Friday, September 02, 2011
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Dancing in the streets of TNS

THE New Saints are one of the leading clubs in the Principality Welsh Premier League, the national domestic soccer league of Wales.
Immortalised by Sky TV presented Jeff Stelling - "They'll be dancing in the streets of Total Network Solutions tonight!" - the club started life in the small village of Llansantffraid-ym-Mechain, south west of Oswestry. The village had a football team for many years, but it was not until 1959 that the present club was set up.
Nicknamed the 'Saints’, Llansantffraid first joined the Montgomeryshire Amateur League in 1959/60 and enjoyed considerable success, winning all the honours available in little more than a decade. For the record, the Montgomeryshire League championship was secured on five occasions (1969, 1970, 1971, 1983 and 1987) and the Montgomeryshire Cup competition won six times between 1963 and 1976. In addition, Llansantffraid were Village Cup winners seven times up to the 1990s and, when the senior team progressed, so the reserves won the cup in 1991.
The 1989/90 season, however, had seen the club on the brink of closure, but positive action set Llansantffraid on their climb through the Welsh pyramid system, beginning with a move up into the Mid-Wales League.
Jeff Stelling
Stelling: They'll be dancing in the streets of Total Network Solutions tonight!
Graham Breeze was appointed to the manager’s post and success quickly followed. After finishing as runners-up to Morda United in 1990/91, Llansantffraid were promoted to the Cymru Alliance.
That first season saw Llansantffraid finish as runners-up to Caersws, but disappointment followed when they were overlooked as potential contestants in the inaugural season of the newly-formed League of Wales. Determined to progress, however, the club raced to the championship 12 months later, heading off Welshpool Town and Rhyl in so doing and losing just two league games on the way.
Thus, promotion followed and Llansantffraid took up their place in the League of Wales for 1993/94 having become the first club to climb up three rungs of the pyramid to reach the top division. To add to the successes of the 1992/93 season, Llansantffraid reached the final of the Welsh Intermediate Cup and defeated Brecon Corinthians to add more silverware to their trophy cabinet.
For 1989/90, incidentally, the club’s reserve side took the seniors’ place in the Montgomeryshire League with similar success, going two seasons (1991/92 and 1992/93) unbeaten in the league.
The first season in the national league was rather traumatic and relegation was only avoided at the last possible moment. Victories over Conwy United and Flint Town United meant that the Saints required at least a point from their last game - at home to Connah’s Quay. Despite taking a two-goal lead against a Nomads side shorn of several regulars, Llansantffraid were unable to settle and two goals from the visitors kept the home fans on the very edge of their seats until the final whistle brought safety.
There was much to celebrate in 1995 as the club won the League of Wales League Cup, beating Ton Pentre 2-1 in the final staged at Newtown. Spurred on by this success, it was widely predicted that they would be a real force to be reckoned with in the 1995/96 season, yet that failed to materialise and they slipped to 12th spot.
Nonetheless, as they meandered through the season, Llansantffraid kept notching up victories in the Welsh Cup. Llandyrnog United were despatched 2-1, then Abergavenny Thursdays by a margin of 4-nil before Saints were drawn to play away to Welsh League side Pontypridd Town in the quarter-finals, thus avoiding Barry Town, Inter Cardiff, Cwmbran Town and Ebbw Vale at this late stage. A 2-1 success meant that Llansantffraid were a two-legged tie away from the Welsh Cup final.
Drawn against Inter Cardiff, they secured an important single goal victory in the first leg and, though the South Walians made life difficult in the second leg, Llansantffraid eventually triumphed 3-1 (and 4-1 on aggregate) to go through to the final against Barry Town at the National Stadium in Cardiff. Perhaps many thought that ‘The Saints’ were just making up the numbers in the final, but a tremendous performance saw the game go to extra time, after Barry notched a late equaliser. With the match tied at 3-3, Llansantffraid won a dramatic penalty shootout 3-2 and became the first side from Mid Wales to lift the Welsh Cup since Aberystwyth Town 96 years earlier!
More importantly, the team from a tiny village had won through to the European Cup Winners’ Cup and, just three months later, Llansantffraid drew 1-1 with 14 times Polish champions Ruch Chorzow in the first leg of their Cup Winners’ Cup tie at the Racecourse, Wrexham. From the start of the 1997/98 season, Llansantffraid took the title of Total Network Solutions, following a lucrative sponsorship deal with the Oswestry-based computer networking specialists.
1999/2000 saw the club reach the pinnacle of Welsh football when, in an exciting finale, Total Network Solutions were able to pip Barry Town to the league championship and thus qualified for the European Cup. An astonishing sporting feat.
FC Levadia from Estonia were their European opponents in that season’s Champions’ League and TNS secured a creditable 2-2 draw at Wrexham’s Racecourse Ground in the first leg, only to lose 4-0 in Tallinn.
In 2000/1, TNS finished a disappointing eighth in the League of Wales but reached the final of the Welsh Cup. Despite losing to Barry Town in the final, they still qualified for the UEFA Cup and faced Polish side Polonia Warsaw in the opening round. The following season, TNS earned another crack at European competition finishing as League runners-up and were beaten 12-2 on aggregate by Polish side Amica Wronki. Runners-up again in 2002/3, they drew Manchester City in the Uefa Cup and were not disgraced in either leg, losing 5-0 in the new City of Manchester Stadium and 2-0 in the 'home' leg at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff. They were watched by record crowds for a Welsh Premier side in Europe of nearly 45,000 over both legs.
The first of three consecutive league titles came at Carmarthen in 2005.
An exciting race for the Welsh Premier title in 2003/4 saw the Saints narrowly lose out to Rhyl, who also beat them in the Welsh Cup final. But TNS went one better in 2004/5, winning the league with two games in hand and adding the Welsh Cup with a 1-0 victory over Carmarthen.
Their reward was a draw against reigning champions Liverpool in the Uefa Champions League and the club gained worldwide publicity before losing 3-0 in both legs.
The Saints repeated their title success the following season, leading virtually from start to finish and winning by a wide margin, and picked up the title yet again in 2006/7, also becoming only the second Welsh Premier side to lift the FAW Premier Cup. TNS also received the accolade of "team of the season" at the annual BBC Wales sports personality of the year awards.
In 2003, the club had merged with Oswestry Town, who were on the verge of going out of existence due to financial diffculties. The merger was part of a long term plan to develop a new stadium in Oswestry, because Treflan, Llansantffraid was incapable of being developed to meet the ever-stricter criteria required to play in the Welsh Premier and in European competition.
The dream was realised in 2007 when TNS played their first game at Park Hall Stadium, totally unrecognisable from the ground which Oswestry had used in their later years.
Redeveloped at a cost of more than £3 million, the ground features a major leisure development known as The Venue and a state-of-the art artificial playing surface in a stadium with planning permission for 3,000 seats.

Online shop

Check out the full range of replica kit and TNS branded leisurewear in our online club shop

Stadium details

Burma Road
Oswestry SY11 4AS
Tel: 01691 684840
By road
Leave the A5 at the junction with the A495 Whittington Road. Burma Road is the first major turning on the left and is signposted Park Hall. The ground is another 400 yards on your right.
Enter postcode SY11 4AS
By rail
Nearest station is Gobowen (2 miles).
By bus
Service from Oswestry.

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