Despite the loss at Caersws in our inaugural Cymru Alliance fixture back in August 1990, the team soon found its feet to record successive victories over Mold Alexandra (2-0), Carno (4-1), Porthmadog (2-0) and Conwy United (3-2). When Gresford Athletic visited the Halfway Ground on the last Saturday of September, The Nomads found themselves joint league leaders with an identical playing record to that of Caersws, the teams being separated only on goal difference. Unfortunately, the run of success ended when Gresford took a 2-1 lead into the half-time interval and the home side could only muster a draw when Mark Edwards, on his home debut, equalised in the 82nd minute adding to his earlier strike.
A 5-2 victory over Pilkingtons (St Asaph) in the first round of the Welsh Cup earned The Nomads a prestigious home tie with a strong Colwyn Bay team who were undefeated in all competitions. Five of the home squad had previously played for Colwyn Bay while our former player Darren Tinson had moved to Llanelian Road. We gave the visitors a tough game and were unlucky to lose to the game’s only goal. This was the first match at the Halfway Ground to feature a fully printed match programme courtesy of Don Fowler and his Kingsley Press.
When Caersws came to Deeside for the return league encounter on 1st December 1990 we were honoured by the presence of the BBC television cameras. With the start of the Cymru Alliance, the BBC showed highlights of some league matches in their Sportsround programme at 5.30pm on a Saturday. This was Nomads’ chance to shine but we were always playing second fiddle to the league leaders and lost 2-1 although one of the visitors’ goals was a rather fortunate rebound off our centre-half Ray Merrill. Still, it was a real novelty to walk home in time to watch the highlights of the match on TV! Before Christmas, Ray Jones took over as our first team manager following Dave Allen’s departure.
The Boxing Day clash with Flint Town United was eagerly awaited and a large crowd turned out for an 11.00am kick-off on a chilly morning. The pitch was very wet and, kicking downhill in the first-half, The Silkmen completely overwhelmed us. A bedraggled Gary Griffiths in the home goal did his best to stem the flow of attacks but still likened it to 'The Alamo' when walking off at half-time with Flint three goals to the good. Flint came into this match in second place but with a 100% record after eight matches and with five games in hand on Caersws. The Nomads added goals from Dave Taylor and a Flint defender after the break making the scoreline a rather more respectable 2-4 but it was the third time we had conceded four goals in our last five league matches.
1991 began with the usual rush of cup games and replays so that 59 days elapsed between the Boxing Day fixture and The Nomads’ next league game at home to Holywell Town in late February. In his programme notes, ‘Nomad’ was obviously disappointed to have lost at Porthmadog in the Welsh Intermediate Cup replay as the winners went on to play Afan Lido and “our players were looking forward to a trip to South Wales and the adventure of meeting a new club”. Prophetic words, though Geoff Thelwell wasn’t to know it at the time, but in August 1992 we found ourselves playing away to Afan Lido on the very first day of League of Wales football.
Subsequent results picked up and we gained sweet revenge over Flint with a 1-0 win at Holywell Road starting a run of five consecutive league victories. A 3-1 win over Lex XI in mid-May brought the curtain down on a good campaign which saw The Nomads finish third in the Cymru Alliance behind champions Flint who ‘pipped’ Caersws by seven points.
The Manweb Cymru Alliance 1991/1992
There was more than a touch of déjà-vu to the new season for we had to travel to Caersws in our opening game, as we did twelve months earlier, while the first two rounds of the Welsh Cup brought Pilkingtons (St Asaph) and then Colwyn Bay to the Halfway for the second year in a row!
Fortunately this time we won 1-0 at Caersws thanks to Phil Hinchcliffe’s goal and a sterling display ‘between the sticks’ by Gary Griffiths. A 1-1 draw at Flint followed meaning we started the new campaign by taking four points off the previous year’s champions and runners-up. After seven games, however, we were in mid-table and entertained ‘new boys’ Llansantffraid (today’s New Saints, of course) at the start of the autumn fixtures sharing the spoils thanks to Nigel Wynne’s successful penalty kick.
The Welsh Cup tie against Colwyn Bay was staged at the Halfway Ground following its reseeding. We had played four ‘home’ games at Kelsterton College on the pitch now buried beneath the huge Sixth Form College which is under construction in 2015. Once again we gave Colwyn Bay a real fright with Andy Edwards’ goal securing a 1-1 draw. Three days later, however, we went out of the competition after losing the replay 6-0 most of the goals coming after our left-back Dave Skillen was dismissed for an unfortunate handball offence.
Back in the league a 6-1 hammering of Brymbo took The Nomads up to third place in the table having suffered just the one league defeat, at home to leaders Welshpool. Maybe we used up our luck in the Brymbo game for we didn’t score another league goal before Christmas! By the time we hosted Flint Town United on Boxing Day the side had plummeted to 11th place so a 2-1 success over our neighbours came at just the right time.
In truth, the 1991/92 term was a disappointment after the successes of the first season in the Cymru Alliance. At times our football was of a high standard but then a run of games without a win would take us ‘back to square one’. Mind you, imagine the frustrations suffered by Welshpool’s supporters who saw their team run away with the title only to have 66 points deducted for fielding a player who had been banned elsewhere! That meant The Nomads climbed up a place to finish an unconvincing sixth as Caersws took the title they had lost to Flint a year earlier while Llansantffraid finished a debut season as runners-up. Little did we know what lay in store for that club over the next two decades.