During the Easter Holidays, myself, Leon Bansal and Hannah Godwin of the RCT Detached team took 2 young people to meet Former Swansea and Bristol City football sensation Lee Trundle at the Gnoll Football ground. The young people were James Pollard and Ryan Taylor who attend Y Pant Comprehensive School and work closely with us at the Detached Team. The boys are football-crazy and reside in the area of Llanharry. During this day, Neath Football club gave the young people and us staff free entry to watch Neath take on Bangor City, a tour and information about the ground and then the mighty reward of interviewing Lee Trundle. The boys were excited about the prospect of meeting Lee as he was at one time the most talked about footballer outside of the English Premier League and was known for showing his magic skills on the ‘Soccer AM’ showboat reel. Lee Trundle shocked the football world when he signed for Neath Football Club, ‘The Eagles’, last summer, who play in the Welsh Premier League. This was when his second stint at Swansea City came to an end. Lee started where his career will now finish – playing in The Welsh Premier League with Rhyl – where, at the age of 24, he got snapped up by Football League club, Wrexham. After credible performances with Wrexham, Lee then went to play for Swansea City and soon became an instant hit with the Swans supporters. It is here Lee regards as “home” and he enjoyed many seasons with the Swans, being at the top of the goal-scoring charts every season while he was there. He also helped Swansea lift the, what was then called the LDV Vans trophy, at the Millennium Stadium where he scored a wonder goal! This earned Lee a one-million-pound move up the M4 to Championship side Bristol City. Lee had mixed fortunes while at Bristol and after a few seasons on a loan spell at Leeds United, he returned to Swansea City on loan until the end of last season. So, you cansee why the young people we took really wanted to meet Lee and watch Neath take on Bangor City.
Neath Football Club were superb throughout the day and had a representative look after us right until the end of the game. Once we saw the ground and the changing rooms, where Ryan and James were quickly keen to look to see where Trundle sits, we all then took our seats ready for the match. We had our first glimpse of Lee when he was out with the rest of the Neath team warming up and getting ready for action. The Bangor fans were exceptional and were in good spirits before and during the game. Then, kick-off came and the young people were anxious for it to start and watch Trundle and co do battle with high flying Bangor City. The first half was played at a high tempo and the lads soon began shouting encouragement to the Neath players and engaged in good humour with the Bangor supporters which was good to see. Unfortunately, the half ended with Neath trailing Bangor 2-0 at half time. The boys were down but keen to see if Trundle could turn the skill on in the second half. Fortunately, the second half came and it continued to be end-to-end with chances going astray for both sides. Then the moment every fan wanted to see – especially James and Ryan. Trundle got rolled a pass and with his back to goal took a neat touch with that magic left foot and turned his marker, then drilled the ball past the Bangor City goalkeeper. YES! is what was on the boys mouths, and minds, and were excited to see up-close what Lee could do. 2-1 was now the score and it was game on, again. Sadly after, though, however hard Neath pushed for the equaliser it never came and they went down 2-1 to Bangor City. However, the young people enjoyed the game and knew what was coming next – an interview with Lee Trundle himself.
After Lee went to get changed back in to his Neath tracksuit he then arose from the dugout and quickly came to shake myself and Hannah’s hands and thanked us for coming and then quickly went to the top of the stand where James and Ryan were waiting in anticipation to ask Lee questions they had worked on and prepared for weeks before the event. Lee greeted the boys as he did with us staff and the boys asked would they be able to film some of the interview and he kindly said “No worries what ever you want.”
These are 2 examples of questions that were asked:
James Pollard: “Why did you decide to drop down to the Welsh Premier League from professional football?”
Lee Trundle: “I wanted to stay in Swansea. I am doing my coaching badges whilst I continue playing and hopefully when I finish playing I can go over and join the coaching staff at Swansea.”
Ryan Taylor: “Who is the best defender you have gone up against?”
Lee Trundle “Jaap Stam. When I played against Manchester United in a pre-season game.“ A video snippet of more of the questions from the boys will follow this article soon! So stay tuned.
After the questions were over and the film stopped rolling the boys continued to discuss things with Lee and he kindly signed match programmes and his Neath squad photos which we took with us whilst they continued to chat. Lee then demonstrated something which is a rare trait to have, and was keen to ask the boys questions about their lives – with interest – which clearly shows the type of man he is. Lee Trundle was outstanding with the boys and showed that he is thankful for what he has achieved out of the game and is keen to give something back like he showed on this occasion. Lee is a credit to himself and Neath Football club for the way he was with young people and even us the staff, a true gentleman! After the young people said good bye to Lee they were laughing and smiling with excitement and they had this to say about the day:
James Pollard: “I enjoyed meeting him and he was a nice person to talk to.”
Ryan Taylor: “It was a great day out to watch Neath play and to top it all off we got to meet one of the greatest footballers to play for Swansea City.”
The boys clearly had a good day and these comments were a testament to Lee Trundle and Neath Football club. It is also pleasing as a youth worker how the boys conducted themselves throughout the day and the professionalism they showed in asking Lee the questions. They worked hard in preparing questions and even asked him some questions that came in to their heads whilst the interview was flowing. The communication skills they showed were second to none, they are a credit to themselves and Y Pant Comprehensive School, so well done boys! On behalf of RCT Detached Youth work team and WICID.TV we would like to hugely thank Neath Football Club and the one-and-only Lee Trundle who was superb with the young people and we hope to get to see more games at the Gnoll ground in the near future.