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Save Rhyl FC: Remembering the 2008-09 ‘Dream Team’

Jamie Reed (white) in action for Rhyl against Prestatyn Town’s David Hayes back in the 2008-09 season. Picture: http://www.welsh-premier.com

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….

Celebrating 2008-09 – the ‘Dream Team’ season

Rhyl’s second Welsh Premier League title success in 2008-09 was totally different to their 2003-04 triumph.

Their first championship win under John Hulse was part of a unique quadruple, the likes of which may never be repeated by a North Wales team.

It was also achieved by a squad built on fairly modest resources, comprising experienced talent the majority of whom were at the club the season before.

Forward five seasons to 2008-09 and Rhyl managers Allan Bickerstaff and Osian Roberts capitalised on the availability of a generous budget to assemble a star-studded group which included Welsh internationals with Football League background.

It seemed that a big name was arriving through the door at Belle Vue almost daily.

One-time Wrexham stars Neil Roberts, Gareth Owen and Danny Williams, ex-Premier League defender Greg Strong, former Manchester United prospect Matthew Williams, gifted front man Jamie Reed. The list was endless….

Rhyl had lost 8-3 on aggregate to Ireland’s Bohemian in the Inter-Toto Cup in June 2008, but two months later, when the Lilywhites kicked off their Welsh Premier campaign, the squad had strengthened considerably.

An incredibly exciting time to be a reporter. I was getting invited down to the ground on a regular basis to interview the next big signing. How times have changed.

Unlike in 2003/04, the Lilies won just the one competition in 2008/09 but it was the big one – the Welsh Premier title.

They exited both the Welsh Cup and League Cup at the hands of Bangor City and were thrown out of the NWCFA Challenge Cup for fielding an ineligible player in a 6-0 win over Llanrug United.

Rhyl top scorer Neil Roberts. Picture: http://www.welsh-premier.com

Rhyl FC’s 2008-09 Welsh Premier League campaign (league matches only)

Aug 16, 2008: Rhyl 3 (Stones, N Roberts, Reed) Newtown 0
A great start for the Lilywhites in front of 568 at Belle Vue, Greg Stones, Neil Roberts and Jamie Reed all on target in a 3-0 win over the Robins.

Aug 23, 2008: Caernarfon Town 0 Rhyl 1 (Horan)
Defender George Horan ensured the Lilies away campaign got off to a winning beginning at The Oval.

Aug 30, 2008: Rhyl 5 (Strong, N Roberts 2, Reed, Johnson) Llanelli 1
Has to rank as one of Rhyl’s greatest performances of the Welsh Premier era as they took reigning champions Llanelli apart in front of S4C’s live cameras at Belle Vue.
The Lilywhites ended a 10-match sequence without a win against Peter Nicholas’ side with a stunning display of attacking football in front of a crowd of 937.
After a flying start from the hosts, a Rhyl goal was inevitable and it arrived on 18 minutes when Neil Roberts brilliantly chested the ball down for Greg Strong to volley home from close range.
Totally against the run of play Llanelli equalised on 38 minutes when Stuart Jones’ header looped into the net.
Rhyl rightfully restored their lead within a minute when Reed bravely beat keeper Morris to the ball to score.
The game was all over as a contest following a three-goal spell in 10 scintillating minutes from the Lilywhites after the turnaround.
Neil Roberts scored with a vicious volley from the edge of the box before magnificently heading in an Owen cross.
Belle Vue was in raptures when Reed’s shot was saved but Josh Johnson snapped up the rebound.

Sep 5, 2008: Porthmadog 0 Rhyl 3 (Reed, N Roberts, C Jones)
Despite a surprise midweek 2-1 home League Cup first leg loss to Welshpool (Rhyl won the return 2-0), the Lilies bounced back with a ruthless show at Y Traeth, Reed, Neil Roberts and Craig Jones with the goals.

Sep 13, 2008: Rhyl 2 (Reed 2) Haverfordwest 0
The in-form Jamie Reed added another two goals to his collection as Rhyl made it five straight league wins.

Sep 21, 2008: Neath Athletic 2 Rhyl 2 (Stones, Reed)
The Lilywhites dropped their first league points at The Gnoll but still remained undefeated thanks to Stones and Reed’s sixth goal of the season.

