Date of Visit: 19th March 2022
Competition: Ardal North West
Ground Number: 40 (revisit)
- Founded: 1911
- Ground: Mornflake Mighty Oats Ground (sponsored name) / Dolfechlas Road (original name) / Vicarage Road (alternative name)
- Home Village: Rhydymwyn, Flintshire
- Colours: All blue kit with a white trim
- Highest League Placement: 1st – Cymru Alliance [1997-98]
Social Media Channels
- Website: https://www.pitchero.com/clubs/rhydymwynfootballclub/
- Twitter: @Rhydymwynfc1
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/rhydymwyn1/
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/rhydymwynfc/
As you might have gathered from my recent blogs on this site, I haven’t written many groundhopping blogs over the past couple of years. There are a few reasons behind this. Part of it is that I haven’t visited too many new grounds to write about as I have usually watched Holywell Town games throughout the seasons where they played away games at grounds that have already been written about, or felt there wasn’t enough content to justify a new groundhopping blog. However, the main part of it is the whole pandemic shutting down nearly all of Welsh football outside of the top flight for about 18 months thing that you might have heard about… Nonetheless, with the 2021-22 season coming to a swift conclusion in what is often described as the cliched “business end to the season”, I decided it was probably about time to start re-writing groundhop blogs again, and certainly enough time had passed from my previous blogs to consider writing up revisit blogs also.
The third weekend of March 2022 was the perfect opportunity to start-up the groundhopping blogging. The weekend had started with a Friday night mid-season friendly (well…as friendly as it can be between two fierce rivals) with my team Holywell Town making the short trip down the A548 to Cae-y-Castell to take on Cymru Premier top-six side Flint Town United. Both sides had a free weekend in the schedule with the Welsh Cup semi-finals taking precedent in the Welsh football calendar. Resultantly, this friendly match was quickly arranged to ensure both teams kept their momentum and match fitness up going into a crucial part of the season for both sides, with Flint aiming for a European spot and Holywell hoping for a top-five finish in the Cymru North. Under a combination of moonlight and the floodlights, the two ancient rivals played a crunching and sometimes tempestuous game but ultimately shared a 1-1 draw, which was probably a fair result on reflection.
As Holywell had already played their game for the weekend, it meant that I had the opportunity to watch another game for the next day. There were a number of enticing options available that I could have traveled to watch, but I decided to make a revisit to a Flintshire club that I had been meaning to return to for the past number of months. It was also a club I had wanted to produce a new groundhopping blog for as I had last written about them in February 2015, so a refresher blog was badly needed after seven years. Therefore it was time to make the short journey over Halkyn Mountain and into the Dyffryn Alun to visit the old mining village of Rhydymwyn, to see the local side take on Llandudno Albion in the third-tier Ardal North West League.
Recap on Rhydymwyn FC
Considering this is a revisit to a Flintshire club, I have written quite a bit about Rhydymwyn in previous blogs, so you can check them out in the links below, as well as the Wikipedia page detailing more about the former mining village. Therefore, I will talk briefly about what has happened to Rhydymwyn FC since my last blogging visit in February 2015.
- Main Page: Rhydymwyn FC
- Initial Visit: Rhydymwyn vs. Penycae – 28th February 2015
- Flintshire Football 2019-20 Season Review
- Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rhydymwyn
As discussed in the initial groundhopping blog when they lost 0-2 to Penycae, Rhydymwyn encountered a horrendous season in the 2014-15 Cymru Alliance – their third and final season at that level. They finished the season with zero points, having had the three points earned from their only win of the season taken away due to playing an ineligible player, and lost the remaining twenty-nine games of their campaign whilst conceding 132 goals from their thirty games (an average of 4,4 goals conceded per game!!). Alas, the problems continued as due to a lack of personnel at the village club, they were unable to fulfill their berth in the third-tier Welsh National League (Wrexham Area) Premier Division and Rhyd were forced to resign from the league which resulted in the 2015-16 season being null and voided.
Thankfully, Rhydymwyn’s hiatus away from Welsh football was only a brief period of time and the club returned back to the fold in time for the 2016-17 season by joining the fourth-tier WNL Division One, where they finished in fourth position in the league at the end of the season. Rhyd spent three seasons at the fourth-tier, finishing in a disappointing ninth position the following season before experiencing a much better season in the 2018-19 season where they finished in third position, in what would be a highly competitive league that season. Rhydymwyn just took the position on goal difference as the third to sixth-placed teams had all earned 36 points, and they snatched third away from Llangollen Town by having just +1 better goal difference than their Upper Dee Valley rivals. Their 10-0 defeat of bottom-placed side Johnstown Youth in the last game of the league campaign proved very crucial in deciding their league finish in the end.
