CCB Centre For Sporting Excellence
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CCB Centre For Sporting Excellence, Hengoed
A BRIEF HISTORY OF RISCA UNITED A.F.C.
The club came into being in 1946 when a few local sides UNITED to form the new club, they played at Ty-Isaf Park in the Monmouthshire Senior League, where after early success they joined the Welsh Football League in the 1951/52 season playing in the 2nd. Division East until 1961 before having to drop back into County Football due to financial reasons. Their highest position during those 10 years was 5th. In the 2nd. Division.
The club have always been known as “The Cuckoos”, in keeping with the legend of the Risca Cuckoo.
In the summer of 1965 Risca United almost folded due to a lack of funds/committee members but were ”taken over” at the 11th. hour by Fernlea A.F.C., a Risca based, Newport & District League side, who actually shared Ty-Isaf Park with Risca United. For a few seasons the “new” club struggled in the lower reaches of Division One of the Mon. Senior League but always managed to avoid relegation.
Gradually we strengthened on and off the field and Risca United began its “Golden Era” in the early 70`s. During that decade “The Cuckoos” strung together an incredible 13 honours including 3 consecutive League and Cup doubles, 3 championships, and were Challenge Cup Win-ners for 5 consecutive seasons. The 3 consecutive League & Cup doubles had never been achieved previously and was recognized by the Mon. Senior League in presenting the club with a one off trophy that still proudly sits in the trophy cabinet.
The “Golden Era” continued into the `80`s as more silverware was added including the Gwent Senior Cup, The Gwent Amateur Cup and yet another League and Cup double in 1988/89. besides twice being League runners-up and runners up twice in the Gwent Amateur Cup. Follow-ing these achievements the club wanted to fulfil its motto, “Progress” and re-joined the Welsh Football League in 1990/91, they were Divi-sion 3 runners-up in that first season and then spent three seasons in the 2nd. Division before winning promotion in 1994/95 to the Welsh League 1st. Division. Risca United had two seasons in the top flight of the League before slipping back down through the divisions. Their highest placing in Division 1 being 11th. in 1995/96.
In 1995 The Cuckoos reached the 4th round of the Welsh Cup and played at Ninian Park against a full strength Cardiff City in front of 1,200 spectators, for an hour the score remained 0-0 but eventually the “Bluebirds” ran out 4-0 winners. In 2001 the club took part in a two hour BBC Wales TV football drama, “Score”. Filming lasted a week at Ty-Isaf Park where some TV stars, including, Sue Johnston (Brookside & The Royale Family), Eve Tyler (Belonging & Torchwood) rubbed shoulders with “The Cuckoos”. Some of the clubs players even took part in filming at Elland Road in front of 40,000 Leeds United fans !
In 2003/2004 Risca United were again in the limelight as BBC Wales filmed their historic 2-1 defeat of Barry Town at Jenner Park in the Welsh Cup, at the time Barry Town were the Welsh Cup Holders and reigning Champions of the Welsh Premier League.
The “Cuckoos” are a an ambitious club and are one of the few clubs in the Welsh Football League that actually lease their ground, being nine years into a 20 year lease from Caerphilly County Borough Council. Under the guidance of Player/Manager Paul Michael a 3rd. place finish in 2013/14 secured promotion to the 2nd. Division after a spell of 13 seasons in the 3rd. Division. That was followed in 2014/15 with a second successive promotion when 3rd. place in Division 2 was achieved on the last day of the season with a 5-1 defeat of A.F.C. Llwydcoed, the last game in an incredible 13 match unbeaten run.
In 2014/15 the club set up an Academy for young players between 10 and 16 years and straight away were granted F.A.W. Accredited Academy status.
That first year was a huge success at all age levels but pride of place went to our under 12`s who completed their F.A.W. Academy League (South) Fixtures unbeaten and finished top. In the All Wales Play Off Final held at Latham Park, Newtown we beat Bala Town 5-1 to become Welsh Champions in our very first season. All of that augers well for the clubs future.
Risca United in one way, have become victims of their own success, the consecutive promotions in 2013/14 and 2014/15 saw the Cuckoos back in the top flight of the Welsh Football League after 18 years but with the F.A.W. determined that all clubs in the 1st. Division have Grounds that qualify for a Tier Two Licence by the end of 2017 (then changed to 2018), it meant that we had to move from our humble sur-roundings in Risca to the new Council owned, Centre for Sporting Excellence at Ystrad Mynach. It meant that 1st. Division/Welsh Premier Development/Academy games would be played there whilst the club`s other sides would continue to use Ty-Isaf Park in Risca.
