Steve steers Young Bluebirds on the pathway to footballing success

Steve with the Haverfordwest County first team

Steve Batty has been involved with the youth development process at Haverfordwest County for the past decade and is rightly proud of the fact that during that time there have been upwards of 20 talented teenagers who have, since starting out with him have gone on to play competitive games for The Bluebirds’ senior side.

“I have really enjoyed my role in guiding the youth team to success in the McWhirter League and it is to the successive squads’ credit that they have tried to play the quality football I believe in.”

Positive football has brought its rewards

Steve BattyWith his young charges playing against the other top clubs from as far north as Aberystwyth and along the M4 corridor as far as Risca in Eastern Monmouthshire, you would see very little of ‘Route One’ ball hoofed up the middle of the pitch in a ‘hit and hope’ manner but a sensible build up from the back, neat one or two touches to put players into space.

Steve has always demanded solid defence but high skill levels, good close control and a collective nose for goals once that graft had been done. “Possession is the key,” has always been Steve’s mantra.

It has certainly paid off because The Young Bluebirds have regularly featured in the upper echelons of the league set-up and twice reached the final twice in 3 years of the McWhirter Cup.

“Both were played at Afan Lido and both resulted in narrow defeats at the hands of a then very strong West End.

2010-11 squads included the likes of Peter Scammel, Vince Atueyi, Nathan Evans, Dan Peters and Alex Ouzman.

“In 2013-14 the second final we had likes of Liam Fawcett, Gwion Howell, Gregg Walters and Mark Davies, who all went on to become first team players, plus other players of the calibre of Joe Brill and Jordan Raymond.”

New talent beginning to break through

 “Last season I was in charge of the under 14s from Jamie Bessant in November and continued his hard work, but also had to take over the reins of the club’s under 15s squad from Christmas onwards too.

It was pleasing to see a relatively young group improve, with goalkeeper John Chesters, full back Jack Nicholas and striker Dan John all playing up a year from the under 14s.

And also great to have four players (John Chesters, Harri & Dan John and Jey Uddin) selected for Welsh Regional Tier 2.

“They are likely to do the same thing again when we restart, alongside other useful players like Dan James, currently on trial at Swansea City, Lucas Davies, Taylor Gullam, and Kyle Day, all of whom will form the backbone of the team for 2021/22.”

Recognition comes at National level

Steve with Bill Carne after receiving his Star of the Month awardRecognition of his work at The Bridge Meadow Stadium came in 2017-18 when he was invited to join the Welsh U18s Academy setup as a regional coach by Mark Pike, the squad’s manager.

“I was delighted to accept and my role which included scouting players in South Wales who I felt were good enough to earn a trial, with Gareth Richards as collegue in North Wales.”

It was to be a successful start to this higher level because he was fortunate to join the squad for two representative matches in Gibraltar which consisted of two victories and nothing in the ‘goals against’ column.

“It was a terrific trip where I learned a lot and it was made all the more rewarding because there were two of my U19 Haverfordwest County players involved. Alaric Jones was brilliant as he skippered the team on one occasion and Charlie Davies also caught the eye as he marked his Welsh debut with a goal.”

“That really put the icing on the cake,” explained Steve, “because it shows other talented youngsters in our area that they can gain such great recognition if they have the skills and commitment needed!”

Interesting playing career – and then a move to coaching

Steve's own playing career took place in the main at Crundale and Herbrandston, where he helped them gain promotion to the first division of Pembrokeshire Football - and when he took over as manager at 28 years of age he was very proud to take Herbie to their only Senior Cup Final, where they lost to a really experienced Monkton Swifts' side.

He was invited to help Mark Falzon to coach the Bluebirds' youth team in the McWhirter League in 2010-11, “I have a lot to thanks Mark for as he brought me into the club and encouraged me to get on my badges, I also learnt a lot up and down the M4 corridor on our minibus!”. When Mark left Steve took over the role in 2010, he decided he had to step down with Herbie because of the time and travel involved.

Really well qualified now he’s obtained his ‘A’ Licence at youth level

Since then Steve has collected his ‘C’ & ‘B’ licences – and was delighted to attend a challenging course more recently which now makes him a qualified ‘A’ Licence holder at youth level.

"I have had full support from my partner Jacky Brown, as well as David Hughes and the rest of the directors at the Bridge Meadow Stadium - and I'm already looking forward to the new season," admitted Steve, "because there are so many talented young players in the county who deserve to play at the highest possible level they can and also we have a fantastic group of coaches to help them!

Huge compliment from former club Herbie

A measure of the respect in which Steve is still held at Herbie came recently when Andy Williams chose a ‘Select XI’ from the club on this web-site and nominated Mr B as manager, saying,
“Steve led us to the Senior Cup final but people forget he also had us competing at the top of what was a very difficult Division One league at the time. I’m not going to give him an assistant, he wouldn’t need one with the talent he has!”

We could pay Steve Batty no higher a heartfelt compliment and we wish him further success in all he does with Haverfordwest County AFC!

Steve with one of his McWhirter League teams