Rhydymwyn’s third-place finish also resulted in a promotion to the league they were supposed to join following their relegation from the Cymru Alliance at the end of the 2014-15 season when they rose to the WNL Premier Division. In what was ultimately the last season of the old North East Wales regional league, Rhydymwyn finished in eleventh position before the entire football season was halted in March 2020 due to the COVID outbreak, and their position was confirmed a few months later when it was decreed the season would not restart and league positions were defined via a points-per-game method.
As a result of the Welsh football pyramid restructure, Rhydymwyn was placed into the new regional third-tier Ardal Leagues that replaced the old WNL Premier Division and Welsh Alliance Division One leagues in the north of Wales. Due to their proximity in the county, Rhyd was placed in the Ardal North West, which roughly covers the same region as the old Welsh Alliance currently, whilst the clubs from Wrexham and central Wales went into the Ardal North East. Because of the pandemic, Rhydymwyn’s debut season in the Ardal Leagues was delayed for a season as there was no football beyond the Cymru Premier scheduled in the 2020-21 season, meaning this season in the first year of the new Welsh structure for tiers three to five.
The 2021-22 Season
The last five results of Rhydymwyn prior to the game, with all games being played in the Ardal North West league:
- 5th Feb 2022: Nantlle Vale (h) 1-1
- 12th Feb 2022: Rhostyllen (a) 1-1
- 26th Feb 2022: Blaenau Ffestiniog Amateurs (a) 3-0
- 5th Mar 2022: Llay Welfare (a) 0-3
- 12th Mar 2022: Denbigh Town (h) 0-1
Prior to the match, Rhydymwyn found themselves in twelfth position in the sixteen-team league, and embroiled in a relegation dogfight to stay in the Ardal NW league. From their 24 games previously played, they had accumulated just 23 points and were just five points ahead of the three relegation spots. Since the return to football in mid-January following the “firebreak” in Welsh football during the festive period, Rhyd’s form has been disappointing having only won one game in their last seven games. Their only victory since the restart came against bottom-placed side Blaenau Ffestiniog when they travelled to Cae Clyd and managed to earn a 3-0 victory with the goals coming from a first-half Connor Whelan penalty, and second-half goals from James Beck and Owen Ainscough.
Unfortunately, the month of March had been a tough one for the club with Rhydymwyn suffering two consecutive defeats from their two fixtures. In the first weekend of March, they lost 0-3 away to Llay Welfare, with goals from Jonathon Taylor and a brace from Matthew Worrall condemning Rhyd to their twelfth defeat of the season. Whilst in the previous weekend to this upcoming match, they suffered their second consecutive defeat via a narrow 0-1 home loss to one of the strongest teams in the league, Denbigh Town. A first-half penalty from Kristian Pierce was the sole deciding factor in the close game held at Dolfechlas Road.
The last five Ardal North West results of Llandudno Albion prior to the groundhop game:
- 12th Feb 2022: Saltney Town (h) 4-3
- 19th Feb 2022: Blaenau Ffestiniog Amateurs (h) 6-1
- 26th Feb 2022: Rhostyllen (a) 5-1
- 5th Mar 2022: Llanuwchllyn (h) 0-1
- 12th Mar 2022: Porthmadog (a) 0-3
Their opponents for this afternoon’s match would be Llandudno’s second team, Llandudno Albion, who themselves were coming into the match having lost their last two league games. However, following the restart in mid-January, their form was initially impressive. Despite losing their first game 0-2 at home to title-challenging Porthmadog, they then won the next six league games, which included big wins against Blaenau Ffestiniog (6-1 which included a hat-trick from David Maddock, a double in goals and assists from Jordan Kane, and an additional goal from Joseph Carey) and Rhostyllen (5-1 where Maddock got another two goals, with further goals from Ricky Jones, Bryan Roberts, and Lee Stokes). The winning run was halted in early March with a narrow 0-1 home defeat to Llanuwchllyn, whilst Porthmadog got the better of them once again the weekend prior to this game when Port scored three unanswered goals at Y Traeth.
Llandudno Albion’s recent form since the restart has seen the club rise to the relative safety of mid-table with Albion having won ten and drawn four of their 24 league games, and accumulated 34 points. Going into the match, they were in the eighth position in the league, four points behind eighth-placed Saltney Town and five points ahead of Rhostyllen in ninth place.
The journey from 94thMinHQ to Rhydymwyn’s ground is not a long one and only took about 25 minutes drive time, albeit it was a lengthier journey due to being stuck behind seemingly the slowest driver in the world (who seemed to continuously drive 10-15 mph below the road limit at every opportunity) for the majority of the journey over Halkyn Mountain towards the Mold-Denbigh A541 road and Rhydymwyn. Thankfully, I played a Blizzard podcast in the car (the ‘Greatest Games‘ podcast series about Deportivo La Coruna beat AC Milan 4-0 in 2004) during the drive so the slowed journey wasn’t too torturous, and I still arrived at the scenic Dolfechlas Road ground with plenty of time before the scheduled 14:30 kick-off time.
