A need for stronger competition to aid the growth of the football club led to an application being made to join the Welsh League (North) for the 1952/53 season. There was a single vacancy but both Connah's Quay and 55th R.A. Tonfanau had applied and the result of a postal vote was awaited. In the event, Wrexham withdrew its team from the competition which meant that both applications could be accepted. This was just as well for the Quay who lost the postal vote!
Moving up to the highest senior grade of North Wales football required a change of name as 'Juniors' was considered unsuitable at the new level. The suffix 'Nomads' was suggested as being drawn away in several cup competitions over the preceding six years had forced the club to lead a 'nomadic' existence throughout the Principality. Although Flintshire League clubs had been permitted to field two professional players, Connah's Quay remained amateurs and many football fans wondered if the team could make the grade in the Welsh League (North).
Connah's Quay made a steady start in their new environs and were certainly not overawed by the quality of the opposition. At Christmas the Nomads found themselves tenth in the league table despite having played only a dozen matches half of which had been won. Success in cup competitions meant they had several games in hand on all of the other teams but, as is often the case, it was the cup matches that impacted upon league form by the end of that initial season.
Still, the early season optimism had not dissipated although nothing was being taken for granted. Indeed the programme notes for the September 'Derby' match with Flint Town United suggested that the Quay followers should remain cautious. Following Nomads' 3-1 victory at Flint during the previous week 'Nomad' wrote, "If our lads play as well this evening then I am sure all will be satisfied. But to those who tend to be over-optimistic remember we know that the Flint side is a good one and their record will bear close investigation." Too right; Flint won 6-0 at the Halfway!
The match programme for the home game against 55th R.A. Tonfanau played on Saturday 11th October 1952 highlighted the strength of some of the teams in the Welsh League (North). The Royal Artillery side could call upon many young players doing their 'National Service' some of whom were destined for great things in the game of football. Their team that afternoon included George Showell (destined to play 200 games for Wolverhampton Wanderers - the team of the 50s) and Ronnie Clayton who made 579 appearances for Blackburn Rovers and has a stand at Ewood Park named after him. Clayton also won 35 full England caps and captained the national side while he and Showell opposed one another in the 1960 F.A. Cup final.
Two other Tonfanau players in October 1952 also graced the Wembley turf during that decade. Johnny Newman featured for Birmingham City in the 1956 'Trautmann Final' while John Groves was in the Luton Town team that lost to Nottingham Forest in 1959. Of course, at the time they opposed Nomads these lads were just 18 or 19 years of age and Connah's Quay won 3-2!
When Llandudno visited the Halfway Ground on the last day of January 1953, Nomads had slipped down the league to 12th place. The 3-5 defeat at Holywell Town on Boxing Day, however, was the only league game the side had played in over five weeks and they now had ten games in hand on Penmaenmawr who lay one place and three points above them.
During the 1952/1953 campaign the Nomads played 26 cup-ties in addition to 34 Welsh League (North) games and such was their success that the cup runs will be featured in our next programme. The league campaign petered out and a few heavy defeats towards the latter part of the season resulted in the 'goals against' total soaring over the century mark. The addition of those 26 cup matches meant that the team had to play two or three league games each week towards the end of the season. Daily work, weary legs and the players' natural focus on the important cup finals were further contributory factors to the dip in league form.
Probably the most disappointing feature of all was having the 'double' done over them by lowly Bethesda Athletic who won only one other game all season! On the plus side was the win at Flint, a creditable 3-3 draw at the Halfway with champions Holywell Town, draws home and away with fourth-placed Llandudno and a 10-0 trouncing of Llandudno Junction. Nomads had most certainly 'made the grade'.
Some facts and figures
During the 1952-53 season, the Cub traveled a total distance of 2,976 miles, 1212 miles to away League games, and 1,764 miles to Cup matches.
In League games at home, and all Cup matches, a grand total of 53,436 people watched The Nomads. The big "draw" was the Senior Cup ties, with a total of 13,675, followed by the Welsh Amateur with 10,600. The next largest was the Alves with 7,000, and the Coast Amateur with 5,200.
A total of 86 games were played, 39 being at home and 47 on other grounds.
In the Welsh Senior Cup ties, 22 goals were scored for 15 against; in the Welsh Amateur, 28 for with 7 against, and in the NWC Amateur, 39 for, with 8 against.
In all first team Cup matches the grand total was 105 for and 42 against.
Of the six matches player in the Welsh Amateur, only the one with Nantlle Vale was at the Halfway.