Newtown AFC


Newtown AFC



Founded 1875
Ground: Latham Park
Capacity: 5000 (1250 seated)
Nickname: The Robins
Admission: £5 adult, £2.50 children/OAP

Newtown (Welsh: Y Drenewydd) is a town with a population of 10,541 (1993) lying on the River Severn in Mid Wales. The town is best known as the birthplace of Robert Owen (a Welsh socialist and social reformer. He is considered the father of the cooperative movement) in 1771, his former house now being a museum.

Newtown was founded in the thirteenth century and grew in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries around the textile and flannel industry and the arrival of the Montgomeryshire branch of the Shropshire Union Canal. In 1838, the town saw Wales’ first Chartist demonstration.

The town was designated as a “new town” in 1967 and has seen a large population growth as companies and people have settled, changing the rural market town character.

Other attractions in the town include a museum about W. H. Smith newsagents, a textile museum, the Royal Welsh Warehouse built by Pryce Pryce-Jones to house the world’s first mail order service, a theatre and an arts centre.

Gregynog, a country house now owned by the University of Wales and built by Lord Davies of Llandinam, is nearby.

Newtown hosted the National Eisteddfod in 1965.

How to Get There:

Junction of A483 and A489 on edge of town centre. Turn into Park Lane from Park Street by Town Library. Ground 400yds on left at end of Park Lane (behind Police Station).
Note: No right turn into Park Lane from A483 southbound (from Welshpool, etc).

Map to Latham Park
Parking: Car parks at top of lane.
Nearest railway station: Newtown (1 mile)

Ground Review
Newtown FC v Aberystwyth FC, Latham Park, Saturday 9th September 2006

Car Parking

Car parking is good at Newtown; ample car parking sufficient for the clubs needs at no cost to the motorist. A steward was on hand to assist. Fans wishing to visit the town before the match have the option of parking in the town’s main pay and display car park and taking a delightful 10 minute walk along the river bank to the ground.

First Impression Outside

Latham Park is not visible from the outside, at least in the vicinity of the main turnstile; only the most determined would be able to gain any kind of free view behind the town end goal.  Entry was easy through the turnstile – a programme instantly available on entry.

First Impression Inside

When I entered the ground I had to remind myself that this was a little Mid Wales town, initially my impressions were WOW! Opposite my point of entry was a cantilever stand albeit situated from the corner flag to approximately 25 yards along the touchline. Sitting here provided as good a view of play, and arguably more leg room than I have had in years of watching sport in the UK. The steepness of the stand ensures a good view is had by adults and children alike. On the downside I noticed that one seat was broken and part of the bottom row was incomplete. No part of this stand could readily be accessed by disabled people, or people who are somewhat less mobile.

There is a small grass area along this stand which leads on to the original main stand, this is obviously older and dated, seats nevertheless were comfortable with adequate leg room. I sat in all 11 rows prior to the game, the first 5 rows from the bottom were of restricted viewing due to the dug outs (which were empty at the time) Shelter was only guaranteed in the top 5 rows, still this stand has a certain charm.

The remainder of the length of the field is mainly taken by the Newtown FC clubhouse and function room.

Behind the goal at the Town End is an uncovered stand seating approximately 300 – this was my favourite.  Again, the steep angle of the stand gives the fan a good view up the pitch, access only for the abled bodied. Opposite the main stand there is a small seating area below the Television Gantry and at the Caersws side it is just a grass bank.

Corporate Hospitality

There is an excellent new Corporate Sponsors Room in the club, which is used to accommodate in excess of 200 people on a match day, although there is no view of the pitch, it is a wonderful facility to have both pre and post match.

Food and drink

There was a very limited menu here, poor in comparison with most other grounds I have visited; basic tea & coffee, with a hot dog the warmest offering.  It did not open until after 14:00 so I decided to visit 15 minutes in to the second half and it had closed, much to my dismay.

PA and Announcer

During my visit the public address system was terrible, not audible when I was sitting in the main stand, I didn’t hear the teams being announced. When I stood opposite at the start of the second half I heard next to nothing, no pre-match music to get supporters in the mood. VERY POOR.

WC/Toilets

There are 2 options: climbing 20 steps to the top of the cantilever stand, inside was spotless with 3 urinals, 1 toilet and 3 hand washing basins, and also a Ladies facility alongside. At the rear of the social club on level ground there was also a small but clean toilet facility but I realised that a disabled person would never be able to access it.

Programme

The cost was appealing, just £1.00, fairly informative, but lacking pen pics or basic information on the home team. I think that maybe a little bit of imagination is called for to liven in up a bit.

Overall Impression

Latham Park flattered to deceive.  On this visit I was disappointed in a few aspects that I have stated above; but what it does have is fantastic potential. If the newest stand could be extended to gradually replace the original and maybe the grass bank at the Caersws end terraced this ground would be the envy of many clubs. Everyone at Newtown that I talked to were friendly and eager to help. I came away thinking that ‘God forbid, losing Latham Park from the Principality Welsh Premier League is not an option. But please pay attention to detail…People notice!

