Date of Visit: 16th April 2022
Competition: NEWFL Mike Beech Memorial Trophy
Ground Number: 8 (revisit)
- Founded: 2009 (as Flint Mountain)
- Ground: Pant Newydd
- Home Village: Pentre Halkyn, Flintshire
- Colours: White shirt with black trim, black shorts, black socks
- Highest League Placement: 6th – Welsh National League (Wrexham Area) Division One [2019-20]
Social Media Channels
- Website: https://www.pitchero.com/clubs/flintmountain
- Twitter: @Flint_Mountain
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/FlintMountain/
- Instagram: n/a
The third weekend of April 2022 was the Easter weekend, the time of the year when the Christian world celebrates the resurrection of Jesus Christ after his crucifixion by those dastardly Romans. However, it also meant the longest weekend of the year, and the opportunity to watch a considerable number of football games in a short space of time, and with the weather conditions being sunny with above-average temperatures, it would also be an excellent time to watch the back end (and crucial point) of the 2021-22 season.
I started the Easter weekend off with another trip to Halkyn Road on Good Friday to watch my beloved Holywell Town take on Prestatyn Town in the Cymru Premier in a fixture that was originally supposed to be played on the 27th December but was postponed due to the shutdown of Welsh football during the festive period as a result of high COVID levels. I suppose the rescheduling of the Christmas games to Easter seems kinda apt. Anyway, in warm conditions, the Wellmen managed to halt their two-game losing streak and reassert their challenge for the fourth position in the table by defeating the Seasiders 4-1, with the visitors also having two players dismissed by the official.
With Holywell Town scheduled to play the Cymru North champions Airbus UK Broughton on Easter Monday, it meant that I had an opportunity to watch another game on Saturday, resulting in three games in four days (sadly a bout of illness stopped my visit on Easter Monday although Holywell won 3-2). There were a number of options available in the lower leagues, but I decided to choose to visit an interesting fixture occurring not too far away from 94thMinHQ. Halkyn & Flint Mountain were scheduled to play against Wrexham-based side FC Queens Park in the semi-finals of the Mike Beech Memorial Trophy, with the game being played at Halkyn’s Pant Newydd ground. This was an ideal choice as I had wanted to write a revisit blog for Pant Newydd considering I last wrote a blog about the ground in April 2016 when the old Halkyn United played there, and that I hadn’t written a blog about Halkyn & Flint Mountain also. Therefore, the decision was made! It meant a short trip up to the former mining village of Pentre Halkyn to see some cup action!!
Halkyn & Flint Mountain
Halkyn and Flint Mountain Football Club was formed in 2009 as “Flint Mountain FC”, representing the village of the same name (with a population of around 2000 people) situated south of the large town of Flint, and this club initially joined the fifth-tier Clwyd East League (later to become the North East Wales League). During the initial few years of the club’s history, they played on a number of pitches in and around Flint; playing on such pitches as Albert Avenue in the southeastern outskirts of Flint, and Flint High School’s football pitch, which is located just outside of Flint Mountain’s northern boundaries. However, after a number of years of a nomadic existence, they settled on their more permanent home of Northop Hall Pavilion, home of Northop Hall Ladies team and located in the village of the same name, which is located southeast of Flint Mountain and eastwards along the A55 Expressway.
In their debut season in the Clwyd East League, the club finished bottom of the 2011-12 table however their performances improved throughout the early seasons, with the club often finishing mid-table. Their best performance during this initial period was the 2014-15 season when Flint Mountain finished third in the Clwyd East League, albeit 21 points behind the runaway league winners Cefn Albion. Alas, the club was unable to improve upon this season with league finishes in the newly named North East Wales League of 9th, 6th, and 7th for the following three seasons.
It wouldn’t be until the 2018–19 season when Flint Mountain experienced their best ever season in their short history, and one of great success for the club. They clinched their first-ever league title by winning the North East Wales League, winning 18 of their 20 league games, and achieving an undefeated league campaign, to finish eight points ahead of their nearest rivals Acton FC. They would add further silverware by winning the NEWFA Horrace Wynne Cup (beating Connah’s Quay Nomads’ under 19s side 3-2), the President’s Cup (where they beat Mold Town United on penalties after a goalless draw), and the Mike Beech Memorial Trophy (more of that in the next section) during the same season to create a quadruple-winning campaign!
