Football rarely works out as you hope. But on April 30th 2011, the righteous gods of the game smiled on the part-timers of Bangor City as they beat the professionals of TNS to win an unlikely Welsh Premier League Title. After a fifteen game run of wins early in the season, Bangor had faded badly after the sale of their star striker Jamie Reed to York City. TNS, playing home games on an artificial pitch had maintained good form to overtake Bangor at the top of the table with just a few games left. But two crucial wins away over Easter had left Bangor needing to beat TNS at home in the last game of the season in a winner-takes-all contest. Licensing rules meant that the attendance for Farrar Road’s last big game before they move to a newly built stadium on the outskirts of the City was restricted to 1,762, but you can judge the size of the crowd for yourself. You’ve probably read my romantic eulogising about this club and its supporters, so for once, I thought I’d let my photographs tell the story of the day.
1. Even though I arrived at the ground 2 hours before kick off, the pubs were already full, and there were dozens of people walking down Caernarfon Road to the ground. It was going to be a big gate.
2. Farrar Road won’t see many more games as the club moves to a new home at Nantporth. It’s hard to believe, but Napoli, Atletico Madrid and Manchester United have all parked their coaches on this street.
3. About a hundred TNS supporters arrived from Oswestry, some wearing England colours. There are those who contest their right to compete in the Welsh Premier League.
4. Fearing for their safety, TNS had requested segregation at the game – almost unheard of in the WPL.
5.There were fears of pitch invasions during the game, and Bangor made arrangements for 30 stewards to help with crowd control. There were a few police in the area, police, but as you will see later, they took up a very strange position at the ground.
6. With a move on the cards for a while now, Farrar Road has fallen into disrepair. Here the club Chairman, Dilwyn Jones, is seen making final arrangements at the players entrance.
7. Queues began to grow with just under two hours to go before kick off.
8. The clubhouse underneath the main stand at Farrar Road which was closed to the general public.
9. Former Football League referee, Gwyn Pierce Owen is the President at Bangor City, and is a hugely popular figure in Welsh football.
10. WPL secretary John Deakin (right) is not a popular figure at Farrar Road due to a serious of perceived injustices against the North Walian club. Next week, Bangor will be forced to travel five hours to Llanelli to play in the Welsh Cup Final…against Llanelli. Bangor Captain Jamie Brewerton was suspended for this game after an offence committed in February. It was rumoured around the ground that Deakin tried to prevent Brewerton from receiving the Trophy due to his ban.
11. You’re never too old to show your adulation with a home made banner featurng the names of the team.
12. Bangor U12s add to the carnival atmosphere by parading a trophy they won at a recent tournament in Holland.
13. Bangor people have a habit of saying “aye” after each sentence, aye. Therefore the club mascot is..wait for it… The Bangor Eye!
14. Pre-match huddle for the club’s biggest game since they last won the league in 1995.
15. Farrar Road is usually pretty noisy with much less people on the terracing – it was roaring on Saturday.
16. The WPL Trophy was on view before the game.
17. TNS’ mascot ruins his teams chances by lifting the trophy prematurely. Shouldn’t have done it, Spotty.
18. Remember I mentioned the police look-out position? See if you can spot them.
19. Come on City!
20. Les Davies and Phil Baker challenge for the ball in front of a packed terrace. Baker’s injury was to prove crucial to TNS’s hopes.
21. I counted at least 50 people watching the game over the low boundary walls around the ground.
22. Former Bangor player Chris Sargeant looks very keen to rejoin his old team. He escaped unhurt from this serious-looking collision.
23. With a League title to play for, TNS could only muster 100 travelling supporters. This is about 90 more than they usually take to away games.
24. After a tense hour, with very little football played on a hard pitch, Craig Garside gave Bangor the lead with a scruffy goal from a corner. Cue pandemonium.
25. Happy Days!
26. Always look on the Garside of life!
27. My son asked me yesterday if people support Bangor in the same way that people support a big club like Cardiff. I told him – Bangor are a proper club, with some of the most dedicated fans in football. Try asking this bloke if he cares about his team.
28. Bedlam in the Farrar Road End. Sadly this is the last time we’ll see such scenes at the famous old ground.
29. Incredible raw emotion at the final whistle. It’s over, and Bangor are the League Champions.
30. Look what it means to Les Davies. Born and bred in Bangor’s Maesgeirchan Estate, Les is an iconic figure at the club. I often wonder about players who manage to perform elaborate coreographed goal celebrations while fans just scream and lose it. Standing next to Big Les after his hometown club won the League will stay with me forever. He was howling at the moon.
31. Goalscorer Craig Garside celebrates the title win.
32. Alan Bull
33. The Bangor Warfare Squad unfortunately showed up despite banning orders. TNS were right to insist on segregation.
34. Great scenes at the final whistle
35. A fine goodbye to the Farrar Road Stadium in its last full season.
36. Lifetime fan Matt Shooman is lost among the delirious throng.
38. Neville Powell celebrates a long season and a great achievement.
39. This young lad will always remember this day.
40. The Bangor team celebrate in the changing rooms.
41. And finally, I leave you with this image of the happiest man in the world. He travels hundreds of miles every week to watch his team and as I was leaving the ground I saw him in an empty stand just taking it all in. He represents all of those Bangor fans who travel across the country watching their team play in front of crowds which sometimes barely reach three figures. For them this day was special, and anybody who loves their club will understand their joy.
For the full gallery of almost 200 images, please visit Copamedia.co.uk