After a disappointing time last season, Holywell Town are back on fire this term on their return to the Welsh National (Wrexham Area) League after a 46-year absence.
At the helm remains popular manager JOHNNY HASELDIN, who is in his eighth season in charge, his spell broken only when he stepped down at the end of 2017/18, only to return early the following campaign.
Closing in on 300 matches as Wellmen boss, here Grassroots North Wales looks back at 10 of Johnny’s finest games in the hot seat.
This feature is dedicated to Johnny’s late father JOHN HASELDIN SNR, on the third anniversary of his passing today. RIP good friend.
LLANRUG UNITED 1 HOLYWELL TOWN 5
Cookson Cup final – March 26, 2014
Holywell’s first trophy under Johnny Haseldin’s managership – and what a mighty performance it was.
After a flying start the Wellmen took the lead when Steve Thomas laid the ball off for Sam Jones, whose screamer flew into the top corner.
Early in the second half Holywell doubled their lead. Sam Jones broke from the halfway line and shrugged off a couple of tackles before laying the ball off nicely to Phil Lloyd, whose first time effort flew into the net.
Soon after Tom McElmeel unleashed a shot which flew through a crowded area and into the goal for 3-0.
Llanrug replied through David Noel Williams, but Jones and Lloyd each netted again to seal a great win.
CAERNARFON TOWN 1 HOLYWELL TOWN 2
Welsh Alliance League – February 27, 2013
Caernarfon were to finish up Welsh Alliance champions this season, but had nothing to thank Holywell for as the Wellmen beat them home and away.
The visitors took an 18th minute lead when keeper Paul Pritchard fumbled a Tony Roebuck corner and Graeme Williams fired the loose ball home.
Caernarfon battled back strongly and eventually levelled in the 51st minute when Darren Thomas tapped home from a Cai Jones cross.
It really could have gone either way after that, but Holywell sealed the points when Ian Griffiths headed in a Mark Orme delivery from a tight angle.
The Cofis did get some revenge as they defeated John Haseldin’s team in the FAW Trophy semi-final and Cookson Cup Final.
HOLYWELL TOWN 3 PRESTATYN TOWN 3
Nathaniel MG Cup (aet – Holywell won 5-4 on pens) August 30, 2017
Fantastic comeback from the Wellmen as they knocked out Welsh Premier visitors Prestatyn in a cup stormer.
After a goalless first half, Noah Edwards and Ben Maher put the Seasiders two-up and entering the last five minutes Prestatyn looked sure bets to progress.
However, the tables were turned when late strikes from Brady McGilloway and Graeme Williams forced extra time.
Jack Higgins restored the Prestatyn lead, but Jon Jones’ 120th minute leveller led to penalties and Holywell emerged victorious 5-4 on spot-kicks, Joe Griffith producing two saves.
HOLYWELL TOWN 4 PENRHYNDEUDRAETH 2
FAW Trophy Final – Apr 18, 2015
Johnny Haseldin had won this national competition in thrilling fashion as a Holywell player four years earlier, and repeated the feat as a manager on a sunny April day at Llandudno.
Phil Lloyd handed Town a 12th minute lead, but veteran Paul Roberts levelled in first half added time.
Steve Thomas hit Holywell’s second in the 54th minute, but Penrhyn equalised again through Tom Hughes.
It was left to Lloyd and the outstanding Sam Jones (pen) to seal a magnificent victory on a day where another legend was born – Holywell fans mascot Cecil the Crocodile, who was removed from the pitch in the closing minutes for encroachment.
Apart from Cecil, the amazing Wellmen supporters made this day extra special.
GRESFORD ATHLETIC 1 HOLYWELL TOWN 5
FAW Trophy round five – January 31, 2015
Neither side had lost in this season and Welsh National League Premier Division outfit Gresford looked to be favourites with Holywell missing key players, including leading scorer and captain Sam Jones (suspended).
Yet it was the Wellmen who stormed to victory.
Tom McElmeel teed up Tony Roebuck for the opener, Phil Lloyd added a second and McElmeel converted a penalty to make it 3-0 at the turnaround.
Sam Richardson pulled one back early in the second half, but Lloyd and Graeme Williams made it 5-1.
HOLYWELL TOWN 3 NEWTOWN 2
Welsh Cup round four – February 22, 2014
On their way to becoming the first tier-three side ever to reach the Welsh Cup semi-finals, Haseldin’s heroes knocked out Welsh Premier outfit Newtown.
It is very rare for a third-tier team to beat a top-flight side, but Holywell were no ordinary Joe’s.
Welsh Alliance Town stormed into a three-goal lead through Paul Williams, Sam Jones and Steve Thomas.
Tom Goodwin and Matthew Hearsey hit back for Newtown in the second half, but despite having to ship late pressure the Wellmen held on for a fantastic result.
Newtown’s goalkeeper on this day was Mike Platt, who is the current glovesman for Holywell.
HOLYWELL TOWN 3 LLANRUG UNITED 2
Mawddach Cup Final – May 9, 2015
Treble time for Town as they added the Mawddach Cup to the Welsh Alliance title and FAW Trophy triumph in a thrilling final at Bangor City.
Holywell had lost to Llanrug in the Cookson Cup final a few weeks earlier, but revenge proved sweet.
The Caernarfon area side led 1-0 at half time courtesy of a Jonathan Peris-Jones goal.
After the break, Town grabbed a deserved equaliser when Matty Harvey headed home a Sam Jones free kick.
Both teams went close to a winner, but neither succeeded so extra time was required.