Sep 27, 2008: Rhyl 0 Aberystwyth Town 0
A dull encounter at Belle Vue ended honours even.

Oct 10, 2008: Rhyl 2 (P O’Neill, Horan) Connah’s Quay Nomads 0
Central defenders did the damage for the home team with Paul O’Neill and George Horan grabbing the goals.

Oct 18, 2008: Rhyl 3 (G Owen, N Roberts 2) Carmarthen Town 0
Neil Roberts was on the mark twice and Gareth Owen pocketed his first of the season in a convincing beating of the Old Gold.

Nov 8, 2008: Rhyl 3 (Wilson, Johnson, 1 OG) Caersws 1
Ten without loss for Rhyl in the league after seeing off Caersws with net-finders from Gareth Wilson, Josh Johnson, plus an own goal.

Nov 11, 2008: Bangor City 0 Rhyl 2 (Reed, N Roberts)
A crowd of 790 witnessed the Lilywhites claim the derby bragging rights thanks to goals from Jamie Reed and Neil Roberts.

Gareth Owen was a stand-out player in the Rhyl midfield. Pic: http://www.welsh-premier.com

Nov 15, 2008: Rhyl 2 (G Owen, M Williams) Port Talbot Town 3
In their 12th league outing of the campaign, Rhyl suffered a surprise first loss at home to a nonetheless useful Port side which finished fifth that season.
Goals from Gareth Owen and Matty Williams were not enough to stave off defeat.

Nov 21, 2008: Airbus 1 Rhyl 3 (Strong, N Roberts, C Jones)
Back to winning ways for the Lilies as Greg Strong, Neil Roberts and Craig Jones strike in a 3-1 outcome at Broughton.

Nov 29, 2008: Rhyl 7 (M Williams 3, Stones, G Owen, Wilson, Johnson) Welshpool Town 1
Early in the campaign Welshpool had sneaked a 2-1 League Cup win at Belle Vue, but there was to be no repeat as Bickerstaff and Roberts’ men rattled up their biggest league victory of the campaign.
Matty Williams led the charge with his first hat-trick for the club, Stones, Gareth Owen, Wilson and Johnson adding singles.

Dec 6, 2008: The New Saints 0 Rhyl 3 (Stones, Horan, N Roberts)
On a snowy evening at Park Hall, what a win this proved to be for a rampant Rhyl, Greg Stones, George Horan and Neil Roberts all on the scoresheet.

Dec 12, 2008: Rhyl 3 (Stones, Horan, N Roberts) Cefn Druids 4
No-one could have foreseen this result.
Six days after blowing away TNS, Rhyl were big favourites against Druids at home, but a thrilling saw the visitors take the spoils 4-3, the home scorers exactly the same as those against Saints.
This was to be Rhyl’s last league defeat of the campaign. Their record was now: played 16 won 12 drawn 2 lost 2.

Dec 20, 2008: Newtown 1 Rhyl 2 (M Williams 2)
Matty Williams was on target twice as the Lilies bounced back to winning form at Latham Park.

Dec 27, 2008: Rhyl 7 (G Owen 2, Reed 2, M Williams, Johnson, O’Neill) Prestatyn Town 2
A first-ever Welsh Premier derby between this Denbighshire pair was watched by a stunning crowd of 2,126.
Rhyl proved far too strong for a Prestatyn side which fielded three goalkeepers during the 90 minutes following the first-half dismissal of Jon Hill-Dunt.
Gareth Owen and Jamie Reed both bagged braces for the hosts, Matty Williams. Josh Johnson and Paul O’Neill with the rest.

Jan 17, 2009: Rhyl 2 (Strong, N Roberts) Porthmadog 0
Rhyl kick off their 2009 fixtures by completing a double over Port, Greg Strong and Neil Roberts hitting the net.

Jan 24, 2009: Haverfordwest County 1 Rhyl 3 (G Owen, Holden, N Roberts)
Cracking win on the road for the title-contenders, Gareth Owen, new face Luke Holden and Neil Roberts all on the scoreboard.

Feb 7, 2009: Rhyl 4 (N Roberts 2, Holden 2) Neath Athletic 2
The weekend following a disappointing Welsh Cup exit at Bangor, Rhyl got back to the main business in hand – the league – with an impressive defeat of Neath, Neil Roberts and Luke Holden scoring two apiece.

