Port Talbot Town’s surprise signing of Alan Tate is exciting news for the Welsh Premier League and his reputation and experience should make him a perfect match with the growing WPL brand.
Tate put pen to paper with the Steelmen on Monday after the former Swansea City stalwart had been on the club’s radar for some time, with talks between the two parties initially starting back in August.
The 33-year-old defender is expected to go straight into the Port Talbot squad for Saturday’s televised fixture against Bangor City at the GenQuip Stadium (5.15).
Tate’s arrival comes at a time where ailing Port Talbot are in a need of a boost to help snap a poor sequence of results with injuries and player sequences derailing the club’s hopes for a good start to the season. When I spoke to Andy Dyer on Wednesday he told me that the signing of Tate can lift the whole club on and off the pitch, as the Town manager looks to come through one of the most testing periods of his managerial career.
He can make a massive impact at the club on and off the pitch, he can clearly help within the community but being more specific from a first-team point of view, he can help our youngsters out massively and pretty much everybody. If you’re 18, 19 years of age and you’ve got the opportunity to learn every week off Alan Tate then you’re going to want to be around.
He’s fully aware that we haven’t had a great start to the season and he’s been questioning what’s been going wrong and obviously a number of things have gone wrong between losing Cortez Belle, who I believe was fantastic for us on the pitch, and the injuries which I’ve found very, very frustrating.
I have to admit, in all my years doing this, I have never had so many key players out of my team in one go. The fact we’ve Paul Fowler out with a broken nose, Liam McCreesh out, Chris Jones and to lose to Kaid Mohamed and Cortez – that’s ripping half our team out.
The one thing I can do this week is feel like we’re starting all over again. We’ve pretty much got everyone back available again, so from that point of view we can start again. Over the last four weeks we’ve pretty much had to put players out on the pitch and hope they make an impact. When you look at all those names I’ve said, none of those are youngsters, they’re all players who’ve played lots and lots of games at this level so to lose all them has been a disaster.
It’s not, of course, the first time Port Talbot have recruited a relatively high profile signing with strong Swansea City connections. Two years ago, Guillermo Bauza joined put pen to paper with the Steelmen – also incidentally making his debut at home to Bangor City – but despite a hyped arrival, the Spaniard was never able to find fitness and form.
I worked for Port Talbot Town during this period and travelling to Bala Town with ‘Bussy’ and a full Spanish TV crew was one of my more surreal moments covering Welsh football!
Sometimes in football of course, players can find it hard to apply themselves at a standard lower than what they are familiar with. Andy Dyer feels that this shouldn’t be an issue with Tate however and that his transition into the WPL should be a relatively smooth one.
I’ve done it before with Trundle, Kris O’Leary, Chris Cooper, Clayton Blackmore and this isn’t an issue to me. I think he’s a level-headed lad and understands what environment he’s coming into, but clearly until you experience those things, they can be a little bit difficult to get to grips with in. You can talk to people and prep people as much as you can but in his own mind he’ll work that out himself, we’re always mindful of those issues but I think he’ll be fine.
Port Talbot v Bangor City is the weekend’s televised WPL game on S4C/Sgorio at 5.15 on Saturday.