As a result of becoming the North East Wales League champions, it meant they gained promotion to the fourth-tier Welsh National League (Wrexham Area) Division One. However, prior to the 2019-20 season commencing, Flint Mountain announced they would be moving once more. In order to secure promotion to the Welsh National League, the club managed to secure the facilities at Pant Newydd in Pentre Halkyn, formally the home to the defunct senior side, Halkyn United (who resigned midway through the 2015-16 season whilst they were playing in the Welsh Alliance League Division Two – more information on the club can be found in my previous visit to Pant Newydd HERE), to become the club’s new permanent home. Not only did these facilities provide the necessary ground criteria to compete at tier four, but the ground also had most of the criteria to achieve any future promotions that the club would aim for. As part of the move to Pentre Halkyn, the club took on three new committee members who were part of the former Halkyn United committee, and would also change its name to Halkyn and Flint Moutain to formalise and incorporate its new home into their name.
The newly named Halkyn & Flint Mountain’s first season at the fourth step of the Welsh pyramid would be a hectic and ultimately shortened season because of the COVID-19 pandemic. They played eleven games of their scheduled eighteen-game season before the season was halted, and ultimately Mountain finished the season in sixth position having earned 16 points from their campaign, resulting in a 1.45 points per game ratio to determine their position within the league. Coincidently, that would be Halkyn & Flint Mountain’s only appearance in the Welsh National League (Wrexham Area) structure as the Welsh football pyramid was restructured in 2020 resulting in a lot of the old leagues being either merged or wound up. As a result of this restructure, the club was placed into the regional fourth-tier North East Wales Football League Premier Division for the 2020-21 season, although they would not make their debut appearance until this season due to the postponement of the entire 2020-21 season from tier two and below in Welsh football as a result of the ongoing pandemic.
The 2021-22 Season
Halkyn & Flint Mountain had experienced an excellent season in the fourth-tier for this season as they were situated in third position within the NE Wales League Premier Division prior to this match. From their seventeen league games played (and with seven games remaining), they had accumulated 36 points having won 12 games during the season. They were eight and ten points behind Chirk Town and Greenfield, who occupied second and first positions respectively, although Mountain did have games in hand on the teams above them. In addition, Halkyn had the third-best attack in the league with 54 goals scored (an average of 3.18 goals per game) and also had the second-best defence having conceded just 27 goals (average of 1.59 goals/game).
The last five games played by Halkyn & Flint Mountain prior to this game:
- 19th Feb 2022: FC Queens Park (a) 0-1
- 12th Mar 2022: [NEWFA Horace Wynne Cup] Cefn Mawr Rangers (a) 2-1
- 19th Mar 2022: Hawarden Rangers (a) 1-0
- 2nd Apr 2022: [NEWFA Horace Wynne Cup] Coedpoeth United (a) 4-3
- 9th Apr 2022: Greenfield (a) 1-0
Halkyn & Flint Mountain were in decent form going into this cup semi-final against FC Queens Park and were on a four-game winning streak in all competitions, even more impressive considering they had won all four of their games away from Pant Newydd. Halkyn progressed into the semi-finals of the NEWFA Horace Wynne Cup with wins over Cefn Mawr Rangers and Coedpoeth United in the third and fourth rounds respectively. Despite conceding within the first minute and finding themselves 0-1 down to Coedpoeth at half time, Halkyn managed to progress to the semi-finals with goals from Sam Jones, Charlie Hughes (2), and an injury-time own goal to give them a 4-3 victory over the Yellow and Greens. In their last match, they impressively went to the Bernie Williams Memorial Ground and defeated the league leaders Greenfield through a late Charlie Hughes goal to continue their fine form.
