Wales C needs to become a regular fixture to showcase the domestic top-flight, writes Matthew Burgess.
Whether you watched from on the stands at Jenner Park or on Sgorio, you couldn’t help but be entertained by a thoroughly competitive game of football as both Wales C and England C looked to play adventurous football and go for the win.
It was refreshing to see technically able footballers so willingly challenge misconceptions and stereotypes around lower level ‘hoof-ball’ football, and from a Welsh perspective see how our very own national league players fared against their English counterparts.
The game was a delight to watch with open-ended, attacking football from the opening minute to the last. And barring the result, the fixture should be seen as a rip-roaring success.
The Welsh Premier League has been accused in recent years of being tedious. Criticism has been directed at the lack of any prolonged title challenge to perennial champions The New Saints and the league’s contentious format in which can result in clubs playing each other over four times a season. This Wales C fixture however has felt like a breath of fresh air to the WPL.
Although (obviously) not a club competition, seeing the WPL teams represented in a different format has brought a buzz back into the game at a time of the year when the league format can begin to feel repetitive for even the most ardent of followers.
Putting rivalries aside to engage in debates on who should make the squad, what that team should look like and how will they fare have brought fresh discussion around the league, whilst also providing the league’s best Welsh players the opportunity to showcase their talent to a wider audience.
Aside from the risk of players picking up injuries whilst on Wales C duty, it is hard to draw on any negatives from the re-introduction of C-internationals, particularly in the knowledge that these games can be taken around to any Welsh Premier League ground and help boost coffers.
If this England C game was a trial fixture by the FAW, then they would be foolish not to seriously consider implementing further fixtures next season and beyond.
Wales also already have the perfect candidate for a long-term management role.
Mark Jones is a well-respected and well-educated manager who, through his role with Sgorio, is able to watch players throughout the league, week in and week out. His experience and enthusiasm make him perfect to work with from a media point of view and I’ve seen first-hand how players warm to him.
Fans have previously complained of a disjoining between between the FAW as an organisation at international level and the interest it shows domestically. That has been challenged somewhat by the FAW in recent years, particularly with the investment of 3G pitches, but the implementation of Wales C fixtures would be a popular decision and positive step forward for the Welsh game.