Exciting times at the Bridge Meadow Stadium!

Chairman Rob Edwards

These are indeed exciting times at Haverfordwest County AFC because they had just gained promotion to the top tier of Welsh Football and acquired a new chairman, who is a London businessman charged with providing the experience and investment of time and energy into The Bluebirds’ future aspirations.

The Bluebirds recently received notice of their promotion from the JD South League after the 2019/20 campaign was sadly truncated and although a decimal point separated them from top spot they were able to achieve this success because they had already achieved all the necessary qualifications whilst current leaders Swansea University were unable to do that and so could have no complaints.

As usual, PembrokeshireSport.co.uk is the first to provide in-depth coverage of the changes at the Bridge Meadow Stadium after we decided it would be nice to chat to some of the key figures who are preparing for The Bluebirds’ attack on the Welsh Premiership in 2020/21 and they start with the feature below:

The new chairman is Robert Edwards, a London businessman who has a thriving wine company and is eager to help develop a club alongside his life-long support of Leyton Orient.

He takes over from David Hughes, who has been a superb chairman for the past six years and miraculously has kept the club’s finances in the black as well as taking them to this promotion.

Like all the other board members David has agreed to stand down but will join Rob Davies in staying on in an advisory capacity, which will please the hardy band of regular supporters at the Bridge Meadow Stadium.

Rob provides a new buzz at the Bridge Meadow Stadium

Although football in Wales still seems a million miles away there is already a huge air of anticipation at the Bridge Meadow Stadium because of the welcome news that Haverfordwest County have been promoted to the Welsh Premier League – but there is an additional buzz that might even over reach that fact.

Because The Bluebirds’ chairman David Hughes has announced that he is to step down after six years at the helm and stepping in is Robert Edwards, a businessman from London who already seems fully focussed on this key job.

He has set his primary challenge to be getting the club firmly established in the top echelon of Welsh Football and into European competitions within three seasons.

Level-headed approach and already immersed in the club’s future plans

Far-fetched you think?

Not if you talk to Rob, as we did this week and were immediately impressed by his level-headed approach to the role at a club which he has yet to visit because of the Covid 19 pandemic but who is already spending a huge amount of time in building on the firm foundations set by the current board of directors.

He has already recruited chairman Hughes and Robert Davies, in an advisory capacity whilst saying that he was sure other board members will also have a part to play once he has completed a full audit of its needs and decided on the make-up of a new team to run the club.

“I come into the club with my real enthusiasm to see it go forward and determination to find the means whereby that can happen – and can promise local supporters that we have already made sure that the club, ground and its assets are secure for the future.

Looking forward to getting to the Bridge Meadow

“I have already found rented accommodation nearby and once free movement is allowed I plan to spend as much time at the club as possible  – and I have already been talking to all the officials and coaching staff and working 24/7 to build up contacts via Zoom.

“There are very few clubs where all the accounts are in the black, thanks to the judicious care taken by David and his team, and I will be investing to build up the playing strength and improving all the other facilities – because I really believe the club must aim to become a focal point of the community.”

Born an East Ender – and an avid Orient supporter

Rob’s football interest in London revolves around his passion for Leyton Orient, where he is a director and trustee of its charitable trust, which is heavily involved in the local community and does a huge amount of work there.

“I was born in East London, which was a deprived area in those days and I attended my first O’s match with my father at the age of seven, and I am now the third generation to see the few ups but lots more downs endured by the club.

“I have now been a season ticket older for 28 years and certainly learned to savour the glory days and was rarely too disappointed when things weren’t so good because they were a fact of footballing life for such a small club.”

Immersed in business but eager to branch out into football

Rob’s own football centred on playing five or seven a side as a means of keeping fit because he was so busy during 18 years of work in banking and finance, followed by running his own wine business alongside his business partner (he is a self-confessed lover of the drink as well as admitting to a joy in horse-racing, where he is a part owner of a racing club syndicate.)

But football has always been his first sporting love and that is why he wanted to lead a club to as high a level as he could.

“To be honest some friends and I had looked at the possibility of being involved with a club in the English tier system but opportunities are few and far between and when a broker contacted me to see if I was interested in a Welsh club named Haverfordwest County.

“I spoke to David Hughes and was immediately impressed and it seemed to tick all the boxes – and so here I am!

Wants to be involved in all aspects of the club

“To anyone out there with doubts about my commitment I can assure them that I will be absolutely dedicated to the cause and once this lock-down is over I shall be coming to Haverfordwest like a shot.

“During the season I shall travel down on Friday mornings and stay until the following Sunday so I will get to watch at least two matches – and spend the rest of that time working at the Bridge Meadow Stadium.

“I am of course hugely interested in the first team performances but will also attend training sessions and closely follow the academy games because the players there can be the life-blood of future Haverfordwest County teams.

“We need to encourage involvement from the local community and businesses which find lots on offer and another ambition is to see support on match days from right across the age ranges – and high quality football is the way to reach that target.”

Robert Edwards will be a relatively young and a ‘hands on’ chairman who is clearly delighted by the welcoming response to his taking over the reins at The Bridge Meadow Stadium, has a wealth of ideas but is a realist who accepts that he cannot do it all on his own.

He is certainly going to provide fresh impetus to events on and off the field and PembrokeshireSport.co.uk confidently predicts that exciting times are in prospect for Haverfordwest County AFC!

Bridge Meadow Stadium