The New Saints of Oswestry Town play in the Welsh Premier League, the national football league of Wales. The club is the product of a merger between Llansantffraid and Oswestry Town football clubs and immortalised on Sky TV, when presenter Jeff Stelling commented: “They’ll be dancing in the streets of Total Network Solutions tonight!”
About Oswestry Town
Founded in 1860, making them one of the world’s oldest football clubs, Oswestry Town FC were also founder members of the Football Association of Wales in 1876 – a rare achievement for an English club. In their long history, they’ve competed in the Northern Premier League, Cheshire League and Cymru Alliance.
Despite several successes including reaching the FA Cup first round and winning the Cheshire League, the club went into financial decline.
In the late 1980s, Oswestry Town were forced to sell their Victoria Road ground to pay mounting debts and the club folded completely.
The re-formed club opted for Welsh football and played in the Cymru Alliance/Welsh Premier from 1995/6 to 2003. After being initially refused entry to the League of Wales on ground criteria, Oswestry moved to the Park Hall athletics stadium and considerable improvements were carried out to reach Welsh Premier standards, although the ground was still a long way from meeting the modern standards of the Welsh Premier.
From the small Welsh village of Llansantffraid, and nicknamed the ‘Saints’, the unassuming team began life playing in the Montgomeryshire Amateur League in 1959. Here it achieved considerable success, winning numerous honours. The Montgomeryshire League Championship (1969, 1970, 1971, 1983, 1987) and the Montgomeryshire Cup competition six times between 1963 and 1976. In addition, Llansantffraid were Village Cup winners seven times, up to the nineties.
In 1989/90 the club was saved from the brink of closure, with action which saw them climb through the Welsh pyramid system into the Mid-Wales League. In 1990/91 Llansantffraid were promoted to the Cymru Alliance, where they finished second and missed out on entry into the newly-formed League of Wales. Determined to progress, the club raced to the Championship just 12 months later and 1992/93 season saw Llansantffraid finish top and take their place in the League of Wales for the 1993/94 season. They were the first club to climb three rungs of the pyramid to reach the top division.
Total Network Solutions
In the 1997/98 season Llansanffraid changed their name to Total Network Solutions (TNS), following a lucrative sponsorship deal with an Oswestry-based computer networking specialist owned by entrepreneur Mike Harris. The partnership was working – in 1999/00 the club finally reached the pinnacle of Welsh Football when, in an exciting finale, TNS beat Barry Town to the league title and qualified for the European Cup.
More success followed, with qualification in European competition becoming an annual event, including glamour ties with Manchester City (2002/03) and Liverpool (2004/05).
In 2003 the club’s phenomenal success meant the ground at Llansantffraid was no longer fit for purpose and there were no other suitable sites in the village that would sustain a full-time football club. The Chairman was forced to look for an alternative site to develop the club facilities.
On 7 June 2003, it was announced that Oswestry Town was to merge with Total Network Solutions, with the aim of playing at a new stadium in Oswestry from 2005/06. The troubled Oswestry Town was saved from Bankruptcy by Mike Harris, who cleared the debts of Oswestry Town, financed the merger and made both teams part of his plan for Welsh football domination. Both sides brought something unique to the newly formed club. Llansantffraid’s success in Wales and its reputation for playing in European competition and Oswestry Town’s rich history both in England and Wales. Oswestry’s Park Hall ground could be redeveloped into a facility was a recipe for further success for Chairman Mike Harris and his vision for the future of the united team. The newly-formed team continued to play in both the green of Llansantffraid and the blue of Oswestry Town and retain both club names on the shirt.
A New Name
Following the sale of Total Network Solutions to BT in 2006, the club changed its name to The New Saints FC. The new name captured the spirit of both clubs – including Saint Oswald and Saint Ffraid. The club’s new crest featured the Welsh dragon and English lion present in the clubs’ previous badges.
A New Ground
The dream was realised in 2007 when TNS played their first game at Park Hall Stadium, totally unrecognisable from the ground that Oswestry had used in their later years. Redeveloped at a cost of more than £3 million, Park Hall has a state-of-the-art 3G pitch and planning permission for 3,000 seats. It also features a major leisure development known as The Venue, with changing rooms, match officials’ rooms, function rooms, a 10 pin bowling alley, bar and catering facilities, an indoor children’s soft play area and a gym. The facilities benefit the whole of the community in its wider context creating a family entertainment facility in the heart of Oswestry which caters for all ages and abilities.
- Champions (10): 1999/00, 2004/05, 2005/06, 2006/07, 2009/10, 2011/12, 2012/13, 2013/2014, 2014/2015, 2015/2016.
- Runners-up (5): 2001/02, 2002/03, 2003/04, 2007/08, 2010/11
- Welsh Cup winners (6): 1995/96, 2004/05, 2011/12, 2013/2014, 2014/2015, 2015/2016
- FAW Premier Cup winners (1): 2006/7
- Runners-up (2): 2000/01, 2003/04
- League of Wales Cup Winners (7): 1994/95, 2005/06, 2008/09, 2009/10, 2010/11, 2014/2015, 2015/2016.
- Welsh Intermediate Cup Winners (1): 1992/93
- Runners-up (1): 2012/13
- Cymru Alliance League Winners (1): 1992/93
- Shropshire Senior Cup: 2011-12
The club was formed as Llansantffraid F.C. to represent the tiny border village of Llansantffraid-ym-Mechain (population: 1,000) in 1959, and played at the Recreation Ground.
They first tasted competitive football in the Montgomeryshire Amateur Football League (then the fourth level of the Welsh football league system), winning the championship seven times.
At the end of the 1989/90 season they were elected to the Central Wales League (now the Mid-Wales League) but their stay was brief, winning promotion to the Cymru Alliance as runners-up on their first attempt.
Llansantffraid’s meteoric rise continued and in 1992/93 they gained promotion to the League of Wales, now the Welsh Premier League, as champions and won the Welsh Intermediate Cup (formerly the Welsh Amateur Cup).
Oswestry Town F.C. was a football club, formerly playing in the League of Wales.
The club was founded as Oswestry United in 1860, which meant they were one of the world’s oldest football clubs. Matches were latterly played at Park Hall stadium, Oswestry, after a spell at Victoria Road. The club’s crest consisted of a blue shield outlined in Gold, featuring a large golden lion on the right and a small red shield (with a white cross in the centre) below a red Welsh dragon on the left.
The team’s first-choice strip was dark blue shirts, shorts, and socks. The second-choice strip was burgundy shirts, shorts, and socks.