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TONGWYNLAIS FC - CLUB HISTORY
Even though there were earlier teams in Tongwynlais, Tongwynlais FC was officially formed in 1935 by a committee of men who worked at the Melingriffin Tin Works.
Their history was interrupted by the War years, though during this period Jack Judd formed a team called Tongwynlais H.G. which consisted of boys drafted into the village to work on important jobs in the nearby Treforest Estate.
After the War Tongwynlais was re-formed and the ex-schoolboys team managed by club legend Joe Gray reached the Citizen's Cup Final where they were defeated by Cardiff City's then nursery team, Canton Athletic. In season 1848-49 Joe took over as manager of the first team and continued to serve Ton sides until ill-health forced him to retire in 1983.
During this time the club had little success, though they did finish as runners-up in the Cardiff & District First Division in 1967. However, it's worth noting that Tongwynlais were up against the great St. Patricks side of the 1960s!
Another man worth a mention is the late headmaster, Brain Lewis. In the late 1960s a whole team left for neighbours Taff's Well. Only Brian remained, but with the recruitment of players from Llanishan they not only survived but went on to greater things.
In 1970 Ton recruited some very promising youngsters and formed a second side. In their first season they gained promotion beating champions Doyle Albion along the way. The following season they swept all before them to win the Fourth Division of the Cardiff & District League, under player-manager Brain Venables, who was also one of the driving forces in building the new dressing rooms, in 1975. In the championship winning side, Billy Baldock scored a record 52 goals in the season.
Halfway through the following season the club decided to amalgamate the two teams to form one of the most talented sides in the club's history. However, like so many Ton teams before and since they were inconsistent. However, they could beat anyone on their day, as proved by their victory over Amateur League leaders Llwydcoed - a game played at Roath Park while the dressing rooms were being built. Under manager John Strand and captain John Inker they played some of the most attractive football in the club's history.
Regrettably the club ambled somewhat until the mid 1980s when Eugene Pesticcio was appointed manager. Eugene was quick to put his trust in youth and from the early 1990s the club began to reap the rewards. Tongwynlais won the Cardiff & District First Division and gained promotion to the newly formed South Wales Senior League. In the first couple of seasons it was only Grange Quins and Caerau (Les Croupiers) who prevented the club from winning honours.
During this period Ton played some of the biggest games in their history, drawing 1-1 against Newport County at Somerton Park and beating Welsh League sides Pontlottyn and Port Talbot, the latter of whom were top of the Welsh League at the time. They also played local rivals Taff's Well which attracted a big crowd. However, the biggest game in
the club's history was played on a Sunday afternoon against Merthyr Tydfil which drew a crowd of over 200.
After several more seasons Eugene retired as manager. Gerald Rose took over and kept the club competitive. Ton's greatest success during Gerald's tenure was reached the quarter final of the FAW Trophy in 1996-97, where they were beaten by eventual winners, Cambrian United.
In the 21st Century the club remained in the South Wales Senior League, with the club drinking up a football cocktail of inspiring promotion pushes and relegation near-misses. Ton were renowned across South Wales as having formidable home form on a pitch with an infamous 'Ton bobble'. However, with the demise of the Senior League, the first team were relegated back to the Cardiff & District League.
Soon after Dave Price and Gareth Morgan began the process of rebuilding a side that had lost many players by following in the footsteps of Eugene Pesticcio by bringing in a lot of very talented young players as well as a few older players who were experienced in district-level football.
After several seasons of consolidation, an influx of new players and two stable, talented squads the club hasn't looked back. It was the reserve side that first enjoyed success, when under the management of Nathan Pryde and Tom O'Brian, they lifted the Cardiff & District First Division title in 2018-19.
The first team's success began to shine through shortly after, with Dave Price's side winning the Cardiff & District Premier Division in the Covid-impacted 2019-20 season. Unfortunately the decision by the South Wales Football Association to offer promotion on a 'points per game' basis meant that Tongwynlais, despite only dropping five points all season, were denied promotion.
Rather than being downbeat, the Ton went from strength to strength. In the 2021-22 season the near-same squad with a couple of excellent additions from higher league clubs, embarked on the most successful, and dominant, season in the club's ninety year history. The first team, captained by Will Price, went unbeaten throughout the whole season winning the Premier Division title and Lord Ninian Stuart Cup, before gaining promotion to the South Wales Alliance League courtesy of a nail-biting 1-0 play-off victory against Brackla FC.