Llanelli AFC clinched their first Welsh Premier League title on Friday night without kicking a ball and celebrated the following day with a victory that took striker Rhys Griffiths closer to a personal landmark.
The defeat of The New Saints FC – champions for the last three seasons – at Airbus UK FC on Friday ensured Llanelli of the crown with three games remaining including their own encounter the following afternoon. Even though it was the first major honour in the club's 112-year history it was not a new experience for manager Peter Nicholas. He was also in charge of Barry Town FC when they took the crown in 2000/01 and the former Welsh international midfielder now has the distinction of being the first manager to produce a championship winning side with two different clubs.
"It's good it's all settled and we don't have to go to the wire," said Nicholas after his team celebrated their triumph with a 1-0 victory at Connahs Quay Nomads FC the following day with the prolific Rhys Griffiths on the scoresheet again. Now Llanelli can turn their attention to a domestic treble because they face Rhyl FC in the League Cup final on 27 April and Bangor City FC in the Welsh Cup final on 4 May. Before then striker Griffiths will be hoping to pass two personal milestones. In the two remaining league games he will be looking for the two goals he needs to reach 40 in the league this season (his tally stands at 53 in all competitions) while one more will see him reach 100 goals for the club in only his second season at Stebonheath Park. His league tally of 38 is already the highest in any European top-flight this season and leaves Griffiths joint sixth in the ESM Golden Shoe ranking, level with Genoa CFC's Maro Borriello and just ahead of Luca Toni.
Llanelli are at home to Newtown AFC on Tuesday and Griffiths, a fireman, said: "It would be great to score the 100th in front of our own fans." Of the title success he added: "It's fantastic for everyone connected with the club, the chairman, management, officials, fans – everyone. All the players were elated, but it was odd to win it on a Friday. It wasn't the moment to start celebrating and we couldn't have a drink as we had a game to prepare for, it was off to bed." Now Llanelli can look forward to a first UEFA Champions League qualifying campaign having made their UEFA Cup and UEFA Intertoto Cup debuts in the last two seasons.
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