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Team of the week: West Dragons FC

west dragonsTHE history of West Dragons Football Cub spans across a very short period from 2008 to the present day. They were formed in 2008 by brothers Jamie and Lee Palmer, who with great ambition, courage and determination have bought the club to where it is today.

They also stated that the main philosophy of the club was to “give young players the best opportunity to succeed in an environment where they can play with freedom, courage, belief and to be successful”.

The club started the 2008-2009 season in Division 5 of the Pembrokeshire League. During that season the team played their home games in Crundale at the Rudbaxton Community Playing Field. The Palmer brothers approached local businessmen Karl Potter (The Glen, Haverfordwest) who became club chairman – who invested £500 in return for a direct interest in running the club.

Finally Jayne Thomas was added to the committee as club secretary and she stills holds that position today. Other sponsors such as G and G Builders Pembrokeshire Ltd, LNG South Hook invested to help fund facilities and equipment including a sit-down mower much to relief of then part time groundsman who for the first month of the season cut the whole pitch weekly with push on mowers taking an amazing five hours to complete.

Under the management of Jeremy Thomas and Deny Barrett the club began playing in the Pembrokeshire League. In October of 2008, the club made a move to bring in Lee Morgan as manager and finished the season as Division 5 league and cup winners beating St Clears in the final remarkably the club remained not only unbeaten but didn’t draw or lose a game in those respective competitions. Showing ambition the club was helped to success with the likes of Jonathan Clarke, Jay Brockway and Matthew Watters.

During the pre season of 2009-2010, West Dragons made Bob Nelson their new first team manager. After a strong start to the league campaign, West Dragons slumped in a run of games including a two leg cup defeat to Tenby United which ended Nelson’s campaign as manager.

Morgan returned to the helm in November and guided the team to the division title with the clinching victory coming in a game against Clarbeston Road where Simon Thomas scored the winning goal.

Off the field there was also change. Terry Worsley was appointed new club chairman and West Dragons replaced The Glen, Haverfordwest with The Labour Club, Haverfordwest as their new main sponsors. This time local businessman Eddie Wells invested in the club and still to this day does so as the club’s main sponsor. The club also made a ground move to The Pavillion Playing Fields, Portfield after agreeing a lease with Tasker Milward School and Pembrokeshire County Council for the use of the playing field which includes two full size pitches.

The Pembrokeshire League season 2010-2011 for West Dragons started in Division 3. The season ended in promotion with a second place finish in the division. They also managed to secure a division cup win with a 3-2 victory over Broad Haven, after trailing by two goals with only 30 minutes to play.

More history was created with a reserve team being introduced to Division 5 under the guidance of Deny Barrett and an under 14s junior team supervised by Jeremy Thomas and Jamie Palmer with fourth and third place finishes respectively. Off the field committee members were added and Karl Davies became the club’s groundsman on a permanent basis. On to Division 2, Morgan’s ambition was to achieve promotion in season 2011-12. The Dragons more than held their own in this division by comfortably beating teams and were third by Christmas. In February manager Lee Morgan decided to step down due to university commitments.

The committee decided that Jamie and Brother Lee would run the team until the end of the campaign. The Palmers decided to make Chris Darlington club captain and adopt the same style of play Lee Morgan installed. It certainly worked because the Dragons found themselves in another cup final after beating Saundersfoot Sports 2-0 in Division 2 cup semi final, Steven Dockerty and Mike Turpin with the goals. The league campaign ended with the reds narrowly missing out on promotion finishing third in the division.

In summer 2012-13 West Dragons committee appointed Nigel Delaney as their new manager. Delaney was recommended to the club and after meeting him and knowing his footballing background they knew he was right choice to bring club forward. This was Delaney’s first management job after a very successful playing career. Nigel had Mark Falzon helping him train the team for short spell but asked Byron Phillips to assist him. Phillips had recently managed Monkton Swifts.

Under Delaney the Dragons were unstoppable in the league losing only two games all season after comfortably achieving promotion. The target for the club was the achieve promotion but to do it in Delaney’s first season was great achievement.

The Dragons also made it to their first ever senior cup final after beating Hakin United 4-0 on the Bridge meadow in the semi final. The Dragons were the first side since 1989 to reach senior cup final and not to be playing in Pembrokeshire’s top division. The Reds faced Johnston the final at the Bridge Meadow Stadium watched by a record attendance with more than 1400. The Dragons finished runners up in final after losing 3-2. It was great effort by everyone involved with the club, considering the reds were trailing 3-0 at half time we showed great character in second half scoring two goals and giving Johnston a fright when Niall Kinsella hit bar in last 10 minutes of game.

A lot of credit had to go Nigel Delaney after what he achieved in season 2012-13. In this season West Dragons also had a successful season with their second side after manager Mark Hix guided his team to win the Division 5, an ambition the club felt had to be achieved if club was going to progress as a club.

The Dragons under 16s also had brilliant season after winning their league. The club was delighted to win their first junior title and glad the majority of the team has stayed with club in the senior level.

The Juniors also made it to the under 16s cup final but came runners up to Carew losing 2-1 at Marble Hall, Milford Haven. The club also started up a under 10s team and the team was managed by former Dragons player Simon Owens. The reds ambition is to bring juniors through every age group. The start of this season has been a success so far with some impressive performances and causing some shock results. Off the pitch Nigel Delaney decided to step down as manager, but deserves great credit for his effort and dedication he gave to club. Byron Phillips was appointed manager and Ritchie Brill as assistant manager. Phillips assisted Delaney so was the obvious choice to replace him. Mark Hix also stepped down as manager and was replaced by player-manager Dai Upward; Dai captained the seconds to previous season.

Coming up to Christmas break and the Dragons are currently in fourth place in division 1, five points off top of the league and the club is hoping to keep playing the football they have been playing and finish in the highest place they can. The second team is also holding their own in division 4 and hope to continue in the hard work everyone’s put in.

West Dragons would like to wish all their players a merry Christmas and a Happy New Year and look forward to seeing everyone back in the New Year.