The pitch at Ystrad Mynach is a synthetic 3G standard with facilities second to none. The club finished the 2015/16 season in it`s highest ever Welsh League position, after a difficult start finishing 10th to ensure a second season in the top flight. We knew it would be tough against established clubs at that level and after early success in 2016/17 when we were actually top after five unbeaten games, the bubble burst. We went on a losing streak and by November 2016 were struggling, worse followed as Player/Manager of six years, Paul Michael left to Manage in the English Southern League. Simon Berry took over but his tremendous efforts failed to get us out of trouble as too many play-ers either followed Paul Michael or left for other clubs. There was no way out and we were duly relegated back to the second division in May 2017.
“Bezzo” has remained in charge for our attempt to regain top flight status at the first attempt, he worked hard during the summer to bring in new faces to work alongside 4/5 of last seasons players. Together they will give it everything, playing in the Welsh League top division is our initial aim and then we`ll see where that takes us.
CCB Centre For Sporting Excellence
9 Caerphilly Road
Vastly experienced 32 year old Sam a midfielder. Hereford born. Spent over ten years playing for Monmouth Town where he consistently produced performances that never let anyone down. Happy on either flank or centrally.
Now living in Caerphilly, Sam transferred to us Christmas 2017 and has been a regular ever since. His work rate is a great example to the younger players, as is his knowledge of the game. Sam will have a little more competition in mid-field this season but can play a forward role as well. A highly valued and important member of our side.
Centre Back: 18 year old from Merthyr Tydfil who joins us on loan from Cardiff City where he is a contracted Academy player. A soildly built young man who made his debut in our opening fixture against some very experienced Briton Ferry players. Had an outstanding start to his loan spell. He certainly knows what its all about ! Shane is comfortable on the ball and fitted in well with our style of play. Great things are expected of him having made such a start.
Striker: A 17 year old native of South Africa who is contracted to Cardiff City and is on loan to us until the end of the year. Aidan was included in our squad for our opening fixture at Briton Ferry and came off the bench during the second half. He showed in his limited time on the pitch why Cardiff City have him, he`s very quick and doesn`t mind helping out defensively which is a great attribute for a striker. Like his Bluebird team mate Shane Parry we look forward to Aidan helping us out during his loan period and showing us all what he can do in senior football.
Tom joined in November 2015 when his Dad, Simon joined us as our Assistant Manager. The 22 year old Newport boy can play anywhere on the pitch including as a stand in `keeper !
Young "Bezzo" has great feet and a powerful shot but Tom is one of those who has to look after his weight & fitness levels, if he achieves and maintains the right level he is one hell of a player.
In our pre season games he has already shown that shedding a bit of weight has helped him, his great ball control and eye for goals from distance are great to see. Powerful shooting and deadly accuracy makes him our set piece specialist.
Just turned 20, Jak has signed again this season after making huge progress last season. A classy mid-fielder he`s shown in our pre season games that he will be an important 1st. team player.
Jak will have stiff competition this season in our mid-field as we have added new players but his understanding of how we want to play the game and his use of the ball from the middle of the park is second to none. A strong invidual who is hard to shrug off the ball. A real clubman as well.
28 year old local "Clayts" re-signed in the summer of 2019. He`s made himself a 1st. team fixture during his 8 years with us and is fast becoming a Risca United legend. A Maths teacher by trade, who is perpetual motion in our mid-field with a great engine and fitness levels who leads by example.Current Club Captain.
An experienced Welsh League player who has a great attitude to the game and to the club, hopefully he can use his experience to bring on the younger members of the side this season. A player who loves the physical side of the game as he gets in opponents faces and uses his physicality to win most tackles. "Clayts" is a player who can play in various positions and roles within the side, with the exception of being a goal scorer !
His infectious personality rubs off on everyone, he`s also the leader when it comes to the squad`s social activities.
25 year old Local boy Lewis is a left sided player either as a left wing back or an out and out left winger, he can also play in a more central role. Plenty of pace and trickery with an eye for goal and a great appetite for tracking back when needed.
