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Welsh Alliance League - 1987-88

WELSH ALLIANCE LEAGUE - 1987-88

Following a run of 13 consecutive seasons playing in the local Clwyd Football League, the Nomads moved into the Welsh Alliance at the start of the 1987/88 campaign. The Welsh Alliance League (sponsored by the Liverpool Daily Post newspaper) was founded in 1984 with 15 teams competing including the reserve sides of senior North Wales clubs including Bangor City, Caernarfon Town, Colwyn Bay and Rhyl. Whilst none of those teams enjoyed a successful inaugural season the title winners were Conwy United hotly pursued by Bethesda Athletic and CPD Y Felinheli. Indeed, Conwy 'pipped' Bethesda for the championship once again twelve months later although the latter celebrated winning the league in 1986/87 suffering just one defeat in their 26 matches.

Connah's Quay Nomads and Flint Town United were accepted into the Welsh Alliance for 1987/88 swelling the membership to 16. Our first game was at Conwy United on Saturday 15th August 1987 and thanks to a Wayne Davies hat-trick and a brace from Peter O'Gorman, The Nomads ran out 5-1 victors. Three days later we hosted Flint Town United in a game that marked the introduction of a regular match programme for the first time since the 1950s, edited by Alan Biggs and Geoff Thelwell (aka 'Nomad'). The Flint side contained three players who were to become regulars in later years in our League of Wales team in Chris Davies, Vernon Keep and Barry Thomas and honours were even in a 1-1 draw.

In his next programme notes 'Nomad' expressed his delight at the performances of young players Nigel Wynne and 18 years old full-back Darren Tinson claiming "both boys have the required class to have great futures in the local game." He was right too, particularly in the case of Tinson who went on to play for senior non-league clubs and in the Football League with Macclesfield Town, Shrewsbury Town and Burton Albion.

By the time the autumn cup competitions began, The Nomads had played six league games and were in mid-table having won three and drawn two. The only defeat was suffered at the hands of Mochdre whom we had beaten 3-1 away a week earlier. 'Nomad' was at a loss to explain how Mochdre won at the Halfway when The Nomads had most of the play. At the end of September 1987, Conwy United were thumped 6-1 to give us a boost going into another run of cup-ties but it was mid-November before we had another league game.

By now, Gary Griffiths had established his place in goal and was to remain a fixture between the posts for nearly five years. Our 'keeper at the start of the season, Paul Littler, suffered a broken leg in the game against Pilkingtons (St Asaph) which ended his playing days with The Nomads.

Despite successive defeats at the hands of Bethesda Athletic and then Llanfairpwll, the teams that were destined to be the top two at the end of that campaign, The Nomads commenced a run of eight league matches through to April 1988 without defeat. A league double over Bangor City Reserves was the highlight with both matches being won convincingly by 6-0, while Colwyn Bay Reserves were despatched to the tune of 5-2 and Rhyl Reserves 4-0.

At the start of April 1988, The Nomads had played only 17 of their thirty fixtures and it was obvious that the season would be extended well into the following month. In the event our final game, away to Porthmadog, was not played until May 21st. But it was the home game against Porth that proved our biggest stumbling block. They came to the Halfway Ground in fourth position with 26 points from 16 games while we were two places and a single point behind them albeit having played one game more. The Nomads had beaten Porthmadog 3-1 back in September in the Cookson Cup and subsequently reached the final of that competition with victories over Bethesda Athletic and, in late April 1988, Flint Town United.

It was on Easter Monday, 4th April 1988 that we entertained Porthmadog hoping to extend our unbeaten run in the league, but two goals for the visitors put The Nomads on the back foot. New signing Nefin Adams then scored twice to help us into a 3-2 lead with just ten minutes left but Porthmadog had other ideas and scored twice themselves to take the points with a 4-3 victory. The following Saturday we could only draw 1-1 with next to bottom Llandudno and despite a 6-0 win away to Rhos United, further losses at the hands of Bethesda and Pilkingtons meant we had to simply finish as strongly as possible.

It was to the great credit of the playing squad under manager Steve Gelder that they managed to claim fourth place in the final table winning 18 of the 30 league matches and losing only seven, four of those being to the two sides that finished as champions and runners-up. Indeed, the losses to Mochdre and, late in the season, to Pilkingtons were the only defeat suffered against teams that finished lower in the table than The Nomads. Furthermore, The Nomads had to play four league games in the first week of May 1988, three of them inside four evenings.

The final statistics make interesting reading. The Nomads scored a grand total of 86 goals in the league which was 18 more than the champions Llanfairpwll and 11 more than anyone else; Porthmadog managed 75. We also had the fourth best defensive record with 36 goals being conceded. Indeed, on just three occasions did we let in more than two goals in a single match, successive 2-3 losses inside four April days adding to the previously highlighted 3-4 defeat against Porthmadog at Easter.

Perhaps the most surprising feature of the 1987/88 league campaign was the disappointing form of our 'nearest and dearest', Flint Town United, who could only finish in 13th place with seven wins and only 21 points (remember it was two points for a win then although this was altered to three points from the start of the following season). Needless to say, The Silkmen made up for that poor showing over the next twelve months as will be related in the story of the 1988/89 Welsh Alliance season.

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