On my football travels I enjoy looking at the club notice boards as they give a good indication of how healthy the football community is in the area. There will be information on football matches, coaching activities and events taking place at the Club. At Aberystwyth Town we have had memorable nights with footballing legends including John Charles, Joey Jones, Mickey Thomas and visits by players such as Chris Coleman, Barry Horne and goalkeepers Dai Davies and Neville Southall.
Last Saturday, in the Lolfa John Charles Lounge we welcomed an honorary Welshman for what was a great evening enjoyed by a sizeable crowd. The ‘honorary’ Welshman was none other than Swansea City legend Lee Trundle whose career took off after playing for Rhyl F.C. during the 2000-2001 season. At Rhyl he was ‘discovered’ by Wrexham manager Bryan Flynn who took Lee with him on a free transfer to Swansea City – the rest, as they say, is history!
Lee Trundle is an engaging, modest footballer who has a fascinating tale to tell! He was a late entrant to the professional game, having been brought up by his mother and grandmother on a council estate, playing football for teams such as Burscough, Chorley, Stalybridge Celtic, Southport and Bamber Bridge. Indeed, before turning professional at the age of 24 years old, Lee’s greatest games had been played in the parks of Liverpool for pub teams in the Sunday Leagues. He confessed that he had continued to play Sunday league football without the knowledge of Wrexham F.C. before moving far from his beloved Liverpool to Swansea City.
Bill Woolland was the perfect compere who questioned Lee about his career and his thoughts on football. Our star guest hadn’t followed the usual career path for a footballer. He wasn’t a product of the academies but a player who had honed his talents on the streets of Merseyside. In many ways his success has been a fairy tale which has captured the imagination of football supporters as he grasped an unexpected opportunity and lived the dream. I enjoyed hearing about the early influence of his P.E. teacher, the disciplinary approach of Swansea manager Kenny Jackett, the focus of his team mate Roberto Martinez and of his respect for another Swans legend Leon Britton.
There was an opportunity to ask questions and then to meet the man himself and throughout Bill Woolland was hilariously funny and bitingly sharp. Lee was up at the university coaching young players the next day with equal enthusiasm. We were reminded that his football philosophy is not to coach the football out of young players and as he continues to gather coaching qualifications we sensed that will be a new episode to his story. However, at the age 42, he insisted that there is quite a bit football left in him – and his enthusiasm as a player is undimished.
These days Lee plays his football at Haverfordwest County A.F.C. in the Welsh Football League managed by Wayne Jones our former assistant manager and continues to exude an enthusiasm for the game that is infectious. It was a great evening which included a fantastic roast dinner for the incredible price of a mere £15. Thanks to Phil and Ruth Thomas for organising such a memorable evening – let’s do it again soon!
Article and photos courtesy of Dilwyn Roberts Young