Well, that was a season to forget and remember in equal measure. It was a rollercoaster that covered every emotion, and I am sure the players, coaches, back office staff and fans had the same feeling. I have never been so professionally challenged in my life.
Our debut season was just the best time. We were the new kids on the block, and our young guns turned some heads, particularly with the impressive away win at Bala Town and the home victory against The New Saints, live on Sgorio. We had nothing to lose, the lads played with freedom and we overachieved.
This past season, we were vocal about our ambitions, and I have to apologise to the fans, partners and all associated with the club that they weren’t achieved. It was certainly not through a lack of will, desire or effort. It hurts, but ultimately this is an extremely competitive and unforgiving league, and we didn’t do enough across the 32 games.
We looked to assemble a top six side and, on paper, I felt this was achievable. However, as the old cliché goes, football is a funny old game. If you told me at the start of the season that we would be celebrating avoiding relegation, I would have been bitterly disappointed. However, considering we were five points adrift of safety at 9.50pm on 1st February 2022, I feel our celebrations were rightly deserved.
Speaking of that date, that was the date I questioned whether I was the right man for the job, and the realisation of relegation hit me. However, a little later that night, I put on my big boy pants and I vowed I would never leave this club in a worse position than I obtained it – particularly as it means so much to me and I feel extremely privileged to be in this position. Hopefully those thoughts are now a distant memory, and we can look towards a bright future with some reflection.
Wayne Jones has my upmost respect, and I will always call him a friend. I ‘adopted’ Wayne when I joined the club and I cannot thank him enough for the memories he gave me during the 2020-21 season. We didn’t enjoy the same journey last season, and ultimately our poor form – for a variety of reasons – ended with the ultimate cost. However, he conducted himself with dignity and class throughout, right to the end of his tenure, and I want to thank him first.
As well as respecting the past, we have to embrace the current (and future, of course). Appointing a new First Team Manager was one of the hardest things I have had to do in my professional life and, I have to say, I don’t feel I could have done a better job (although I am not one for self-appreciation). There were safe options, easy options, but I wanted the right man for the job – and I got him.
Nicky Hayen was a wildcard, a left field choice, and one that nobody saw coming. If he delivered on half of the things he promised during the interview process, I would have been a happy man. The truth is, he delivered more than that, so I am also extremely thankful to him for believing in this project, and I am honoured to be able to work with him for the next two years (at least) after he subsequently signed a one-year extension. He also challenges me on a daily basis, and I can see his passion to move this club forward.
The managers are obviously the guys on the frontline, but we cannot operate with those supporting them and grafting behind the scenes on and off the pitch. I also want to thank the rest of the coaching staff and medical team for embracing the vision and the changes we had to make, and the players for the same commitment – along with their efforts during a tough season and, particularly, the last three to four months.
I also want to show huge appreciation to our wonderful club secretary, Julie Legrice, who keeps us ticking and out of trouble, our community officer, Wyndham Williams, media officer, Tom Pritchard, and the incredibly selfless band of volunteers who work tirelessly to ensure we can operate to the highest level and ensure we have the facilities and matchday experience to match.
Last but not least, a shout out to our wonderfully dedicated academy coaches, who selflessly give their time to ensure the children of Pembrokeshire have the best development opportunities possible; and of course, our loyal fans, partners and sponsors, as well as my Board of Directors (past and present). If I have missed anybody, I apologise, but as a collective I am extremely grateful.
In summary, I feel we let you down at times. But I hope that, ultimately, we ended the season making you proud and on board with us as we go into another year with renewed ambition, energy, enthusiasm and hope.