Llansantffraid play Liverpool: Paupers up against the rich

  • Other Sport
  • Monday, 11 Jul 2005

LLANSANTFFRAID (Wales): They are just 60 miles (100km) apart on the map but when it comes to football, light years separate the players of Llansantffraid and Liverpool.  

This Welsh border village is the home of Total Network Solutions (TNS), the champions of Wales, who face the European champions in the first qualifying round of the Champions League on Wednesday.  

Never can football have thrown up such a potential mismatch.  

Liverpool are five-time European champions, they have just agreed a £100,000 a week deal to keep Steven Gerrard on their books and always pack out their 45,000-capacity, legendary Anfield home.  

By contrast, Llansantffraid is a village of 800 people.  

The TNS Treflan ground boasted an average attendance of 333 last season and a season high of 1,042.  

The tiny club, who took their name of their sponsor in 1998 and whose turnover is just £500,000 a year, are modest in the extreme.  

BACK TO WORK: Liverpool’s Steven Gerrard (left) in action against Wrexham’s Danny Williams during a pre-seasonfriendly at the Racecourse Ground, Wrexham, England on Saturday. European champions Liverpool will be playing villageteam Llansantffraid in the first qualifying round of the Champions League on Wednesday. – APpic

Their directory boasts of a 500-seat stand behind one goal with a single hospitality box.  

“The ground is bang in the middle of the village, just turn off the A4393 opposite the shops,” advises the club website.  

“Unfortunately Llansantffraid railway station, just a few yards from the ground, closed 50 years ago. Note that there is another village called Llansantffraid in Ceredigion. You have been warned!”  

No wonder the club have agreed to play the second-leg of the tie at nearby Wrexham's 10,000 capacity Racecourse ground after Wednesday's first leg in Liverpool which is already sold out.  

“This is the beauty of this game,” TNS chairman Mike Harris told the Western Mail.  

“It's a dream for our players to be competing on the same pitch as Gerrard and the other players who won the European Cup in such thrilling style.  

“It wouldn't be bad would it? Victory over the European champions. Anything can happen. It's only three sticks of wood. You never know, we could have a shot which hits the referee's backside and deflects into the goal.  

“The most likely scenario is that Liverpool will win, but I want to ensure that we don't disgrace ourselves and give a good account of the Welsh Premier League.”  

However, the omens are not good for the side who were only formed in 1959.  

In their first Champions League adventure in 2002/2001 they drew 2-2 at home against FC Levadia from Estonia before losing the second leg 4-0 while two years later they lost 12-2 on aggregate to Polish side Amica Wronki.  

They then faced Manchester City in the UEFA Cup two seasons ago and were beaten 7-0 over the two games.  

But TNS have a secret weapon by the name of Rooney.  

Thomas Rooney is the 20-year-old cousin of Manchester United striker Wayne and was brought in on a non-contract deal last week.  

TNS is also packed with Everton fans. 

Liverpool have been warned! – AFP 

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