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The founding years of The Nomads

THE FOUNDING YEARS OF THE NOMADS

The first Connah's Quay football club was founded in 1890. The pitch used was almost certainly on the site of the Halfway Ground occupied by the Nomads until 1998. Three more 'senior' clubs were formed before the start of the First World War the last, Connah's Quay & Shotton United, reaching the Welsh Cup finals of 1908 and 1911, losing respectively to Chester and Wrexham, but disbanded soon afterwards at the outbreak of hostilities. A new football club, Connah's Quay & Shotton FC, was formed in 1920, renting the land to the rear of the Halfway House hotel from the Northgate Brewery, and becoming members of the Welsh National League (North) as a fully professional outfit, in 1922.

In 1928, Connah's Quay & Shotton FC moved to Dee Park in Shotton and won both the Welsh National League (North) championship and the prestigious Welsh Cup in 1929. In the final they defeated Cardiff City 3-0 at Wrexham's Racecourse Ground. A remarkable result given that Cardiff City played in the English First Division and their team contained several players who had beaten Arsenal in the 1927 F.A. Cup final. Nonetheless, six months after the Welsh Cup triumph, Connah's Quay & Shotton FC folded with debts totalling more than £1,000 (a figure equivalent to £67,000 today). Thus throughout the years up to the second World War the banner of local soccer was carried instead by Connah's Quay Albion FC.

Our present club, gap Connah's Quay Nomads FC, was founded as Connah's Quay Juniors in July 1946 being the brainchild of the Everton and Wales centre-half Tommy (T.G.) Jones, a native of the town. The Juniors began the 1946/47 season in the Flintshire League winning the championship at the first attempt. Attracted by the reputation of the famous international, Deeside youngsters flocked to join the new football club. Amongst them was John Lamb, a left-back who went on to play for the Welsh amateur international team, while a list of other quality footballers to feature included Gerry Barker, Nick Hamill, Frank Eccleston, Stan Hyndman and Geoff Thelwell.

In that excellent record of North Wales football, "A Coast of Soccer Memories 1894-1994" compiled by Gareth Davies, some thirteen pages were devoted to Geoff Thelwell's recollections of the club's early days. At the age of 18 Geoff had signed professional forms for Bolton Wanderers but his footballing ambitions were thwarted when he was called up for National Service, joining the Army and finding himself stationed at Wrexham Barracks.

Connah's Quay Juniors enjoyed six seasons of football in the Flintshire League. Those campaigns brought the club two championships while never finishing outside the top four. Unfortunately newspaper coverage of the league was scant and details of some of the matches played are difficult to find. Indeed, the final league table for 1946/47 is incomplete but it is certain that the Juniors were champions winning 15 and drawing two of the 19 games listed in the 'final' table.

The number of teams playing in the Flintshire League increased to 13 in 1947/48 and to 15 the year after with the Juniors claiming fourth spot in each term. Only 12 sides competed in 1949/50 (when the Juniors were 3rd) but an influx of clubs swelled the total to 16 for 1950/51 and Connah's Quay Juniors came out on top to claim their second title in five years. That season, of the thirty matches played 25 were won and three drawn with the Quay netting a monumental 151 goals at an average of five goals a game.

In addition to the league championship success in 1950/51 the team also won the League Challenge Cup, the League Bowl and the North Wales Coast F.A. Amateur Cup, the final being played at Llandudno where the Juniors defeated Bethesda Athletic 2-0. Unfortunately, Coast F.A. officials forgot to order the medals and both teams were furious at not receiving them after the match!

The season's major disappointment, however, was the 3-1 defeat at the hands of Treharris Athletic in the final of a major competition, the Welsh Amateur Cup. After the Juniors had overcome Llanidloes Town in a semi-final replay at Welshpool (this after a goalless draw at Chirk) there was tremendous excitement at the prospect of playing in a national cup final only five years after the club's formation. The game was staged at Park Avenue, Aberystwyth and the pitch was in superb condition. At half-time Connah's Quay led 1-0 having scored from the penalty spot, but a desperate second half performance let the South Wales side gain the initiative and a 3-1 victory.

Only ten clubs competed in the Flintshire League in 1951/52. The Juniors were amongst the favourites to clinch the title again but were pipped by local rivals Connah's Quay Albion who lost just one of their 18 league fixtures. Runners-up spot went to the Juniors, however, on 'goal average' from Bagillt United and Saltney Ferry each club having an identical playing record.

Once again the Juniors did well in cup competitions and reached the quarter-final stage of the Welsh Amateur Cup being drawn away to Ton Pentre. A semi-final clash with Connah's Quay Albion was the prize at stake and how the local townsfolk would have anticipated that. The Juniors were soon two goals to the good against Ton Pentre and just before half-time were awarded a penalty kick. Centre-half Gerry Barker stepped up but fired the ball over the bar.

By the 75th minute, however, the Bulldogs had fought their way back and taken a 3-2 lead. To make matters worse the Juniors' goalkeeper Geoff Atherton had been injured and replaced 'between the sticks' by outside-left Sid Fraser. Then, with ten minutes left, Billy Davies grabbed an equaliser and a replay on Deeside looked to be on the cards. As full-time beckoned a Ton Pentre player let fly from 40 yards. Atherton, a former Wrexham custodian, would surely have stopped the shot but the ball flew over Fraser's head into the net. Yet again fate had dealt the Juniors a blow but team spirit was tremendous and the players vowed to stay together for the 1952/53 season - when the Juniors became the Nomads.

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