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Save Rhyl FC: a look back at perhaps their greatest-ever season

Rhyl fans watch their team playing in the UEFA Champions League (Photo by AMA/Corbis via Getty Images)

Rhyl fans watch their team playing in the UEFA Champions League (Photo by AMA/Corbis via Getty Images)

Rhyl Football Club is in genuine danger of going under – and it desperately needs your help.
The Lilywhites need to raise £20,000 to protect its immediate future and a new buyer to safeguard it in the longer term.
The independent Rhyl Fans Association are accepting seat sponsorship & donations on Twitter & Facebook, and have started a GoFundMe page via https://twitter.com/FansRhyl
The club also desperately need a new buyer. If you can help, please e-mail chairman Paul Higginson at sponsorship@rhylfc.co.uk

If you are able to help keep Rhyl FC alive, this is the sort of club you will be saving….

Was 2003-04 the greatest season in Rhyl FC’s history?

John Hulse was Rhyl FC’s manager between 2002-08

In terms of achievement, was it the best campaign ever for a North Wales club?

Probably. Four trophies, including a first-ever Welsh Premier League title, and a first Welsh Cup success since the 1950s, made it something really special.

Manager John Hulse had suggested he was the man to bring the good times back the previous season when the Lilywhites lifted the Welsh Premier League Cup, beating Bangor City on penalties in the final at Belle Vue.

But no-one had anticipated what the next campaign was to deliver.

Hulse went into 2003-04 with the majority of the previous season’s squad.

Chris Adamson from Newtown was the main new signing, while Marc Limbert, who made just the one appearance for the Lilies in 2002-03 in the League Cup Final, committed himself for the term ahead.

The addition of Lee Hunt in the January transfer window was to prove a true master stroke.

Rhyl FC’s Belle Vue ground

Here is a game-by-game look back at that 2003-04 season….

Aug 16, 2003: Rhyl 2 (Limbert, Moran) NEWI Cefn Druids 0 – Welsh Premier League
Steady start for the Lilywhites in front of a modest 273 at Belle Vue as Marc Limbert and Andy Moran wrap up a 2-0 victory.

Aug 23, 2003: Haverfordwest County 2 Rhyl 1 (Moran) – Welsh Premier League
Rhyl’s only league defeat of the campaign in just their second outing. Would you have believed it if someone had told you Hulse’s men would go undefeated for the next 30 league games? Probably not. Moran scored the away side’s consolation goal.

Aug 30, 2003: Rhyl 2 (Moran, Wilson) Port Talbot Town 1 – Welsh Premier League
Less than 200 were at Belle Vue to see Rhyl edge a narrow win thanks to a late Gareth Wilson strike, Moran also on the mark.

Sep 2, 2003: NEWI Cefn Druids 0 Rhyl 2 (Limbert, Moran) – League Cup round one first leg
Moran netted for a fourth successive game after Limbert had put Rhyl ahead in this League Cup test at Plaskynaston.

Sep 6, 2003: Aberystwyth Town 2 Rhyl 2 (Limbert 2) – Welsh Premier League
Limbert was really starting to show his true worth to the Lilies, his double securing a point at Park Avenue.

Sep 9, 2003: Connah’s Quay Nomads 1 Rhyl 3 (Limbert, Moran, McGinn) – FAW Premier Cup
Premier Cup success for the Lilywhites. Limbert and Moran both reached the five-goal mark for the season with a single apiece, while Chris McGinn added a third for the visitors.

Sep 13, 2003: Rhyl 4 (Tim Edwards 2, Walters, Limbert) Barry Town 0 – Welsh Premier League
A Barry side on the descent finished up well beaten at Belle Vue, defender Tim Edwards netting twice, while Steve Walters and top-scorer Limbert also found the net.

Sep 16, 2003: Cefn Druids 2 Rhyl 3 (Moran 2, McGinn) – League Cup round one, second leg (2-5)
Moran delivered a double and McGinn also struck as Rhyl comfortably advanced to the next stage of the League Cup 5-2 on aggregate.

Sep 20, 2003: Caernarfon Town 1 Rhyl 1 (Atherton) – Welsh Premier League
It ended all-square at The Oval, Lee Atherton on target for the visitors.

Sep 23, 2003: Rhyl 0 Afan Lido 0 – FAW Premier Cup
Rhyl played 57 matches across all competitions in this long season – and this was one of only four occasions they failed to score. Hulse’s men claimed a point in this Premier Cup group tussle.

Sep 27, 2003: Rhyl 2 (Walters, Moran) Caersws 1 – Welsh Premier League
Top marksman Moran bagged his eighth goal of the season and Steve Walters also made the scoresheet in this tight win for the hosts.

