The past two years have been far from the easiest for both Prestatyn Town and Neil Gibson. Relegation from the Welsh Premier last month was the culmination of two lamentable campaigns, following on from the Seasiders’ Welsh Cup and European glories.
But at Bastion Gardens, and perhaps to the surprise of some, they’re keeping faith in their player-manager. On Monday evening, Gibson announced he had signed an extension to his contract, keeping him in charge for at least two more years, taking him past a decade’s service with his home town club.
Come August, they’ll be playing in the Huws Gray Alliance for the first time in seven years, but while the season just gone ended with unfilled ambition, Gibson’s stated aim is clear – to get Prestatyn back into the Welsh top flight, and as soon as possible.
In a statement, he said: ”The last few weeks have been difficult for everyone at the club with the us going out of the Welsh Premier League. However, I have been fortunate enough to have had some interest from other clubs but, as I’m sure everybody knows, Prestatyn is my home town club which means an awful lot to me. Therefore, I felt that this was not the right time for me to leave, particularly with the club in the current situation…after speaking to the players & hearing their commitment to wanting to achieve and share my ambitions of taking this club back up, it made my decision much easier.”
Gibson is aiming to continue the push for developing local talents, but hopes also to keep as many senior players as possible as they settle back into the second tier, with the likes of Denbigh Town and Conwy Borough sure to keep the Seasiders in check. Chairman Chris Tipping insisted the club had just begun to rebuild itself – with the manager as a necessity towards their strategy: ”His work in all aspects of this club is second to none, and the philosophy of bringing young local talent through our ranks to represent the town at top level is down to him. We have openly discussed what we need to do, and now have a clear strategy, to ensure the club is successful both short and long term.”
As he notches up ten years with Town, Gibson will also be rewarded for his efforts – every high and low included – with a pre-season testimonial on Saturday 4th July, likely to feature former teammates from his days at Tranmere Rovers, Sheffield Wednesday and Southport among others, as well as the Seasiders themselves.