In our latest installment of our Where Are They Now series, we look at the team that won the clubs first game against Real Gablafa. The team won 5-1 on the 23 November 2013 in the Cardiff Combination Division Two.
This game was actually featured in the Cardiff Echo, and the report is available at Wales Online here: https://www.walesonline.co.uk/sport/football/amateur-football/aberystwyth-exiles-winning-feeling-6343889
- Barry Beasley (GK)
Barry Beasley played for Exiles for four years, but due to injuries saw his influence wane each season. Beasley played half of his total 38 matches in 2013/14, playing in this game.
Beasley said “All I can remember is being selfish and from a goalkeeper perspective, gutted we didn’t get the icing on the cake and the clean sheet. I am currently a part-time goalkeeper for Cardiff Bus, but playing for the Exiles was my favourite time in my short career as a football player, wish it didn’t end but job and family life have taken over my life.”
- Matt Todd-Jones
Matt Todd-Jones played for one season, making 10 appearances. Todd-Jones played in this win, and became an important part of the side in the first season. Now living in Australia, he is player-coach for Sydney CBD FC.
‘Toddy’ as he was affectionately known said: “I actually used to wear my green Exiles home shirt to training [in Sydney] regularly and got a few comments. Knowing how momentous the win was is probably the thing I remember most about the game. We’d always work hard in games and it was nice for it to finally pay off. I really enjoyed playing for the Exiles, the camaraderie amongst the boys was awesome. Although, I don’t miss seeing Rowley’s Man of the Match award in the changing rooms! Despite recording our first ever win, I’d say the best game I played in that season was a 3-3 draw with the team at the top of the league, with us coming from 3-0 down. Despite the draw it felt like we’d won and I remember celebrating like we did (plus I had the mouthy striker in my pocket all game)!”
- Jamie McDonald (C)
Former captain Jamie McDonald joined a few games into the first season and was made captain. He was captain for all 18 matches he played, usually at left-back or centre-back. McDonald scored once and won MOTM twice.
McDonald said: “I am currently a free agent, having taken some time to get my ‘father’ coaching badges as I have two young boys. Play some 5-a-side on a weekly basis but looking to make a return to 11-a-side when I’m in Wales full-time in the next year or so. “I don’t remember huge amount surrounding the events of the game, I remember that we had come off the back of a few heavy defeats and I think it may have been my first game with the armband. What I do remember is charging down to the Four Elms after and drinking five pints in an hour to celebrate! I loved playing for the Exiles! Was gutted to be moving back to London after the one season but I really enjoyed becoming mates with everyone in the team and the weekly socials. Favourite memories are finally scoring my first goal after hitting the post umpteen times from corners. Another was being a couple down and our Scottish striker [Jamie Wilson] shooting from centre against the same team twice in a season and scoring both times. I hope to be able to make a return at some point as if I’m going to play 11-a-side again that’s where I want to play!”
- Josh McMahon
Central defender Josh McMahon made 14 appearances for the club, joining in just ahead of the first season. McMahon was a popular player during his time, despite only being with the club for a couple of seasons.
McMahon said “I left the Exiles half way through the first season in 2013 as I had finished university and was moving back home. A few months later I moved to Swansea and managed a couple of cameo appearances but decided to leave the club at the end of the season. I didn’t play much football in the following years but starting playing 5-a-side a few years back and this season I joined an 11-a-side team in the Neath league called Jersey Marine FC. After some mixed results and a lack of players they ended up folding a few months ago so my 11-a-side record doesn’t look good! I don’t remember much about the Gabalfa match itself but I remember the performances leading up to it were improved and we all felt a win was well overdue after a difficult start to the season. The one thing I do remember about the game was realising after about 80 minutes that I hadn’t really had to do much compared to some of the earlier fixtures where it seemed to just be wave after wave of attacks or being headbutted by my own teammate. (Still got the scar, thanks [Ben] Harling). I always enjoyed playing and drinking with the Exiles. I attended the first ever training session, in which only four other players turned up to and quickly turned into the first Exiles social at a pub near Roath Park, so we set the tone of the team pretty early!
