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Celtic Park, Cwmbran
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A BRIEF HISTORY OF CWMBRAN CELTIC 1925-2017
Cwmbran Celtic football club was formed in 1925. In the early years the club was known as CYMS (Catholic Young Men's Society). After the immediate success of winning the Newport & District Division 2 Section A title in 1925/6 there was then a 25 year gap before the next trophy, the Premier Division title in 1950/1. The club disbanded in the late 1950’s largely as a consequence of national service call-ups but a large influx of junior and youth players brought about the reforming of the club in 1964 under the new name of Cwmbran Catholics. In 1970/1 Celtic won the Gwent Senior Cup. In 1972/3 with playing membership open to all denominations the club dropped the catholic title and re-named as Cwmbran Celtic winning the Gwent Amateur Cup and finishing runners-up in the Gwent Premier League.
In 1979 the club bought its own premises at Oak Street, Old Cwmbran, the club's present headquarters. The club's ground was in Cwmbran Park but around 1995 they moved to the grounds outside Cwmbran Stadium which were shared with Cwmbran Cricket club. The cricket club later moved to Caerleon and Celtic obtained the lease from Torfaen Council.
Celtic played in the Gwent County League in the 1980s and 1990s and after gaining promotion as champions of Division 2 in 1986/7 remained in the 1st division for the next 10 seasons. However a disastrous slide found the club languishing in the 3rd division when Paul "Dishy" Richardson became manager in 1999. He transformed the side bringing in experienced ex-Cwmbran Town stalwarts Mickey Copeman and Kevin Payne alongside teenage striker Shane Williamson who for a dozen seasons was top scorer. The side was later bolstered by the return of ex-professionals Ben Graham and Mark Parfitt who had started their careers with Celtic as juniors. There were successive promotions from the 3rd to 1st division between 1999 and 2001 and in 1999/2000 Celtic won the Gwent County league cup.
In 2004/5 under new player-manager Mickey Copeman, the club were runners-up to Clydach Wasps who applied for membership of the Welsh Football League but their ground was adjudged to be not of the required standard. Celtic applied instead. Their ground was also not up to standard but they were able to share Cwmbran Stadium with Cwmbran Town and the Welsh League accepted the club's application.
In their first season in the WFL, 2005/6, Celtic struggled near the bottom of the 3rd division all season. In April Celtic travelled to Chepstow Town needing a win to stay in the league. They went 1-0 down. With minutes of normal time remaining substitute Jason Price equalised but a draw was not enough. In the 9th minute of time added on player manager Mickey Copeman went up for a corner. The ball was cleared off the goal-line by a Chepstow defender, it hit Copeman on the back and rebounded into the net. Celtic had achieved a last gasp win and, by winning their final match against Seven Sisters, Celtic escaped relegation on goal difference.
The following season, 2006/7, Celtic now back at their upgraded and newly named ground, Celtic Park, were transformed. They only lost 2 games and enjoyed a 24 match unbeaten run. They went to Risca for their last match already promoted but needed to win to secure the Championship ahead of Llanwern. With 3 minutes left Celtic were 1-0 down playing with 10 men after a red card for Kevin Payne. Then Sammy Winter equalised with a speculative long range shot and in the last minute a Risca clearance found full back Ben Graham outside the box. He hit a perfect looping volley over the goalkeeper's head and into the net. Celtic were champions.
In Division 2 Celtic consolidated their position in 2007/8 and 2008/9 during which they introduced a number of players from their new partnership with Fairwater High School Football Academy in Cwmbran managed by Celtic coach Della Cheedy. In 2009/10 Celtic were front runners destined to win the Championship. However they lost two key defenders at a crucial time and vital points were dropped. Nevertheless Celtic finished their games in 1st place and would win the title if Penrhiwceiber failed to win at Newcastle Emlyn. The home side was 2-0 up at one stage but Ceiber clawed their way back to win 3-2 and deny Celtic the championship. At the end of the season Mickey Copeman stood down after 7 years during which he secured 3 promotions which took the club from Gwent County League to the top division of the Welsh League.
In their first season in the 1st division, 2010/11 under new manager Ben Graham, Celtic struggled for much of the season and were firmly planted in the relegation zone but a superb run-in during which they won 7 and drew 3 of 14 games earned them 12th place out of 16. In 2011/12 a good start was made under Alan Dibble who stepped down in September with the team in 5th place, to be replaced by Gareth Morgan. Either side of Christmas, Celtic were 2nd but they had a dismal end of season run and again finished 12th.
