A feature on a successful season for Llanelli Town and the influence of Lee Trundle.
He may have turned 40 earlier in the season, but 51 goals and a string of assists later comfortably confirmed that Lee Trundle is far from finished. Although his days in the professional game have passed, his commitment to Llanelli Town in the third tier of the Welsh pyramid system this season has brought the crowds back to Stebonheath, and helped ensure that his side would complete a league and cup double as they edge closer to a return to the Welsh Premier League. In fact, manager Andy Hill and his talented squad suffered just one defeat during their successful campaign, and while conceding seven goals was an unfamiliar experience, there was no disgrace in exiting the Welsh Cup at the hands of The New Saints.
The rise and fall of Llanelli has been well-documented, and while their struggles off the field have been testing for all concerned, their long and proud history has always suggested that the club can rise to the top once again. Andy Hill knows what the club is all about from his playing days, and his ability to attract the best players from the locality to the club was significantly boosted when Lee Trundle agreed to join the Reds last August. A former £1m striker, Trundle has been the marque name that the club needed to re-establish their reputation after financial problems had left the club making headlines for all the wrong reasons, but his influence has been as effective on the field as it has been off it.
— Llanelli Town AFC (@LlanelliTownAFC) May 12, 2017
Attendances immediately swelled as Llanelli supporters of old returned to Stebonheath, while Swansea City fans have embraced the opportunity to see one of their greatest entertainers perform once again. Trundle did not disappoint, and with his half-century of goals including nine hat-tricks, he has been the regular headline maker for the club this season. His final appearance of the season in the Welsh League Cup final against Bridgend Street last Friday saw him turn creator and goalscorer in a convincing 3-1 victory. At the final whistle he celebrated with the same enthusiasm as his team-mates. There may have been higher-profile successes in the past, but this is now, and it his clear from his dedication to the cause that Trundle has truly embraced his return to the level that saw him move through the non-league ranks and into the Welsh Premier League with Rhyl at the start of his career.
But while his immediate contributions on and off the field are obvious, Trundle has offered much more to Llanelli and to the Welsh League this season. Autographs and selfies are now a weekly occurrence at Stebonheath, and through his football upbringing outside of the professional game, Trundle has quickly adapted to his Welsh League surroundings and the different challenges that it presents. His presence has made it easier for Hill to recruit players, particular those with an affection for the Swans, and playing alongside such a figure has certainly brought the best out of the rest of the squad. Quite simply, the players around him have subconsciously lifted their own games not to show themselves up in-front of a player responsible for some of the most outrageous show-boating moments of a generation. Who could forget this….
— Kyle (@Pingu_10K) March 18, 2015
Llanelli Town have ambitions to return the Welsh Premier League, and the 2008 champions belong in the top-flight. Providing they can at least retain the majority of their current squad, there is no reason why they cannot challenge at the top of the table. If they can strengthen, as expected, then they will be favourites to follow the lead of Barry Town as they also take another step towards former glory. Trundle has every intention of continuing, and he could prove to a defining figure in Llanelli’s history if he can inspire a return to the Welsh Premier League. Having already played in the top-flight at opposite ends of his career with Rhyl and later Neath, he is well-aware of what awaits, but is also well-aware of what he can still contribute.
But Trundle is one of a number of players in the current Llanelli Town squad boasting Welsh Premier League experience, and Hill’s team already seem to be punching below their weight even with promotion to the second tier achieved. They will be a big scalp in the Welsh League Division One next season, and Hill will be keen to keep his side focused on the immediate challenges ahead. However, those that have witnessed their performances this season will know that this is a talented squad of players, while the off the field problems that caused their demise will ensure that future success is built only upon solid foundations. Like most clubs in the Welsh pyramid system that have experienced the boom-and-bust inevitability of cash-driven success, lessons have been learnt the hard way at Stebonheath.
— Llanelli Town AFC (@LlanelliTownAFC) May 8, 2017
A club steeped in the annals of Welsh football history, domestic football in Wales needs a club of Llanelli’s profile to be playing at the highest level, and a number of players and managers have made telling contributions to the Llanelli cause over the years. The great Jock Stein represented the club in the 1950’s, while Gil Lloyd was the inspiration behind the successful era of the 1970’s. Player-manager Robbie James sadly lost his life while playing for the club at Stebonheath in the late 1990’s as the club edged towards a return to the top-flight, and the job was completed by Leighton James’ talented side that brought the crowds back at the start of the millennium. More recently, striker Rhys Griffiths played a key role in some famous European nights, while dedicated individuals like Gary Lloyd followed in the footsteps of his father Gil by displaying the same passion for the club. There are many more, but now it is Lee Trundle who may yet prove to be the catalyst to a return to former glory, and an exciting new era is well and truly underway as a result of his arrival.
— Mark Pitman (@markpitman1) May 12, 2017