For manager Scott Ruscoe, it was a tough one to take, but his determination to lead his team back to the summit is clear in their early season results. Success for the Park Hall club means more to Ruscoe than many others as he closes in on 20-years at the club as a player, coach and now manager, and there are few individuals as recognisable in the domestic game as the former midfielder.
Having made almost 100 appearances for rivals Newtown between 1997 and 2000, Ruscoe eventually arrived at The New Saints in 2002 after an 18-month spell in the English pyramid with Chester City. During the course of his 15-year playing career with the Saints, Ruscoe claimed nine league titles and lifted the JD Welsh Cup on four occasions, and has already claimed two titles amongst his four trophies as manager since his elevation to the hot-seat in the summer of 2017.
A consistent performer in the middle of midfield, Ruscoe was a key figure for the Saints in their European games, and he played every minute of the two UEFA Champions League ties against Liverpool. “The highlight of my European football career has to be playing against Liverpool in 2005,” said Ruscoe in 2014. “They were the UEFA Champions League holders and we were drawn against them in the opening round of the following season's competition. As a Liverpool supporter, it really was something special.”
A veteran of over 30 European ties, Ruscoe's achievements were recognised in 2014 when he was named Welsh Premier League Clubman of the Year at the FAW awards. Now 42, Ruscoe brings a wealth of experience to his managerial position at The New Saints from his playing career, and he will be desperate to build on the early success that he enjoyed following his appointment. Reclaiming the title and taking the club back to the UEFA Champions League will be the priority, and the standards he set himself as a player will ensure the disappointment of the Nomads' success is not easily repeated this season.