Oct 4, 2003: Rhyl 2 (Walters, Wilson) Airbus UK 0 – Welsh Cup
The Lilywhites made it 10 matches without defeat after goals from Walters and Gareth Wilson sent Airbus tumbling out of the Welsh Cup.

Oct 7, 2003: Rhyl 1 (G Powell) Newport County 0 – FAW Premier Cup
Gary Powell scored the only goal as Rhyl celebrated a famous Premier Cup victory over Newport.

Oct 11, 2003: Rhyl 1 (Edwards) Connah’s Quay Nomads 1 – Welsh Premier
Honours ended even at Belle Vue with Tim Edwards the home marksman.

Oct 18, 2003: Rhyl 4 (Limbert, Moran, G Powell 2) Carmarthen Town 0 – Welsh Premier
Gary Powell struck twice as the Lilywhites chalked up a convincing win over the Old Gold, Moran and Limbert adding singles to their total.

Oct 25, 2003: Afan Lido 1 Rhyl 2 (Limbert, McGinn) – Welsh Premier
A really good away performance from John Hulse’s side with Limbert and McGinn securing a 2-1 triumph.

Oct 28, 2003: Rhyl 2 (Brewerton, G Powell) Connah Quay Nomads 1 – FAW Premier Cup
James Brewerton pocketed his first goal of the season as Rhyl made it 15 games without defeat with a close-run success against old rivals Nomads, Gary Powell the other home hitman.

Nov 1, 2003: Rhyl 3 (Edwards, Limbert, Moran) Welshpool Town 0 – Welsh Premier
No stopping the hosts in this one as Tim Edwards, Limbert and Moran wrap up another three points at the expense of Welshpool.

Nov 8, 2003: Llanfairpwll 1 Rhyl 4 (M Powell, Walters, Limbert, Moran) – Welsh Cup
Comfortable Welsh Cup win on the road for the Lilywhites as Mark Powell registers his first goal of the campaign, while usual suspects Walters, Limbert and Moran strike again.

Nov 15, 2003: Total Network Solutions 2 Rhyl 3 (Moran 2, 1 own goal) – Welsh Premier
Rhyl began to show they really mean business in the Welsh Premier this season as they took maximum points at TNS, Andy Moran grabbing a late decider – one of two goals for the prolific marksman – and an own goal also assisted the away cause.

Nov 17, 2003: Newport County 3 Rhyl 0 – FAW Premier Cup
A first defeat in 19 matches for the Lilies, but it did come following a long trip to South Wales at the hands of strong opposition just two days after they had battled to a 3-2 win at TNS.

Nov 22, 2003: Rhyl 1 (Moran) Cwmbran Town 0 – Welsh Premier
Rhyl returned to winning ways as Moran’s 14th goal of the campaign saw off the always tricky Cwmbran.

Nov 29, 2003: Bangor City 2 Rhyl 3 (G Powell 2, Moran) – Welsh Premier
A seventh league win on the trot and what a beauty it was as late goals clinched the spoils at arch rivals Bangor, Gary Powell scoring twice and Moran again on target.

Dec 2, 2003: Afan Lido 1 Rhyl 3 (McGinn, Moran 2) – FAW Premier Cup
Just 65 supporters witness a brilliant win for Rhyl after a long midweek journey down south, Moran bagging a brace and McGinn a single.

Dec 6, 2003: Rhyl 1 (Limbert) Newtown 1 – Welsh Premier
Newtown halt the Lilies’ seven-match winning streak in the WPL, but a Limbert goal ensures the hosts take at least a point.

Dec 9, 2003: TNS 1 Rhyl 0 – League Cup quarter-final, first leg
Things don’t look overly promising for Rhyl after they lose the away leg of this League Cup last-eight clash with the Saints.

Dec 16, 2003: Rhyl 3 (M Powell, McGinn, G Powell) TNS 1 – League Cup quarter-final, second leg (3-2)
What a turnaround as the Lilywhites book their place in the semi-finals with a famous 3-1 home success over the full-timers.
Mark Powell, Chris McGinn and Gary Powell get the all-important goals at an electric Belle Vue.

Dec 20, 2003: Cefn Druids 0 Rhyl 2 (Moran 2) – Welsh Premier
Two more Moran goals guide Rhyl to a league double over Druids and their fourth win against the Ancients in all this season.

Dec 26, 2003: Rhyl 6 (Walters 2, M Powell, Moran, Adamson, McGinn) Porthmadog 1 – Welsh Premier
Boxing Day bonanza at Belle Vue as the Lilywhites rattle up their biggest win of the season, Walters poaching a pair, Moran reaching 20 goals for the season, Adamson knocking in his first, while Mark Powell and McGinn also score.

