The Founding Members of the League of Wales – Part Two

Introduction

The locations of the 20 founding member teams of the League of Wales.

To read the other parts about the founding members of the 1992-93 League of Wales, follow the links below:

As mentioned in previous parts of this series, this series of blogs will look at each one of the twenty founding members who competed in the inaugural League of Wales season to see how they performed during the debut season, and how they have progressed in their history since that groundbreaking 1992-93 campaign. This is to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the top national league in Welsh football, as the League of Wales has evolved from the previous Welsh Premier League and into the current Cymru Premier.

The 1992-93 League of Wales table.
[IMAGE: Wikipedia]

In this second part of the series, the focus will be on the five teams that finished in the sixth to tenth positions in the 1992-93 League of Wales table: Holywell Town, Conwy United, Connah’s Quay Nomads, CPD Porthmadog, and Haverfordwest County.

6th: Holywell Town – 59 points

  • Ground: Halkyn Road, Holywell
  • Best Top Flight Finish: Fifth [1994-95]
  • Last Top Flight Season: 1998-99
  • 1991-92 League: Cymru Alliance – 11th
  • Current League: Cymru North

One of the surprises from the 1992-93 League of Wales was the performance of Holywell Town, who despite finishing as one of the lowest finishing teams in the 1991-92 Cymru Alliance to be invited into the League of Wales, finished as the highest-placed team from the former Cymru Alliance clubs (as well as the best of the four Flintshire-based clubs admitted into the league) by finishing in sixth position with 59 points accumulated and five points behind Bangor City, whom they inflicted one of the most significant away victories of the season upon by winning 6-0 at Farrar Road. Their strength was their defence, with the Wellmen having the joint third-best defence in the league with just 48 goals conceded, whilst the 17 goals of Ian Howat at the other end of the pitch helped Holywell to their high league position. The inaugural season of the League of Wales would coincide with a purple patch of form for one of North Wales’ oldest teams as they improved on their position in the following season to achieve a league-high finish of fifth place, before achieving a consolidatory eighth position in the 1994-95 season.

Holywell Town programme from the 1992-93 season.

Alas, as the finances of the club started to become scarcer, the performances of Holywell naturally suffered with the Wellmen eventually getting relegated from the League of Wales at the end of the 1996-97 season after finishing 20th out of 21 teams. They soon returned back to the League of Wales after a season’s exodus by gaining promotion from the Cymru Alliance, but soon found themselves quickly returning back whence they came when they finished bottom of the 1998-99 table. This would be the last time Holywell would compete in the top division in Wales. Since then, Holywell spent seven years in the Cymru Alliance throughout the early 2000s, before further experiencing another ten years attempting to gain promotion from the third-tier Welsh Alliance League. It was also during this time that they became the first club from the third tier to reach the semi-finals of the Welsh Cup following an epic campaign in 2013-14 before having the fairytale ended by Aberystwyth Town in the last four.

Holywell Town inevitably won promotion back to the Cymru Alliance in 2015 and managed three fifth-placed finishes in a row despite suffering another heartbreaking relegation in 2019, they immediately returned to the Cymru North in 2020. Last season, Holywell finished in fourth position in the Cymru North, thus achieving their best league finish in the Welsh football pyramid since they were last in the League of Wales 24 years prior.

7th: Conwy United – 57 points

  • Ground: Y Morfa, Conwy
  • Best Top Flight Finish: Third [1995-96]
  • Last Top Flight Season: 1999-2000
  • 1991-92 League: Cymru Alliance – 5th
  • Current League: Cymru North (as Conwy Borough)

Finishing two points behind Holywell Town, with a neutral goal difference of 0, was Conwy United. The club whose foundation originate from the embers of 1963 Welsh Cup winners, Borough United, was in the curious position of having the fifth-best defence in the league (conceding 51 goals) but also had the fifth-worst attack in the division with 51 goals. A large number of their total amount of goals scored earlier in the season were scored by David Taylor, who netted a total of 23 goals for that season, but would make history in the following season by scoring a record 43 goals with Porthmadog that would clinch him the European Golden Boot. Conwy United continued to be one of the stronger teams in the league throughout the 1990s, reaching the Welsh Cup semi-finals on two occasions, and reaching a league-high finish of third position in the 1995-96 season. A season that saw them score 101 goals during the season – a huge difference from their inaugural season in the league. They also competed in the 1996 UEFA Intertoto Cup because of their third-place finish, with the highlight of their group stage being a goalless draw with Charleroi of Belgium.