Feb 10, 2009: Aberystwyth Town 0 Rhyl 1 (Reed)
A sixth league win on the bounce was secured by a Jamie Reed goal.

Feb 21, 2009: Gap Connah’s Quay 2 Rhyl 3 (C Roberts, N Roberts 2)
Chris Roberts notched his first league goal of the season for the Lilywhites, while top marksman Neil Roberts added another double to his haul.

Feb 28, 2009: Rhyl 4 (O’Neill, Strong, Connolly, Holden) Caernarfon Town 0
No stopping the home side on this day, defenders O’Neill and Strong, plus midfielders Mark Connolly and Holden on the mark.

Mar 3, 2009: Welshpool Town 0 Rhyl 2 (Horan, N Roberts)
Rhyl’s defenders kept playing their part in the march to the title as George Horan scored again, Neil Roberts adding a second.

Mar 7, 2009: Carmarthen Town 1 Rhyl 2 (Reed, Holden)
Luke Holden’s late decider sent the Rhyl fans cock-a-hoop as the Lilies made it 10 straight league victories. Jamie Reed was also on the scoresheet.

Mar 13, 2009: Rhyl 4 (Horan, G Owen, N Roberts, Reed) Bangor City 1
A bumper attendance of 1,547 at Belle Vue saw Rhyl shine in completing a league double over their arch-rivals.
Horan, Gareth Owen, Neil Roberts and Reed shared the goals.

Mar 21, 2009: Caersws 0 Rhyl 3 (M Williams 2, C Jones)
The Lilywhites were amazing on their travels this term. Matty Williams delivered a double and Craig Jones added a single.

Mar 29, 2009: Port Talbot Town 2 Rhyl 2 (O’Neill, Stones)
Rhyl’s stunning run of 12 consecutive league wins was halted by one of only two teams to beat them in the WPL this season.
It was still a good point, though, Paul O’Neill and Greg Stones finding the net.

Apr 4, 2009: Rhyl 1 (M Williams) Airbus UK 0
Matty Williams grabbed the only goal as the hosts pocketed another three vital points.

Apr 11, 2009: Llanelli 0 Rhyl 1 (N Roberts)
Unable to repeat their 5-1 caning of Llanelli earlier in the season, Rhyl nonetheless claimed maximum reward thanks to another finish from the remarkable Neil Roberts.

Apr 13, 2009: Prestatyn Town 1 Rhyl 4 (Strong, G Owen, Sherbon, Reed)
Held over from New Year’s Day due to a weather-based postponement, Rhyl completed the double over their neighbours on a sunny afternoon at Bastion Gardens.
Gareth Owen scored direct from a corner, while new signing Luke Sherbon, Greg Strong and Reed completed the rout.

Apr 18, 2009: Rhyl 2 (N Roberts, Connolly) The New Saints 1
The title was secured in front of 1.514 spectators at Belle Vue.
Rhyl had clinched their previous championship on the road, so it was nice for the fans to be delivered a home treat.
Neil Roberts and Mark Connolly poached the vital goals for the new champions.

Apr 25, 2009: NEWI Cefn Druids 2 Rhyl 4 (Connolly, Horan, M Williams 2)
Rhyl ended the season on an 18-match unbeaten run – 17 of them wins.
The Lilies took the title by seven points in the end, this well-deserved victory at Druids rounding things off nicely, Connolly, Horan and a Matty Williams double completing a season to remember.

2008-09 season stats

League record

Played 34 Won 29 Drawn 3 Lost 2 Goals For 95 Goals Against 29

Main scorers
Neil Roberts 20
Jamie Reed 13
Matty Williams 12
Gareth Owen 8

Rhyl won three Welsh Premier Player of the Month awards this season
August: Josh Johnson
December: Neil Roberts
April: Greg Strong

Allan Bickerstaff was Manager of the Month for February

Four Rhyl players were named in the Welsh Premier League Team of the Season: captain George Horan, midfield ace Gareth Owen, winger Craig Jones and striker Neil Roberts, who bagged 20 league goals.

Copyright Dave Jones © All rights reserved. CoverNews by AF themes.
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