Exiles played their first match in the Cardiff Combination League on 5 September 2013 vs. Eastern Tigers. Despite the game ending in a resounding 8-0 defeat, it was the start of an upward trajectory and Exiles became the club it is today.
In this article we catch up with the players who played in that game and their thoughts as well as what they are doing now.
- Dom Reason (GK)
Despite being a regular for many years in 5-a-side, Reason only played three matches for Exiles. Two were in goal in which he conceded 12 goals, and as once as a substitute midfielder in his final game.
Reason states the only thing he can remember from the game was that the referee was quite old. Our guess is that he has chosen to forget conceding eight goals!
- 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.
Of the first game Harling commented “The first game I’m sure we hadn’t been able to do much training for. I don’t think I really knew most of the other lads either in the first game. The game was at Roath Park and the pitch was about as bad as we were. I’m pretty sure you couldn’t kick a ball in a straight line the ground was so bad. You said we lost 8-0 which sounds about right. We probably did better at the Four Elms pub than we did in the game. Harling continued “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.”
- Robin Street
Former Chairman Robin Street recently retired from football and now plays in the veterans team Exiles Casuals. Street, played 38 times and scored twice in his Exiles career, and was Chairman until 2018. Street played in a variety of positions for Exiles, and continues to do so for casuals. True or False? Street once saved a penalty in a Cup Final.
Street remembers the game, particularly how Exiles were late getting to the ground due to work commitments, stating: “We turned up two minutes before we were due to kick-off and I was only the second player there. While we waited for the rest of the team to turn up I decided to try and chat to the opposition but ended up offending them basically saying they were all unemployed and we were late because we all had jobs. Oh and the pitch was bone dry and horrible to play on. I always enjoyed playing for the Exiles, but the Casuals structure (or lack thereof) suits me much better though.”
- Ben Court
A former teammate of James Naik, Ben Court doesn’t even like playing football but played three times for Exiles. Court conceded a penalty in his last game for the club vs. Cathays Cons 2nds, which Naik saved.
Court said “Totally retired from football now. I can remember the rubbish pitch, the rubbish result and having to play much more than I was expecting to. Playing was not of as much interest to me but I enjoyed the group and the social aspect.”
- 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.
Blower spoke of his time at Exiles, saying he remembered the first game: “I remember it well, an 8-0 defeat. If I recall correctly, some of the squad turned up just minutes before kick off, we had a mish-mash defence that hadn’t played together and it was on a terrible pitch. Our opponents ended up being promoted so a tough start regardless. That 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.”
- Pete Cotman
A friend of Joe Kitts, Pete Cotman started this game and played 5 games in total. Another player who had one season with the club, the midfielder left to return to England.
Unfortunately Cotman was unavailable for comment and we could not find a classic picture of him.
- Giles Moseley
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.
Unfortunately Moseley was unavailable for comment.
- Patrick Smith
A standout player in the first season, Pat Smith moved away from Cardiff and left the club after only one year, scoring eight goals in 16 games. A player still fondly thought of by the longer-serving players at the club.
Smith is currently living in London but sadly no longer plays for a club but does play 5-a-side. Smith said “I can’t remember much about the first game to be honest, but I do remember some of the other games really well, in particular one game in the pouring rain at Pontcanna and a few of the first games we started winning which was a good feeling after a difficult first season! I really enjoyed playing for the Exiles, the team came together from scratch with a range of abilities but it was a good bunch of guys and so a lot of fun to play with them.”
- Nathan Palmer
Another pacy winger, Nathan Palmer is best remembered for his wonder goal against the same opposition later on in the season. Palmer played 3 times in his only season for the Exiles.
Palmer was unavailable for comment.
- Pete Nicol (C) MOTM
Evergeen Pete Nicol is one of only three 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 captained the side in this game, and has done so 17 times, and won one of his three MOTM awards. 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 has been scoring for both them and the Casuals.
- Tomos Davies
Forward Tomos Davies finished his Exiles career a few seasons ago but has been playing alongside former striking partner Pete Nicol for Casuals recently. Still quick, but not quite as he was in 2013/14, Davies played 43 times for Exiles, scoring 10 goals. His younger brother James also made an appearance for the club.
Davies stated he had no fond memories of playing for the Exiles, but as he is still playing for Casuals eight years on we assume this was a typical example of Davies’ humour.
- James Naik (used)
1st team Manager James Naik made his debut in this game from the bench, and remains in charge of the 1st team to this day. Naik has played 63 times, and has managed over 100 matches in his Exiles career.
Naik said “I remember racing across Cardiff to get to the game from work and having to pick the first eleven who arrived. I came off the bench I assume for Ben Court but we were well and truly beaten. It made me realise the size of the task ahead of both me and the club. To think how far we have come from propping up Division Two losing 8-0 to winning Cups and gaining promotions and playing in the Welsh Cup is incredible, despite setbacks in recent seasons. I’m proud of what I have personally achieved and what the club has achieved in eight seasons. It is remarkable.”
- Tomos Lewis (used)
A musician by trade, Tomos Lewis came on as a subsitute in this game, and played eight times for the Exiles in his only season. The midfielder was known for having a few tricks up his sleeve.
Lewis is another no longer playing football, but has got back into cycling for delivery purposes and has stuck with it in his spare time. About his time Lewis said “I really enjoyed it as a casual club. I was never good enough physically or skillswise! Really happy to see you’ve gone on to be so successful. It’s been a pleasure to play and know you all and wish the club all the best in the future. Personal congratulations to James Naik and co. on masterminding and creating a great Cardiff Aberystwyth Exiles club.”
- Joe Kitts (used)
Joe Kitts came on from the bench in this game, and made 23 substitute appearances in his Exiles career, and 31 appearances in total. A winger, Kitts didn’t manage a goal but has played a few games for Casuals until recently.
Kitts was unavailable for comment.
- Matt Rowley (unused)
Rowley remembered the game saying that “The pitch was like a dust bowl but despite the defeat I enjoyed being on the pitch with the lads. I still enjoy playing with them now! Joe Kitts is not just a person he should be a way of life.”
Former second-team manager and now manager of the Exiles Casuals Rowley continues to play for the second-team after leaving the club for a spell away. Rowley was due to start this match but missed kick-off. Rowley has made 35 appearances, but has failed to score a goal. Rowley also has the honour of being the clubs oldest ever player.