Chairman Rob Edwards sat down with supporters of Haverfordwest County AFC at the Ogi Bridge Meadow last Wednesday for a Q&A session.
There was an excellent turnout on the night, with a variety of questions asked on a range of topics.
Here is the full list of questions, along with Rob’s responses:
Question 1 – The ongoing situation with the East Stand (answered by CEO, Georgina Nicholas)
- We continue to go through the litigation process
- We have offered a variety of different solutions to achieve a favourable outcome
- It’s frustrating because the matchday experience is being negatively impacted
- We’ve done as much as we can in other areas to make it safe, increase the capacity, and improve the fan journey
Question 2 – The potential of an artificial surface
RE: I love the pitch. I love it massively. But you look at the cost of running a grass pitch, and the use that we can get out of a grass pitch in terms to where we want to go, it’s not a sustainable long-term solution. If we had an artificial pitch, we’d have a significant yearly upswing for the club. We would save what we are currently having to spend on external training facilities. This affects the first team and also the academy, who can’t achieve Category A status. We can’t have a girls team, we can’t have a womens team, and the first team can’t train full time. So at the moment, on the pitch, the club can’t develop any further than it is now.
It will also benefit us when it comes to connecting with the community. Yes, the first team, the academy and being more commercially viable are our primary focuses, but having a place for the community to be able to come and join in, and having another facility that’s able to cater for that, for the county, it makes sense for multiple reasons.
Question 3 – Recruiting players
RE: Obviously the catchment area in Pembrokeshire is pretty low, so we have to do things slightly differently, we have to look further afield. That’s why we’ve got three lads from London, who are young, hungry, and view it as an opportunity to prove themselves. As well as Kayden, Tyrese and Martell, you’ve got Oscar, who is from Surrey, and obviously Luke is from Malta for example. So we just have to think outside the box when it comes to recruiting.
I’ve been impressed with the young lads we’ve brought in, as well as Luke. They’re all quick and they can all pass the ball. I feel like they’ve got a good attitude. If you look at someone like Martell, he’s scored goals at England youth level, at every age group. So they’re all young, hungry, want to get their careers back on track and what better manager to play under to get them going than Tony. He’s done it all of his career.
Recruitment is so difficult and money doesn’t change that. We just have to make sure we bring in the right characters, and spending time with them when we were in Europe, they’re just good people. The dynamic in the dressing room is excellent, but we know we have to get results and improve where we finished last season, so although there is a lot of promise in the dressing room, particularly with the academy being so productive by supplying a good number to Tony, proof will be on the results across the season.
Question 4 – Players continually improving
RE: Ultimately the player has to really want to improve themselves, and to do that they need to work really hard. But they’ll have the environment and the coaching to be able to get the best out of them, that’s for sure. I feel really lucky with who we’ve managed to attract. Firstly, to get someone like Nicky, although he was only here four months, his impact was massive and kind of changed the whole road map of how we wanted to play as a club. We were lucky that we found someone in Tony who wanted to play the exact same way. The tactical knowledge and experience is unbelievable. We know the standard of who we want to bring in to maintain that now. So the coaching will always be there. Hopefully the facilities will give them the opportunity to develop the best they can.
Question 5 – The recent increase in support
RE: We took supporters buses to pretty much every away game last season. I’m not sure when that was last the case. I think our support has increased enormously in the last four years. When I used to come here in the early days, I knew everybody. I come here now and there’s a lot more, particularly of the younger generation. We even have an online fan account now which is gaining followers very quickly.
The support has been amazing, and you can see the more fanatical side of it. It’s definitely a shift with us as a club, but then you can see across the league there are attendances going up, which is the awareness that the Cymru Premier is getting better. There’s still a long way to go.
Question 6 – Digital content
RE: This will be the final series of the documentary. We kind of thought it was a natural end because it began at the start of our second season in the league, and followed our journey all the way to Europe. That was the ambition, I think the first interview that I had in the Des Shanklin Suite, I looked really young then. It was about gearing up to Europe. The first season obviously couldn’t have been any more dramatic and more entertaining even if we wrote it ourselves. And then the second season we obviously ended with Europe. So it’s a case of where do we go from there really?
The podcast will be published the day before a game, depending on whether we play on a Friday or Saturday. Ryan [Evans’] work will be continuing in a similar vein, but with a slightly different take on matchdays from a video perspective.
The Bluebirds Nest Live will continue, we think that’s been a really positive addition, and we’re talking to Ryan about other stuff as well. We will also be posting the team line-up on the new TV screen behind me on matchdays.