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Welsh Cup 1951 to 2016

WELSH CUP 1951 TO 2016

As Connah's Quay Juniors our club first entered the senior Welsh F.A. Cup in 1951 earning a home tie against Rhostyllen SC in the first round. The visitors were despatched to the tune of 6-0 as was New Broughton FC in the second round. It took two games to dispose of Saltney in round three as the first tie was abandoned with the Juniors leading 5-0! Fortunately, when the game was replayed Connah's Quay managed a 3-1 victory and a fourth successive home tie against Brymbo Steelworks. With plenty of good footballers to choose an XI from, Brymbo had a strong team but Connah's Quay won through by the odd goal in three.

The fifth round of the competition in 1951/52 brought the Juniors their first away tie and a difficult one at that, against Newport County of the Football League Third Division North. County were having a good season finishing sixth in the league and remaining unbeaten at home against the five teams that finished above them. Thus it was no surprise that Newport were too strong for the youngsters from Deeside running out winners by 8 goals to 2.

The following season, the first as Connah's Quay Nomads, has been well documented in an earlier archive entry. Nomads reached the semi-finals of the competition before losing to another Football League club, Chester. Victories over Llandudno Junction, Blaenau Ffestiniog and South Liverpool gained the Quay a home tie in the fifth round against Buckley Wanderers. The teams were well-matched with Wanderers near the top of the Welsh National League (Wrexham Area) and Nomads holding their own in their first season of Welsh League North football. It was Connah's Quay who progressed 4-1 to earn a sixth round bye and a match against Flint Town United in the quarterfinal.

Little Welsh Cup success came the way of the Nomads after 1953. Despite receiving a bye right up to the fifth round in 1953/54 (courtesy of reaching the semi-finals the previous year) they were dumped out by Wrexham at that stage. Indeed, the Nomads featured in only eight more Welsh Cup ties up to 1959 when the club moved into local football and became ineligible to enter the senior competition. A disappointing 0-3 loss at home to Llay Welfare in the 1959/60 Welsh Cup signalled the end of our interest in the competition for the next seven years.

Once back in the Welsh League North in 1966, however, Connah's Quay Nomads FC was once again able to compete in the Welsh Cup and has done so ever since, this being our 50th successive season. Indeed, our first opponents in 1966/67 were Prestatyn Town as they were this season.

The first round stage in the 1973/74 campaign paired us at the Halfway Ground with Buckley Wanderers. That game finished 1-1 and Buckley gained revenge for the loss twenty years earlier by winning the replay 3-0. Four years later Buckley Wanderers and Buckley Rovers merged to form Buckley Town FC.

There are four seasons of Welsh Cup football since the late 1960s that followers of the Nomads can look back on with a certain amount of pride. A quarter-final 2-1 loss to Wrexham's Second Division side at the quarter-final stage in 1981 was a feather in the Nomads' cap as the Robins had already beaten the likes of Chelsea and Newcastle United at the Racecourse that season. Of course, that was the season when Nomads were unbeaten in the league and had a very strong team. Not until the League of Wales began in 1992/93 did our club enjoy another cup run but this time it was all the way to the semi-final where we lost 2-1 on aggregate to Rhyl as detailed in our last archive entry. Losing in a semi-final is always hard to take so victory over Barry Town at that stage in 1997/98 was as exhilarating as it was surprising!

At least the Nomads could enjoy being featured live on television in the final at Wrexham against Bangor City. The Citizens were, somewhat harshly, reduced to ten men early in the game and from then on it was a balanced contest in which Steve Futcher gave us the lead. Literally seconds of the 90 minutes were remaining when a limping Andy Thomas lost the ball on the touchline and from the subsequent cross Ken McKenna headed Bangor level. Extra-time was goalless and we lost on penalties courtesy of a former player, Nick Brookman, who scored the winning kick to add further irony to the day.

There have been seasons of hope since 1998 but without lasting success and, indeed, without another appearance in the final. In 2010/11, our first season out of the Welsh Premier League, we found ourselves having to play in round one but a 6-1 victory away to Pwllheli was followed by an identical home win against Bethesda Athletic. AFC Porth, who we had beaten on the way to the 1993 semi-final, were our next opponents and gave us an almighty fright before we scraped home 5-3. The tie went to extra-time after Porth had led 2-0 and not until the 88th minute did we equalise thanks to player-manager Mark McGregor.

A win away to Carmarthen Town, where we had hardly ever won in the league, saw Nomads through to the last four and the luck of the draw brought us a home tie against Welsh League outfit UWIC (University of Wales Institute Cardiff). The students gave us a decent game but Nomads were worthy 4-0 winners and we were in the semi-finals for the first time in 13 years. The semi-final was played at Rhyl on a warm, sunny spring day just like the day in 1993 when we lost there 2-0. This time, however, it was a neutral ground and our opponents were Bangor City, just as in the final of 1998!

Not only that but they went on to be Welsh Premier League champions while gap Connah's Quay were champions of the Huws Gray Alliance. It was a close run thing and a game of few chances until Bangor took theirs and a place in the final (against Llanelli) with it. Que Sera Sera...

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