The visitors for this afternoon’s game were FC Queens Park who themselves were on 36 points in the league, and found themselves in fourth position due to an inferior goal difference in comparison with their opponents (+16 compared to Halkyn’s +27). In addition, they had also played four more league games than Halkyn meaning a top-three spot was probably out of contention. However, FC Queens Park has been the superior team when the two sides have squared up against each other in the league this season. The Caia Park-based side did the league double against their cup opponents by first beating them in the same fixture in mid-September, with a Bazza Torrence double and a Jack ‘Robo’ Hanley goal earning them a 3-1 victory at Pant Newydd. Sam Jones scored a late consolation for the Mountain. Whilst in the reverse fixture in mid-February, Queens Park inflicted Halkyn’s last defeat in all competitions with a 1-0 victory at the Queensway Stadium. On that occasion, a 79th-minute strike from Adam Roberts was the decider on the day.
The last five games played by FC Queens Park prior to this game:
- 19th Mar 2022: Overton Recreation (h) 7-0
- 22nd Mar 2022: [NEWFA Horace Wynne Cup] Ruthin Town Reserves (h) 1-1 (4-1 pens)
- 26th Mar 2022: Greenfield (a) 1-1
- 2nd Apr 2022: Overton Recreation (a) 1-1
- 9th Apr 2022: Chirk Town (a) 1-1
FC Queens Park have been in impressive form prior to this cup match having stayed undefeated in all competitions since mid-November, and even more spectacular considering the club had played seven games since the start of March (compared to Halkyn who had just played four games). However, since their demolition of Overton Recreation in mid-March where goals from Callum Roberts, Jack ‘Robo’ Hanley, Nathan Brookfield, Adam Roberts, and a Bazza Torrence hat-trick gave them a 7-0 victory at the Queensway Stadium, they have encountered four consecutive 1-1 draws. Tony Jones scored their goal against Ruthin Town Reserves in the third round tie for the Horace Wynne Cup, which was ultimately won on a penalty shootout, whilst Liam Davies got their goal against table-toppers Greenfield in the league. Niall Martin scored FCQP’s goal in the surprising away draw to Overton, whilst Hanley scored a second-half goal against second placed-side Chirk Town, meaning there were four different goalscorers in the last four games. Despite not having won in the last four games, Queens Park would be going into the cup game knowing that had beaten Halkyn & Flint Mountain twice already this season, and having a number of goalscoring outlets within the team.
[NOTE: On the day this blog was released, Chirk Town sadly announced their resignation from the NEWFL Premier Division – you can find their announcement HERE.]
The Mike Beech Memorial Trophy
The tournament is named in honour of the memory of Mike Beech, the much-admired former General Secretary of the North East Wales Football League who sadly passed away over four years ago, and was involved or connected to many of the regions’ biggest clubs, as well as being the main administrator for the NEWFL since its initial foundation in 2011. The domestic tournament is played throughout the season between all teams within the North East Wales FA, with NEWFL first teams competing against reserve or colt/development sides from other teams in the region. Teams are divided up into eight groups of four, with each team playing each other in the group just the once, with the group winners and runners-up from each group progressing to the one-legged knockout rounds.
Halkyn & Flint Mountain are previous winners of this tournament, having won the trophy in 2019 when they hammered Penyffordd Lions 6-1 in the final held at Rhydymwyn. For this season’s tournament, Mountain were drawn in the same group alongside fellow NEWFL Premier side Coedpoeth United, NEWFL Championship side Ruabon Rovers, and the reserve team of Caerwys FC. Below are the results of Halkyn & Flint Mountain in Group A:
Group A Results
- Coedpoeth United 0-1 Halkyn & Flint Mountain
- Ruabon Rovers 1-1 Halkyn & Flint Mountain
- Halkyn & Flint Mountain 5-0 Caerwys Reserves
Halkyn & Flint Mountain qualified for the knockout stage as Group A winners, finishing ahead of Ruabon Rovers on goal difference after both sides finished on seven points, but the Pant Newydd-side possessed the superior goal difference of +6 compared to Ruabon’s goal difference of +4.
FC Queens Park were drawn in Group G of the Mike Beech Memorial Trophy alongside the reserve side of Coedpoeth United, as well as NEWFL Championship sides Brymbo Lodge (now sadly defunct) and Bellevue. Below are the results of Queens Park in Group G:
Group G Results
- FC Queens Park 3-0 Brymbo Lodge
- FC Queens Park 9-0 Bellevue FC
- Coedpoeth United Reserves 0-6 FC Queens Park
It was a fairly straightforward and easy qualification for Queens Park as they progressed to the knockout round as the clear group winners, winning all three group games without conceding a goal and scoring a monumental eighteen goals in total during the group phase! Striker Bazza Torrence top goalscoring during the group phase by scoring seven goals which included an incredible double hat-trick and three assists against Bellevue!
