INTERVIEW - Former Bangor City hitman still hitting the target


Tomos Hughes

BANGOR City legend Paul Roberts is living proof of the old footballing adage - form is temporary, class is permanent.

Twenty years since his debut season for Porthmadog, the Cricieth striker's goalscoring feats are showing no signs of letting up.

His 31 league goals this season - 41 in all competitions - helped propel his team, Penrhyndeudraeth to the Welsh Alliance Division Two title and himself to the summit of the league's scoring charts.

"I was hoping to get 60 goals this season," said Roberts, "before I got a knee injury at the end of the season.

"I missed around six games and I thought I'd get overtaken as the league top scorer, so I asked if I could play the second half of one of the last games.

"The knee was gone, but I came on for the game against Bethesda and scored five. I ended up winning the top scorer by four goals."

It seems a far cry for Robbo, now aged 36, who was contemplating hanging up his boots two years ago after a final swansong with his old junior club, Gwynedd League side Llanystumdwy.

Roberts said: "I went to Llanystumdwy because I promised I'd play one season for them in my career and I was going to pack it in after that season.

"But I scored something like 43 goals that season and thought I could still play.

"The next season, I went to Caernarfon and scored 10 or 12 before getting hurt. I shattered three discs in my back and I couldn't move. I had to have artificial discs put in and I was going to jack it in."

Resigned to never playing again, Paul spoke to friend Richard Davies, manager of Penrhyndeudraeth, about taking part in some training sessions with his team and has not looked back since.

Roberts added: "After that, I trained with Penrhyn and I felt ok, so the manager asked me to play as much as I could. After playing one, two, three games, I felt champion and I was playing well.

"I offer experience to the team. I try and help the young lads and offer them advice.

It is the latest enthralling chapter in an illustrious career within the Welsh footballing pyramid, which saw Wrexham pay Porthmadog £15,000 for his services after showing an eye for goal early in his career.

The move also earned him international honours with Wales Under 21s.

After leaving the Racecourse, he embarked on a predatory nine-season spell at Farrar Road where he netted 95 League of Wales goals in 208 appearances.

He also popped up with winning goals in Welsh Cup finals and UEFA Cup matches for the Citizens, and despite subsequently featuring for Rhyl, Newtown and Welshpool, it is City where he felt most at home.

"I enjoy watching them do well," Roberts added.

"I've been to the new pitch a few times and sat next to Gwyn Pierce Owen. There's still a few lads I know, like Les (Davies) and Jamie McDaid.

"Bangor is in my heart, I was there for almost 10 years. I wasn't keen on the idea of Farrar Road being pulled down but the new place is doing quite well now."

Roberts, who is still sidelined by an injury to his right knee, is now hoping to have an operation in July to remove the troublesome cartilage, in time to feature for Penrhyn in Division One. It seems no injury will ever hold Robbo down for too long.

He added: "I've said to the manager, when I score less than 30, I'll hang up my boots and leave the young lads to it!"

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