Rhyl legend Andy Moran. Picture: Rhyl FC

Jan 3, 2004: Rhyl 1 (Hunt) Haverfordwest County 1 – Welsh Premier
New signing Lee Hunt collects his first goal in a Rhyl shirt, but the hosts have to be content with a point against the only team to beat them in the league all season.

Jan 10, 2004: Port Talbot Town 1 Rhyl 2 (Moran, Hunt) – Welsh Premier
The deadly duo perform the first of many double acts as Moran and Hunt both strike in an excellent victory at Port.

Jan 17, 2004: Rhyl 5 (Moran 3, Hunt, Limbert) Aberystwyth Town 3 – Welsh Premier
Game of the season so far watched by a WPL record 644 for Rhyl at that time.
Moran nets the first hat-trick of the campaign for the Lilies, Hunt scores for a third successive game, but the most astonishing goal of all is provided by Limbert from close to the halfway line.

Jan 24, 2004: Barry Town 0 Rhyl 3 (Brewerton, Moran, Hunt) – Welsh Premier
Struggling Barry are no match for Rhyl, Brewerton, Moran and Hunt on the mark in a win which could have been more emphatic.

Jan 27, 2004: Rhyl 8 (Moran 3, McGinn 2, Brewerton, Limbert, Hogg) Barry Town 0 – FAW Premier Cup
Barry are well and truly embarrassed as Rhyl go on the rampage in this Premier Cup quarter-final, Moran grabbing another hat-trick, McGinn a pair and there are singles for Brewerton, Limbert and Craig Hogg.

Jan 31, 2004: Rhyl 7 (Moran 3, Edwards, Hunt, Adamson, McGinn) Caernarfon Town 1 – Welsh Premier
What a month January was for Rhyl. Five wins and a draw with 26 goals scored, rounded off with a 7-1 caning of Caernarfon at a rainy Belle Vue.
Moran makes it three hat-tricks in 14 days and 31 goals for the season, Edwards, Hunt, Adamson and McGinn with the remainder.

Feb 7, 2004: AFC Llwydcoed 0 Rhyl 2 (Moran, McGinn) – Welsh Cup
Underdogs Llwydcoed gave Rhyl a good battle, but the visitors eventually got the goals through Moran and McGinn which sealed a quarter-final spot.

Feb 11, 2004: Rhyl 4 (G Powell 2, Hunt 2) Llandudno 1 – NWCFA Challenge Cup
There is no let-up from the Lilywhites, even in the lesser-regarded competitions.
Two goals apiece from Gary Powell and Hunt make sure Hulse’s heroes stretch their unbeaten run to 11 matches at the expense of Llandudno.

Feb 14, 2004: Caersws 3 Rhyl 3 (Edwards 2, Hunt) – Welsh Premier
Rhyl are pressed hard but they emerge with a share of the spoils after a fierce battle at the Recreation Ground in Powys.

Feb 20, 2004: Connah’s Quay Nomads 0 Rhyl 2 (Walters, Limbert) – Welsh Premier
More than 500 at Deeside Stadium to see Rhyl scoop the points courtesy of Walters and Limbert goals.

Feb 24, 2004: Rhyl 2 (Walters, Moran) Bangor City 0 – League Cup semi-final, first leg
Goal number eight of the season from Steve Walters put the Lilies on the way to a fine 2-0 lead over City in this semi-final. Moran also keeps up his remarkable goalscoring run.

Mar 6, 2004: Afan Lido 1 Rhyl 2 (Moran, McGinn) – Welsh Cup quarter-final
The semi-finals of the Welsh Cup await Rhyl after Moran and McGinn seal a third success of the campaign at Lido.

Mar 9, 2004: Rhyl 2 (McGinn 2) Llandudno Junction 1 – NWCFA Challenge Cup
Welsh Alliance rank outsiders Junction put up a good battle at Belle Vue, but a McGinn brace ensures Rhyl make it 16 games undefeated.

Mar 13, 2004: Rhyl 3 (Brewerton, Moran 2) Afan Lido 0 – Welsh Premier
Poor Lido suffer again at the hands of title-chasers Rhyl, Moran’s 35th and 36th goals of the season and another for Brewerton clinched maximum reward.

Mar 16, 2004: Bangor City 0 Rhyl 2 (Limbert, McGinn) – League Cup semi-final, second leg (4-0)
The Lilywhites book a League Cup final meeting with Carmarthen Town after goals by Limbert and McGinn complete the job over Bangor.

Mar 20, 2004: Carmarthen Town 0 Rhyl 0 – Welsh Premier
Rhyl make it 25 matches unbeaten in the Welsh Premier, even though on this occasion they could not get past the Carmarthen defence.

Mar 23, 2004: Welshpool Town 1 Rhyl 2 (Moran, Hunt) – Welsh Premier
Like a well-oiled machine, the Lilies kept picking up vital results on the road.
This 2-1 win at Maes-y-Dre led them closer to the title they so craved, Moran and Hunt finding the net.

