Friday 3 April 2020

Trundling through the archives with one of Swansea's greatest

Once the hero of Swansea City, Lee Trundle continues to play the beautiful game for local side Ammanford AFC, located above the Amman Valley in the Welsh county of Carmarthenshire.

Now aged 43, the once household name of British football, Trundle is onto the 18th club of his 25-year-long career. But, Ammanford isn't exactly a football-fanatic town. In fact, deep within Carmarthen's rugby heartlands, the 800-strong crowds that the Recreation Ground boasts on most weekends is impressive. 
Ammanford AFC's Recreation Ground

Of course, Trundle's move in 2019 may well be a factor in this. This is especially true when considering the legend Trundle created just half-an-hour down the A483 and M4 with Swansea. With Ammanford being in Swansea's orbit, there is naturally the added pressure on local sides to find fans from somewhere when the English Championship is being played at the same time.

Born in Liverpool, it's often a wonder as to why a scouser finds his home four hours and nearly 200 miles away on the south coast of Wales. But, after turning out for non-league sides in Merseyside, Trundle finally turned professional midway through his twenties, joining Swansea from Wrexham in 2003.

Back then, the Swans were languishing in League Two - or what was named the Third Division - in the early noughties. That move changed the fortunes of both player and club as forward Trundle netted 86 times in 173 times with the Swans earning promotion to the second tier. From that, the Welsh side established themselves as a stable Championship club until another promotion in 2011 saw the Swans head to the promise-land of the Premier League.
Trundle set Swansea on the path to greatness

Trundle was a massive part of this golden era, becoming a firm fans favourite with close control, incredible ball skills and impressive finishing that seemed far too good for the bottom depths of the Football League.

Naturally, every footballer incurs lows as well as the memorable highs and the striker was no different, failing to recapture his Swansea form at Bristol City, Leeds and Preston. A brief return to Swansea on loan in 2009 saw him net five times in 20 appearances before spells in the Welsh first tier and non-league saw the Liverpudlian retire at the age of 36.

Football was, and is, Trundle's life however and he continued to showcase his talent with amateur side Page Celtic in the Liverpool County Premier League as well as local pub side, The Oak Tree, on Sundays.

A real comeback was made though in 2016 when Trundle was asked by friend and then manager of Llanelli Town Andy Hill to play for the Reds. 68 goals in 45 appearances is not a statistic to sniff at, particularly when considering that the striker was now a quadragenarian. In fact, the striker hit a half-century of goals for Llanelli in his first season - including a remarkable nine hat-tricks. Yes, his opponents were usually semi-professional, but that is an incredible goal-scoring return in any league in any country.
Trundle excelled at Llanelli

Consecutive promotions followed with Trundle leading the line, but the striker moved on in 2018, citing the problem of travelling to teams in north Wales the reason.

Haverfordwest County was Trundle's next destination, but the location in Pembrokeshire led to struggles between games and training and work commitments at Swansea. After a brief spell at Trefelin, the striker decided on Ammanford last year where he has 12 goals in 14 appearances. 

A recent knee operation limited his game time before the coronavirus pandemic obviously put a halt to all sporting proceedings. But there seems to be little stopping Trundle from continuing to play football well into his late forties, especially if the love of the game is still well and truly there, which it appears it is.

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