In 2012/13 with head coach Della Cheedy at the helm, Celtic started brightly with some fine performances including a 4-2 win versus reigning champions Cambrian & Clydach but they lost their way in the New year and at one stage were in last place. However, with characteristic determination they dragged themselves up the table and sealed another season in the top division with a resounding 5-1 win against Haverfordwest County. Under Steve Morgan in 2013/14 Celtic underperformed finishing 4th from bottom and with Afan Lido relegated from the Welsh Premier League, Celtic were relegated despite appealing to an FAW arbitration. With Della Cheedy back as manager in 2014/15 Celtic finished 7th in Division 2.
In 2015/16 Nicky Church started as manager but he resigned mid-season. Ex Ton Pentre boss Dean Morris took over, won two manager of the month awards, and guided Celtic to the runners-up position and promotion on the back of 10 straight wins. The club also reached the quarter finals of the Welsh Cup, going down 2-1 after a brave fight at home to WPL side Port Talbot. Josh Bull was the Welsh League’s top scorer with 32 league goals.
In 2016/17, back in the 1st Division, Celtic went top of the league early in the season. Dean Morris resigned in March 2017 and first teamer Lee Challenger took over, winning his first 5 games in charge as the team ended in 6th place, their best position in 5 seasons in the top tier.
Jordan Dibble - Goalkeeper
Lewis Watkins - Goalkeeper
Rakesh Patel - Defender
Richard Crees - Defender
Andrew Larcombe - Defender
Luke Jones - Defender
Rhys Williams- Defender (Capt)
Iolo Jones - Midfield
Lloyd Kinsella – Midfield
Owen Cook - Midfield
Lee Challenger- Midfield
Dominic Connor - Midfield
Lee Penry - Midfield
James Young - Midfield
Chris Ham - Midfield
Simon Prangley - Midfield
Josh Bull - Forward
Michael Baugh - Forwad
Adrian Maguire - Forward
Callum Wakeham - Forward
Manager: Lee Challenger
Coach: Rakesh Patel
GK Coach/First Aider: James Kinsella
Goalkeeper: Aged 25. Joined Celtic from Newport County Youth in 2010/11. Celtic debut v Aberaman Athletic in April 2011. Has shown great dedication and improvement over the years to see off 3 previous challengers for the gloves.
Right back (Player/Coach): Aged 28. Skilful attacker who delivers great cross ball into box. Played as Junior for Penygarn & Trevethin Griffithstown and New Inn. Ex-Academy, broke into side in 2007/8 & has been regular ever since. Has great self-effacing personality. Manager’s player of year 2016/17.
Left back: Aged 31. Attacking full back, quick and strong in tackle. “Billy” joined in 2010/11 from Tredegar Town. Very popular throughout club. His extreme commitment has caused a number of niggling injuries over the years. Formerly with Cardiff City as a junior (U11 to 16), Llanhilleth, Abertillery Bluebirds & Abertillery Excelsiors.
Manager: Aged 29. Appointed team manager last season. Was versatile right back/holding midfielder 2007/8 to 2016/17. “Charlie” played junior football at Blaenavon in the same side as Rhys Williams before joining Academy. made debut for 1st team 2007/8. Had two seasons away at Blaenavon Blues 2009/10 and Goytre 2013/14. Club record 20 consecutive penalty goal 2011-2016.
Centre midfield: Aged 25. Talented creative player, loves to get forward.Ex-Academy, 1st team debut 2009/10. Played for Fairfield in Gwent County League 2012/13. Manager’s player of the year 2015/16.
Left wing: Aged 31. Attacking midfielder with knack of arriving in the box at the right time to score important goals. Formerly with Chepstow Town & Caldicot Town. Top scorer in 2014/15 with 14 goals. Started with Garden City juniors.
Striker: Aged 24. Cultured speedy & nippy left footed player. Played as Junior at Blaenavon Blues in same side as Lee Penry. Had brief spells last season at Aberystwyth and Merthyr Town. Came through Academy. Played for Abertillery Bluebirds 2011/12 scoring superb hat-trick to knock champions Bryntirion out of league cup, and later for Blaenavon Blues in Gwent County League. 1st team debut for Celtic 2012/13. Played 2014/15 for Monmouth Town and Goytre but rejoined Celtic last season in which he was top scorer in the Welsh League with 32 goals.
