Five years and 12 trophies after arriving at Park Hall, Craig Harrison is as hungry as ever to continue TNS’ domination of Welsh football.
This season has seen his teams steamrolling side to go to new heights, winning in the Irn Bru Cup, completing another treble, and smashing Ajax’s long-standing record of winning 27 consecutive games.
It came on December 30, when the media and fans descended on Cefn Druids’ The Rock, where the Saints completed the amazing winning run with a 2-0 win.
Then January 2 marked five years since Harrison took over from Mike Davies, who resigned in late 2011 with Saints third in the table.
Harrison spoke to Jonny Drury, recalling his first game, a win over Newtown, who were ironically the last side to beat TNS domestically.
“To beat this record over Christmas has been the icing on the cake really,” said the former Premier League defender.
“When I came to TNS there was an expectation, however I didn’t see us being this successful to be honest.
“When I came in we were third, with other full time teams such as Llanelli and Neath in the league, and I thought this is going to be really tough.
“But we won nine games on the bounce and won the title back from Bangor on the last day of the season 5-0.
“Since then we’ve excelled and gone on to win trophies and win in Europe, and then we have gone and broke this record.
“I am just honoured and privileged to be the manager and be working with these players.”
Prior to Harrison’s arrival, TNS had won in Europe, and enjoyed a successful European campaign.
In Harrison’s reign, the Saints have lost to big European clubs such as Legia Warsaw and Slovan Bratislava.
However in recent years, wins have come against Tre Penne, and Torshavn, and Harrison’s next task is to follow in the footsteps of Dundalk and Shamrock Rovers in recent years and reach the Europa League group stages.
He added: “It has helped the club going into the first round, where we have enjoyed wins, and the win in Torshavn was a standout, the first win away in Europe.
“We are continuing to improve, and it would be nice to follow in the footsteps of Dundalk and Shamrock, and do what they have done in previous years.”
The coverage around the Saints’ 27 game winning world record streak has seen the league well publicised, and Harrison believes on the back of this, it deserves more credit than it gets from outsiders looking in.
He said: "It is not all about us.
“The coverage is great, to help raise our profile, because I don't think we’ve got enough credit in the past.
“But the league as a whole deserves more credit.
“The crowds at TNS don’t justify the football however, people look at a crowd of 5,000 and think it must be quality football.
“That isn’t always the case, there are quality players, coaches and managers in this league, and hopefully the coverage of our run, and success in the Irn Bru Cup has helped to boost the profile of the league.”
After five years in the Saints’ hotseat, the ambitious Harrison is always looking for what comes next, and he has not ruled out a move to reach the highest level he can.
“I think as a player and manager you have a level.
“As a player mine was in the Championship, and now as a manager I am still young, I have my pro licence and I have experience.
“I am always ambitious and I always wanted to be the best I can, whether that is in the English system, or abroad I don't know.
“But I will just try and keep being as successful as we have been at TNS.”
See full story in the County Times