Round One Results
- Halkyn & Flint Mountain 6-0 Borras Park Albion
- Penyffordd Lions 2-3 FC Queens Park
In the first round of the knockout stage (the Round of 16) Halkyn & Flint Mountain were drawn against Group H’s runners-up Borras Park Albion, whilst FCQP were drawn against Group B’s runners-up Penyffordd Lions. Halkyn had the easier route to the quarter-finals by beating BPA 6-0 at Pant Newydd with a hat-trick from Aled Reece, a first-half Peter Martin goal, and a late brace from Alistair Gibson. Queens Park had to achieve an impressive comeback to defeat former tournament finalists Penyffordd Lions as they found themselves 0-2 down at halftime. However, goals from Adam Roberts and Callum Roberts early in the second half leveled the scores before an 85th-minute winner from Ross Bignall confirmed their place in the last eight.
- Chirk Town 1-3 FC Queens Park
- Greenfield 0-1 Halkyn & Flint Mountain
FC Queens Park’s route to the semi-finals was a surprisingly easier affair than the previous round as they managed to defeat fellow NEWFL Premier high-flyers Chirk Town 3-1. A brace from Bazza Torrence gave them a solid lead before Jack ‘Robo’ Hanley gave Queens Park a three-goal advantage, and even though they conceded in the second half, they maintained their advantage to progress to the semi-finals. Whereas Halkyn & Flint Mountain made the short journey down to the Bernie Williams Memorial Ground to take on local rivals Greenfield in the last eight of the competition. Despite being situated behind the Abbeymen in the NEWFL Premier Division table, and losing to the then league leaders 3-2 in the NEWFA Challenge Cup earlier in the season, Mountain repeated the feat of their league game played the previous month (winning 2-0) when they defeated Greenfield once again to progress to the semi-finals. Despite having Peter Martin sent off for two yellow cards with less than twenty minutes remaining, Charlie Hughes struck the decider with two minutes remaining to give ten-men Halkyn the narrow victory over their Flintshire rivals.
The winner of this afternoon’s game was scheduled to play against Connah’s Quay Town in the final of the tournament, as the Tigers beat Lex XI in the other semi-final played the previous weekend. With the scoreline tied at 1-1 after 120 minutes, it was the Flintshire club who held their nerve in the shootout by winning 5-4, to make their way to the final and await the victor from this tie.
- Travel Time: 10 minutes
- Travel Distance: 3,5 miles
- Entrance: FREE
The journey back to Pant Newydd is only a short one from 94thMinHQ taking less than ten minutes to make the 3,5-mile journey to the grounds of Halkyn Cricket Club, which shares Pant Newydd with the football club. Even though I arrived with about ten minutes to spare before kick-off, the large car park at the ground was already full-up and so I had to park on the grass verge on the side of the small lane connecting the road to the cricket and football grounds. However, it was heartwarming to see young lambs in the lush green field next to the lane jumping gaily and frolicking in the April sunshine – truly Spring had sprung!
It was free entry into the ground and it became clear why the car park was so full as there were plenty of supporters already in the ground – there were a lot of the Queens Park supporters who had made the journey northwestwards to the game this afternoon. A large number of them were standing along the cricket pitch side of the pitch, with a number collating beside the away dugout, whilst a large number of their more vocal members had occupied the main stand on the roadside of the pitch. I was expecting that there would be a good atmosphere for this cup game, and as the game developed, the supporters did not disappoint with their chanting throughout the cup tie. In addition, a number of the supporters had brought their dogs along for the game also, meaning we probably had more breeds on show at today’s game than your average Crufts show haha. The Non-League Dogs Twitter account would’ve had a field day here!