Although Lewis signed in the summer of 2017 he was injured in a pre season friendly and missed almost all of that season but last season was a regular starter as he remained injury free. Lewis will have some keen opposition this season for a starting place but he has the ability, comittment and will to hold them off.
27 year old mid-fielder Tom, although a Risca boy is now living down west but that hasn`t stopped him signing again this summer. Along with Lewis Davies finally made the move from A.C. Pontymister to us a few seasons ago and is a regular first teamer, who specialises in aerial balls in mid-field and in both boxes.
"Pratty" is now an experienced Welsh League player who should be at his peak this season, he`s really pleased to see some new talent emerge from within and also pleased to welcome some new faces but it`s made him aware that to maintain his place he`ll need to be at the top of his game to fend off would be successors.
25 year old Lewis, an Ebbw Vale boy who signed in the summer of 2017. The wide mid-fielder/winger/full back played for Abergavenny Town previously and is a very experienced player at Welsh League level.
Lewis` crosses from out wide and set pieces cause defenders plenty of problems. He`s a player who finds pockets of space easily and if given the opportunity will run directly at defenders putting them on the back foot. He can and does score goals from distance. A fixture in our side for the last couple of seasons and will be one of the first names on the sheet.
19 year old Cole has been with us a few seasons, developed through our Academy and was a regular in our Welsh Premier Development side during 2018/19 Cole is a hard working front man who scores regularly.
In pre season 2019/20 games his develoment has been duly noted, his ability to bring other players into the game quickly and accurately and been a strong point. Good stature for a Centre Forward but can play in other positions as well, a welcome addition to the squad.
Local boy Callum is a 21 year old mid-fielder who played for Monmouth Town Youth when they won the Welsh League Youth title in 2015/16. Joined us at the start of 2016/17 and became a fixture in the 1st. team. Callum spent a short time playing in the U.S.A. but returned in January 2018 and has been a 1st. team fixture ever since
Is one of our our best distributors of the ball who can play in various mid-field roles, he has great strength on the ball andquickly spots the runs of others to play them in. Callum is another of our players who has a powerful shot and is another specilaist at set pieces.
Ben is an 18 year old local boy who has been with the club for a few seasons, he came through our Academy and played Senior football for the Reserves during 2018/19 scoring regularly. A quick, ball playing wide man Ben was also a regular last season in our Welsh Premier Development side and made several 1st. team appearances which should stand him in good stead for season 2019/20.
Ben has a big future with us, at 18 he will of course feature in our Welsh Premier Development side and Welsh League Youth sides as well as making the step up to senior football.
17 year old Mid-fielder, product of our Academy. Leon was an absolute revelation last season as he developed so quickly from Youth football to the senior game. Great first touch, clever on the ball with a real football brain that shows up well as he makes runs in behind that others find so difficult.
Leon began in our Welsh League Under 19`s youth team last season but progressed really quickly to our Welsh Premier Development side and the 1st. team. Still developing as a young player and slightly built but is one that the club will look forward to seeing regularly in the 1st. team.
Local 17 year old full back who has progressed through our Academy, into our Youth & Development sides to now be included in the 1st. Team squad for 2019/20.
A very fit, quick full back who loves to get forward at every opportunity. For one so young he reads the game really well and quickly identifies trouble then uses his recovery pace to see out any danger. Connor is a "proper" defender who loves a tackle. A great young prospect.
Elliott is a 21 year old English lad from Bristol. He signed for us in October 2018 from Cardiff Met. where he had been a 1st. team squad member and regular Centre Back in their Reserve side. By joining us he was looking to face sterner opposition to challenge his obvious ability. A big, strong defender who relishes the physical side of the game, commanding in the air and in the tackle.
Elliott showed us last season that he reads the game well and can distribute accurately whether long or short. He had a great first season with us in 2018/19 despite having to get used to playing alongside different Centre Back partners on a regular basis, so we are really pleased that he decided to re-sign this season (2019/20) especially when we know that he could so easily have played closer to home in the West Country.
Elliott is really looking forward to playing and developing alongside the experienced Ricky Hodge where they hope to give us a solid defensive partnership.
19 year old, local boy Ryan signed in the summer of 2019 after playing for Gwent County side A.C. Pontymister for a couple of seasons.
A quiet unassuming type of player who gets on with the job in our mid-field. Has been a revelation in our pre-season games where he has grown in confidence. Slightly build but don`t be fooled because his strength lies in winning the ball back when we lose possession. A great engine, a real box to box player with very good close control. A real find for us and hopefully a fixture for years to come.
