Holywell Town Football Club / Clwb Pêl-droed Treffynnon
- Town: Holywell, Flintshire / Treffynnon, Sir y Fflint
- Founded: 1880
- Ground: Halkyn Road (2,000)
- Nicknames: The Wellmen
- Colours: Red and white vertical striped shirts, red shorts, red socks
- 2022-23 League: Cymru North
- Club Website: https://www.holywelltownfc.co.uk/
- Club Twitter: @HolywellTownFC
- Club Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/holywell.town
- Club Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/holywelltownfc/
- Best League Finish: 5th in the League of Wales/Cymru Premier (1993-94)
- Best Welsh Cup Finish: Semi-Finalists (2013-14)
- FAW Trophy
- Winners (2): 2010-11, 2014-15
- Cymru Alliance League Cup
- Winners (1): 1997-98
- Welsh League (North) / Welsh Alliance League
- Champions (6): 1949-50, 1952-53, 1957-58, 1963-64, 1969-70, 2014-15
- Mawddach Challenge Cup
- Winners (1): 2014-15
- Cookson Cup
- Winners (1): 2013-14
- Welsh National League (Wrexham Area) Premier Division
- Champions (1): 2019-20
- North Wales Coast FA Challenge Cup
- Winners (1): 1986-87
- Clwyd Premier League
- Champions (2): 1986-87, 1987-88
- Clwyd League Cup
- Winners (1): 1987-88
Holywell Town Football Club / Clwb Pêl-droed Treffynnon is a North Welsh club that currently plays in the Cymru North, the northern and central regional second-tier league in the Welsh football pyramid. They are based in the historic religious town of Holywell / Treffynnon, home of one of the Seven Wonders of Wales and a continuous pilgrimage site – Saint Winefride’s Well, located in northwestern Flintshire with a population of approximately 8,900 making it the fifth most populous town in the county. Holywell Town currently plays its home games at the 2,000-capacity Halkyn Road / Ffordd Helygain (currently known by its sponsored name the Achieve More Training Stadium), which they have played at since 1946, and can be found in the southwest of the town and next to the local community hospital.
The club was founded in September 1880 as Holywell Football Club, with the club making its first appearance in the Welsh Cup during the 1881-82 season in a 0-3 losing effort against Northwich Victoria in the First Round. It initially competed in the North Wales Coast League as a founding member of the northern league, winning the championship for the first time in the last season before the start of World War I as Holywell United, whilst the Holywell Arcadians would win a further two Welsh Football League (which covered North Wales) titles in the early 1930s. It wouldn’t be until the conclusion of the Second World War that the Holywell Town of today came to fruition, with former soldiers returning home and establishing the club at their current home of Halkyn Road.
During the post-war period, the Wellmen competed in the Welsh League (North) for seventeen years, winning the title five times, before leaving the northern league in 1966 to compete in the local leagues. They would later advance through the Clwyd League structure throughout the 1970s and 1980s, becoming the strongest team in the old northeastern county towards the end of the latter decade with a couple of consecutive Clwyd Premier League titles. The Wellmen later briefly returned to the Welsh League (North), now called the Welsh Alliance League, for two seasons before becoming founding members of the Cymru Alliance in the 1990-91 season. Again the club would spend two seasons in the new northern league, achieving a couple of mid-table finishes, before becoming one of the founding members of the League of Wales – Wales’ first national football league in 1992-93.
Despite being one of the lowest-ranked sides of the founding members, Holywell experienced a successful period during the pioneering years of the new national league. They finished in sixth position in the inaugural LoW season, and improved upon that in the following season with a fifth-place finish – their highest league finish to date. Alas, results started to deteriorate as inconsistency crept in and the club were relegated back to the Cymru Alliance in 1997. Although they returned back to the top flight after a season’s absence, they suffered a second relegation after finishing bottom of the 1998-99 table. That would be the club’s last appearance in the top tier to date. Since their relegation from the League of Wales, the club competed in the Cymru Alliance for seven seasons without much fanfare before suffering another relegation, this time back to the Welsh Alliance League in 2006.