Ground review from the Groundhopper section of the official Welsh Premier league site
Rivals: Caersws, Welshpool, TNS

History

The club was formed in 1875 as Newtown White Star and, on Saturday 13th October 1877, Newtown took part in the first ever-Welsh Cup-tie, losing to Druids of Ruabon (Now Flexsys Cefn Druids). The following season they went on to win the trophy, beating the favourites Wrexham 2-1 at Oswestry. Newtown was the first club to receive this now famous trophy, the cup having been purchased only a few months earlier.

Welsh Cup Winners 1878/79

Welsh Cup Winners 1894/95

Over the years, the club played on a number of different grounds in the town, initially at the Cunnings field, now the Bowling Club site. In the late 1940s, however, the decision was taken to construct new playing headquarters at a site to be called Latham Park. The first competitive game to be staged at the new ground took place on 25th August 1951 when Newtown beat Aberystwyth Town 4-0 in the Central Wales League before over 1,500 spectators. Floodlights were installed and officially unveiled on 24th September 1979 when Second Division Wrexham were the visitors. Again a crowd well in excess of 1,000 was recorded.

Latham Park is so named in honour of a local sporting hero, Captain George Latham, who played soccer for Liverpool, Stoke City and Cardiff City and represented Wales a dozen times at the start of the century. He joined Cardiff City as a player in 1911 and played a major role in the development of the club. He later became Cardiff’s trainer and held this position when Cardiff City took the FA Cup out of England for the first, and only, time beating Arsenal at Wembley Stadium in 1927.

Another outstanding Newtown footballer was Max Woosnam who played in the period before the Great War and went on to captain Manchester City, winning an international cap for England against Wales. He also won an Olympic Gold Medal (for tennis) at the Antwerp games in 1920, was a Wimbledon doubles champion in 1921 and captained the British Davis Cup team in America three years later. At Cambridge he gained a Blue in six different sports!

Over the years Newtown has played many Football League teams and has produced a host of Welsh internationals. In December 1895 as Welsh Cup holders, Newtown travelled to play Manchester City and shocked the City team by winning 3-2. The famous Billy Meredith was prominent for City, but the hero of the day was Newtown’s W. Parry, who scored all three goals.

In 1896/97, Newtown competed in the Welsh League and finished runners-up to Druids. In 1899/1900 they played in The Combination, along with Chirk, Wrexham, Druids, Bangor, Birkenhead, Aberystwyth Town, Oswestry United and Rhyl Athletic, though, thereafter, no further record can be found of the club competing regularly with North Wales teams until recent times.

During the early part of the century, Newtown played in the Shropshire League and also the Montgomeryshire League, which was the base for today’s Central Wales League. The Robins were also playing in the English F.A.Cup as long ago as the 1890s.

The club’s move into the English pyramid system in 1988/89, reflected the progressive spirit at Newtown. The Robins entered the HFS Loans (formerly Northern Premier and now Unibond) League and regular participation in both the F.A.Cup and the F.A.Trophy opened up new challenges.

The largest crowd to witness a game at Latham Park (5,004) congregated there on 28th January 1956 to see Newtown play a star-studded Swansea Town team in the Welsh Cup. The Football League side won 9-4 with internationals Ivor Allchurch and Cliff Jones playing a starring role.

Winners of the Welsh Amateur Cup in 1955, Newtown were beaten finalists in the same competition (by now titled the Welsh Intermediate Cup) in 1986 and 1988. In addition to the two Welsh Cup wins in 1879 and 1895, Newtown have twice won the Mid Wales League (1976 and 1979) and have taken the Central Wales League championship on three occasions, all in the 1980s.

Founder members of the League of Wales in 1992, having left the English non-league pyramid system, the Latham Park side were runners-up in 1996 and represented Wales in the UEFA Cup, losing on aggregate to Latvian champions, Skonto Riga.

Though missing relegation by just one place in 1992/93, Newtown have steadily become one of the league’s top teams, finishing successively in 6th, 4th, 2nd, 5th, 2nd, 6th, 8th and 4th between 1994 and 2001.

In 1998/99, the club had its second taste of UEFA Cup football and performed superbly in holding Polish side Wisla Krakow to a goalless draw at Latham Park. Despite an eventual defeat in the second leg, the Robins are keen to get back into European competition and are disappointed that their subsequent league form has kept them out of the limelight for longer than anticipated.

The departure of manager Brian Coyne in the summer of 2003 saw the appointment of former Wrexham and Chester City midfielder Roger Preece as manager. While the Robins did not view this as a quick fix, preferring to develop youth talent from mid-Wales, they lost patience after three mediocre seasons when they accepted Preece’s resignation in October 2006.

Honours:

Welsh Cup winners:     1878-79; 1894-95
Welsh Cup runners up:    1880-81; 1885-86; 1887-88; 1896-97
League of Wales runners-up:    1995-96; 1997-98
Welsh Amateur Cup winners:    1954-55
Welsh Intermediate Cup runners-up:    1985-86, 1987-88
Mid-Wales League champions:    1975-76, 1981-82, 1986-87, 1987-88, 1995-96 (res.)
Central Wales Challenge Cup winners :    1974-75, 1980-81, 1992-93

Links:

Official website
Official town site

Contact Details:

Newtown Association Football Club, GF Grigg Latham Park, Newtown, Powys  SY16 1EN
01686 626159 (Club house)
01686 623120 (Office)
01686 623120 (Fax)
Email: Office@newtownafc.co.uk