Anglesey/Ynys Môn football greats past and present – No5 Tommy Welsh

Razor Ruddock meets the great Tommy Welsh

To call Tommy Welsh the finest footballer ever to kick a ball on Anglesey would not be an over-exaggeration.

Such claims are always matters of opinion, of course, but a look at the man’s amazing goal stats alone make him a worthy contender for the ‘island’s greatest’ tag.

His record-breaking haul of 631 goals in the halcyon days of North Wales coast football throughout the 1950s and 60s truly are the stuff of legend.

Born on St Patrick’s Day in 1929, the Holyhead-based Ulsterman from Belfast is set to celebrate his 90th birthday this year.

Mr Welsh first made his mark in North Wales football in 1952/53. While serving as a soldier in the Royal Artillery at Kinmel Bay Camp, he played one season for Blaenau Ffestiniog, scoring 29 goals.

He is best remembered, however, for his glory days at Holyhead Town, where he played 11 seasons between 1953-1964, the team winning the Welsh League North title twice in that era.

The prolific forward notched 79 goals in the 1953-54 season, including six versus Conway Borough, four of those coming within a spell of three minutes and 42 seconds.

In 1953 against Llandudno, he scored 10 seconds after kick-off in the first half, and struck again 12 seconds into the second half.

He also netted eight times in one game for Holyhead against Llanfairfechan in 1955-56.

Tommy Welsh (second left – front row) lines up with Holyhead Town in 1963-64

In 1956, he scored a memorable hat-trick as the Harbourmen defeated Caernarfon Town 6-1 in the NWCFA Challenge Cup Final in front of 6,000 fans at Bangor.  

Mr Welsh joined Colwyn Bay in 1964/65 and helped them win their first Welsh League North championship.

He also finished top-scorer for the club and in the league itself.

The following season saw Mr Welsh sign for Bethesda, where he reached 631 goals, beating Don Spendlove of Rhyl’s all-time record of 629, and then retired from football.

Mr Welsh’s other achievements included being selected for the North Wales Coast team which played against Scottish Juniors in 1954.

A late starter in the game, he attracted the interest of Tottenham Hotspur, West Bromwich Albion, Wolves, Southend and Doncaster at his peak, but stayed loyal to the town and football club he had grown to love – Holyhead.

A fine example to youngsters, he was booked only once in his career and never sent off.

In 2004, on his 75th birthday, Mr Welsh was presented with a mounted football boot and certificate from the North Wales Coast FA and Holyhead Town Council in recognition of his outstanding services to football.

Two years ago, Mr Welsh was made honorary president of a resurrected Holyhead Town FC on a special evening also attended by former England, Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool defender Neil “Razor” Ruddock.

Football runs in the family as Mr Welsh’s sons, Jackie and Gary, have both been well-known players on the island over the years.

Jackie had a spell with Bangor City in the 1980s and has also played for several Anglesey clubs including Trearddur Bay United, Cemaes Bay and various Holyhead teams.

He was still playing for Holyhead Town into his fifties. Gary is a former goalkeeper for Town.

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