North Wales Coast Football League history

By Mr. H.R. WILLIAMS, League Secretary, Bangor. (this article has been taken verbatim from the “North Wales Football Annual 1934”)

This league was formed in 1893, and as the first Minute Book is not available, we have to rely on the "Rhyl Journal" of March 25th, 1893, for the year of its birth. The Rhyl Journal states that "A Meeting was held at the Lorne Hotel, Rhyl, for the purpose of forming a North Wales Football League for next season." At this memorable meeting there were present Messrs. Barber (Flint), Dolan (Holywell), J LI Williams (Holywell). Hampshire (Bangor), Williams (St.Asaph). Prenton, A J Jones and Robinson (Rhyl). A resolution that such a League be formed, subject to the approval of the Welsh F.A., was proposed by Mr. Hampshire, and seconded by Mr. Robinson. The original promoters of the League were Mr. Barber (Flint), and Messrs. Williams and Dolan (Holywell) and it was at their initiative the meeting was called. Mr. Barber was the first Secretary, and is now [1934] an Alderman and the present Mayor of Flint. He and Mr. Robinson still take an interest in the game.

The Mr Williams of Holywell is now known to everybody connected with or interested in football as Lt. Col T Llewelyn Williams, Honorary Secretary of the North Wales Coast Football Association since its inception in 1894 and it can safely be said that this Association is the offspring of the League. In his younger days Colonel Williams was a well-known player within the area for many years, and as a half-back he held his own with the best of his day. Afterwards be did not shirk the responsibility of officiating as referee. It is further interesting to note that Colonel Williams is the Treasurer of the Football Association of Wales, and has been a prominent and hard working member of that body for the last 30 years. He, with the late Mr. H Miller of Shotton, initiated the original Flintshire League.
Throughout all these years Colonel Williams' name can be found in the Minute Books, which are available from 1896, and on more than our occasion he has come to the assistance of the League by carrying on, pro-tem the duties of Secretary. To-day, He is the honoured President of the League. The Minute Book for 1896 shows that the Annual Meeting of the League was held on September 1st of that year, and Mr. C. W. Berrie of Rhyl, was appointed Secretary in place of Mr. Barber, who resigned at the meeting, Mr. Hampshire was appointed Treasurer, and Mr. T. B. Farrington, C.E., of Conway, was elected President, and he held this office until the season 1900-01.

I find in the minutes of 1896 an amazing decision Bangor drew with Flint 1-1, and Bangor claimed that they should have had a penalty which might have won the match for them. The Committee made the amazing decision that Bangor should be awarded a penalty, which should be taken at the start of the next game and this should decide the match. This decision was not carried out as it was rescinded before the game was played. One kick to decide a match would have been a unique record. Mr. R. John Hughes, the present excellent Chairman, attended League Meetings as far back as 1898, and he was chairman of a meeting held on July 19th of that year. At that time he lived at Rhyl but later he moved to Penmaenmawr, and he now lives at Deganwy.

Mr. Hughes' name appears continually in the minute books, and in 1903-04 he was the President. Holywell resigned from the League in 1898, and it was during this year that Holyhead and Llanrwst were admitted into membership. It was also during this season that Llandudno F.C. presented the Russell Cup to the League, and it was won by Caernarvon, who beat Bangor for the champion-ship on goal average. Caernarvon's record was 20 points for 14 matches played, and a goal average of 54 for and 28 against. Bangor's goal average was 36 for and 29 against. The other clubs in the League finished in the following order:—Llanrwst, Colwyn Bay, Holyhead, Rhyl, Llandudno, and Menai Bridge.

In season 1899-1900 Captain Jones of Caernarvon was appointed treasurer, with Mr. J. C. Jones, of Bangor, as secretary. During this season Denbigh became members of the League, and Holywell were re-admitted. 1900-01 shows Mr. Hampshire back as Treasurer, and Mr. C. E. Peart Jones, Holywell, became Secretary. It was during this season that Colwyn Bay failed to get a ground, and were compelled to resign. Flint also resigned, and a club from Connah's Quay was expelled. A team from the R.W.F. (Volunteers) at Penmaenmawr were admitted into membership, but they did not win a match throughout the season, and they finished the season with only two points.

