ANTICIPATION is mounting as Aberystwyth Town prepare to make a welcome return to Park Avenue in their first Welsh Premier match on the new 3G pitch, against Rhyl on Friday (7.45pm).
The Seasiders have had to play their first 10 league matches away from home, and with just three wins on the board Aberystwyth manager Matthew Bishop has admitted home form will be crucial.
With the final preparations in progress this week for the official opening of the new facility, the club is hoping that a bumper crowd will turn out for the game.
“The new pitch is the culmination of three and a half years’ work by the Club’s Board of Directors,” said club chairman Tony Bates.
“It means Aberystwyth becomes the ninth Club in the Welsh Premier to host an artificial pitch.
“It will hopefully not only result in no more match postponements, but more importantly it will fulfil the FAW’s stated intention of Clubs creating ‘community hubs’ by making the pitch and facilities potentially available to everyone.”
He added: “Final preparations are in progress for the official opening of the new 3G artificial pitch, in readiness for the first team’s game against Rhyl on Friday evening.
“Volunteers are busily cleaning and repainting every surface, and I’m not sure that I will ever get all on the green paint off my hands!”
Apart from the pitch itself, the Club has invested heavily in tarmacadaming most of the exterior surfaces, relaying water and gas mains, as well as the provision of a new and very expensive boiler.
It has also been water-proofing the roof to the Rhun Owen stand, modernising the John Charles Lounge, and bespoke iron works, including a new entrance gate.
“Obviously this has involved massive expenditure at a time when the Club is in receipt of virtually no income, having had to play the first 12 games of the season away from home,” said Bates.
“I hope and pray that supporters will come in their droves on Friday evening to help make a start at replenishing the Club’s coffers!
“I am delighted to say that the pitch will be formally opened by Mrs Glenda Charles, the Club’s Life President and widow of the late, great John Charles. Glenda recently attended the funeral of John’s brother Mel and as a Swansea Jack myself, I mourn the passing of these two giants of the game.
“We hope those who have never seen a 3G pitch can come along on Friday, they will be in for a treat.”
After a welcome 10-day break from action, following their disappointing exit from the Nathaniel MG Cup at Haverfordwest, Bishop’s men are hoping to kick-start their Welsh Premier campaign.
Chris Mullock, Ricky Watts, Geoff Kellaway, Luke Sherbon and Kurtis March all missed the Haverfordwest match due to injury or unavailability, but Bishop will be looking for a positive response.
With a run of six consecutive home matches to look forward to, the Seasiders, currently second from bottom in the table, will be looking to build up momentum.
“We’ve got nine points from our 10 away games, and home form is going to be really important to us from now,” said Aber boss Bishop.
A win on Friday night would put the Seasiders within a point of a Play-Off position, and nine points from eight away games represents the fourth best away record in the League.
Having renewed their partnership with the Club, all staff, students and Open Day visitors from Aberystwyth University will be allowed in for free on Friday.
Admission prices have been frozen once again this year at £6 for adults, £4 concession and £1 for children, and a bumper crowd is expected.
• Bookings for the 3G pitch are starting to fill up, anyone interested should contact our 3G co-ordinator, Frank Rowe, on 07400500442 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.