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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.
In 2017/18 Celtic Finished 8th in the league and enjoyed their best ever league cup run, reaching the semi-final before losing to Llanelli Town 3-0. Chris Ham was Welsh Division1 player of the season and top scorer with 28 league goals.
Lewis Watkins - Goalkeeper
Rhys Picton - Goalkeeper
Rakesh Patel - Defender (Capt)
Andrew Larcombe - Defender
Alex McDowell - Defender
Luke Jones - Defender
Rhys Williams- Defender
Niall Yates - Defender
Iolo Jones - Midfield
Louis Feeley - Midfield
Owen Cook - Midfield
Samuel Cawley - Midfield
Dominic Connor - Midfield
Chris Ham - Midfield
Daniel Battle - Midfield
Kallum Hajgato - Midfield
Callum Wakeham - Midfield
Josh Hinwood - Midfield
Isaac Powell - Midfiled
Josh Bull - Forward
Tom Haggett - Forward
Lewis Iles - Forward
Rhys Thomas - Forward
Manager: Lee Challenger
Assistant: Nana Baah
Coach: Owen Cook
First Aider: Michael Davies
Goalkeeper: Aged 26. 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.
Rakesh Patel: right back, captain, aged 30. Skilful attacker who delivers great cross ball into box. Played as Junior for Penygarn & Trevethin Griffithstown, 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 and Celtic’s Clubman of year 2016/17. Player/coach 2015-18. Holds club record for WL appearances – 352.
Manager: Aged 30. 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.
Owen Cook: centre midfield, aged 26. 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 year 2015/16. Out for the rest of season with knee ligament damage.
Left wing: Aged 32. 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 25. 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 26. Powerful leader of the line who filled in well last season when Josh Bull was injured. Made Celtic debut 2012/13.
Left back: Aged 21. Another ex-Academy player. A midfielder playing out of position. Played for Celtic junior & youth. Made 1st team debut aged 17 in 2013/14. Returns to club from Leeds Beckett University where he was captain in his final year.
Midfield: Aged 19. 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 & Reserves. Promoted to the 1st team in January 2017 & has been converted into very powerful midfielder.
Centre back: Aged 30. 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).
Central midfield: Aged 18. Son of ex-Celtic senior Neil ‘Jimbo’ Jones & 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 Welsh Schools cap in last two seasons.
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 & 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 & Westfields (English Midland League) 2016/17. Welsh League 1st Division player of season 2017/18 as top scorer. Manager’s and Player’s Player of Year & Club Golden Boot winner last season with tally of 31 league & cup goals.
Winger: Aged 23. Signed this season. Very quick with a good shot. Former clubs: Barry Town United, Taffs Well, Cinderford Town, Chepstow Town.
Rhys Picton: goalkeeper, aged 19. Product of St Albans school. Trials for Cardiff City, Newport County and Bristol Rovers. Youth football with Barry Town, Bridgend Street and Trethomas. Senior football at Llanrumney United.
Assistant manager: Aged 37. Vastly experienced old fashioned striker, played for Celtic in 2011/12 before joining Caerau (Ely) as manager where he achieved promotion from the 2nd Division and the league title in 2015/16. Played in England for Kingstonian, Dulwich Hamlet, Egham Town, Aldershot, Clevedon Town, and had trials with Luton Town. Moving to Wales he played for UWIC, Grange Quins, Barry Town, Bridgend, Bryntirion, Dinas Powis, Caerau Ely, Ton Pentre. Joins Celtic after a brief spell as assistant manager at Taffs Well.
First Aider: Aged 30. Has recently joined his friend Lee Challenger in the dugout. Formerly with Cwmbran Town Academy. Played for Celtic Reserves before moving on to Fairfield United and Pontypool Town.
Lewis Ellis: midfield: aged 26. Joined this season from Taffs Well having previously played for Penybont and Cinderford Town. Spent 4 years in USA studying psychology. Played for Universities of Memphis and Southern Illinois. Also played a season at Bodens BK Sweden.
Daniel Battle: centre midfield, aged 26. An Ebbw Vale boy, formerly with Tredegar Town, Risca United and RTB Ebbw Vale. He was also a trainee at Swansea City for 4 years. He is a combative player who can score goals and his signing will boost Celtic’s midfield.
Lewis Iles: striker, aged 22. recently returned to club from Panteg. Scored 6 goals in 12 games for Celtic last season. A former Celtic junior, he played for Sebastopol in Gwent County League and then Panteg.
Samuel Cawley: Left midfield, aged 20. Signed recently from Caerau (Ely) where he played under Nana Baah whilst still in the club's youth team.
Kallum Hajgato: Midfield/right back, aged 20. Joined this season from Taffs Well. Formerly with STM Sports. Welsh Schools cap.
Niall Yeates: defender, aged 27. Returns to club from Fairfield after a season off. Powerful left sided plater who can play midfield & striker. Played Welsh League for Chepstow Town.
Rhys Thomas: striker, aged 21. Signed recently from Cardiff Met.