In the 1901-02 season Mr C W Berrie, of Rhyl, was the President, with the same Treasurer and Secretary, but during the season, the Secretary resigned, and from January 1902 to the end of the season this office was held by Colonel Williams. It was at the end of this season that Rhyl resigned, and their place was taken by Rhyl Athletic.
1902-03 saw Mr. Henry Lloyd, of Llanrwst as President, with Mr. Henry Jones, of the same town, as Secretary, and Mr H T Angel, Caernarvon as Treasurer. This was the first season for an East v West match to be played, and this game took place at Bangor, on April 1st, 1903. The selected teams were:— East: - B Hayes (Llanrwst); Chas Roberts (Llandudno), Edgar Allen (Colwvn Bay): T W Ellis (Rhyl), A D Thomas (Llanrwst) Jim Parry (Llandudno); W Owen (Llanrwst), J E Williams (Llandudno) Welllngs (Colwyn Bay), Wilson (Conway), and Evan Jones (Llanrwst).
West: - Evan Davies (Portmadoc); W Evans (Bangor), W Edwards (Penmaenmawr) Foulkes (Penmaenmawr), J R Jones (Portmadoc), Oldfield (Caernarvon) A T Evans (Bangor) Moseley Jones (Portmadoc), Owen Jones (Portmadoc), H Moran (Bangor) and W. Jones (Caernarvon).
The referee was Mr. E. Lloyd Williams,
There was a loss of £2 10s 3d shown on this game, but on the match Champions v Rest of the League, played at the end of the season, there was a profit of £4.

As already stated Mr R John Hughes became President in 1903-04, Mr. Henry Lloyd was the Treasurer, and Mr D Ll Hughes, Portmadoc, Secretary. New rules were adopted for this season, and the League was governed by a Council consisting of Messrs. R W Parry, Bangor, F Beech, Rhyl, D M Roberts, Colwyn Bay, Henry Jones, Llanrwst, and K Lloyd Williams, Bangor.

In 1904-5 the officials were Mr. T O Morgan, Conway, as President; Mr. W LI Jones, Llanrwst, Treasurer; Mr. K Lloyd Williams, Bangor, Secretary. The Executive Committee were Messrs. H Lloyd, Conway; H Jones, Llanrwst; G T Phillips, Penmaenmawr; D Ll Hughes, Portmadoc and Mr. F J H Beech, Rhyl. During this season Holyhead Swifts were re-admitted to the League and Blaenau Ffestiniog became members.

1905-6 saw Mr. D LI Hughes, Portmadoc, elected President, with Mr. W LI Jones, Llanrwst, as Treasurer; and Mr. F J H Beach, Rhyl, as Secretary. The Executive Committee were Messrs. R LI Williams, Bangor; T O Morgan, Conway; H Heap, Colwyn Bay; N J Campbell, Holyhead; and J R Vincent, Llandudno.

Efforts were made at this time to form a Second Division divided into East and West sections, but it was not a success in the West. An Eastern section was operated with four clubs in membership [Editor’s note; this is mistaken; there were seven clubs in membership]. The North Wales Chronicle Co. presented a Silver Challenge Cup in this season to the League with certain conditions attached to it. The Cup was returned to the donors in 1911-12 with the best thanks of the League for its use for six years.

The records between October 1905 and May 1906, have been torn from the Minute Book, but it can be traced that seven clubs in Division I completed their programme. The same officials were in office during 1906-7, but it was during this season that a proposal by the Llandudno club that a representative from each club form the Executive Committee came into operation.

Season 1907-8 saw Sir Richard Williams-Buckley, Bart., of Beaumaris elected President, and he remained in this office until the end of season 1909-10. Mr W Llewelyn Jones, of Llanrwst, still retained the office of Treasurer, and Mr. Reach of Rhyl was the efficient Secretary. It was decided to appoint a Chairman for the season, and Mr R D Richards, Bangor, was appointed. Mr Richards proved such a capable official that he was asked to remain in office for another season, but he declined this honour. He however accepted office again in 1909-10, 1910-11, 1911-12, 1912-13, 1913-14 and 1914-15. The office was held open for him in 1919-20, but his military duties prevented his attendance at the meeting. Mr P Weekes, of Holyhead, proved a very efficient deputy during the first post-war season. Mr. Weekes was also the Chairman

