The 2nd round of the JD Welsh Cup takes place this weekend, and one fixture will have particular poignancy for the family and friends of the late Tony Wilcox.
JD Welsh Cup Round 2
- 9/10/11 November 2018
- For all Round 2 fixtures: Click here
Cwmbran Town take on Ton Pentre on Saturday (1.30pm), and while Wilcox is best remembered for the success he enjoyed in his 11 years as manager of Cwmbran Town, it was at Ton Pentre that his playing career came to an end through injury. He passed away in April 2003 while still in his 40's after suffering heart problems.
Taking charge of Cwmbran Town in 1991, the side were the first winners of the then-named League of Wales in 1992/93, and with it became the first Welsh club to compete in the UEFA Champions League. Over the course of the next decade, Cwmbran Town would enjoy further European campaigns, and established themselves as one of the leading clubs in the domestic top-flight.
Under his stewardship, Cwmbran Town reached their first Welsh Cup final in 1996/97, but suffered a 2-1 defeat against league rivals Barry Town at Ninian Park. A second final followed in 1999/00, but it was Bangor City who claimed a 1-0 win at the Racecourse.
But the most significant Welsh Cup final for Cwmbran Town would take place just a month after Wilcox's sad and untimely passing. A 2-2 draw against Barry Town in May 2003 meant the final would be decided by a penalty shoot-out, but it was Barry Town who once again lifted the famous trophy with a 4-3 victory at Stebonheath, Llanelli.
Although he never achieved Welsh Cup success, one of most memorable moments of his career was taking on Celtic in the UEFA Cup in 1999/00. Kenny Dalglish had recently been appointed as Director of Football at the Scottish giants with John Barnes arriving as head coach, and Cwmbran Town took to the field at Celtic Park in front of over 45,000 fans for the 2nd leg.
There was no disgrace for Cwmbran and Wilcox in the 10-0 aggregate defeat, and during his decade at the club, they would compete in four different European competitions. However, part of the club died with Wilcox in 2003, and a tough period would follow their relegation in 2007.
The club suffered in the subsequent years, and now find themselves competing in Division One of the Gwent County League. However, they impressively eliminated Welsh League Division One side and 2007 Welsh Cup finalists Afan Lido 3-2 in the previous round, and will have no fear of taking on Ton Pentre at Cwmbran Stadium this weekend.
A decade after his death in April 2013, Tony Wilcox was inducted into the Welsh Premier League Hall of Fame, and he remains affectionately remembered as 'Mr Cwmbran' for his dedication and service to the club during its greatest era.