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‘Oldest football club in Wales’ applies to play in England

The ‘oldest football club in Wales’ Llanymynech FC applies to play in England’s league system, issuing a statement on their intentions.

Llanymynech’s ground sits just over the border in Shropshire, and the club say their first recorded football match took place in the cross-border village back in 1858.

As reported by Daily Post, Llany received an invitation to play in the Salop Leisure Football League Division 1 for the 2022/23 season and since asked both the Football Association of Wales (FAW) and the English FA to switch.

Llanymynech is a village which sits on the border between Montgomeryshire/Powys, Wales, and Shropshire, England, about 9 miles (14 km) north of the Welsh town of Welshpool. The population is around 1,675.

A statement, published on the club’s official Twitter page and written by Nathan Bartram, director, said: “On Monday March 28 Llanymynech Football Club applied to the FAW and the FA to participate in a cross-border competition.

“We have been invited to participate in the Salop Leisure Football League Division 1 for the 2022/23 season subject to this application being approved. We have now published our original application for public viewing due to ongoing demand from our members and supporters to be made aware of the club’s future steps.

“We hope our supporters will understand the steps we have taken as a measure to secure the future of our football club and the pathway for its footballers. This application was made solely for those reasons.

“We are making contact with the FAW and the FA to ascertain the outcome of this application so we can firmly plan for the 2022/23 season. We hope to have some affirmative information in the coming days.”

Llanymynech’s application

Llaminwnech Football Club Application to Participate in Cross Border Competition.

As stated in our covering letter for this application, we have only dealt in matters of fact at the time in writing. We have also worked step by step through the frameworks as set out by the Requirements for Authorisation by the National Associations within point 4 of the Joint Policy of the FA and the FAW in Respects of Clubs Participating in Cross Border Competition at Recreational Level.

4.1.1. Llanymynech Football Club (The Club) currently operates one senior men’s football team at recreational level within the Hughes Montgomeryshire Amateur Football League, FAW Tier 5. The club is seeking membership of the Salop Leisure Shropshire Football League, English football league system levels 11-12 (Steps7-8) as well as membership of the Salop Leisure Shrewsbury District League in order to operate one senior men’s football team and one Under 18 men’s football team. The current climate is challenging for all clubs and we all face the shared difficulties in both the short term as well as medium to long term in terms of producing competitive squads each week and each season.

We currently compete in a single division 8 team league competition, a reduction from a two division 20 team league competition in 2019/2020.

Seven reserve sides were removed from the competition as part of the FAW restructure before this season with the creation of a new Reserve League. A further reserve team folded, another club folded and three teams were accepted into the Tier 4 Mid Wales Football League. The remaining four Division 1 teams were defaulted into a single division with the remaining four Division 2 teams of which we were a member. The result has left the league with many uncompetitive matches and the competition distorted with teams of vastly differing ability. We have also gone from playing in an 18 game league season to a 14 game season, reducing league football and subsequent participation by some margin.

Currently, two sides in our league have applied for one of three promotion places available; and one reserve teams’ senior side has applied for a Tier 3 license, which, if successful will lead to their reserve side being defaulted into the FAW Reserve League. The sum of all of this is the realistic possibility of a one division, 5 team league for 2022/2023 which will remove any sort of competitive football for its teams.

Our league does also face other ongoing problems, of which we aren’t naïve in failing to understand they may well share with other recreational leagues.

Until Round 21 of our fixture schedule this season, on 5th February, a full round of fixtures had failed to take place for reasons of postponement or a lack of match official to take charge. The unreliability of this has led to player availability being adversely affected. Players are under a growing feeling of expecting games to be called off, often at short notice, and are finding alternative activities to fill their recreational time with.

We are fortunate to share a close working relationship with our junior club, who operate boys Junior teams from Under 9s through to Under 16s, the oldest age group that the Shropshire Junior Football League operates at.

However, our relationship has a permanent barrier in the way of becoming a singular entity, and that is our current competition status. A shared desire of both our senior and junior clubs is to operate an Under 185 men’s side, something the latter has been unable to do since the 2011/2012 season.

Currently the only locally available league for an Under 18s side to participate in is the very suitably located Salop Leisure Shrewsbury District League with all clubs within a 20 mile radius of our ground, which is in fact in Shropshire. The only equivalent recreational level league within our current parent county FA was the CWFA Mid Wales Under 19 Youth league, which covered clubs in excess of 60 miles from our home ground and has now folded.

Whilst our junior club currently operate under the FA and could enter their own separate entity team into the Salop leisure Shrewsbury District League, the pathway to senior football is still greatly hindered by the border.

