Will the North Wales Coast FA Challenge Cup ever return? Would we want it to?

Caernarfon Town were the last winners of the NWCFA Challenge Cup under Lee Dixon (front – in black) in 2014

Mold won it first, Caernarfon Town won it last, but will anyone ever win it again?

I’m talking about the NWCFA Challenge Cup, once a massively prestigious prize in North Wales football, but now seemingly incarcerated in the memory bin forever.

The competition produced the finest match I’ve ever seen live in 32 years of reporting – the 2012-13 final between Rhyl and Prestatyn Town played at Belle Vue.

The Lilywhites had lifted the cup a record 16 times, while the Seasiders had never won it.

After 120 minutes of thrilling end-to-end football, the Denbighshire neighbours were inseparable at five goals apiece, some of those net-finders of the most spectacular variety.

So it went to penalties and Prestatyn triumphed.

That season’s competition was strange as it did not take place in the regular 2012-13 campaign, which had simply run out of time to stage it.

It was therefore played in the August of 2013, just weeks after Prestatyn had landed the Welsh Cup for the first time in their history and won their debut tie in Europe.

There was a bumper attendance at Rhyl that evening, but it was nothing compared to the crowds the NWCFA Challenge Cup Finals attracted in their heyday.

Historian and author Gareth Davies often talks of the 1956 final between Holyhead Town and Caernarfon Town at Farrar Road, Bangor, which drew in many thousands.

The cup appeared to start losing some of its appeal in the 1990s, when the League of Wales and Cymru Alliance came into being.

More knockout competitions emerged, and the opportunities for ‘lower ranked’ clubs to qualify for Europe increased when the Wales-based Football League clubs were excluded from the Welsh Cup from 1995-96.

As newer, more lucrative competitions became increasingly prominent, so the bigger Welsh Premier clubs viewed the NWCFA Challenge Cup as less important.

Hence some clubs fielded weaker teams in the coast cup, whose profile plummeted.

Various sources these days write or talk about Rhyl winning the ‘treble’ of Welsh Premier League title, Welsh Cup and League Cup in 2003-04, but in fact the Lilywhites landed a quadruple that season. also lifting the coast cup, but that sometimes does not even merit a mention.

The competition continued to produce an impressive winners’ rostrum right to the end, Caernarfon Town being the last to lift the trophy in 2013-14 after beating Bangor City in the final on penalties.

Caernarfon refused to defend the cup the following season in protest at the treatment of the club over supporter disturbances at that final.

Town were fined a total of £5,600 after an FAW disciplinary panel found proven a charge of a smoke bomb being thrown onto the field of play by a supporter during the game at Bangor’s Nantporth stadium.

Following a review of the incident, the governing body imposed a £5,000 fine. The FAW also hit the then Huws Gray Alliance club with a fine of £600 for a pitch invasion that occurred immediately after the match. However, £4,350 of the fine was suspended until the end of the 2014/15 season.

As it turned out, the 2014-15 competition never took place and the cup has been consigned to the history books – at least for now.

Will it ever return?

I, for one, would like to see it back, but it would need a lot of support from the clubs to make that happen. Perhaps the changes in the Welsh football pyramid being introduced next season could open the door?


2014 – Competition suspended
2013-14 Caernarfon Town
2012-13 Prestatyn Town
2011-12 Bangor City
2010-11 Colwyn Bay
2009-10 Porthmadog
2008-09 Llandudno
2007-08 Llandudno
2006-07 Flint Town United
2005-06 Rhyl
2004-05 Bangor City
2003-04 Rhyl
2002-03 Porthmadog
2001-02 Caernarfon Town
2000-01 Caernarfon Town
1999-00 Colwyn Bay
1998-99 Bangor City
1997-98 Colwyn Bay
1996-97 Porthmadog
1995-96 Colwyn Bay
1994-95 Llandudno
1993-94 Connah’s Quay Nomads
1992-93 Bangor City
1991-92 Colwyn Bay
1990-91 Flint Town
1989-90 Mold Alex
1988-89 Mostyn
1987-88 Felinheli
1986-87 Holywell Town
1985-86 Mold Alexandra
1984-85 Ffynnongroew
1983-84 Colwyn Bay
1982-83 Colwyn Bay
1981-82 Colwyn Bay
1980-81 Caernarfon Town
1979-80 Caernarfon Town
1978-79 Pwllheli
1977-78 Porthmadog
1976-77 Porthmadog
1975-76 Bethesda Athletic
1974-75 Porthmadog
1973-74 Porthmadog
1972-73 Denbigh Town
1971-72 Blaenau Ffestiniog
1970-71 Barmouth & Dyffryn
1969-70 Rhyl
1968-69 Barmouth & Dyffryn
1967-68 Bangor City
1966-67 Holyhead Town
1965-66 Caernarfon Town
1964-65 Bangor City
1963-64 Borough United
1962-63 Borough United
1961-62 Pwllheli & District
1960-61 Colwyn Bay & Bethesda
1959-60 Pwllheli & District
1959-60 Pwllheli & District
1958-59 Blaenau Ffestiniog
1957-58 Bangor City
1956-57 Caernarfon Town
1955-56 Holyhead Town
1954-55 Rhyl
1953-54 Rhyl
1952-53 Rhyl
1951-52 Bangor
1950-51 Rhyl
1949-50 Rhyl
1948-49 Rhyl
1947-48 Rhyl
1946-47 Bangor City
1945-46 Caernarfon Town
1940-45 Competition Suspended
1939-40 Caernarfon Town
1938-39 Rhyl
1937-38 Bangor City
1936-37 Bangor City
1935-36 Bangor City
1934-35 Rhyl
1933-34 Rhyl
1932-33 Rhyl
1931-32 Bethesda Victoria
1930-31 Colwyn Bay
1929-30 Rhyl
1928-29 Connah’s Quay
1927-28 Rhyl
1926-27 Bangor
1925-26 Llandudno
1924-25 Mold
1923-24 Mold

Most wins

16 – Rhyl
13 – Bangor City
10 – Colwyn Bay
9 – Caernarfon Town
7 – Porthmadog
4 – Llandudno, Mold Alex, Pwllheli
2 – Flint Town United, Connah’s Quay Nomads, Blaenau Ffestiniog, Barmouth and Dyffryn, Holyhead Town, Borough United, Bethesda Athletic, Bethesda
1 – Prestatyn Town, Mostyn, Felinheli, Holywell Town, Ffynnongroew, Denbigh Town, Bethesda Victoria

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