In season 1908-9, Mr R D Richards was the Treasurer, and Mr E Lloyd Williams, Bangor, was the Secretary. Mr Lloyd Williams held this office until May 1st, 1914, when he resigned on accepting an appointment in South Wales. During Mr. Williams' secretaryship the League prospered considerably. There were 11 clubs In membership during 1909-10, and Beaumaris - in their first season -carried off the championship. Mr T E Purdy, of Colwyn Bay, was the Treasurer during seasons 1909-10 and 1910-11, and 1909-10 was the only season a team from the University College of North Wales took part in the competition. It proved to be such a good team that it carried off the championship. A western section of Division II was formed in this season, but it was In 1910-11 that this section with nine clubs, came into its own. Glasinfryn Swifts carried off the championship, with Llandndno Amateurs the champions of ten clubs in Divison I. It was in season 1910-11 that Mr Thos. F Dargie, of Bangor became President, and the records show that he was in constant attendance at the several meetings. The famous L R Roose signed a League Form for Blaenau Festiniog in this season, and an application by the Blaenau Festiniog club to have this form returned to them was refused by the management committee.

With the object of getting players in this area recognised as likely candidates for international honours, the League invited the F.A.W. Council to attend the annual East v West match. The fame of the League must have spread to England during this time, as applications from Birmingham and Leeds Amateur FAs were received for inter-league matches during Easter, but congestion of figures - even in those days - prevented serious consideration being given to them.
Thanks to the efficient work of the officials and splendid donations from the President (Mr. Dargie), the Vice-Presidents and the clubs, a new solid silver cup was purchased from Messrs. Fattorini of Bolton.

Mr H J Williams, Llandudno, was appointed Hon. Treasurer in 1911-12 and he held this office for several seasons. It was in May 1914 that I took over the reins of office, and after I had made all the necessary preparations for season 1914-15 war broke out. On September 2nd 1914, the clubs agreed, on the motion of Mr P Weekes, on behalf of the Holyhead club, "That Football and Football Management, as controlled by the North Wales Coast Football League, be suspended during the currency of the War". It was not until August 16th, 1920, that the clubs met in Committee again and at this meeting the officials for the forthcoming season were appointed. The President was Mr. Thos. F. Davies, Bangor; Chairman, Mr. R D. Richards, Bangor; Hon. Treasurer, Mr. Walter J. Parry, Conway; Secretary myself. There were 11 clubs in Division 1, and 10 clubs in Division II (West). The President at the close of the season subscribed £5, the Coast Association £6, the Hon. Secretary of the Coast Association and all the clubs in both Divisions of the League subscribed handsomely towards the funds of the League and for the purchase of medals to the champions of both Divisions.

Season 1920-21 was probably the best season the League ever experienced. There were 12 clubs in Division 1, and 14 in Division II.
Division I.— Holyhead. Holywell, Denbigh, Bangor, Blaenau Festiniog, Llandudno, Colwyn Bay, Conway, Caernarvon, Llanrwst, Portmadoc, Ogwen Valley.
Division II.— Llechid Celts, Glasinfryn Swifts, Abergele, Pemnaenmnwr, Holyhead R.I. Reserves, Bangor Athletic Reserves, Llanfairfechan, Caernarvon Athletic Res., Nantlle Vale, Menai Bridge, Llanberis Com-rades, Dolgarrog. Llangefni, Rhiwlas Athletic.

Mr. E. Bithell, of Colwyn Bay, was appointed Chairman, and the other officials remained as in the previous season. During this season the FAW played several international trial matches, and Messrs. Ted Parry, of Colwyn Bay, Jackie Jones, Abergele, C. Edwards, Holywell, and Idwal Davies, Conway, received their Amateur international caps. J. Neal of Llandudno and Bangor UCNW was selected as first reserve. Everton F.C. sent a strong team to Colwyn Bay on December 8th, 1920, to play a representative side of the League, and were successful by one goal to nil. The nett financial result of this match was a profit of £51 13s 1d. to the League. The League from time to time applied to the Coast Association for financial assistance, and always the response was most favourable, this season the response was £15. The financial position of the League was sound with a credit balance of £71 10s 5d in the General Account and £65 11s in the Deposit Account. After allowing for all liabilities, there was a balance of £85 4s 10d, assets in excess of liabilities. This was the healthy state of football on the North Wales Coast when the Football Association of Wales decided to form the Welsh National League with a North and South section. The Northern Section was further divided Into Division I and Division II and III, and the lower Divisions were further divided into East and West sections. A meeting at Bangor, addressed by Mr. Robblns, the FAW Secretary, on June 23rd, 1921, decided to join the new league.