There was an “England v West Germany 1966 World Cup Final moment” early in the first period when Phil Lloyd’s fierce shot hit the underside of the crossbar and the ball bounced back out onto the field of play.
The linesman, to our knowledge not a Russian, indicated straight away it was a goal and after a couple of seconds of uncertainty, the referee pointed to the centre circle and it was 2-1 Holywell.
Soon after Llanrug’s sub Gethin Phillips fired home through a crowded box to make it 2-2 after 105 minutes.
Time was running out and penalties loomed until Steve Thomas’ low cross was met by sub Luke Tyson. The ball seemed to take an eternity to roll in, but cross the line it did and Tyson’s name was etched into Holywell Town folklore.
HOLYWELL TOWN 5 LLANDUDNO 3
Welsh Cup round two – November 10, 2012
What is it about Holywell and the Welsh Cup? No-one who saw this amazing tie will ever forget it.
Cymru Alliance visitors Llandudno went three-up through a Dean Seager double and Connor Tierney single, but the Wellmen were back in it by half time through goals from Steve Thomas (penalty) and Marc Gunther.
Paul Williams’ equaliser early in the second half forced extra time where Graeme Williams and Thomas clinched a famous win for Johnny Haseldin’s Welsh Alliance underdogs.
HOLYWELL TOWN 2 FLINT TOWN UNITED 1
Cymru Alliance – December 26, 2018
After resigning at the end of 2017-18, Johnny Haseldin was back in the Holywell dugout by September of the following season and then fully in charge at the end of the month following a disastrous opening to the campaign.
The Wellmen had lost three on the bounce and were on just 12 points from 15 matches by the time neighbours Flint visited Halkyn Road on Boxing Day.
Holywell needed a different kind of spirit to the Christmas one and they finally produced the goods when it mattered.
Flint took the lead on around the 20-minute mark through ex-Wellmen striker Damian Ketley, who headed home via the post.
The Wellmen equalised with 43 minutes on the clock. Great work by Aaron Pomeyie saw him feed the ball to Steve Lewis, who finished with a great effort.
Some great saves from Mike Platt at the start of the second half kept the Silkmen at bay.
Holywell’s first attack of the half saw them win a corner. The kick was whipped in and Matty Hughes’ flick on beat the keeper but hit the crossbar, but the ball fell close to the line and Jon Jones reacted first to force it home to make it 2-1.
More Platt heroics ensured a joyous Holywell took maximum points.
BRYMBO 2 HOLYWELL TOWN 4
Welsh National League Premier Division – December 21, 2019
Holywell have returned to the third-tier this season albeit they are now part of the Welsh National League (Wrexham Area).
And the Wellmen are back to their ruthless best, going unbeaten in their first 16 league matches and conceding a ridiculously thrifty eight goals.
Johnny Haseldin had to build a virtually brand new squad over the summer but has done a great job.
Probably their best performance so far was a 4-2 victory at fellow high-flyers Brymbo, who had earlier knocked Town out of the FAW Trophy by the same score.
The game was only five minutes old when Sam Jones’ free kick evaded everyone and fell into the bottom corner without anyone getting a touch.
Four minutes later, Mark Connolly’s header was partly saved by the Brymbo keeper, but Dan Dobbins was on hand to tap the ball home.
Just past the half-hour, Jake Cooke’s cross was arrowed home by Dylan Allshorn for 3-0.
Brymbo rallied after the break, Charlie Bell and Billy New scoring to cut the arrears to one.
With the home side pressing for the equaliser, Town broke well, Cooke bursting into the box before firing the ball past the keeper.
LEAGUE RECORD WITH HOLYWELL TOWN SEASON-BY-SEASON
(key: season – won – drawn – lost – goals for – goals against)
2012-13: 18-7-3 98-38 – WELSH ALLIANCE DIVISION ONE 3RD
2013/14: 20-5-3 103-23 – WAL DIV 1 2ND
2014/15: 23-2-1 119-19 – WAL DIV 1 1ST
2015/16: 15-7-8 55-34 – CYMRU ALLIANCE LEAGUE 5TH
2016/17: 14-8-8 52-45 – CAL 5TH
2017/18: 14-8-6 75-37 – CAL 5TH
(resigned as manager)
2018/19: 6-4-12 29-44 – CAL 14TH (relegated – returned as manager Sep 28, 2018)
2019/20: 13-3-1 62-8 – WNL 2ND (season ongoing but currently suspended)
Overall league record: Played 209 Won 123 Drawn 44 Lost 42 Goals For 593 Goals Against 248
CUP RECORD WITH HOLYWELL TOWN SEASON-BY-SEASON
2012/13: 12-0-4 38-19
2013/14: 12-0-3 56-23
2014/15: 18-0-2 64-17
2015/16: 7-0-4 27-21
2016/17: 2-0-4 19-10
2017/18: 5-0-4 18-15
2018/19: 0-0-1 2-3
2019/20: 4-0-3 41-12 (season ongoing but currently suspended)
Overall cup record: Played 85 Won 60 Lost 25 Goals For 265 Goals Against 120
JOHN HASELDIN COMPLETE RECORD AS HOLYWELL MANAGER IN COMPETITIVE MATCHES (up to and including March 20, 2020)
Goals For 858
Goals Against 368
Cookson Cup winners 2013-14
Welsh Alliance Division One champions 2014-15
FAW Trophy winners 2014-15
Mawddach Cup winners 2014-15
Cookson Cup runners-up 2012-13; 2014-15
Welsh Alliance Division One runners-up 2013-14
NEWFA Challenge Cup runners-up 2015-16; 2017-18
Welsh Cup semi-finalists 2013-14