Ian Hughes will go into the next campaign knowing that he has an excellent squad at his disposal and one of the best in the league, writes Matthew Wallace.
With the majority of the players that came within minutes of qualifying for European football last year resigning including top goalscorer Chris Venables and players’ player Luke Sherborn, Town last week added the reputable names of Rhys Griffiths and Lee Surman who between them have made over 600 appearances in the Welsh top flight.
Neither need much introduction to supporters of the Welsh Premier League. Rhys Griffiths is a goal scoring legend who has found the net 262 times in 368 appearances. He has won the Welsh Golden Boot in seven consecutive seasons and is a six time member of the Welsh Premier League team of the season.
Discussing the move, he stated. "There are plenty of things that made me want to sign. It's a club that I've had a lot of respect for over the years. It's a well run club run by good honest people. I've got history with some of the players and some good friends here. As a group of players even the ones I don't know come across as a good set of lads.”
Griffiths’ move sees him team up once again with Venables which looks set to become a partnership that has the potential to terrorise defences up and down the country. But speaking of any potential golden boot rivalry, Griffiths is certain there won’t be anything on that score.
“If I didn’t know him so well, I’d be a bit worried that I’d have to take over but I don’t feel like that at all. I just hope that between us we can get to the 45/50 goals a season mark. I don’t care if he gets 25 of them and I get 20, my main focus is on contributing to the team. The last thing I want to do is to stop Chris doing what he’s been doing but hopefully I can add to it and lay a couple on from him.”
The second of Town’s signings is defender Lee Surman. Having started his career at Swansea City, Surman has become one of the most established defenders in the league, amassing over 300 hundred appearances for both Llanelli and Port Talbot over the years. At 29 years old, he offers the club experience in an area of the field that Hughes looked to strengthen in order to improve on last year’s promise.
"I had a look at the squad and it wasn't too far off last season so we're looking to kick on this season and get some silverware.” Surman stated to ATFC.org.uk “I like to think that I’ve got plenty of experience and that can be a positive for the squad. I’m not one to rant and rave on the pitch and prefer to lead by example in a playing sense. If we tighten up a little at the back and keep the attacking philosophy that you had going forward last season, we could turn those draws and losses into wins. “
Both men join the club having played together at Port Talbot Town and previous to that Llanelli alongside a number of the club’s senior players including skipper Stuart Jones, Venables, Antonio Corbisiero and assistant manager Wyn Thomas. This previous experience was a big draw for both men in signing for the Seasiders.
“They are winners. They’ve got a winning mentality. They’ve won so much. I’ve played with Stuart in my early days with Swansea and at Llanelli so I’m hoping that’ll be a transition made with relative ease. Wyn has been involved in the league for a long time. I’ve enjoyed being around someone and a character like that as he’s always honest with his opinions. It doesn’t matter if he’s talking to a senior player or a youngster which is something I’m keen to pick up.” was Surman’s response when quizzed on his new teammates.
Both players join Town with the same burning ambition as all around the club. After the bitter disappointment of final day heartbreak in consecutive seasons, the aim for both players this year is to propel Aber back to where they belong.
“I want to add some trophies and Aberystwyth is a good place to do it. Without sounding big headed but I've won enough individual but I'd like to add more team awards and team merits. I see no reason why we can’t get second place this year” Griffiths stated
Surman added, “We've got a great opportunity to get some silverware. I've been in two cup finals in this league and lost both of them so ultimately I haven't won anything yet so I want to change that. I'm really looking forward to get going."
All at atfc.org.uk would like to welcome both players to the club and thank them for their time after completing the signing.