However, by the turn of the millennium, the club was struggling financially and eventually suffered relegation from the League of Wales after eight seasons in the top flight. Due to their finances, they took a voluntary demotion to the third tier to consolidate their position and reduce outgoings. Conwy United then spent the next eleven seasons languishing in the Welsh Alliance League before finally gaining promotion into the Cymru Alliance for the start of the 2011-12 season. The club changed its name to the present Conwy Borough in 2012, in reference to the old Conwy Borough club that had merged with nearby Llandudno Junction to form the famous Borough United side in 1952.

Since their promotion in 2011, the club has been a mainstay in the Cymru Alliance/North (albeit a season’s hiatus back in the Welsh Alliance in the 2017-18 season) often finishing in mid-table in recent years, although they did finish as runners-up in the 2013-14 season. Last season, Conwy Borough finished in tenth position in the Cymru North.

8th: Connah’s Quay Nomads – 55 points

  • 1992-93 Ground: Halfway Ground, Connah’s Quay
  • Best Top Flight Finish: Champions [2019-20 & 2020-21]
  • Last Top Flight Season: 2021-22
  • 1991-92 League: Cymru Alliance – 6th
  • Current League: Cymru Premier

After a poor start in the season which saw them losing their opening three matches in the League of Wales (which included a 1-6 away defeat to eventual champions Cwmbran Town), and losing eight of their first twelve league games, the 1992-93 season ended fairly successfully for Connah’s Quay Nomads as they finished in the relative safety of eighth position, just two points behind seventh-placed side Conwy United. The Nomads had an almost mirrored season having won seventeen and lost seventeen games of their 38-game schedule, scoring 66 goals and conceding 67 goals. 46 of their league goals came from the goalscoring partnership of David O’Gorman and Chris Davies with the former netting 25 times and the latter finding the net on 21 occasions. Connah’s Quay would also reach the semi-finals of the Welsh Cup that season but lost to second-tier side Rhyl 1-2 on aggregate (when the semi-finals of the Welsh Cup were two-legged ties).

CQN programme from the 1992-93 season.

Connah’s Quay has been near ever-present in the Welsh top-flight since the first season, playing in all but two seasons in the early 2010s when they relegated, as part of a mass relegation, due to the league structure being reduced from eighteen to twelve teams. For the vast majority of their history, they often finished in mid-table in the league with the odd flashes of success; winning the 1996 Welsh League Cup final by beating Ebbw Vale by a single goal, and reaching the 1998 Welsh Cup final but losing to Bangor City on penalties after drawing 1-1. However, the club is currently experiencing one of the most successful periods in its history. They became just the third Flintshire-based club to win the Welsh Cup when they comprehensively defeated Aberystwyth Town 4-1 in the 2018 final, as well as clinching two further Welsh League Cups in 2020 and 2022.

Naturally, Connah’s Quay’s biggest highlight of their history has been their two consecutive Welsh championships, winning their first title during the COVID-affected season of 2019-20, and then successfully defending their title in 2020-21. Alas, last season was a transitional season for the club with changes in management and players, as well as being hit with an 18-point deduction before the second phase of the season for playing an ineligible player in six matches. As a result of the points deduction, the defending champions could only finish in ninth position. Nonetheless, the Nomads are still considered one of the strongest teams in Welsh football and are expected to challenge for the European spots again this season.

9th: Porthmadog – 53 points

  • Ground: Y Traeth, Porthmadog
  • Best Top Flight Finish: Ninth [1992-93]
  • Last Top Flight Season: 2009-10
  • 1991-92 League: Cymru Alliance – 3rd
  • Current League: Cymru North

Prior to the start of the League of Wales, Porthmadog was one of the strongest teams in North Wales after winning the 1989-90 Welsh Alliance League, and finishing in third position in the 1991-92 Cymru Alliance, so it was no surprise that they were chosen as one of the founding members of the League of Wales – one of only two clubs from Gwynedd. A late surge towards the end of the season, inspired by the goals of David Taylor (who moved from Conwy United during the season), meant that Port finished in a respectable ninth position and just two points behind Connah’s Quay. Porthmadog would also have one of the best defences in the league by having the fifth-best defensive unit after conceding just 49 goals throughout their campaign.

