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The Konica League of Wales - 1992-93

THE KONICA LEAGUE OF WALES - 1992-93

After many years of 'pipe dreams', Wales now had a national football league. It was a journey into the unknown for the 20 clubs that took to the field for the first time on Saturday 15th August 1992 - the day when England's Premier League also began. It has often been mentioned, that we started our campaign away to Afan Lido, but our first home game is largely forgotten. That took place at the Halfway Ground on the following Saturday, 22nd August, and our opponents were Briton Ferry Athletic, led by the former Leeds United player and Welsh international Carl Harris. Briton Ferry had finished the previous season as runners-up to Abergavenny Thursdays in the strong Abacus Welsh League and, in addition, had been the league's top scorers. On an unseasonably wet day they proved too strong for us by winning 3-1 and when The Nomads crashed 6-1 away to Cwmbran Town a week later, we found ourselves pointless and propping up the league table.

Manager, Ray Jones 'read the riot act' after the Cwmbran game and acted quickly to sign Chris Davies on loan from Mold Alexandra in readiness for a midweek trip to Bangor City. Against the odds, The Nomads came away with three points as goals from John Roberts and a long-range effort netted by full-back Steve Cruse pipped the Citizens 2-1. That match was followed by the visit of Ebbw Vale to Deeside, a team that had already triumphed at Holywell Town and Flint in the first few weeks of the season. It must have come as a shock to our visitors when Chris Davies grabbed a hat-trick! Further strikes from Dave Davies and Barry Thomas ensured a 5-0 victory and The Nomads' season was up and running.

During the autumn we certainly had our 'ups and downs' in the league, losing successive away games, 0-4 at Haverfo Park Athletic and Porthmadog. By the time of the local 'derby' with Mold Alexandra at Halloween, we had climbed seven places up the league ladder and put nine points between us and the side at the bottom, Llanidloes Town. Confidence was high as Mold also had just three points but had featured in five games fewer than other clubs. Chris Davies had returned to Alyn Park after just two appearances in the white and black and was instrumental in 'the Alex' netting three goals while kicking up the notorious Halfway slope!

Scoring goals was not a problem for The Nomads during November 1992 when five league and cup games produced 16 but only two of those matches resulted in victory. Particularly disappointing was a 3-4 loss at Conwy United where we led three times. Dave Davies and new signing Dave O'Gorman were beginning to form a lethal partnership with O'Gorman, brother of our former player Peter, netting two hat-tricks in his first half dozen appearances. That defeat was the last we were to suffer in the league until the last week of Februaryrdwest County and Inter Cardiff but taking all three points off Maesteg as the team went on a run of nine unbeaten games winning six of them. For the home game against Conwy United on Tuesday 9th February 1993 I took over from Don Fowler as programme editor and a late goal from centre-half Mark Price ensured I started with a win!

Despite the good run coming to an end at Mold where, despite taking the lead and having a 90th-minute effort disallowed, we lost 1-2 the team followed up by trouncing Afan Lido 5-2 and gained further revenge for early season losses by winning 3-0 at Briton Ferry. By the middle of March 1993, The Nomads sat a very comfortable eighth in the table and were most certainly upwardly mobile.

The programme for the Bangor City game that month proudly advertised details of our Welsh Cup semi-final second leg clash with Rhyl. Victories over Cefn Druids (2-1), Conwy United (4-2), Cemaes Bay (1-0) and AFC Porth (3-1) had propelled us to the latter stages of the Allbright Bitter Welsh Cup and an engagement with our Clwyd rivals from the Cymru Alliance. Rhyl had a very strong team at the time but we didn't play well in the first leg at Belle Vue on a glorious Spring day and suffered a 0-2 loss in front of a crowd of 2,300. The stage was set for the second leg two weeks later. A crowd of more than 1,200 squeezed into the old Halfway Ground for an 11.00am kick-off. The tension was high but when Dave O'Gorman scored after half an hour the home fans were in raptures. We certainly had the best of the game but a second goal would not come largely thanks to Grant Lichfield in the Rhyl goal and it was the Lilywhites who progressed to meet Cardiff City in the final at the National Stadium.

Earlier in the season, The Nomads competed in the group stages of the League Cup along with Newtown and local sides Flint, Holywell and Mold and it was the latter team that provided us with our first home game in the competition and the very first match at the Halfway Ground under floodlights on 3rd November 1992. A crowd of 612 attended and this was bettered when 662 watched the next floodlit game against Holywell Town. We just failed to qualify for the knockout stages of the League Cup with our group being won by Newtown.

Once out of the Welsh Cup, we were faced with a run of 11 league matches to complete the first season of League of Wales football. A 4-1 home win against Newtown was a good start but two losses followed made worse by the loss of goalkeeper Phil Collister following a road accident. A four-game ban for 'goal machine' Dave O'Gorman and injuries to defenders Barry Thomas and Mark Price exacerbated the problem. The Nomads had to play three league games with defenders John Ratcliffe and Keith Lewis sharing the goalkeeping role although we managed to win one of them, against Abergavenny.

Thankfully, Collister was back for the last half dozen games and we went into the final game, at home to Haverfordwest County, needing a victory to finish in a creditable eighth place. The win was achieved thanks to a brace of goals from O'Gorman taking his tally for the season to 31 in 37 league and cup appearances, although coming off the pitch after the game he told me that we had credited one to Dave Davies that was really his - not that he was counting! Overall, Davies had 21 goals and Chris Palomba ten while 11 others contributed to the 92 goals The Nomads had scored in all games.

Considering Connah's Quay were favourites to be relegated at the end of that campaign, everyone could be well-satisfied with their efforts which had put the Nomads firmly on the Welsh footballing map.

Click here to see the final league table

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