- Ben Harling
Ben Harling was an early Exiles stalwart at the heart of defence in his two seasons between 2013/14 and 2014/15, playing 21 times. A no-nonsense defender, Harling relocated from Cardiff after two years and now plies his trade in England. His final game was a 3-2 loss to Grange Allstars.
After catching up with Harling in our first article, where he said: “I don’t still play football and left Cardiff for work. Playing for the Exiles was good. I am sure I wouldn’t get in the current team. You know its not so great when your best header resulted in Josh McMahon (or McChicken as he affectionately named him) having to go to hospital! I probably should have spent less time on the ‘Jaegar-train’ and more time training but the social scene was good.” Harling added that he doesn’t remember this game, but that the odds were that we would have to win a game eventually!
- Ash Ridler
Ashley Ridler was another regular in the first seasons but commitment issues in his later career as well as injuries curtailed his appearances. In fact, the last of Ridler’s 27 appearances for the club came in 2016. Ridler scored a brilliant goal in the game before this from outside of the box which remains his only goal in his Exiles career. Ridler remains ‘available’, but usually now only plays for the Casuals.
Ridler said “For the 5-1 win, I remember it being the culmination of a lot of hard work, graft and team building. The team clicked and showed what sort of performance we were capable of. That didn’t always happen! Don’t play as much any more but love being involved when I can get along to training and games! #seasideweres”
- Joel Walters
A key player in his early Exiles career, Joel Walters signed on in the first season and played for a few years before stepping away from football due to work and a few injuries. Convinced to play for the Casuals, Walters returned to the second-team this year and has been important again. Walters has so far played 27 times, scoring four goals and received nine MOTM’s. Quite an achievement.
Walters said “I am back with the Exiles for this season, playing when I can. When I began playing for the Exiles I didn’t know anyone in Cardiff so it was a great way to meet some like-minded lads. There are not many teams that you can play for who want to play football and not just get involved in a scrap. I can safely say that I’ve never wanted to play for anyone else since I moved here in 2013. Unfortunately I don’t remember the game but I’m sure we were buzzing. It feels like so long ago.” Walters was MOTM and scored in this game.
- Gareth John
Former Player-Coach Gareth John was a key player in the early years and particuarly in this season. John played 18 times in total for Exiles, scoring an impressive eight times. John scored one of his goals in this game.
John said “I am no longer playing as I don’t have time now. I am doing a lot with work and coaching. Don’t really remember the game you would have to jog my memory. I really enjoyed playing for Exiles, a good group of lads whom I had a lot of fun with on and off the field. I have some good memories from the team.”
- Jamie Wilson
Proud Scotsman Jamie Wilson joined Exiles in the first season and became a regular goalscorer. In his 21 appearances, Wilson scored 13 times including in this match. However, Wilson was also suspectible to the odd rash decision, having been sent off for Exiles in his career.
Wilson started by telling us about his current career “I’m signed on with a team called Burghfield FC who play in the Reading & Berkshire League. I did not play this season due to having our first baby. In 14 years of playing football this was my first year out. I started my career playing for Burghfield FC when I was 15 years old and played for them for several years so it was nice to return to and play out into what feels like my retirement! I’ve a few winners medals to end with so it’s been a nice way to see it out! For Exiles I actually can’t remember the first game I played but what probably happened was we got stuffed and I most probably got sent off? In all seriousness when I joined, Exiles had only just been formed so no one knew each other and James [Naik] was frantically recruiting at the time. We also had Aled [Jones] playing CB so that says it all?” [Wilson states he was only joking about this]. Wilson continued “I enjoyed playing for Exiles, having just moved to Cardiff at then time it was a great way for me to meet new people, all good lads and we had some great club nights out. I can’t remember to much success on the pitch early on but as the season progressed so did we. What sticks out for me when I think about Exiles? James Naik thinking he was Andrea Pirlo in the holding midfield position. Aled Jones thinking he was Andy Robertson at left-back. Big Giles Moseley was just hilarious all the time. Big skinnny Ben Harling playing centre-back – heading the ball with his eyes shut – used to drive me mad. James Patey always being in a mood with James Naik. Big Pete Nicol saving my arse from some unsavory characters in a game that always had trouble. Tom Richards thinking he was a superstar and roughing up Will Brown at training. That lad [Craig Bridge] who kept turning upto training with a new set of boots each week. Illuminous yellow, green, red and never got a game. So many stories and memories but all good ones. Privileged to play with Exiles and the boys. Happy to see the team progress up the leagues and doing well.”
