BANGOR City manager Nev Powell will today thank the supporters he credits with helping to transform his team’s fortunes by taking part in the Daily Post’s first web chat.
When the Farrar Road club claimed back-to-back league titles in the early years of the Welsh Premier it had appeared to signal a new dawn for the Citizens.
The proceeding years, however, did not prove to be as fruitful for the North Walian outfit, with the 1994-95 crown being the last time they could claim to be champions of Wales.
Two Welsh Cup victories – in 1998 and 2000 – may have punctuated the barren years and provided European football, but 13 years without a title have been difficult for a club of Bangor’s stature to endure.
One thing, though, has remained constant throughout the Citizen’s also-ran years. The tremendous support of their fans.
As Powell prepared for today’s online chat, believed to be the first of its kind involving a Welsh Premier manager, he revealed how the backing of the Farrar Road faithful – on and off the terraces – has inspired his men back towards to summit of the league.
The manager said: “The fans are important to the club, I think it is the only club in the league where a fans committee do all the day-to-day running of things.
“We’ve got 500 plus supporters who all help out, are extremely committed, and they turn out whatever the weather, through thick and thin.
“I’ve not done anything like this interactive webchat before, but I think it is a great opportunity for people associated with the club to come together, show their support, and ask any questions they might have.”
It may have become something of a footballing cliche for manager’s to hail the effect of their ‘12th man’ but Powell is adamant the intimidating atmosphere of Bangor’s home crowd has made his side a force to be reckoned with.
“We’ve not lost a game since September, so we are catching up with Rhyl who are in third place, and we’re still in the cup, so I think we have a good chance of getting into Europe,” he said.
While Europe may again be on the horizon for Bangor – they last featured in the Uefa Cup in 2003 – Powell admits that a title-tilt is too far until they become a full-time club.
“I want Bangor to become a full-time club so we can compete for top spot in the Welsh Prem,” said the former Citizens midfielder, who played against Fredrikstad and Atletico Madrid in the European Cup Winners’ Cup of 1985.
“I don’t think the title is a realistic ambition next year, not with the likes of Llanelli and the New Saints being full-time already, but we are moving to a new ground, our squad is getting stronger and better, and it is something we can aim for in the future.”
Optimism tempered with realism, a string of successful results, and a long running association with the club means that Powell is already a firm favourite with the fans.
And his optimism is infectious – with many fans claiming Bangor are recreating the heady days of the 1980s.
A player-manager at Connah’s Quay from 1993, Powell was part of the team that beat Ebbw Vale 1-0 in the 1996 League of Wales League Cup final.
His playing career was ended in the first game of the following season, but he stayed on as manager at Connah’s Quay until moving back to Bangor.
Even with his long experience of the Welsh Premier League, Powell is still astonished by the passion of North Wales fans for the Welsh Premier, adding: “It’s a vibrant league, and each club has its own unique character and fans,” he said. “Other clubs, such as Rhyl, have also got very loyal fans and I think that’s great for the game.
“We sometimes pull in a 1,000 people for a game, which I think is incredible when you consider that Unibond teams often struggle to get a couple of hundred.”