For those who have been paying close attention, STM Sports’ success in the Nathaniel MG Cup has been far from a surprise.
The Llanrumney based outfit have been performing above expectations since their promotion to the JD Cymru South, and following a number of promotions in recent years since promotion from the South Wales Alliance League, they have very quickly become one of the most impressive sides in the pyramid.
Starting from the bottom of the ladder as a group of friends has played into the club’s hands, as their tight knit unity has seen them topple two JD Cymru Premier sides en route to the Nathaniel MG Cup Final.
Two of the club’s most exciting players Calum Bateman and Ben Ahmnun are evidence of the abundance of quality over in Llanrumney. After stepping up to the JD Cymru South this season, both players have netted a combined 17 goals already before Christmas.
The dynamic duo have been key to their recent success, but both have insisted that the camaraderie amongst the current crop of players has been a driving force their recent success.
“I really enjoy playing for STM. We play really good football and I’ve never been part of a squad that are all so together,” said Bateman.
Whilst his strike partner Ahmun added, “The togetherness of the group and the management, we are all genuinely one big group. We all get along so well and have the same ethos regarding the way we want to play. I’ve never played for a team where the whole group gets along so well, this is the main reason I believe we have been successful.”
Known for their attacking flair, the side managed by Nana Baah have been in red hot form since joining the JD Cymru South.
With wins over Swansea University, Haverfordwest County, Llanelli Town and Cambrian & Clydach, few sides have adapted to the second tier as quickly as Baah’s side.
But, Bateman and Ahmun believe much of this is down to their fearless style of play, which has given them the confidence and licence to show their own quality.
“I would put it down to the football we play and the players we have. The boys have flown through the leagues with flair and a free scoring attitude.
"I knew it was going to be a lot harder this year compared to last. Teams are a lot fitter and just keep coming. I put a lot of hard work in, in the summer and I feel like I could be a problem for any defence in this league and the league above.”
Ahmun added, “Just confidence, as an attacking team we know we can score against anyone. The good performances we have had against some of the bigger clubs is just a reminder to ourselves of that.
“To do what we have believed we can do since day one is a great feeling, especially knowing how hard people at the club have worked, it also makes is easier when everyone is genuinely close friends. There’s still a lot more to achieve.
“We have always kept to the same style of play regardless of the level, the confidence from the coach and manager in our ability has always remained the same.“
But despite the unity within the camp, much of the success hangs on the shoulders of the attacking duo.
With 17 goals between them, it seems that Baah possesses one of the deadliest attacking threats in the league, and the two agree that having each other in the side makes playing easier for them.
“It’s great playing with Callum, knowing that he is a genuine goal threat makes it easier to play alongside him as an attacker, on the break you know he’s going to be in the 6 yard box waiting for the ball , it becomes second nature when trying to create opportunities as he’s always looking to get in behind the defender”, stated former Caldicot and Porth forward Ahmun.
But the journey is not over yet, as they have a Nathaniel MG Cup final to look forward to – and Ahmun insists that with the right belief, nobody should be counting out STM just yet.
“We can go as far as we want, we have already shown we are not afraid of anybody and that we can compete at any level in Welsh football as long as we stick to our way of playing.”