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Welsh Alliance League - 1988-89

WELSH ALLIANCE LEAGUE - 1988-89

There is no doubt that the 1987/88 season, the Club's first in the Welsh Alliance League, had been a success culminating in Nomads trouncing Y Felinheli to the tune of 12-1 in the last home game of the campaign. We were to play two more seasons in this competition before the inauguration of the Cymru Alliance which 'kicked off' in August 1990.

During the summer months of 1988, however, members of the committee had undertaken plenty of hard work at the Halfway Ground to improve facilities for players, officials and supporters alike. Both goalmouths were re-laid and the area in front of the dressing rooms re-surfaced while much of the infrastructure was repainted.

For the start of the 1988/89 season Club Patron Mike Nield (Nield Builders) had agreed to sponsor the team and provided a new playing kit of white shirts, green shorts and white socks. The Nomads were moving forward with an eye on joining the English North West Counties League, although FIFA was about to 'move the goalposts' on that idea.

First team manager Steve Gelder had been busy strengthening the playing squad despite a highly creditable fourth place finish in 1987/88. Kevin Williams, formerly of Mold Alexandra, came on board as did teammate Ian Fraser a capable full-back in either berth. Having been on a two-year YTS scheme placement at Oldham Athletic, Chris Joughin joined the Nomads along with two Colwyn Bay regulars in Daryl Williams and namesake John Williams who was returning to the Halfway.

The new term began with a 4-1 home success against Mochdre but the team failed to score in either of the next two games losing 1-0 at Holywell Town and sharing the points in a goalless draw with Pilkingtons (St Asaph). League leaders Rhyl Reserves visited the Halfway and lost their 100% record as goals from Colin Evans, Gary Simpson and Nefin Adams brought Nomads a comfortable victory followed three days later by a 1-0 win over Holywell Town.

By mid-September Connah's Quay were third in the league table with 14 points but trailing new leaders Flint Town United by four points. The Silkmen, under new manager Andy Erikson, had won all of their league fixtures while Rhyl Reserves were in second place having suffered two defeats - both to Nomads after a Gary Simpson hat-trick had earned us the spoils in the return fixture.

After two drawn games with Mostyn in the first round of the Welsh Cup we succumbed 2-1 in a second replay but league results continued to be positive until Caernarfon Town beat us 3-0 at The Oval on 5th November. That left Nomads in fifth place nine points behind new leaders Nantlle Vale but with three games in hand. The week before the Caernarfon game Nomads lost 2-1 at home to Pilkingtons (St Asaph) in the Welsh Intermediate Cup. At the time 'Pilks' were bottom of the league without a win which made the defeat hard to swallow.

In the North Wales Coast Challenge Cup we were drawn away to Penrhyndeudraeth, a real unknown quantity, but came away victors by 9-2 and followed this up with a 9-0 home win over Rhuddlan Town in the second round on New Year's Eve. After beating Flint Town United 2-1 at the start of December 1988 the Pilkingtons 'hoodoo' struck again when we lost 3-2 at St Asaph to give them their first league win of the season and Christmas losses to Conwy United and Nantlle Vale meant there was little cheer at the Halfway Ground as 1989 dawned.

A 2-2 draw at Porthmadog was the only league game Nomads played between Boxing Day and mid-February when Y Felinheli came to Deeside. A rush of cup fixtures had taken priority over league matters and Nomads had won four cup ties in a row in three separate competitions scoring 20 goals in the process. Felinheli did much better than on their previous visit losing by the only goal of the game and that left Nomads in third place but a long way behind Nantlle Vale and Rhyl Reserves.

As it transpired Y Felinheli were our opponents upon reaching the semi-final stage of the North Wales Coast Cup and they gained ample revenge for that 12-1 league 'drubbing' of eleven months earlier. We drew 1-1 at Conwy's ground with Darren Blackwell scoring our 90th minute equaliser to take the tie into extra-time during which our opponents had two players dismissed. A week later the replay was staged at Flint and although Gary Simpson scored for Nomads early on, Y Felinheli struck back to equalise and then net a winning goal in the second half. A huge disappointment for Nomads who felt they should have beaten a team from the lower reaches of the Welsh Alliance.

Thereafter, the league campaign petered out with a string of poor results and elimination from the Cookson Cup at the semi-final stage at the hands of old adversaries Rhyl Reserves. To add to Nomads' woes, manager Steve Gelder resigned from his post for personal reasons although he was to have much to do with the club in the early years of the League of Wales. Twelve league losses left Nomads sixth in the final league table after a season of ups and downs. Half of those defeats came in our last nine games which yielded just nine points from a possible 27.

Centre-half and captain Rob Stacey was voted 'Player of the Year' making well over 40 appearances while the team's leading goal scorer was the former Chester City striker Gary Simpson who found the back of the net on 22 occasions. Welsh Alliance champions in 1988/89 were Flint Town United with 73 points, three more than Rhyl Reserves who had been in the top two places for almost all of the season. Nantlle Vale fell away to finish third whilst Colwyn Bay Reserves occupied the bottom spot having conceded 100 goals, seven of which were scored by Connah's Quay in the away fixture a week before Christmas. Nomads may have taken a step back during the season but decent cup runs in two competitions had kept alive interest in the club's fortunes until the end of April.

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