Tom Broder will probably be the youngest Goalkeeper in the Welsh League this season. He`s just 16 yrs. and one mth. young at the start of season 2019/20 but despite his young age he has the right build for a `keeper.
Tom has progressed from our Academy where his agility and athleticism has been to the fore. A great shot stopper with large and safe hands added to his reading of the game makes him mature beyond his years. He will be one of three teenage goalkeepers that will all be vying for the No. 1 shirt this season, so missing the opening few games due to holidays will not make it easy for him.
With the retirement of our Goalkeeper, Tom Chorley at the end of 2018/19 the No. 1 spot is up for grabs.
17 year old Shaun is one of three teenagers vying for the gloves.
A Welsh Boys Club International last season and a regular in our Welsh Premier Development side who just missed out on 3rd. place in a very good league. Shaun, though not the tallest of `keepers makes up for his lack of inches by being agile and reading the game well which makes his positioning a strong point. It will be interesting to see who wears and keeps the gloves this season.
17 year old Jack is the younger brother of Robbie Willmott of Newport County.
Recently moved to Newport from his home in Hertfordshire and signed for us in late July 2019. Jack will battle against two other teenage `keepers that we have. Too early to judge as he has only taken part in one pre season game as we await International clearance for him, last season he was with National Division side Boreham Wood of the National League where he played in their Youth side.
Ricky Hodge, a 33 year old vastly experienced Centre Back who needs no introduction to Welsh League Football. A native of Western-Super-Mare. Ricky had long spells at Penybont and Taffs Well before signing for us in the summer of 2019. A P.T. Teacher in Newport who didn`t play much of last season due to injury, he`s now fit and raring to go as he looks forward to leading our challenge to get into the Championship.
Ricky really enjoys the thought of "developing" our young squad, he`s a "talker"& organiser on the pitch, just what we needed and is fully committed in everything he does, a born winner. A great capture for us.
Newport boy, Jayden has just turned 19, for us in July 2019.
Last season he was a 1st. year professional with Bristol City so we consider ourselves very fortunate to have with us this season. A class act at Full Back, Centre Back or in Mid-Field, he has quickly fitted in very well during our pre season games where his performances have raised everyones hopes and expectations for this season.
Jayden has a great first touch, he`s athletic, quick and reads the game so well. He very rarely gives the ball away so quite why Bristol City let him go is a mystery to me. Jayden Ali is an absolute massive signing for us and I only hope we can hang onto this excellent young player.
22 year old full back Tom makes a welcome return to us after a few seasons with Cardiff Met. where he was a regular in their all conquering Reserve side. Signed in the summer of 2019, his pace and comittment are his strengths and being in the Met. set up has improved other aspects of his game.
He will have opposition to his favourite position of Right Back but his personality and ability will make it hard for team mates to take the shirt from him.
18 year old Taylor, a local boy has made a welcome return this summer. He started in our Academy at under 12`s before joining Newport County`s Academy a few years ago. Last season he was loaned out to Forest Green Rovers but signed for us in July 2019. A player with great ball control who loves taking on opponents with great dribbling skills, he also knows how to finish as he`s shown in our pre-season games.
An athletic and quick player who will cause the best defenders problems. He joins a very keen, young squad that mixes well with plently of experience at Welsh League level. Taylor is one of several very important signings this season, much is expected of him.
Mason is an 17 year old Newport boy who played Youth and Senior football for Albion Rovers in Welsh League 3 last season. A forward who is quick and loves to take on defenders with his ability to attack at pace with the ball at his feet and he can finish frominside and outside the box.
This physically strong young man has a "bit of bite" in his make up which makes him a handful for any defender. By joining us this summer he will be an automatic choice in our Welsh Premier Development side and if our pre season games are anything to go by I won`t be surprised to see him in our 1st. X1.
Liam is a 24 year old native of Milford Haven, now living in Cardiff. The striker is our latest signing of 2019 and a welcome addition to the squad. His most recent club was Cardiff Met. where he played last season in their successful Reserve side.
Not the biggest of strikers but one who comes with a reputation of being a goal scorer who is hard to contain when on tha ball in front of goal. Presently suffering an ankle injury, he will miss the start of the season but will soon be looking to get into the side.