The entrance to the ground was just £3, a bargain for third-tier football in my opinion, and I parked my car up on the grass just next to the car park following advice from the person collecting the money at the gate. It was certainly a much safer option parking further away from the goal as the cars in the concreted car park behind the goal tend to get impacted by a poorly-aimed wayward shot. Conditions were perfect for football as it was a warm, sunny day (apparently 14 degrees Celsius according to the weather app on the phone) with beautiful blue skies and not a cloud spoiling the azure colour above. Although there was a slight cooling breeze, it wasn’t enough to cool the temperatures down enough that I would need a coat. Therefore, for the first time in what seemed like forever, it would be a coatless game! Spring had certainly arrived in North Wales!
Although the snack bar, located between the clubhouse and ground, sells plenty of hot food and snacks (or as Twitter has now dubbed it, “scran”), I only wanted something to drink and so picked up a cup of coffee from the snack hatch for the standard price of £1, and then ventured inside the clubhouse to have a nosey at the place. The function room is really spacious with a number of tables and chairs dotted around the room, with the bar (selling all the usual alcoholic drinks) situated at the opposite end of the room to the entrance, and two large television screens fixed on either side of the room. The screens were showing the opening salvos of the Wales versus Italy Six Nations rugby game, with a number of people sitting around watching the screens. Although I am not the biggest of rugby fans, I like to keep tabs on the Six Nations results and thought I would come back to the game at half-time in what should be a textbook home victory for the Welsh…right? Anyway, it was also nice to see a number of Rhydymwyn shirts displayed on the walls of the function room, as well as some pictures also showing the village’s mining history.
When I was driving up to the ground, I had contemplated sitting in their impressive covered seated stand for the first half, which has been upgraded and given a fresh coat of paint in recent years. However, taking into account the beauty of the weather, I didn’t want to hide myself away from the rare occurrence of Flintshire sunshine by sitting inside a shaded (and probably colder) stand. So I decided to stand beside one of the eight floodlights that surround the pitch whilst slurping down my cup of black coffee and basking in the warmth of the mid-March sunlight. Considering the local weather patterns, sunny days can be a rare event around this time of the season, so it’s always best to take full advantage of it when it occurs, and there is nowhere better to watch football than North Wales when the weather is beautiful, in my (biased) opinion.
As mentioned previously, the ground has encountered a freshen-up most recently with the stand and surrounding perimeter barriers also having a new coat of paint. They have also added a new camera gantry on the opposite side to the clubhouse and stand, which wasn’t there when I last visited the ground. Y Ddraig Goch, the British flag, and a flag with the Rhydymwyn logo on it had been attached to the flagpoles on top of the camera gantry and were gently flapping in the breeze, although I personally would have loved to have seen the Flintshire flag up there with them also, but that’s just my personal preference. Regardless, the ground was looking resplendent in the Spring sunshine and reaffirmed my belief that Dolfechlas Road is one of the most picturesque grounds in North Wales and probably my favourite ground in the county.
This game would be a continuation of the ever-lasting rivalry that exists in sport – reds versus blues, with Rhydymwyn wearing their usual all-blue Macron-made ensemble, whilst Llandudno Albion wore their impressive-looking Teejac Sports-made all-red kit. It was also nice to see both sides having wholesome sponsors proudly exhibited across their chests with Rhydymwyn displaying the mental health charity of MIND on their shirts, whilst Albion had the more local Tŷ Hapus Community Foodbank emblazoned on the front of their red shirts. Fair play to both teams for backing charities there when they could have displayed a sponsor on their shirts. Should you wish to donate or know more about either charity, the links can be found below:
- Mind: https://www.mind.org.uk/donate/
- Tŷ Hapus: https://tyhapus.com/
- Tŷ Hapus Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TyHapusLlandudno/
Although we were in a rural setting for today’s game, the soundtrack for this revisit would be the guttural or high-pitched growls from the numerous amount of motorbikes zipping past the ground on the adjacent Mold-Denbigh road that runs through the village and along the length of the pitch. No doubt many leather-clad bikers were taking full advantage of the beautiful conditions to test their skills on the twisting and scenic roads in North East Wales. However, even this cacophony of two-wheeled, fair-weather easy riding was punctuated by the bellowing shouts of Albion’s keeper, Daniel Adams, as he continually cajoled his teammates into shape throughout the whole game. I can imagine the eardrums of the Albion defence must have been ringing after the game after Adams’ constant encouragement haha!