Apr 3, 2004: Rhyl 4 (Moran 3, G Powell) Cwmbran Town 2 – Welsh Cup semi-final
Magic Moran strikes again with a hat-trick as Rhyl advance to the Welsh Cup Final after extra time following a massive struggle with Cwmbran. Gary Powell added the other goal.

Apr 7, 2004: Rhyl 2 (Tait OG, Walters) Swansea City 0 – FAW Premier Cup semi-final
A huge crowd of 2,379 saw the Welsh Premier hosts spring a major surprise by beating a very strong Swansea outfit 2-0 at a packed Belle Vue.
Both goals came in the first half, Alan Tait heading into his own net for the opener before man of the match Steve Walters added a second.
Three finals reached for the Lilywhites.

Apr 11, 2004: Rhyl 1 (Moran) TNS 0 – Welsh Premier League
An even bigger attendance than was at the Swansea game – this time 2,741 – witnessed Rhyl establish themselves as favourites for the title thanks to a late decider from Moran – goal number 41 of the campaign.

Apr 18, 2004: Cwmbran 1 Rhyl 1 (Moran) – Welsh Premier
Moran is once more on the mark as the Lilywhites push nearer to their title, making it 28 unbeaten in the league.

Apr 24, 2004: Newtown 0 Rhyl 2 (Edwards, Moran) – Welsh Premier
Latham Park is always a tricky place to go to, but Rhyl had developed an uncanny knack for getting results and this 2-0 triumph was as vital as any.

Apr 28, 2004: Rhyl 2 (Edwards 2) Bangor City 0 – Welsh Premier
The title was almost won after a double from captain fantastic Tim Edwards sealed a fourth Rhyl victory of the campaign over Bangor in front of a 1,247 attendance.

May 1, 2004: Porthmadog 0 Rhyl 2 (Moran, G Powell) – Welsh Premier
Rhyl’s first-ever Welsh Premier League championship success was in the bag after goals from Moran and Gary Powell clinched top spot for John Hulse’s heroes.

May 3, 2004: Rhyl 4 (Moran 3, McGinn) Carmarthen Town 0 – League Cup Final
Two days after sealing the league crown, Rhyl made it a double by retaining the League Cup at Newtown, Moran’s fifth hat-trick of 2004 and a McGinn single completing a perfect day.

May 9, 2004: Rhyl 1 (Limbert) The New Saints 0 – Welsh Cup Final
A stunning eight-day treble the likes of which Rhyl supporters had never seen before.
Newtown was the venue for the 2004 Welsh Cup Final which saw Rhyl pip TNS thanks to a somewhat messy goal credited to Marc Limbert, but it may well have gone in off a Saints player.
Regardless, it was still an amazing day in Rhyl FC history.

May 12, 2004: Rhyl 1 (Moran) Wrexham 4 – FAW Premier Cup final
How did this Rhyl squad keep going?
There were one or two huge games every week and another one was to come at Belle Vue where Football League club Wrexham were the visitors for the prestigious FAW Premier Cup final.
Rhyl were 29 matches undefeated entering the final which proved to be a bridge too far with a very strong Wrexham side winning 4-1.
Moran rounded off a magical season with his 48th goal of the campaign as a consolation.

May 24, 2004: Rhyl 6 (McGinn 3, G Powell 3) Halkyn United 1 – NWCFA Challenge Cup final
There was one more special event to come as Rhyl made it a quadruple by landing the NWCFA Challenge Cup for the 14th time in their history with a 6-1 drubbing of Cymru Alliance underdogs Halkyn United at Conwy.
McGinn and Gary Powell put away hat-tricks apiece as the Lilywhites ended an unforgettable season on a high note.

Rhyl FC stats 2003-04

Welsh Premier League: Played 32 Won 23 Drawn 8 Lost 1 Goals For 76 Goals Against 26 Points 77 Final Position: 1st (champions)
Welsh Cup: Played 6 Won 6 Goals For 15 Goals Against 4 (Winners)
League Cup: Played 7 Won 6 Lost 1 Goals For 16 Goals Against 4 (Winners)
NWCFA Challenge Cup: Played 3 Won 3 Goals For 12 GA 3 (Winners)
FAW Premier Cup: Played 9 Won 6 Drawn 1 Lost 2 GF 20 GA 10 (Runners-up)

Total match record
Played 57
Won 44
Drawn 9
Lost 4
Goals For 139
Goals Against 47

Main scorers
Andy Moran 48
Chris McGinn 18
Marc Limbert 15
Gary Powell 14
Tim Edwards 10
Steve Walters 9
Lee Hunt 9

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