Monmouth Sportsground, Blestium Street, Monmouth, NP25 3AF
For history buffs Monmouth is the birthplace of Henry V, was home to Charles Rolls (of Rolls Royce fame) and witnessed the trial of the Chartists in 1840. Indeed, whereas the rest of the South Wales valleys seemed to be strong supporters of the Chartist movement it is rumoured Monmouth’s upper classes even volunteered to carry out the execution of the now revered John Frost and his co collaborators.
On 8 August 2011, Monmouth Town F.C. entered into an agreement to be purchased by internet venture fivepoundfootballclub.com. and in September 2011 the Club established itself as a Community Interest Company, the first of its kind in Wales but the club’s origins date to 1876 when the Monmouthshire Beacon reports on 7th October that Monmouth Town FC ‘will commence its season on 12th October…’to keep the young men of the town from dying through drink’.
There is evidence to suggest that an ’association club’ was playing in all white at Dixton Road in the town in the year 1906. The Monmouth Beacon of 14th December recalls this and adds a comment about a period when football had been extinct in Monmouth. Indeed research shows that Monmouth were joint champions of the Monmouth and District League in 1925/26 with Clearwell FC.
The next honour recorded by the Town was victory on the Monmouthshire Senior cup on the eve of war in 1940, defeating Lovell’s Athletic, (aka the Toffeemen) then about to lift the Southern League West title, 3-2 at Monmouth Sportsground which is still home today.
Nearly 20 years later, in 1958, the Town lifted the Monmouthshire Amateur cup beating Cefn Fforest 3 – 0 at Pontllanfraith. The following season saw victories in both the Monmouthshire senior and Monmouth Amateur cups.
Town’s only appearance in the FA Cup was a 2nd preliminary round 7 – 0 defeat away at Llanelli on 6th October 1965.
Silverware was …well..sporadic… with wins in the Gwent amateur cup in 1984 and 1996 being highlights of many years gracing the fields of Newport and the Gwent Leagues with an occasional foray into the English Forest of Dean and Herefordshire leagues.
In 2003 the Town were relegated to the bottom tier of the Gwent County but the returning Andrew Smith took up the reins and gained promotion in his first season in charge finishing runners up to Rogerstone. At the beginning of 2005/06 season the club adopted ‘the Kingfishers’ nickname and logo in homage to a peculiar legend (outlined later) and set their sights on a Welsh League spot within five years. Two seasons later and it was theirs with a Division Two title and a Division One runners up spot securing the single Gwent place as champions Newport Civil failed the ground criteria.
After four seasons building and developing their ethos and players and management staff with Nick Oxford replacing Andrew Smith, then former Welsh Cup winning Barry Town manager Andy Beattie having a brief but influential spell the reins were taken up by Barry Burns and Robin Pick in January 2009. The Kingfishers duly won the Division Three title in 2010/11 playing a brand of attacking football that won friends throughout the Welsh football scene and followed it with the Division Two title in 2011/12, scoring over 200 goals in the process and Dan MacDonald scoring a remarkable 44 goals last time out. The reserve team also clinched a runners’ up spot.
2012/13 saw the Kingfishers take their place in Division One for their first time in their 136 year history and finished a credible 7th in the table after topping the division as late as March.They also finshed runners up in the Gwent Senior Cup losing out 1 – 0 to Caldicot Town in their first final appearance since 1940.
Burns and Pick stepped down in the summer of 2013 and were replaced by 16 times capped Wales International and former Huddersfield Town captain Steve Jenkins who capped off a remarkable rise through Welsh Football by leading his side to the Welsh Football League title winning 21 of the 30 league games and finishing top scorers in the division. The Kingfishers took the title with a final game win 2 – 0 away at Cwmbran Celtic on Saturday 17th May 2014. Monmouth also reached the last sixteen of the Welsh Cup losing 3-2 away to Porthmadoc after extra time.
Jenkins left the club a week after winning the title to take the reins at his home town club Merthyr Town and was replaced by the returning Andrew Smith. The Kingfishers finished a credible 6th in defence of thier title but capped the season off witha fine 8 – 0 win over Panteg FC to take the Gwent Senior Cup for the first time since 1940.
The Kingfisher Legend.
Some local folklore has it that in about 1936 there were extremely bad spring floods on the Monnow and Wye which effectively wiped out all of the Kingfisher nests along the rivers. Until then Monmouth had been a magnet for ornithologists from all over the country to see Britain’s most beautiful bird in all its glory. Official government sources form the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Timber recorded their alarm at the plight of the Kingfisher population and a detailed study was carried out to assess the damage. Amazingly the only surviving pair of breeding Kingfishers were found nesting in a deflated football that had floated down the Monnow into the Wye and lodged itself with its laces in some branches overlooking the river. It was in the days before the Magic Marker so it could not be proven that the ball had been lost in a game at the Town’s sportsground but it was deemed the obvious cause. And so ….one loose shot saved the entire Kingfisher population of the Wye and Monnow rivers.