Despite the result on Saturday afternoon, a huge milestone was hit for Manager Colin Caton!
The match against Barry Town on Saturday (27/03/21) would see Colin Caton take charge of his 700th game as Manager of the Club! An absolutely unbelievable achievement!
Back in the season of 2003/2004, Colin would never have imagined the Managerial Career he was about to embark on…
In his first season as Manager of the club, he pulled off a League and Cup double, with Bala winning promotion to the Huws Gray Cymru Alliance having being crowned Champions of the Wrexham Area Premier League, along with a NEWFA Challenge Cup win over Buckley FC.
Fast forward five seasons later… The Club had reached NINE finals, and collected SEVEN pieces of silverware! Although the biggest win of them all, was being crowned Champions of the Huws Gray Cymru Alliance! Meaning in six seasons, with Colin Caton at the helm, the club had achieved two promotions, collected TEN pieces of silverware and reached 12 finals! An unbelieveable achievement for Colin and the Club, with the focus now being to remain in Welsh Football’s top division!
It took until the 11-12 season for Colin to make his mark on the Welsh Premier League, with a respectable 5th place finish after three seasons in the top divison. The club also reached the Europa League Playoff Final, but fell short with a 2-1 defeat to Llanelli.
The 12-13 season was a monumental season for Colin and the Club, as a 7th place finish would give them the chance to compete in the Europa League Playoffs, and again Bala would make the final! This time round, it was elation for the club against Port Talbot, as the game entered it’s final minutes, John Irving raced onto a loose ball inside the box, and hit a thunderbolt into the bottom left hand corner! Bala would hang on through the final minutes of the game to qualify for the Europa League and bring tears of joy to everyone involved within the club, even Colin himself!
Colin and Bala would start the 13-14 season with a Europa League First Qualifying Round tie against Estonian side Levadia Tallin, where even more history was made! The first leg took place at Rhyl FC’s Belle Vue stadium, where a 4th minute goal from Ian Sheridan was the difference between the two sides, and handed Bala their first triumph in a European Competition! Despite the aggregate lead going into the second leg in Estonia, Levadia Tallin progressed to the Second Qualifying Round with a 3-0 win on the day, and an aggregate score of 3-1. However it would be a very proud moment for the club, having competed in a European competition for the first time in their history!
A succession of 2nd place league finishes was achieved in the 14/15 and 15/16 season, however a cruel last minute goal from Differdange 03 in the second leg of a Europa League First Qualifying Round, knocked The Town out of the competition with a 4-3 aggregate win at Rhyl FC’s Belle Vue stadium in the 15/16 season. However this was just the start of the European adventures for Colin and the club…
In the summer of 2016, Colin saw the biggest off the field change, as Maes Tegid had an upgrade! A brand new synthetic 3G pitch was installed, meaning no more waterlogged pitches throughout the harsh winter months!
The 16/17 season was a memorable year for Colin and the Club, as a piece of silverware landed at Maes Tegid! However, earlier in the same season, Bala competed in the Europa League once again! This time, Bala were drawn against Swedish giants AIK in the First Qualifying Round. Despite a 4-0 aggregate win for the Swedish side, Bala held their head high and were proud of the performance against the calibre of opposition. The Lakesiders then headed into the league campaign and finished a respectable 3rd place, however it was the cup competition that proved pivotal, as a late bullet header from Kieran Smith captured the JD Welsh Cup in a 2-1 victory over The New Saints at Bangor City’s Nantporth Stadium.
Since then, the club have qualified for the Europa League on three different occasions! Twice crashing out at the first hurdle to FC Vaduz of Liechtenstein and Tre Fiori of San Marino. Another history making moment came this present season. As the COVID-19 pandemic hit last year meaning the 19/20 season was curtailed, while Bala Town were sitting in 3rd place, which meant European Qualification once again! Bala were then drawn away to Maltese side Valletta FC in the Europa League First Qualifying Round, and due to the situation it would be played as a one legged tie.
Therefore Bala travelled to Malta in August of last year in the scorching Maltese heat, and managed to overcome the Maltese giants in a 1-0 win courtesy of a Chris Venables goal late into the first half. Meaning Bala Town had reached the Second Qualifying Round of the Europa League for the first time in their history, with possible opponents being AC Milan, Rangers, Aberdeen, Tottenham Hotspur, Galatasaray and Standard Liege… The draw was made, and the club were handed a glamour tie against Belgian giants Standard Liege! Colin and Bala were off to Belgium!
Despite the Belgian side grabbing a 2-0 victory, the club could not be prouder of the job that Colin and the lads had done, after putting on an impressive display against the calibre of Standard Liege, it had been an unbelievable European adventure for everyone involved, and we all can’t wait for the next!
Now, after 700 games in charge of the club – Colin Caton has Bala sitting in 3rd place, and is preparing for the final game of Phase 1 in the 2020/2021 season, with Flint Town due to travel to Maes Tegid this Easter Friday (02/04/21)
Colin’s 700th game in charge did not go the way he would of wanted, but you have to take the highs and lows in Football and Friday evening is a good opportunity to bounce back!
Chief Executive Nigel Aykroyd congratulated Colin on his milestone with this in both English and Welsh: “Huge congratulations to Colin on his epic milestone of 700 matches in charge at Bala Town. 18 years at the helm of the Club is truly a remarkable achievement. The considerable successes which he has recorded along this very long winding road are an everlasting testament to his outstanding ability, loyalty and dedication to Bala Town. The long winding road has still a long way to go! Thanks Col.”
“Llongyfarchiadau enfawr i Colin ar ei garreg filltir epig o 700 gêm fel rheolwr o Clwb Pel-Droed Y Bala. Mae 18 mlynedd fel rheolwr y Clwb yn gyflawniad rhyfeddol. Mae’r llwyddiannau sylweddol y mae wedi eu cofnodi ar hyd y ffordd droellog hir iawn hon, yn dyst bythol i’w allu rhagorol, ei deyrngarwch a’i ymroddiad i Clwb Pel-Droed Y Bala. Mae gan y ffordd droellog hir ffordd bell i fynd eto! Diolch Col”.