Striker: Aged 18. Joined Celtic as a Junior, moved on to Bristol Rovers and then Newport County where he scored 36 goals in 36 games over two seasons at U14 and U16. Returned to Celtic playing for the Under 18s and Reserves. Promoted to the 1st team in January 2017.
Left midfield: Aged 22. Ex Celtic junior, Newport Academy & Celtic Academy. Made his debut aged 17 in 2013/14 and is now a permanent fixture on either wing. Very skilful, great crosser of a ball and has scored some spectacular goals with his powerful left foot.
Centre back (capt): Aged 29. Resolute uncompromising defender. Good talker. Signed in 2015/16 from Goytre. Played for Blaenavon as junior; Swansea City youth, then Cwmbran Town (Welsh Premier), Bryntirion (WL Champions) & Taffs Well (League Cup Winners).
Defender: Aged 29. Joined Celtic in close season of 2014/15 having previously played in Welsh League for Llanwern (2010-13) and Undy Athletic (2013-14). Before that he played as a Junior for Eveswell and then youth football for Newport YM and Gwent County for Liswerry. Andrew can play up front in the holding role or in the middle of the park where his tenaciousness makes him compete for every ball. Supporter’s player of year 2016/17.
Midfield: Age 24. Skilful centre midfield, joined club in February 2016. Played as Junior for Blaenavon Blues. Trials with Southampton as junior, Newport County youth, played briefly for Croesyceiliog and later Blaenavon Blues.
Striker: Aged 25. Joined club in 2012/13. Powerfully built, strong runner. Played as Junior for Midlands clubs Studley and Kingfisher and then Llanyravon. Former Fairwater Comprehensive student. Was a regular in the side in 2012/13 but later sustained a broken leg and ligament damage playing indoor football. Had a short spell at Panteg in 2015/16 but returned to Celtic and is now back in the 1st team squad.
Midfield: Aged 23. Joined Celtic in 2016/17 from Goytre. Very quick and versatile, can play wide or in the centre of midfield. Played as Junior for Cwmcarn. Previously with Fleur de Lys. Scored both goals and man of the match for Goytre, Gwent senior cup winners v Undy 2013/14. Player’s player of year 2016/17.
Midfield/Forward: Aged 23. Spike returns to Celtic late last season after a season at Croesyceiliog. Also had short spell at Waunfelin Bluebirds. Made his debut for Celtic aged 17 in 2010/11 at full back. Can play all over the park, even in goal. Spike spent his whole junior career with Celtic during which he was on Cardiff City’s books.
Goalkeeper: Aged 18. Newly signed this season. A pupil at Hartridge School Newport. He was a junior at Torfaen club Henllys FC before moving to Newport County. Signed Celtic youth forms a couple of seasons back but sustained a wrist injury which cost him the opportunity to win a Welsh Schools cap. Celtic are delighted to get him back in the senior squad.
Central midfield: Aged 17. Newly signed this season. The son of ex-Celtic senior Neil ‘Jimbo’ Jones and grandson of former Celtic chairman Alan Jones, started his playing career with Celtic in mini football but was quickly snapped up by Bristol Rovers. He later moved to Newport County and then to Forest Green Rovers. A Croesyceiliog School pupil, Iolo won a Welsh Schools cap last season.
Centre back & left back: Aged 24. Former Academy player & U19 captain. Luke is a solid no-nonsense defender with a powerful left foot & prodigious long throw. Played for Celtic junior and youth, made his 1st team debut aged 17 at end of 2009/10. Luke is a boxer who has quickly made a name for himself in the Welsh Amateur ranks. Played briefly for Aberbargoed Buds and Croesyceiliog in 2016 and 2017.
Right wing: Aged 25. Played for club as Junior and for Academy. Debut 2009/10 aged 16. Player of round in Welsh Cup 2015/16 as scorer of finest goal ever seen at Celtic Park v Goytre. Played for Cwmbran Town 2012/13, Monmouth Town & Carmarthen Town (Welsh Premier) 2014/15 and Westfields (English Midland League) 2016/17.
Simon Prangley: midfield, aged 27. Returns to home town club for 5th time. A product of the Academy. Simon has certainly done the rounds – 19 moves and 9 clubs in 12 seasons but he is a quality player always in demand. Previous clubs: Cwmbran Town (2), Malpas Gladiator, Caldicot Town, Bryntirion Athletic (2), Taffs Well (3), Afan Lido (2), Cinderfod Town (2), Chepstow Town. Plays Futsol for Cardiff University and Wales.