Ton Pentre football club faces closure threat

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Ton Pentre FC in 1958Image source, Ton Pentre AFC
Image caption,
Ton Pentre are one of the most successful amateur clubs in Welsh football

One of the oldest amateur football clubs in Wales has said it may not be able to continue next season.

Ton Pentre AFC, which has played in Europe and the FA Cup, can trace its history back to 1896.

However, the future of the club is at risk because of a lack of volunteers needed to fill roles behind the scenes.

Financial officer Tony Evans said: "There's an assumption the club will always be around - but we need help right now because we can't carry on."

Image source, Ton Pentre AFC
Image caption,
The club went unbeaten all season to become Division Two champions in 2010-11
Image caption,
Financial officer Tony Evans has to climb a ladder every week to change the fixture board

Like so many amateur sports teams, the Rhondda club survives on the goodwill of the local community.

However, a steady decline in volunteer numbers has left an "acute strain" on the few who remain and say they cannot carry on.

"The club faces a desperate shortage of people that have the modern skills to take the club forward," Mr Evans said.

"Unfortunately over the years many volunteers have passed away.

"For those that remain, the strain is particular and acute, especially when trying to balance it with full-time work and family life."

Analysis by Rob Phillips, BBC Wales football correspondent

When the Welsh League was in its pomp - before the inauguration of the Welsh Premier League - Ton Pentre were one of the giants of domestic football in Wales.

Ynys Park is still one of the most noticeable sporting venues in the Rhondda and an oasis for football in what is considered a rugby heartland.

Every sporting institution must move with the times and some great names have sometimes fallen by the wayside.

But the Rhondda can ill-afford to lose one of the football clubs which deserves its place in the area's sporting history.

The hometown club of Wales international Alan Curtis, Ton Pentre won the Welsh league a record 12 times and reached the first round of the FA Cup when they played Cardiff City in 1986.

But its highest profile games came in 1995 when it qualified for the Uefa Inter-Toto Cup in 1995.

Among the opponents were former Manchester United and Real Madrid striker Ruud Van Nistlerooy, then playing for Dutch side Heerenveen, and Denmark international John Dahl Tomasson, of Naestved.

Image source, Ton Pentre AFC
Image caption,
Ton Pentre FC in 1906 after winning Division Two of the South Wales League
Image source, Ton Pentre AFC
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The club has recently upgraded its Ynys Park ground

Yet without a secretary, a commercial manager or even a chairman, for the past two years, the future is in doubt.

The club, which competes in the second tier of the Welsh leagues, said it would be forced to withdraw from all competitions and "could cease to exist" before the 2019/20 season without local support.

"If people don't come forward, then we need to ask whether those who remain are capable of the requirements needed to run a club of this stature on their own," said Mr Evans.

"The answer at the moment is probably not."

Image caption,
Ton Pentre AFC compete in Welsh League Division 1