Holywell Town were one of the ‘sleeping giants’ of tier three, spending nine seasons competing in the Welsh Alliance League. Initially, they failed to achieve much success, but it wouldn’t be until the 2010-11 season that Holywell started to awake from their slumber. They won the FAW Trophy for the very first time during that season (a turning point in Holywell’s modern history) and managed to finish in third position in the league. For the next five years, they would become one of the teams who would challenge for the one promotion slot, but would often fail in the final weeks of the season, finishing as runners-up on two occasions, before finally achieving the league title in the 2014-15 season and returning back to the Cymru Alliance. That season would see the club achieve a historic treble, winning the FAW Trophy for a second time and clinching the Mawddach Cup. It was during that time period that the Wellmen established themselves with a reputation as a ‘cup team’ having reached the Welsh Cup semi-finals in the previous season – the first third-tier club to achieve the feat. Starting in Qualifying Round Two, Holywell defeated Llannerchymedd, second-tier sides Penrhyncoch and Penycae, Llandrindod Wells, Welsh Premier League side Newtown, and second-tier Porthmadog to face WPL side Aberystwyth Town in the last four. Despite taking the lead, and potentially being 45 minutes away from qualifying for European football (due to league champions The New Saints winning the other semi-final), they conceded twice in the final eight minutes to lose the tie 1-3 at Newtown.
Holywell Town returned back to the Cymru Alliance, where they spent the next four seasons and achieved three consecutive fifth-place finishes in their first three seasons before a poor start in the 2018-19 season and management changes couldn’t stop them from returning back to the third-tier as they were relegated on the final day of the season. They spent a season in the Welsh National League (Wrexham Area) Premier Division and were crowned as the league’s final champions on a points-per-game ratio following the sudden conclusion of the season due to the COVID pandemic. After the 2020-21 season was not played due to the ongoing pandemic, Holywell finally returned to the second tier, this time into the Cymru North (which had replaced the Cymru Alliance). In their first season in the Cymru Leagues, they surprised everyone by finishing in fourth position in the league, and only two points from third position. The Wellmen continued that rise into this season when they concluded the 2022-23 campaign as runners-up. Despite starting with just one point from their first three games and conceding nine goals, Holywell achieved a 25-game winning streak, and winning 26 from their remaining 27 league games, to conclude the historic season with 79 points (just four points behind champions Colwyn Bay) and with the league’s best defense with 22 goals conceded.
To talk about a side that achieved a 25-game winning streak this season and finished runners-up in the Cymru North, and will be considered as one of the favourites for the Cymru North title for the 2023-24 season, we interviewed our own Editor-in-Chief, Clint Jones. Clint is a Flintshire-based Holywell Town supporter who founded and writes for this blogsite, The 94th Minute, as well as sporadically writes for South Korean football website, K League United. In addition, he also dabbles in writing about professional wrestling, producing articles for the Five Star Network. To find out more about our Editor-in-Chief, as well as KLU and FSN, you can find his social media accounts and the links to the other websites below:
- Twitter: @clint_jones
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/theclintjones/
- K League United Website: http://www.kleagueunited.com/
- Five Star Network Website: https://fivestarnetwork.co/
Q. Firstly, how did you decide to start following and supporting Holywell Town?
Well, Holywell Town are my hometown side and Halkyn Road was the first football ground I visited as a youngster. I managed to watch to some Wellmen games back when they were competing in the League of Wales during the early to mid-1990s but my interest faded as I went into my early teens and became enamored by the glitz of the 90s English Premier League and UEFA Champions League. However, it wasn’t until my late teens that I started getting interested in the club again, and Welsh league football in general. I had become extremely disinterested in the English Premier League and all the money swishing around that I wanted something more “grassroots” and decided to venture back to Halkyn Road for a more authentic football experience and support my hometown club. Plus, it was much better value for money, and I felt more appreciated as a supporter and not just a “revenue source”.
Initially, I went sporadically to Holywell games when I felt confident to go, but as time progressed, and I felt more comfortable in my surroundings, I went to more and more games (home and away) each season. Now, Halkyn Road feels like a second home! Although my current job means I might not be able to go to many games as I would like for next season, which is a little frustrating, I’ll still keep following the club and attending games whenever I am able to.
Q. From your time following the club, who has been your favourite player, and the reasoning behind your choice?
I think it would have to be Steve Thomas. The guy practically played in nearly every position whilst he was there and always gave 100% to the team. An excellent player who was very creative down the left flank and always had the knack of scoring an important goal when the club needed one. Plus it was always great to see a local lad doing well for his hometown club! It was really sad when he eventually left the club to join Llandudno but he deserved to have a shot at Welsh top-flight football after such a tenure with the Wellmen. Plus he managed to score an absolute banger of a goal live on Sgorio with the Seasiders against Cefn Druids early in the season, even though I still think it might have been an overhit cross haha.
I have to give a shoutout to Mike Platt as well. Platty has become one of those ‘cult heroes’ at the club and was an important player during that iconic treble-winning season and the club’s rise back into the Cymru Alliance. He was (and still is) an excellent and dependable goalkeeper who could always pull off a “worldie” of a save from nowhere. Not to mention, he’s a really good person in general who really cares about the club and the supporters, and I’ll always appreciate him reaching out when I was at a low ebb in my mental health. An all-around top person and a legend of the club!
