Bangor City became the first North Wales club in almost 100 years to win the Welsh Cup three times in a row when they defeated Port Talbot Town 3-2 in the 2009/10 final at Parc-y-Scarlets, Llanelli.
Not since Wrexham achieved a hat-trick of successes in Wales’ top knockout in 1908/09, 1909/10 and 1910/11 had a northern team lifted the trophy for three consecutive seasons before Neville Powell’s heroes accomplished it during a golden spell for the Citizens.
Bangor had previously won the coveted cup on five occasions – in 1888/89, 1895/96, 1961/62, 1997/98 and 1999/2000 – but were going through an unproductive period in their history when former City player Powell took over as manager at Farrar Road in 2007 following 14 years in charge at Connah’s Quay Nomads.
Powell had reached the Welsh Cup Final while playing for Bangor in 1984/85.
Although the all-blues lost over two legs to Shrewsbury Town, City still qualified for Europe as the England-based cup winners were not eligible.
Midfielder Powell went on to feature in the famous 1985/86 Cup Winners’ Cup ties against Fredrikstad of Norway and the mighty Spaniards Atletico Madrid.
The former Tranmere Rovers professional was well-liked by Bangor fans during his seven years at the club, so when it was announced he was returning to the Citizens as boss, there was plenty of cheer and a healthy dose of optimism in the air.
Triple Welsh Cup glory
Bangor’s Welsh Cup campaign began with a fairly comfortable 3-0 second round home win over Cymru Alliance side Llandyrnog United, Ashley Stott netting twice and Les Davies also on target.
Next up was a highly dramatic tie at Caersws, in which City had Dave Swanick and Kieran Killackey red carded, yet somehow emerged through extra time as 3-2 winners with nine men. Marc Limbert, Michael Johnston and Michael Walsh bagged the away goals.
More drama in round four saw Bangor draw 0-0 at Aberystwyth Town, so penalties were needed. Enter goalkeeper Paul Smith as the hero who saved three kicks in the shoot-out, which the visitors edged 3-2.
By contrast, a quarter-final at Huws Gray Alliance outfit Guilsfield was a breeze, Stott netting four times as City triumphed 6-0, Johnston and Karl Noon adding further goals.
Bangor were paired with underdogs again in the semis, Welsh League Newport YMCA the opposition. The North Wales side took the spoils 3-1, Peter Hoy, Stott and Sion Edwards finding the net.
So to City’s first 14th Welsh Cup Final appearance and a clash with Llanelli at Latham Park, Newtown.
Despite being reduced to 10 men after Hoy’s fourth minute sending off, Powell’s side led 1-0 at half time through the consistent Stott, who pocketed his eighth goal of the competition.
There was a quick turnaround after the break as a Swanick own goal and Rhys Griffiths finish put Llanelli 2-1 to the good.
The South Wales Reds looked well on top, but when key defender Wyn Thomas was sent off for dissent, Bangor were thrown a lifeline.
Still, it remained 2-1 until in the second of four minutes added-on time.
A misplaced punch from Llanelli keeper Duncan Roberts resulted in Christian Seargeant equalising with a perfect chip to send the City fans wild.
The first period of extra time saw Bangor clinch the cup as a Marc Limbert penalty and Noon benefiting from keeper Roberts slamming the ball against him and seeing it enter the net put the Farrar Road outfit 4-2 up.
To compound Llanelli’s misery, Griffiths was dismissed for violent conduct.
Everton legend Graeme Sharp, manager at City when they won the Welsh Cup in 1998, watched from the stands as his son Chris scored the goal which earned Bangor a 1-0 success against Connah’s Quay Nomads in round two.
At the next stage, a hat-trick from Marc Limbert – including two penalties – and a Les Davies goal guided the Citizens to a 4-0 home triumph over Welsh League Garden Village.
A last 16 tie at home to arch rivals Rhyl was anything but straight-forward.
The expensively-assembled Lilywhites, who were to finish up Welsh Premier champions in this season, were strong favourites, even more so after Bangor’s Limbert was red-carded for alleged violent conduct after 16 minutes.
City kept the visitors at bay, then took a surprise 67th minute lead through Sharp.
Rhyl levelled late on through Greg Strong to force extra time, which produced several close calls but no deciding goal, so spot-kicks were required.
And Bangor prevailed 4-2, Stuart Cook slotting the decisive penalty after Neil Roberts had hit the bar and Smith kept out Luke Holden’s effort.
In the quarters the all-blues coasted to a 5-0 verdict at Airbus, Davies (2), Seargeant, Hoy and Edwards on the mark, leading to a showdown with Welsh League Bridgend Town in the last four, which Powell’s charges won 2-1 through net-finders from Seargeant and Killackey.
Bangor returned to Parc-y-Scarlets for the final against Aberystwyth and found the Llanelli venue a lucky charm again as they celebrated a 2-0 outcome, Davies and Seargeant on target.
City’s bid for a hat-trick of Welsh Cups began with a home test against Cefn Druids which saw the Ancients lead 1-0 at half time.
Bangor rallied in the second period to take the win 4-1, Jamie Reed with a pair, Sharp and James Brewerton one apiece.
A trip to Flint Town United in round three saw a Hoy goal prove enough to progress 1-0, then the last 16 delivered a home tussle with lower league Aberaman Athletic which the holders won 3-1, but needed a stoppage time penalty from Reed to finally seal the spoils. Reed and Craig Garside added further goals.
Reed and Dave Morley struck in the quarter-finals, where Bangor eliminated Welsh Premier table-toppers Llanelli 2-0, then followed a win by the same score over Prestatyn Town in the semis, Mark Smyth and Garside seeing off the Seasiders.
Awaiting in the final were Port Talbot, with Parc-y-Scarlets once again hosting the showpiece.
Bangor cruised into a 2-0 lead inside 15 minutes, Lee Hunt and Reed applying the finishes.
Talbot refused to crumble, Drew Fahiya’s reply just before the hour and then a Liam McCreesh equaliser in the 85th minute making the South Walians favourites to go on and win it.
But this was Bangor City – masters of the late killer blow.
Into injury time and a Sion Edwards free kick into the box saw Morley climb highest to head in the clincher. Once, twice, three times the cup winners!
Bangor continued to make history under Neville Powell.
Amazingly, City came within one win of landing a fourth national cup in a row.
After progressing through four rounds of the 2010/11 competition to make it 22 successive Welsh Cup tie wins under Powell, Bangor were beaten 4-1 in the final by Llanelli.
The consolation prize was not bad though – a first Welsh Premier League title in 16 years secured by defeating champions The New Saints at Farrar Road.