- ROGER COTTRELL- Former Chairman of Haverfordwest County AFC

I first knew Roger when I was appointed Club Secretary following the illness of Cliff Saies in March 1998; he was Club Chairman and had been in that role for a number of years. The decade prior to my appointment had seen major changes affect the Club, particularly the establishment of the Welsh Premier League in 1992; and the two moves from the original Bridge Meadow as a result firstly of the new road layout which saw the establishment of what is now Morrisons Roundabout, and the development of the new stadium with the building of the Safeway (now Morrisons) Supermarket on the “old” Meadow.

The first issue as regards the formation of the Welsh Premier League (then called the League of Wales) was that the Bluebirds were not originally invited to take part, even though through Roger’s time the Blues had been Champions and never outside the top six in the former National Division (which the Welsh League was then called). Roger was central to all the politicking involved in getting the Bluebirds recognised as one of Wales’ top clubs; and the Blues became founder members in 1992.

While this was being brought to a satisfactory conclusion, he became faced by the fact that the Haverfordwest Town Council, as owners of the Meadow, were about to accept a bid to develop the Bridge Meadow site, and the Club was faced with losing its home of almost 100 years. After a protracted battle, led by Roger and in the teeth of much local anger - why should a football club who did not own the Meadow be holding up such a desired scheme for the town - the contract company agreed to build a purpose built facility further up the valley. After protracted negotiations, the stadium was designed and work commenced on site. The next issue was that the Club, now in the League of Wales, had no home ground; and the FAW would not accept the alternatives offered by the Club of playing at the Morfa Stadium in Swansea or at Haverfordwest RFC. The Club was forced to accept a return to the Welsh League. The stadium was completed in 1995 and the Blues returned home. Promotion was won back to the League of Wales at the third attempt, having finished as runners up the previous two seasons.

Leading the Bluebirds through all this additional set of difficulties, as well as running a football club, was Roger Cottrell. The Stadium is what you see today, a ground used for FIFA World Cup matches and Youth and Ladies Internationals, a facility envied and admired by others all over Wales with a capacity of 2,400. The Club has a 125 year lease on the ground.

 In many respects, I personally regard the Conygar Bridge Meadow Stadium as Roger’s lasting memorial, of his drive and ambition for the Club he loved and served so well. For 12 years through some exciting and fraught times.         

RIP Roger.

Barry Vaughan