Porthmadog played in the League of Wales for the first six seasons of the national league, often finishing in the bottom half of the table and not managing to match or improve upon their initial ninth place in the first season. Eventually, they suffered relegation down to the Cymru Alliance after finishing in the enlarged relegation zone for the 1997-98 season as the league reduced the number of teams from 20 to 18. It would be another five seasons before Porthmadog returned to the Welsh Premier League as Cymru Alliance champions, returning to the top flight for the 2003-04 season. However, in keeping with their first stint in the top flight, they continued to finish in the bottom half of the table, occasionally flirting with relegation. Finally, their luck exhausted itself out as the club suffered a second relegation from the first tier as they finished in 15th position at the end of the 2009-10 season, being one of the six teams to be demoted to the second tier. Once again, another league restructuring would prove fatal to their Welsh Premier League hopes, although Port was 17 points adrift of safety.

Despite Porthmadog’s large support, the club has never appeared in the WPL/Cymru Premier since 2010, often being one of the stronger teams within the Cymru Alliance/North but failing to achieve promotion. Disappointingly, management upheaval did cause Porthmadog to suffer a further relegation to the third tier at the end of the 2019-20 season and compete in the Ardal Leagues. However, their stay in the third tier would be brief as despite finishing in second position in the Ardal North West league behind champions Mold Alexandra, Port managed to hammer Caersws 5-0 in the first-ever Ardal Northern Playoff final to return back to the Cymru North for the 2022-23 season.

10th: Haverfordwest County – 53 points

  • Ground: Bridge Meadow Stadium, Haverfordwest
  • Best Top Flight Finish: Third [2003-04]
  • Last Top Flight Season: 2021-22
  • 1991-92 League: Welsh Football League – 4th
  • Current League: Cymru Premier

Haverfordwest County was (and still is) the furthest western-located side to have competed in the Welsh top flight, and is the only club from Pembrokeshire / Sir Benfro to have played at the top tier. In the inaugural season of the League of Wales, the Bluebirds concluded the season comfortably in mid-table with a tenth place finish, missing out on ninth position on goal difference (+1 compared to Porthmadog’s +12). Unfortunately, their stay in the League of Wales would be a brief encounter as they resigned from the league at the end of the following season despite a 15th-place finish. Having accepted an offer that involved the redevelopment of their Bridge Meadow ground, and being unable to find a suitable alternative ground to the required League of Wales standard, they regrettably resigned from the league.

Haverfordwest soon returned back to the LoW after a three-season hiatus and was an ever-present presence in the Welsh top flight until the 2010-11 season when they finished bottom of the first season in the 12-team era. During that long period in the LoW/WPL, their best league finish was a third position in the 2003-04 season (remarkably scoring just 40 goals in 32 games) which earned the club a place in the UEFA Cup for the following season. Alas, the Bluebirds’ first outing in European competition ended at the first qualifying round stage by losing to FH of Iceland 1-4 on aggregate. Haverfordwest returned to the WPL for a season-long stay in the 2015-16 season before getting relegated once again when they finished bottom of the table, but they soon rebounded back to the top-flight in 2020 when they were promoted as runners-up after the Cymru South champions, Swansea University, was denied a top-tier licence.

Currently, Haverfordwest is competing in their third consecutive season in the Cymru Premier after finishing in tenth position last season but being threatened with relegation for large parts of the season. However, they experienced a late surge at the end of the season to conclude their season seven points ahead of the relegation zone and confirm their position in the ‘super 12’ for another year.

That concludes this second part of the series that looked at the sixth to tenth teams in the 1992-93 League of Wales. In the next part, we’ll look at the founding members who finished between eleventh and fifteenth in the inaugural national league. If you have any comments, suggestions, or reactions about this blog series, please write them in the comments box below. Likewise, you can either email us at the94thmin@gmail.com or send a message at @The94thMin on Twitter.

Diolch!

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