The Coast League clubs faithfully carried out their obligations to the new body, and it was no fault of theirs that the League was not the success anticipated. It can be truthfully said that Divisions II and III Western area were the main support of the new League with 23 clubs in membership; they also assisted in forming Divisions in Anglesey and in South Caernarvonshire.

The Welsh [National] League was disbanded in 1930, and after a trial had been given to the resuscitated Football Combination and the Welsh Combination, the clubs decided to resuscitate the old North Wales Coast League. During the time the clubs were members of the Welsh League (Divisions II and III West) Mr. Richard Owen, Bangor was the Chairman, and I was the Secretary. The last few seasons have been carried on under some difficulty, but it is hoped that the road is now clear for this old League to carry on and to improve on its old grand traditions.

Note added in 2006
A meeting was held on March 27th 1930, at a time when the dissolution of the Welsh National League was imminent, with a view to investigate the possibility of reviving the North Wales Coast League. It was resolved to call a meeting before the commencement of the 1930-31 season with the intention of re-establishing the League.

This meeting was held at Bangor on Saturday 30th August “in accordance with the resolution of 27th March last, to call a meeting of North Wales football club representatives to consider the question of the resuscitation of the old North Wales Coast Football League”. Only five clubs were represented, though apologies were received from two or three others for their absence.

The North Wales Observer reported that Mr Richard Owen, chairman of Bangor City FC was voted in as Chairman and the March resolution formally confirmed. The meeting then proceeded to consider alterations and amendments to the rules of the now dissolved Welsh National League which had been prepared by a sub-committee and submitted for discussion.

The main object of debate was the amendment submitted to the effect that the League shall be governed by an independent management committee. On the motion of Mr Stythe of Caernarvon, seconded by Mr Glanfab Jones of Bangor, it was decided that “the league shall be governed by a committee of management consisting of a president, five vice-presidents, treasurer and secretary together with six representatives to be appointed by clubs in membership.”
The rule amendments submitted by the sub-committee and from the floor were adopted as the constitution of the new League, subject to FAW approval.

The area of the league, as proposed by Glanfab Jones, would be west of a line drawn between Colwyn Bay to Portmadoc. Clubs from within the area were invited to join namely: Portmadoc, Pwllheli, Penygroes, Caernarvon, Bangor City, Bethesda, Menai Bridge, Holyhead, Penmaenmawr, Conway, Llandudno, Colwyn Bay, Llanrwst, Festiniog and either Llangefni or Beaumaris. Applications were to be in to the Secretary Mr H R Williams by the following Saturday. The election of the officials and members of the management committee was deferred to the next meeting, which took place on 25th September at Bangor. Mr H R Williams reported as Secretary that Llandudno, Penmaenmawr, Conway and Colwyn Bay had applied for permission to enter an organisation in another area and he had written to Mr Ted Robbins FAW Secretary asking him to deal with the actions of these clubs by compelling them to join the Coast League in whose area they were located. The meeting backed his actions.

The chairman made it known that only six clubs had thus far formally applied for membership and that one of the six, Festiniog, had a ground to which players with the other five objected. It was obvious to Mr Owen, who was formally elected as League Chairman at this meeting, that they could not form a league with only five clubs. A suggestion from the floor that Festiniog be admitted on condition they rectify the complaints against the ground. The Festiniog representatives agreed to this by guaranteeing to the satisfaction of the committee that they would carry out the work and they became the sixth member. The League thus had six members committed to the revived League and it was proposed that the other four mentioned earlier might now “see their way to throw in their lot with the other six clubs” bringing the membership up to a more viable ten clubs. The four plus other clubs in the area were to be contacted and it was agreed that the League would carry on with six clubs in the meantime. As players were eager to start playing the first six fixtures were set for the 27th and comprised:
Bangor City Res v Festiniog
Bethesda v Caernarvon
Holyhead v Menai Bridge
All three were played but mysteriously no other mention is made of this incarnation of the Coast League in any newspaper checked thus far.
The cups used by this league are believed to have been as follows:
1893 – 1898 no trophy
1898 – 1906 The Russell Cup, donated by Llandudno, which may have been used as the Division II
championship trophy from 1906.
1906 – 1911 The North Wales Chronicle Cup
1911 – 1921 A cup commissioned from Fattorini’s of Bradford which is now the current North Wales
Coast FA Challenge Cup
Sources: Main section as stated; additional information gleaned from North Wales Weekly News at
Llandudno Library and North Wales Observer at Library of the University of Wales Bangor
Additional research by Mel Thomas and Ian Garland.