- Pete Nicol
Pete Nicol was featured in our previous article and we have reused some of the informaton he gave. Evergeen Pete Nicol is one of only a handful players in this list who remain with the current team. A striker, Nicol was top goalscorer before the arrival and emergence of Will Eastwood, but Nicol’s 41 goals in 88 appearances for the club is not to be sniffed at. Nicol scored in this game, but had since been replaced as captain by Jamie McDonald. Nicol had planned to retire after the end of the 2018/19 season, but was convinced to stay on another year. Nicol also plays for the Casuals alongside several other members of this side.
Nicol remains a regular for the seconds, and is still scoring for both them and the Casuals.
- Andy Blower
Another early Exiles regular, Andrew Blower played 36 matches and scored two goals for Exiles before leaving in 2018. A winger in his early days, Blower later played at full-back. Blower is also a Wales Dodgeball international, and we also send our congratulations on his recent engagement.
When we caught up with Blower in our last article he said “The first season was tough but we kept going and eventually got some wins towards the end of the season which was rewarding. The constant improvement in the side, either through recruitment, additional coaches or hard work on and off the pitch made it a good team to be involved with. The Exiles management did a great job making the team competitive but still a fun environment which included everyone. I met a lot of friends playing for the Exiles and remain in touch with several still. I wish I still featured but other commitments and increased aches and pains due to old injuries meant I stepped away. I still follow the teams results every week.”
- James Patey (used)
Jamie Patey was a creative player who was sometimes considered a little bit of a luxury player, which wasn’t always needed when the team were trying to get their first win at the bottom of the table. Patey played seven times in total, scoring one goal. He came off the bench in this game, contributing to the club’s first win.
Patey said “I can’t remember this game, but I do remember the first training session with only four or five players turning up at Roath Park.” Unfortunely as we have previously seen with Josh McMahon’s comments, this was a regular thing in the early days…
- Giles Moseley (used)
Giles Moseley left the club for the third time this year, having made 40 appearances from 2013/14 to 2018/19. Moseley started in midfield in this game, but played most of his games in the middle of defence, scoring a memorable single goal. Moseley until recently was also playing in the Casuals side, and is now playing rugby for Cardiff Saracens.
Moseley very kindly said when contacted “I won’t be doing this. I don’t see the point”.
- Seon Shakespeare (used)
Forward Seon Shakespeare played 11 times in his Exiles career, scoring six times and winning two MOTM’s. Shakespeare scored in this game after coming on as a substitute.
Shakespeare said: “I can’t remember much of the game and I’ve since retired from 11-a-side a few years ago to focus on 7-a-side. Now plying my trade in London, playing for a few teams depending on which the day of the week it is! I remember coming off the bench to score. If I were to guess the goal, I’ll go with a ball over the top, dash from the half way, skipping past the left-back, and [Thierry] Henry-esque placed finish across the keeper and into the bottom right corner. But chances are it was a tap in. I enjoyed playing for Exiles, it was good laugh. Great group of people, that shared the same philosphy of enjoying the social as much (if not more) than the football itself. It reignited my love for the game after taking a few years off to study after spending much of my youth in academy’s aroud the UK. Also paved the way to moving on to playing semi-pro for Dinas Powys a year later. It was a great group, I hope nothing has changed (except for the results).
- Aled Jones (unused)
Aled Jones has been involved with Exiles since the beginning and in a vareity of different capacties, from player to Assistant Manager to Manager and back. Jones has made 29 appearances in total for Exiles but has yet to score.
Jones recalls “I remember that we were getting closer to that first win for a while, we’d been winning a game and the ref had abandoned it at half-time… once the rain had stopped. I think I ended up refereeing the game (first of many) as we were the home team and no-one else wanted to do it in the absence of a qualified referee but that had little to do with the win as we dominated from start to finish and probably should have scored more than the five we did get. That first season for me was probably my favourite at the Exiles, we weren’t the best players but there was a great team spirit considering it was the first season of the club and as we gelled the performances and results got better and laid the foundations for the success we’ve had going forward.”