The opening day of the football season is a day that’s met with excitement, hope and confidence by football supporters up and down the country prior to the inaugural blow of the referee’s whistle.
For one afternoon, everyone is on a level playing field, hoping that this is their year to be the ones to lift the trophy at the end of the season or be the ones that exceed expectations come the business end of the season.
Over the years, we have had both positives and negative results and as Neville Powell prepares to take us into our 26th successive season in the top flight in Wales, we take a look back at some of our more memorable opening day fixtures.
1) Cefn Druids 0-5 Aberystwyth Town 22nd August 2014
After the disappointment of Derry earlier in pre season, Town got off to a superb start to the season with an impressive away victory over new boys to the league, Cefn Druids.
Hughes’ men made a fantastic start with Chris Venables heading home at the back post with the game just 8 minutes old. With the hosts up against it, referee Lee Evans sent off Adam Hesp for two bookable offences with the game a little over half an hour old. The ever-reliable Venables added his second from the penalty spot.
With the extra man advantage, Town were imperious and ruthless in the second half, notching up three further goals in a dominant performance. Venables completed his hat trick in the 55th minute with a carbon copy of his opening goal before adding a fourth in the 77th minute with a cool finish past former Town stopper Dave Roberts.
Luke Sherbon also got on the score sheet in the 60th minute with a sumptuous strike with the outside of his foot from 30 yards.
2) Rhyl 0-3 Aberystwyth Town 24th August 2013
In Ian Hughes’ maiden game at the helm, his side sent a huge statement of intent to the rest of the league with a commanding victory at Belle Vue.
With many tipping us to struggle during the season, Town got off to the perfect start as skipper Stuart Jones rose highest in the penalty area to head home a corner after just five minutes and only a referee’s whistle stopped Jones doubling his and the side’s tally just minutes later.
Aber’s cause was boosted later in the half as the hosts were reduced to ten men after just 34 minutes on the clock.
Striker Mark Jones increased the lead just five minutes into the second half before Chris Venables volleyed home a third late in proceedings to round off a very memorable afternoon for the Seasiders on the North Wales coast.
3) Carmarthen Town 2-3 Aberystwyth Town 12th August 2010
The Black and Greens notched up their first victory under the new super 12 League Format thanks to goals from Stef Edwards and two goals in as many minutes from Ryan Marriott and Ricky Evans.
In front of the Sgorio cameras, a crowd of 423 at Richmond Park were treated to a goalless first half. However, the second half was packed with action and the game truly came to life when the Old Gold broke the Seasiders resistance in the 63rd minute.
Their lead was to be short lived as just a minute later, debutant Edwards headed home an equaliser. Aber took charge and found themselves 3-1 ahead just ten minutes later thanks to goals from fellow debutant Ryan Marriot as well as further strike from Ricky Evans.
Craig Frater’s 78th minute strike for the home side ensured a nervy ending but Alan Morgan’s men were able to hang on and earn the important three points.
4) Aberystwyth 4-1 Total Network Solutions 20th August 1999
Town racked up a hugely impressive performance and three points with a commanding victory over the much-fancied Total Network Solution side.
With the side narrowly missing out on a further soiree in the Intertoto cup against Florina, a squad which included lauded Aberystwyth Town legends such as Gari Lewis, Aneurin Thomas, Kevin Morrison and Glyndwr Hughes ensured that any heartbreak from that any hangover from the disappointment was put aside with a victory against the side that would eventually win the title that season.
5) Barry Town 1-2 Aberystwyth Town August 15th 2003
Gary Finley’s men returned to the Ceredigion coast with a victory over the 7 times Welsh champions thanks to a thoroughly professional performance. A tumultuous few years for the giants of Welsh Football saw them struggle during the 2003/4 campaign.
With well-documented troubles off the field, their game against Aber proved to be the last time they played as a professional outfit and their last season, until this one, in the Welsh Premier League. Saturday’s game marks the first time since 2003 that Aber have visted Barry since this game, nearly 14 years to the day.