The weather was absolutely ideal for the upcoming game with temperatures very comfortably mild and the sun shining above. Alas, the pitch condition wasn’t the best which was a bit sad to see, but considering the bashing the pitch has probably received throughout the season, it’s probably not surprising that the condition is perhaps a little lower towards the back of the league campaign. I certainly have sympathy with the groundspeople trying to maintain a decent pitch condition at this time of the season for sure! I was last at Pant Newydd in September 2021 when Halkyn & Flint Mountain beat Coedpoeth United 4-3 in a NEWFL Premier Division match, and the pitch was in a much better condition then meaning a long season (the Welsh season started in early July 2021) can have an effect on pitches up and down the country, with this being a perfect example of it. One bonus however is that the overgrown bushes and plants on the slope behind the covered stands, between the ground and road above, had been trimmed back meaning any rogue footballs will be easier to find and retrieve should they veer from the playing zone.
Unfortunately, the ground itself is a little bit like the pitch itself – a little bit rundown if I’m being honest. Not much has changed since my visit in 2016, with the main stand still in a decent condition and the standing shelter next to it looking a bit crooked but still standing, although no further covered stands have been added. Naturally, for this level of football, the ground does not have any floodlights, but it does have a concrete path around three sides of the pitch meaning it will be good for people with low mobility or wheelchair users. The signs on the changing room complex still say “Halkyn United”, whilst the door to the toilet looked like it had come off its hinges as I walked past it towards the pitch.
Overall, it is kind of surprising that no further improvements have been made to Pant Newydd when considering that other similar level grounds dotted around North Wales have experienced some kind of ground upgrade during the same time period. However, I am aware that the football club has tried very, very hard to acquire funding through various grants and avenues to improve the facilities at Pant Newydd. Sadly, apparently, there have been some issues and clashes of opinion with the neighbouring cricket club which has meant that any plans for major improvements have been kiboshed for the time being, which is incredibly sad to hear. With a bit of investment, the ground at Pant Newydd could be brought up to a very decent standard and provide an excellent home for a club like it had done so for Halkyn United back in the club’s halcyon days of the 1990s and 2000s. It’s a huge shame as I think it’s one of the more picturesque grounds in Flintshire, with amazing panoramic views of the River Dee Estuary, so it saddens me to see a ground (that I have a lot of fondness for) be in such a condition currently. However, let me reiterate, that I certainly don’t blame the football club for this situation.
For the game, I decided to stand at the car park end of the pitch to watch the action and stood near one of the corner flags as the players left the changing rooms and crossed the small training pitch onto the main football surface. Halkyn & Flint Mountain were playing in their Macron-made home strip of white shirts with black trim, black shorts, and black socks, whilst Queens Park were wearing their Adidas-made kit of all red with white trim. I would also have a brief chat with the linesman during the early phases of the game who said that he had been officiating Wales versus Brazil the previous weekend (in an under 16s tournament, with Spain and Turkey, also involved, which was being played in various grounds around North East Wales), and that he was now ‘running the line’ here. I guess that’s the crazy beauty of Welsh football folks! You never know what you’re gonna experience next, especially as an official…
The soundtrack to the majority of the first half was orchestrated from the nearby 19th-century Victorian church in Halkyn, the Church of St Mary the Virgin, which emitted peels of bell chimes that would have pleased the most ardent campanologist. Although even these bell ringing practice sessions were punctuated by the continuous supportive chants emanating from the main stand where the large and voice contingent of the Queens Park fans had congregated for this game. The visiting supporters would continue to chant throughout the whole game, and it was good to see that Queens Park had brought a good number of supporters for this cup semi-final.
The visiting supporters would have been thrilled from what they had seen during the first half as Queens Park were the more threatening of the two teams, enjoying the majority of the chances and ball possession. A number of these efforts caused the home keeper, Ryan Roberts, to produce a number of decent saves (including one within the first minute of the game), whilst his opposite number, Joey Jones, did superbly to divert a goal-bound header resulting from a free kick in the middle of the half. However, FCQP managed to break the deadlock eight minutes before the interval although they were aided by some horrendous defending from the home side. Firstly a poor back pass allowed the alert Queens Park striker to get between the covering defender and goalkeeper to shoot at goal, but the effort was parried away for a corner. From the resulting corner, further mishaps occurred for the hosts as Roberts failed to claim the corner, allowing the ball to pass through his grasp and fall onto the foot of the unaware Scott Hewitt on the goal line who unfortunately diverted the trickling ball into the back of his own net. The own goal would be the only goal of the first half but it gave Queens Park a deserved lead considering the way the first forty-five minutes had played out.
