Visiting the Welsh Seasiders
A proper ground, for a proper football club, in a proper coastal town in Cymru
For a town centre based football club, you can’t find many better than Aberystwyth Town FC. Located slap-bang in the middle of the west Wales coast, this Cymru Premier League side is definitely winning when it comes to picturesque locations.
The club, nicknamed the Seasiders for fairly obvious reasons, dates back to 1884. However, they would not join a league until the following decade. Up until 1992 Aberystwyth would join several different leagues before being one of the founding members of the League of Wales, now known as the Cymru Premier. They remain one of only three teams to have played in every season of the league since its creation, coming 3rd in its inaugural season.
Their home ground, Park Avenue, is as welcoming as it is charming. I moved to the town for work last October and was able to take in a few matches before coronavirus put an end to the 2019–20 campaign. I was in attendance for the visits of Bala Town, Cefn Druids and a Welsh Cup Tie with Cymru North side Ruthin Town.
For £7 each match, I saw a total of 12 goals but more away victories than home. The quality of Bala particularly impressed me, a side who this season made it to the Second qualifying round of the Europa League where they were defeated 2–0 by Standard Liege.
Situated just a stones throw from the town’s train and bus stations, Park Avenue is in an ideal location. It is also within a short walking of several of the many pubs which Aberystwyth has to offer. The John Charles Lounge, named after the Welsh footballing legend, is situated within the ground and serves alcohol and an alternative location for that pre or post match pint.
On a nice afternoon you could even spend a few hours on one of the town’s two beaches before a leisurely walk to the bright lights of the ground. Like with most things in Aberystwyth, the football ground is accessible from almost anywhere.
The club enjoys a strong relationship with the University in the town, with discounts for students and a sponsorship deal between the two. A scholarship programme for promising footballers is run at the club in conjunction with the university, showing that the relationship is growing within the town. With thousands of students descending on the town each year around the time the football season is in full swing, it would be rude of the club not to capitalise to get as many backsides on their seats as possible.
This season has produced its own financial challenges for the Seasiders the same as most football clubs at this level. Club chairman Donald Kane talked earlier this month about the crushing impact of playing in empty stadiums. He felt that if the league didn’t receive sufficient funding, it could cease to exist in its current format.
The Cymru Premier is a highly competitive division, and Aberystwyth Town is a vital part of that. Results this season may have been hit and miss, but a 2–2 draw against Welsh powerhouse The New Saints would have inspired hopes of a top six finish this season.
It is vital that, as soon as allowed, the fans get back into grounds like this. It may seem out of the way, but the town and football club of Aberystwyth are fantastic places to visit and embrace.