Rhydymwyn struck first early in the game when a long ball forward allowed their tall #9, Nathan Mendoza, to break clear of the defense and slot the ball under the hands of the Albion keeper after just five minutes played. Mendoza scored his first goal for the club since mid-January and his tenth in all competitions during the 2021-22 season. Albion almost equalised directly after taking the lead in a similar fashion with a long ball over the top allowing their striker to break clear of the home defence, although the shot was blocked. It wouldn’t be too long before they did level the scores, again using a long ball to allow their #8, Daniel Evans, to break clear and this time slot the ball past the keeper on his inside post. Throughout the first half, the game was a somewhat sloppy affair with both teams guilty of rogue passes and lost ball possession, albeit the away side probably had the greater ball possession and half-chances. However, the best opportunity to break the deadlock in the first half fell to Rhydymwyn from a corner, but the shot was blocked on the line by the covering Albion defender.
With the scores at 1-1 at half-time, I decided to check on the Wales-Italy score being shown in the clubhouse and was surprised to see that Italy was leading early in the second half. “Perhaps the Azzurri could pull an upset here?”, I thought, although naturally, I was hoping normal service would return and the Welsh side could fight back. The break also gave me the opportunity to quickly go to the car and get my coat as the chilling breeze had picked up throughout the first half making the temperature drop a bit despite the sunny skies – welcome to North Wales folks!
The second half continued in the same vein as the first half with the visitors having slightly more of the ball possession and chances during the game. Llandudno Albion’s best effort came when a shot from outside of the box was acrobatically fingertip saved over the crossbar by Rhyd’s goalkeeper Samuel Thomas in the middle of the half. The home side did manage to rally in the latter stages of the second half with a number of half-chances, a couple of which required the visiting keeper to enact a couple of saves from the chances to keep the score level. Rhydymwyn were possibly hoping to replicate the actions of their fellow Azzurri by getting a late winner against a red-shirted foe, just as the Italians had famously just done at the Millennium Stadium in the Six Nations tournament when they scored a late breakaway try and a successful conversion to win the match by a tight scoreline of 22-21 to break their 36-game losing streak in the premier European rugby union tournament.
As the second half progressed, it was becoming increasingly likely that the draw was going to be the end result. Both teams seemed to be equal to each other by playing a similar style of football, and were not able to find that killing blow through their pacy forwards. That prediction proved to be correct with the final scoreline ending 1-1 and halting both sides’ losing streaks, and providing the second game within 24 hours to conclude with that scoreline for me.
FULL TIME: Rhydymwyn FC 1-1 Llandudno Albion
Post Match & Conclusion
The draw made no impact on either club’s position in the Ardal North West table, with Llandudno Albion maintaining their eighth position, whilst Rhydymwyn stayed in twelfth spot. Llandudno Albion narrowed the gap to seventh-placed Saltney Town to three points, but having played two more games than the team above them, their potential to improve their position in the league might be just beyond them with five league games remaining for the Conwy County Borough side. However, Rhyd veered slightly nearer to the relegation battle with the gap between them and the relegation zone down to four points after Brickfield Rangers’ 5-2 win over Rhostyllen allowed them to lift themselves out of the relegation spots and climb into the thirteenth position – one spot behind Rhydymwyn. Rhyd has also played one game more than their relegation rivals meaning the potential gap could be further reduced once the games-in-hand are played.
Their next scheduled game against Brymbo could be critical to their season as an away defeat against the fifteenth-place team in the league could severely damage their survival hopes, especially when you consider they have an incredibly difficult conclusion to their league campaign by being scheduled to play four of the top five teams in April, which includes a fierce local rivalry against Mold Alexandra planned for the 6th April. However, their final three games against Mold Alex, Llanrwst United, and Llanuwchllyn will all be played at home, so there is some faint hint of optimism that they could potentially grind out some decent results on their own turf. In addition, the future league fixtures can give further encouragement to Rhydymwyn’s hopes as fellow relegation rivals Saint Asaph City and Brickfield Rangers have to play each other the following weekend, whilst St. Asaph has also got to play the top three teams in the league in April. However, with Brickfield Rangers scheduled to play the bottom three teams in the league, and having a relatively easier run-in towards the end of the season, the relegation battle will surely heat up within the next couple of weeks!
Once again, the revisit to Rhydymwyn was an enjoyable one even if the match wasn’t the best game I have seen this season with both teams canceling each other out in the second half. The ground is a hidden gem in North Welsh football, and as I said previously in this blog, Dolfechlas Road is probably my favourite ground in Flintshire, especially when the weather conditions are perfect for watching football. The people who volunteer there always provide a warm welcome and the facilities are superb for a third-tier team – some hot food and a couple of pints in a rural setting, what more could you want when watching football? So, if you get the chance, head onto the Mold-Denbigh road and venture down to Rhydymwyn for a game, and I’m sure you’ll love the place as much as I do! I mean if it can supposedly inspire the German-born composer Mendelssohn to compose a song during a visit to the area in the early nineteenth century, then surely Rhydymwyn is worthy of a visit in the future!