Q. Of the current squad, who would you say is the best player at the club and why?
It’s very difficult to single out just one player as the squad has been excellent this season. I think the inclusion of the experienced centre-back Kai Edwards in defence has been an inspired signing this year and he has contributed to Holywell having the best defence in the Cymru North (with just 22 goals conceded from 30 games), not to mention providing crucial leadership in the side. When you have someone with the top-flight experience that he does (having played for The New Saints, Connah’s Quay Nomads, Llandudno, and Flint Town United), you’ll always improve as a defensive unit at this level of Welsh football.
At the other end of the team, the experienced striker Dave Forbes has been clinical in front of goal this season and has given the side a cutting edge that we have perhaps lacked in previous seasons. His contribution of 22 league goals this season meant he finished as the league’s joint-top goalscorer, and hopefully he’ll continue to bang them in for the Wellmen for next season.
Finally, Jake Cooke has been an inspiration in the right-back position this year! A local lad who came through the academy, he has come to the forefront this season, and has been an electrifying presence down the flanks. His mazy dribbles and runs have frightened defences all season, as well as excite the home faithful, and he’s contributed with a number of goals – how often does a full-back score a hat-trick?!? He’s just been awarded the ‘Cymru North Player of the Month‘ for April, and he’ll certainly be in the running for the ‘Cymru North Player of the Season‘ award also, he’s been that good!
Q. Who would you say is the most exciting up & coming talent at the club?
Holywell Town has a large number of talented youngsters who I hope will continue to play for the club for the next few years and contribute to the rise into the Cymru Premier. Obviously, the previously mentioned 22-year-old Jake Cooke is the standout, whilst 23-year-old Zebb Edwards has also played exceptionally well this season. Sometimes used as a left-back this season, but also used in midfield, he has been another exceptional player who has really improved this year and contributed with a number of important goals throughout the season. Plus his Twitter game has entertained me this season! Haha!
20-year-old winger Morgan Murray is another player who has performed exceptionally well this season. Last season, he destroyed Holywell when he played for Conwy Borough, so it was great to see him in the red & white stripes for this campaign. He’s become an important player and vital in creating chances for the forwards as he threatens down the flanks, and I fully expect him to further improve next season. Finally, another academy product and local lad in Aiden Farren will be worth watching next season. The 19-year-old midfielder is just breaking into the first team and has contributed with a number of goals, most recently, scoring in the 6-0 win over Holyhead in the last game of the season. I expect him to get more starts and games next season, for sure.
Q. Who would you regard as the Wellmen’s biggest or historical rivals?
Although we have strong local rivalries with all the Flintshire-based clubs, Holywell’s biggest and historical rival is unquestionably Flint Town United due to the ancient local rivalry between the Flintshire towns, and the long rivalry between the two clubs – one of the oldest rivalries in Welsh league football in fairness! Matches between the two clubs are always big affairs, with large attendances at either Halkyn Road or Cae-y-Castell showing the importance of the matches between the teams. With the derbies returning in the 2023-24 season, expect some large crowds in the two league fixtures!
Most recently, we have enjoyed a healthy and friendly rivalry with Caernarfon Town after both teams were members of the old Welsh Alliance League and were often competing for the third-tier title. However, since their promotion to the Cymru Premier, we have just met each other in pre-season friendlies which have always been good affairs. The same reason applies for Holyhead Hotspur, albeit there’s perhaps a bit more “spice” between the two “Holy” clubs due to Holyhead’s decision to show a “Bye Bye Holywell” banner when they pipped the Wellmen to promotion from the 2011-12 Welsh Alliance season. Needless to say, that act might have bitten them on the backsides a few times since then…
Obviously, for this season, a competitive rivalry has developed between ourselves and Colwyn Bay as both clubs have attempted to chase the Cymru North title. I have a lot of respect for Colwyn Bay and its excellent supporters (they were the first club I did a proper groundhop blog on), and very happy to see them thriving in Welsh football after they were unsure to make the move back to Wales. Their large support has been a welcome addition to Welsh league football, although a very small contingent of the Seagulls‘ support didn’t exactly endear themselves during the home and away games between the two clubs this season with their unneeded hostility, which was a bit disappointing. Sadly, aggression between supporters in Welsh football seems to be a growing and worrying concern as we have seen recently at Flint. Nonetheless, 99% of Colwyn Bay supporters have been superb and a credit to their club, and the Seagulls have been an exciting addition to Welsh football, and I’m interested to see how well they’ll do in the Cymru Premier next season.
