London entrepreneur Rob Edwards had just downed a bottle of red wine when a message pinged on his phone: Football Club For Sale.

The 38-year-old openly admits today that were he not a little tipsy, he wouldn't have pressed open.

But intrigued, in a bit of a daze, and perhaps bored as it was during the Covid lockdown, Edwards took a look.

The club available was Haverfordwest County. Around 250 miles and five hours from his London home, no obvious links. Edwards may have a Welsh name, but that's as far as it goes.

"Trust me I've done the ancestry checks, gone back many generations. The closest I can get is Kent," he smiles.

Welsh or not, and having opted to proceed with the deal, Haverfordwest's new chairman set himself a hugely ambitious target - European football within three years.

The dream comes true on Thursday when the little Cymru Premier club lock horns with FK Shkendija of Macedonia in the Europa Conference League, with the return game to be played at Cardiff City Stadium the following week.

This, by the way, is a competition which features Juventus, Aston Villa, Eintracht Frankfurt and Fenerbache among others this season, while the 2022-23 version was won by West Ham in dramatic fashion against Fiorentina just a few weeks back.

Haverfordwest's involvement represents a remarkable Welsh success story, fully justifying the investment Edwards made - even if he accepts the red wine talking rather helped make his decision for him.

"I've made a lot of bad calls when drunk. This wasn't one of them," he says ahead of his club's big Euro adventure.

The market town of Haverfordwest, 100 miles west of Cardiff for those who don't know, is famous for a few things. It is the home town of Batman actor Christian Bale and Notting Hill's Rhys Ifans. So too 58-times-capped Wales and Spurs star Simon Davies. Rugby ace Simon Halliday is another, albeit he ended up playing next to Will Carling in the centre for England rather than in the red of Wales, getting to a World Cup final before becoming a European powerbroker in the sport.

Haverfordwest is also often known as Gateway to the beautiful Pembrokeshire Coastal National Park.

But in the coming days it is the football club who will be putting the town on the European map.

They finished seventh in the table, but edged past Cardiff Met and then Newtown on penalties in the play-offs, an experience chairman Edwards describes as "extremely nerve-wracking to watch".

Back to the story of Edwards' first involvement while everyone was in lockdown three years ago.

"The message just said 'semi-pro football club for sale', didn't say which team, which league, or where. If I'd known it was as far away as Haverfordwest I probably wouldn't even have pushed the button," he smiles.

"I'd had a bottle of red, which is probably why I even had a conversation about it! But one thing led to another and within eight weeks I'd taken over.

Their go-ahead young chairman Rob Edwards (right)

"I suppose my interest had been piqued. I quickly realised it was a well-run club, in good shape. The challenge excited me. I didn't want it as a vanity project, but the more I explored it, the more it seemed too good an opportunity to turn down.

"Given it was the middle of the pandemic, I couldn't even go to Wales at first. It's rather hard to run a football club remotely. Particularly from as far away as London.

"But straight away I said I'd like to take Haverfordwest into Europe within three years. We have that advantage in the Cymru Premier. English non-league sides don't have such an opportunity.

"Whether we could achieve the goal I wasn't sure, but we were going to give it our best shot. And we achieved what we'd set out to do with a couple of weeks to spare."

Edwards used to be on the Board of the Charitable Trust of Leyton Orient, the East End club he has always supported. They put a lot of effort into engaging with the local community and Haverfordwest are doing the same in west Wales, even employing a Community Partnerships Manager to work with businesses and the people in the town.

"Fundamentally the town can benefit from the football club and vice versa," explains Edwards. "Indeed, I see a lot of similarities with Orient. Haverfordwest are in the shadow of clubs like Cardiff and Swansea, just as Orient have West Ham, Arsenal, Chelsea and Tottenham on their doorstep.

"But Orient have a very loyal fan base and I'd like to think we have one which we can grow further, too."

They certainly seem to do things differently at Haverfordwest. The Board is very young. Edwards himself is only 38, others around him range from the ages of 30 to 47.

That perhaps gives them a slightly more progressive outlook than some other clubs. Indeed, Haverfordwest even eclipsed happening team Wrexham to make a behind-the-scenes documentary charting their own stunning rise. It may not have the worldwide appeal of Welcome To Wrexham given the Hollywood owners up at the Racecourse, but Haverfordwest reckon they got in first. It is available on their YouTube channel, another one is being filmed of their Euro adventure.

Cymru Premier clubs qualifying for Europe receive huge sums of money from UEFA, with Haverfordwest understood to net around £200,000 just for being in the early stages of the Conference. The sum TNS get for being in the Champions League far outstrips even that.

"Europe is a massive game-changer. It's an opportunity to earn a significant amount which can have a lasting impact on the club," continues Edwards. "It will certainly help us because there remains so much more we want to achieve here.

"I suppose the next target is to work towards the top of the league. Once you've had a taste of success, seen what it can do, you want more.

"Certainly being in Europe has created a huge buzz around the town. It's unfortunate UEFA rules mean we can't play our home leg at our own ground, it's not big enough, but we're grateful to Cardiff City for letting us use their stadium and hopefully we'll have a decent crowd there anyway. We're playing a club seasoned in Europe, who pushed Spurs hard in the not too distant past, so if we can come back from the away leg still in the tie that'd be great."

Haverfordwest have been in Europe once before, back in 2004 when they lost to an Icelandic team. Almost 20 years on, you sense things are different and with Edwards at the helm this is just the beginning.

"I've never taken a penny out of the club and never will, I just get enjoyment, it's a personal challenge, I suppose getting it right does increase your status as a businessman," he says.

Edwards loves the 'sirens, hustle and bustle of London', so won't be uprooting to west Wales any time soon.

"Some of the away games are closer for me than our home matches," he says.

But he's clearly fallen in love with Haverfordwest County and 'definitely wants to spend more time there.'

Who'd have thought an innocent bottle of red at home one evening would have such a significant impact upon Welsh football?