The second half was more of an even encounter with Halkyn looking more competitive in the game, and producing a vast improvement to their first-half efforts. However, the defensive errors sadly continued for the home side. Mountain found themselves two goals in arrears eight minutes after the restart when poor marking inside the penalty box allowed a corner to be converted by a free header from striker Bazza Torrence at the back post to give the visitors their second goal of the afternoon, and score his tenth goal in the competition. Halkyn’s potential comeback was made even more difficult when they conceded a third goal about five minutes later, again a result of poor marking. The right-winger, Jake Harper, had enough time on the right side of the penalty box to find some space and shoot from an acute angle past the inside of the keeper’s grasp to give FCQP a three-goal cushion with an hour of the game played. It was at that point when the home side finally started to wrestle the momentum of the game in their favour, and were given a lifeline in the 69th minute when they awarded a penalty. Lee Messham managed to break free of the Queens Park defence, and used some trickery to find some space but just as he was about to shoot, a clumsy clip from behind stopped his efforts and resulted in the official awarding the spotkick. Charlie Hughes successfully converted the penalty by slamming the ball down the middle to give Halkyn some glimmer of a potential fightback.
The last 20 minutes of the match saw the home side dominate the ball possession but just weren’t able really to test Jones much in Queens Park’s goal, whilst the visitors managed to catch the Halkyn defence napping on a couple of occasions through some slick counter-attacks, which brought out a couple of saves from Roberts in goal. However, they naturally were just eager to maintain their two-goal cushion and kept solid in the face of a number of Halkyn attacking phases. There were a couple of heated exchanges between some of the players, as well as some words fired toward a few of the visiting supporters from the Halkyn players, towards the end of the game but it was nothing much more than hot air and bluster as both teams became more frantic as time dwindled away. Ultimately, the visitors held onto their victory, much to the delight of the vast number of Queens Park supporters, and would qualify for the tournament final against Connah’s Quay Town.
FULL TIME: Halkyn & Flint Mountain 1-3 FC Queens Park
Post Match & Conclusion
Alas, I didn’t hang around too long after the full-time whistle as I eagerly wanted to travel back to HQ quickly to watch another cup semi-final, this time between Liverpool and Manchester City in the English FA Cup, in what proved to be another goal-laden encounter. However, I did notice that after the match, the supporters were loudly celebrating the visitors’ victory whilst the Queens Park team stayed in the centre circle to have a brief post-match debriefing and celebration with the coaching side. Sadly, the dejected home side slunk away rather despondent towards the changing rooms knowing they had been outclassed on their own turf once again, with this result mirroring that of the league fixture played earlier in the season. Certainly, I heard a couple of Halkyn supporters grumble about the way the team had played this afternoon.
I found the game to be a very entertaining game between two sides who were in decent form prior to this match. Alas, it seemed as if the home side just did not perform for the first hour of the game with a collection of defensive errors and mishaps giving the visitors plenty of chances to score, which they successfully did on three occasions. It was only when Halkyn found themselves 0-3 down did they awake from their slumber and attempt to create some kind of respectable fightback, but irreparable damage had already been done at that point. Even though they conceded a penalty, it never felt as if Queens Park were going to lose grip of the tie or relinquish their lead, and they did a fine job of just holding firm against Halkyn’s late attacking forays to maintain control of the cup match and achieve another impressive away victory at Pant Newydd.
As always, I enjoyed my visit to Pant Newydd regardless of the fact the old ground is looking a bit rough around the edges nowadays, and I’ll still come back for a revisit in the future. Whether or not it will be for a Halkyn & Flint Mountain match remains to be seen as I heard rumours another move may be on the cards for the club in the near future. Regardless, I hope Mountain manages to finish the season in fine form and put pressure on the top-two teams in the NE Wales Premier Division for those two promotion spots. It would be fantastic if both Flintshire-based sides manage to achieve promotion at the end of the season! Finally, I hope Pant Newydd manages to find some needed revenue streams for facility improvements in the near future so a once-glorious ground can refind that beauty and magic it once had…my fingers are firmly crossed!