As Manchester City Make It Twenty-One Straight Wins, Memories Of When The New Saints Broke The World Record, Then Held By AFC Ajax

Manchester City’s 4-1 victory against Wolverhampton Wanderers yesterday evening, in the English Premier League, means that they have now won twenty-one competitive games on the bounce.

Of course, we’ve been aware of the ongoing run that Pep Guardiola’s side has been putting together, but as they add to the impressive tally, it’s time for us to reflect on The New Saints’ achievement from the 2016/2017 season.

The twenty-seven consecutive wins, that stretched from mid-August through to the end of December, ensured that the club entered the record books.

The feat, which Guinness World Records lists officially as ‘Most consecutive association football victories (all competitions) – Men’s football’, saw The New Saints pass AFC Ajax’s previous record of twenty-six straight wins.

The accomplishment by the Dutch giants, was way back in 1972, with the likes of Johan Cruyff, Arie Haan and Johan Neeskens all significant contributors.

When The New Saints beat Aberystwyth Town 2-1 at Park Hall on August 14, 2016, with goals from Ryan Brobbel (15 minutes) and Adrian Cieslewicz (38 minutes), little did we realise the journey that we were about to embark on.

When Chris Jones pulled one back for the Seasiders, with nine minutes to go, any nerves would simply have been in regards to holding on to the three points as the new league season got underway.

Before August was out, three more league victories were added, including a 5-0 on the road at Llandudno and a 10-0 at home to Rhyl. Although no-one would have been aware at the time, nevertheless the seeds of ultimate success were being well and truly sown.

It wasn’t all about big margins though, and in the league before October was through, there were a total (including Aberystwyth Town) of five games where just one goal separated the sides.

As the weeks passed by – and the victories continued – we became aware of records that were in sight, both within Wales and Great Britain.

Then, as we edged our way along, the talk was all about the big one. The AFC Ajax record.

That’s when the world’s wider media began to take an interest, and at the club we dealt with a deluge of enquiries, from the likes of BBC (national), beIn Sports, FIFA, The Guardian and numerous others.

By the time we hit December, 2016, the finishing line was well and truly in sight. Wins during the month were mostly comfortable enough, as far as the scores were concerned, with 3-1, 3-0 and 4-0 victories.

Looking to enact revenge though for the previous result, Rhyl pushed The New Saints all the way, with the final whistle on the north Wales coast registering a 2-1 win for the visitors.

Back-to-back games over the festive period against Cefn Druids, saw the AFC Ajax figure equalled, with a 4-0 at Park Hall on Boxing Day.

Four days later, the manager at the time, Craig Harrison, along with the other staff and players, made their way to the Rock for a game on which so much hung.

The deadlock was finally broken in the 34th minute by since-departed, Aeron Edwards. The nerves continued on edge until there were just two minutes to go, when up popped Jon Routledge, to sign, seal and deliver the new world record.

The run came to an end a couple of weeks later, with a 3-3 draw against Newtown AFC at Latham Park. By then though, any disappointment was well and truly short-lived, as The New Saints had written themselves firmly in the record books.

Most people would have expected to see the achievement remain indefinitely. However, with Manchester City on an incredible run of their own at the moment – that includes not only top-flight English football but also the UEFA Champions League – the following weeks will not only have the eyes of the footballing world on Pep Guardiola’s team, but also those of all of us at The New Saints.

There’s more in the video above and the team sheets featured are from the first game and the last.

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