. However, revenge was gained when Cwmbran triumphed 2-0 over the same opponents in the 1990/91 final (then titled the Office Interiors Cup) staged at Llanelli.
First LoW Champions
1991/92 was a transitional season for the club. Tony Willcox arrived as manager in November 1991 and results quickly improved with Cwmbran finishing eighth. The following summer, Cwmbran Town were one of the clubs invited to become founder members of the new National League, sponsored by Konica, Peter Llewellyn Ltd. There followed success to a degree that was hardly foreseeable in August 1992. Consistent performances saw Cwmbran at the top of the table virtually throughout the campaign. They lost only three league games (all by 1-nil) and, after 7th November 1992, were beaten just once before becoming the League of Wales’ first champions at Llanelli on 3rd May 1993.
First Welsh Team in the European Cup
In their 38 league fixtures only 22 goals were conceded and during one period that season, Cwmbran went 910 minutes without their defence being breached. By winning the league title, Cwmbran Town proudly became the first Welsh club to compete in the European Champions’ Cup.
In the preliminary round of the 1993/94 European Cup, Cwmbran were drawn against the League of Ireland champions Cork City. Playing the first leg at home, Town raced into a three goal lead by half-time, but conceded two vital goals as Cork fought back after the break. In the second leg, despite Cwmbran scoring first once again, Cork rallied and two late strikes took them through on the away goals rule.
Cup Winners Cup
Over the next few seasons, Cwmbran rebuilt their squad and introduced a number of local youngsters. Performances suggested that perhaps another European adventure was not too far away. This, indeed, proved to be the case when Cwmbran qualified for the 1997/98 European Cup Winners’ Cup competition as finalists in the Welsh Cup (although beaten 2-1 by Barry Town in the final).
Joining the Elite Few
Cwmbran Town battled gamely to keep Barry Town within sight during the 1997/98 league season and, had it not been for two sticky patches at the start of the season and again towards the Spring, they would have been more comfortably placed at the end. Despite a mid-season run of eleven consecutive league victories, Cwmbran finished the term in 5th place in the league and gained entry into the Intertoto Cup thus becoming the first Welsh side to compete in all four UEFA club competitions and joining an elite few across Europe.
In 2000/01, Cwmbran Town finished runners-up in the League of Wales, just three points adrift of champions Barry Town, and qualified for a place in the UEFA Cup competition where they came up against the crack Slovakian side Slovan Bratislava.
The 2001/02 season was spoiled by having to play ‘home’ matches away from Cwmbran until the early Spring, whilst their Stadium was refurbished. Eventually, the excessive backlog of fixtures took its toll on the players who, not surprisingly, found it difficult to get through eleven home games in six weeks!
Bright End to a Sad Season
In 2003, The Crows gained a place in the UEFA Cup thanks to a 2-2 Welsh Cup final result against Barry Town. Whilst The Dragons won 4-3 in the ensuing penalty shoot-out, Cwmbran were already assured of their European place. It was, at least, a bright end to a sad season following the death of manager Tony Willcox at the very early age of 46.
Optimism for the Future
Changes behind the scenes have occurred during the close season following a campaign in which The Crows won only one home game before mid-February. What effect these changes have remain to be seen yet, despite their poor home form, the team finished a creditable 7th last season and manager Brian Coyne remains optimistic.
League of Wales winners: 1992-93
Welsh Cup runners up: 1996-97, 1999-00, 2003-04
European Champions Cup entrants: 1993-94
European Cup Winners Cup entrants: 1997-98
UEFA Cup entrants: 1999-00, 2001-02, 2003-04
UEFA Intertoto Cup entrants: 2000-01
Monmouthshire Challenge Cup winners: 1954-55, 1955-56
Gwent Senior Cup winners: 1994-95, 1995-96
Cwmbran Stadium, Henllys Way, Cwmbran, NP44 3XL
Tel: 01633 627100