Q. From your time following the club, what would you say has been the best game, result, or performance in your opinion?
I think both of my favourite Holywell games have been FAW Trophy finals – I suppose they’re more memorable because we won both of the games. Naturally, I must mention the 2011 FAW Trophy final held at Rhyl’s Belle Vue ground between Holywell and Conwy United (now Conwy Borough) which inspired the name of this blog and kickstarted Holywell’s resurgence in Welsh football after some years in the tier three doldrums. Having been 0-2 down in the 89th minute and then scoring two penalties and a 94th-minute winner to win the tie 3-2 in injury time will go down as one of the craziest games I have ever seen. It’s one of a few times I have actually seen a pitch invasion because of a goal – just manic scenes when that goal went in!
Likewise, the 2015 final held in Llandudno’s Parc Maesdu was another fantastic game and certainly one of the best atmospheres I have experienced at a live game. I think most of Holywell was in attendance within the ground that day to see the Wellmen win the tie 4-2 against Penrhyndeudraeth. The whole day was just superb. Experiencing Llandudno’s many pubs beforehand before watching a match that made me experience every emotion going before absolute jubilation at the end. The noise that was made in the stand, especially during the second half, left my ears ringing at the end, it was that loud and passionate. Also seeing a large green inflatable crocodile bounce off the head of one of the FAW bigwigs following the trophy presentation will live with me for the rest of my days haha.
[READ: Holywell Town vs. Penrhyndeudraeth in the 2015 FAW Trophy Final]
From this season, I think the home performance against Guilsfield was one of the best I saw live. They defeated an in-form side 4-0 at Halkyn Road, with some slick passing, multiple chances, and excellent goals. Whilst watching the game, it made me think to myself, “Yeah, we’ve really got a superb side this season!“. Obviously, the 3-1 away victory at Colwyn Bay is probably the club’s best result of the season to halt the Seagulls‘ own 25-game winning streak, inflict the champions’ only league defeat of the season, and made the title race exciting down to the final two games of the campaign. Sadly I was unable to attend the game but most of Holywell turned out in force for that away day!
Q. What do you think of the situation in Welsh league football currently? Are there any improvements you would like to see happen?
I think the main issue that needs addressing in Welsh football (and should be getting changed soon if the rumours are true) is the state of the Cymru Premier. Certainly, the current twelve-team format with a mid-season split is not appealing to clubs or supporters, and hasn’t benefitted clubs in the way they initially wanted when the format change was enforced in the 2010-11 season. Results in European competitions haven’t really improved long-term, and I don’t think average attendances for clubs have increased either, with supporters getting tired of playing a club four times a season (maybe more when cups and playoffs come into contention). An expansion to 16 teams (for example) would certainly help that situation as teams would only play each other twice in the league, and it could allow for the league to have three relegation spots, making the Cymru North/South more exciting with potential playoffs. In addition, it could reduce travel costs for clubs who have to travel up and down the country using Wales’ shoddy and sometimes archaic infrastructure. There’s also the constant discussion about Wales’ movement to summer football to encourage an improvement in supporters coming through the turnstiles, amongst other compelling arguments, but I think changing the structure of the top flight is the more pressing issue at the moment.
Another problem that always rears its head towards the end of every season is the licensing system that is in place that allows teams to play in the Cymru Leagues. Whilst the system has helped improve the standards of clubs within Welsh football in terms of their facilities, finances, media, etc, there have been occasions when licenses have been refused for seemingly petty or harsh reasons. Ok, I understand rules need to be enforced to help improve the standard levels, but I also think a modicum of common sense needs to be applied at times. Also, I am not a fan of relegating teams or halting a promotion for off-the-field reasons, especially when they seem trivial.
Finally, I would like to see the Welsh leagues gain more exposure in the national media. As I have often complained on social media, I find it baffling that neither BBC Wales nor ITV Cymru Wales reads out the results of Cymru Premier / Welsh Cup on a Saturday evening yet will go out of their way to fully report on the ongoing of the Anglo-Welsh clubs. I mean, it would only take about a minute of their news report to read out the results! Even outlets such as WalesOnline would rather devote time to pointless articles than report on the national leagues. If we can get the national media onboard, then perhaps more people within Wales and abroad would become more interested in the Cymru Leagues and attendances could potentially improve. Until then, there’s always some kind of unneeded internal media hindrance to promoting the league and its uniqueness.