International clearance effectively means any player making the step up to the men’s first team has to make an International Transfer and this is a great level of commitment for any young player. The Under 18 team then immediately loses the services of a player who may not quite be ready for senior football. Under the four corner model of technical, physical, psychological and social welfare, all aspects are negatively affected.
Currently, our post-Under 16 players are left with only two options when they go into older age group football:

i) immediately make the jump into the senior men’s football team, which from a developmental perspective is inappropriate for the majority of boys and from a welfare perspective can leave the player physically and emotionally daunted and intimidated based on the four corner model. This fails to provide the player with adequate development from a technical, physical, psychological and social point of view.

ii) seek football elsewhere at a different club that can offer a development phase team to play in where they can progress at a pace more suitable for them. This may benefit them in terms of a technical and physical perspective, based upon the four corner model, but they lose the support network they had with us until 16 years old. From a psychological and particularly social perspective, this can lead to the player dropping out of the game altogether, once removed from their friend group and taken away from the support network they are used to. As a club the pathway into senior men’s football is then something we are at a loss to offer. Our club has then lost the services of players who seek this path away from us.


A Senior men’s first team and Under 18 men’s team playing within the same competition structure enables players to be nurtured under a pathway suitable for each individual. The player can be introduced to senior football at a pace right for them, while still participating for their junior side. Both parties, the senior team and the junior teams benefit from having access to a larger pool of players who share the same environment and have the same access to coaching expertise and facilities. It is this pathway from Under 9s football all the way through to senior men’s football that gives the child, their parents, the adults they become, and the teams they represent the greatest chance of growing and becoming stronger – with player welfare and the opportunity to participate at the very forefront of everything we do.

Without this pathway, our senior and junior clubs very existence is threatened as is that of the opportunity of participation in local recreational football for players of all ages.

The aim of our proposed participation in the same cross border competition pathway as our Junior teams participate in is to establish a positive and effective unity between Llanymynech Juniors Football Club and Llanymynech Football Club, understanding and tackling together the challenges facing the participation and development of young footballers.

To have a shared understanding of our collective vision that drives our work in the area of youth development.

To build a framework of the clubs living traditions; continuously bringing alive our shared history by striving to embrace new ideas and help us both drive towards our vision, constantly renewing these ideas to ensure they meet the present conditions. Whilst the responsibility for maintaining the traditions and history of the clubs lies with everyone involved, those that effect youth development should naturally lie with the Juniors staff who will have the most important and influential role in that task. However through the development phase into senior football there shall be roles created to harness this and ensure the Four Corners responsibilities of physical, technical, psychological and social aspects are maintained throughout.

To share a collective understanding for the importance of education, coaching, sport science and medicine, playing time, safeguarding and facilities. Coaching from Junior to Senior level is guided by a thought through philosophy that all players and coaches can benefit from sharing an understanding of. From the player led methods of early years coaching to the team led independent learning of later years coaching a shared understanding will ensure a continual development path from foundation phase through to senior football.

To ensure adequate provision of facilities for youth development, with an appreciation of the benefits of our current Shropshire based shared site where young and senior players and their support staff and coaches are based together. This allows for a sharing of knowledge and experience leading to greater expertise for coaches. Young players can learn the requirements of senior football and Senior players can maintain their responsibilities as role models and guides. A shared environment will also greatly aid communication, cooperation and understanding between all involved.

To offer the substance of past good practices, but within methods that meet the current situation. This can only be done with effective discussion and sharing of ideas between all staff about why something could or must be done and how it can be actioned on the ground.

To share an organisational climate that will optimise our coaching and staff resources. Within this to have a shared moral character that allows ideas from all parties that others may reject and be able to accept that individual knowledge and skills have limitations but that the sum of all the parts is a stronger tool for development.

To have frequent meetings of both a planned and formal as well as a more casual and informal variety.

Unlike areas such as resources, finance and environment this type of shared culture is essentially something under all of our own control, but only when the competitions participation pathway is shared as well. This is ultimately the most important practice in how close the club comes to achieving their visions, aims and goals. This is most usually something felt and sensed rather than written about and documented although it can be discussed. Our culture is a visible sign of who we really are beyond systems and procedures, but if these systems and procedures are at odds with one another due to the border and lack of competition pathway the culture fails to flourish or even exist.

There was reaction on Twitter as the ‘oldest football club in Wales’ applies to play in England…

@Garyjonesdeco: Shame for the amateur league to lose another club

@Benjamin_0112: Good luck lads!

@wtshrewisaway: Good luck gents 👍

@BraisdellLiam: It’s a really competitive division with some good teams. All the best lads 👍🏻

@kevinbebb2: Be nice to see you in the league another local derby ⚽👍 Good luck

@nick_durman: Very interesting the process in my experience moves at glacial pace so keep your fingers crossed

@tom_Salop: Good luck to them but that’s one less close ground to me in the monty league 🥲

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