It had been 174 days since Aberystwyth Town last took to the field at Park Avenue. Over 4,000 hours and nearly six months had elapsed whilst preparations were made for our brand new facility. Finally, after 17 consecutive matches away from home, the Seasiders returned to their home of 132 years on Friday night and what a return it was.
A crowd of 1,168, the highest in Aberystwyth for 16 years and the best in the Dafabet Welsh Premier League so far this season, saw Town defeat Rhyl 4-0 in a game that had everything. Goals, sending's off, a goalkeeper scoring and fantastic atmosphere to boot; the Black and Greens ensured that their maiden game on our new surface will live long in the memory.
“I’m delighted we’ve got the three points first and foremost as well as the four goals. But what is as important is the clean sheet. It’s the first time for about 6 games we’ve had a full squad available to us. It’s always going to be important, our home form.” Manager Matthew Bishop told Matthew Wallace, in an interview for Town's Youtube Channel at the end of the game.
“Tonight was a credit to the Town. It’s a massive club with great support. Living in the Town, I know how important the football club is to the people of this Town. It was our job firstly to make sure we got a result and put on a performance and we’ve done that. “
“We had a good first half but second half, they grew into the game, we lost a little bit of our shape. Once the third goal’s gone in, the game is done. Thank you to everyone that did turn up tonight! I hope they went home happy.”
After a nervous ten minutes, Aber opened the scoring from the most unlikely of sources. A soft freekick was given just outside the centre circle inside the home side’s half. Quick thinking goalkeeper Chris Mullock spotted his opposite number off his line and proceeded to chip the ball home from over 65 yards away.
“The first goal has always been important for us. It started with Chris [Mullock]’s wonderful goal that will be played time and time again over various social media up and down the land and deservedly so. It’s a great bit of skill and vision from him and then to execute it was fantastic. That set us up."
Club stalwart and leading goalscorer Geoff Kellaway added a second a minute later before striker Luke Borrelli added two more in the second half to cap a memorable night for all at the ground.
Earlier in the evening, a celebration of the new pitch took place in the John Charles lounge with many important dignitaries and ex players joining together to usher in a new era for the club. A man who was credited with the advancement of Town off the field was chairman Tony Bates. A major driving force behind the project, his vision and determination has allowed Aberystwyth Town Football Club to become a much-revered facility. Bishop too was keen to publicly praise the chairman for allowing his side to have such a facility to push his side on.
“We’ve got to give great credit to Tony [Bates], the board and everyone that’s put this project together. We’ve got such a great pitch and it can help make Park Avenue a fortress. We trained on it in the week and I know it inspired the players and they liked the surface. This was the first time many of the players had been here. It was wonderful to be home.”
Watch the full interview with Mathew Bishop, plus additional interviews with Luke Borrelli and Chris Mullock on Aber Town's Youtube Channel here.
Highlights on Friday night's game will be shown on S4C's Sgorio programme this evening at 6.30pm, and will subsequently be available online, linked from our fixtures page.