Q. How would you describe the current performance or state of the club? How do you think this season has gone so far?
I think Holywell Town is in a fantastic position at the moment. They have just achieved their best league position since the 1998-99 season when they were last in the top flight by finishing as Cymru North runners-up, and the club can be considered one of the best teams in the country. I think considering the start to the season when the club earned just one point from their first three games, and suffered heavy defeats to Llandudno and Colwyn Bay in the second and third league games, we did have worries about the season ahead. However, since the 1-6 defeat, it’s been a phenomenal ride throughout the season and exceeded all our expectations. To go on a run of 25 consecutive league victories, inflicting the champions their only defeat of the season on their own ground, and achieving the best defensive record (22 goals conceded in 30 games, with 13 of them conceded in just 28 games) is an incredible turnaround. When you win 26 of the 30 league games, and reach the Welsh Cup quarter-finals (which we should have won had the official been at least half-decent) you cannot be disappointed with that at all – I am very proud of what the whole side has achieved this season!
I hope the manager Johnny Haseldin is given the resources to continue building upon this season’s achievements and potentially aim for promotion and the Cymru North title next season. I’m sure a number of Cymru Premier clubs are looking at some of our players, but I am hopeful they’ll stay at the club and help it to continue to improve. Perhaps get the club some silverware or take them to the top flight once again.
Q. What are the best and worst things about being a fan of the club?
One of the best things about being a Holywell Town supporter is the atmosphere at the club. All the supporters are welcoming to new faces and away fans to the stadium, and there’s a real family feel to the club with everyone knowing and supporting each other in all areas of the club. Also, the away days with the team have been fun times. Venturing around the various northern and central Welsh towns and villages supporting the team and visiting places you wouldn’t normally travel to. I enjoy exploring Wales in that way, and it’s always heartwarming to see a load of other Wellmen supporters doing the same thing. Normally, Holywell tends to bring a large away contingent to all the games regardless of the opposition.
Certainly one of the things which aren’t the best is the stadium at times. Although some welcome improvements have been made to Halkyn Road over the seasons, I feel more can be improved in the future (depending on finances, of course). I would like more toilet facilities at the ground, more food choices, upgraded floodlights, and the old main stand getting a full update or rebuild, but again that all comes down to available money. None of those suggestions are cheap and Holywell is not flush with money like other clubs in the area. I would also like more of an online club shop so merchandise and Holywell-branded clothing can be bought both locally and internationally, that would be cool. Perhaps Holywell can acquire some international supporters clubs that way?!?
However, the one thing I would like is for the town to promote the club a bit more as I don’t feel the town council does enough, especially when football games are being played. Even things like having the ground as one of the venues for the annual Well Inn music festival would be welcome, or a road sign pointing to the football ground. Even though a sign has been erected around the back of the Hotel Victoria by one of the club’s main sponsors that displays the next games for Holywell Town, more things could be done in the centre of town to help promote the club. Hell, even having a club shop on the high street might be a start.
Q. Finally, what are your hopes for the future of Holywell Town?
To continue on the path the club is currently taking. Indeed, I hope for the majority of this season’s players and Johnny to stay at the club, with further additions brought in to strengthen the squad, and then challenge for promotion to a potentially expanded Cymru Premier. The Cymru North will get harder next season with both Airbus UK Broughton and Flint Town United (the return of the Old Flintshire Derby!) coming down from the Premier, and well-supported teams like Bangor 1876, Y Rhyl 1879, and Denbigh Town looking to advance from the Ardal Leagues. An increase in squad depth will be needed to main Holywell’s position near the top of the table.
Personally, I would love for the club to win the Welsh Cup and add its name to the cup’s long history. Considering local sides Flint Town United, Connah’s Quay Nomads, and Prestatyn Town have all won the national cup (the latter two within the past ten years), it would be tremendous to see that beautiful trophy being displayed in the clubhouse at Halkyn Road, and for me to finally get a photograph with it.
Additionally, I would like to see further development of the stadium (as mentioned previously) and greater exposure for the club in some shape or form. The performances of the team this season have raised the stock of the club but I would like to see it gain greater exposure and attention in the future. I do feel that perhaps they have been a little overlooked this season by some areas of the media. Obviously, a higher reputation brings in more sponsors and increased finances which can help keep the club moving forward.
A massive thank you to our Editor-in-Chief Clint Jones for answering our questions on the Cymru North side Holywell Town. Remember you can find his social media accounts in the links towards the top of the blogpage.
If you have any comments, suggestions, reactions, or even your own answers to the above questions, please write them in the comments box below. Likewise, you can either email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or send a message at @The94thMin on Twitter.