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Save Rhyl FC: Is there another Peter Parry about?

Belle Vue, Rhyl. Picture: Clint Jones, The 94th Minute blog

It is 20 years since a successful businessman drastically transformed the fortunes of Rhyl Football Club.

Peter Parry’s backing helped turn the Lilywhites from Welsh Premier League also-rans into two-time champions and regular qualifiers for Europe.

How Rhyl could do with Parry’s like again.

Twenty years on since he became the club’s main figurehead, the Cymru North outfit is in grave danger of going under.

It needs to secure £175,000 of investment by Monday, April 17, to continue operating next season.

The coronavirus pandemic has cut off all the club’s traditionally rewarding end-of-season income streams and left it facing extinction.

Rhyl FC are no strangers to adversity.

In the early 1990s, the club became a limited liability company to ensure its survival.

After joining the new national League of Wales in 1994/95, life became a real struggle on the field.

Rhyl only avoided relegation from the top-flight in 1996/97 because the club immediately above them, fourth-bottom Ton Pentre, resigned.

Then in 1998/99, the Lilies finished next-to-bottom, but were lucky only one club – basement side Holywell Town – went down that season.

Going into the new millennium, the future looked grim for the club, but in 2000 enter Peter Parry, a former Rhyl captain at the age of 17, whose own promising football career was cut short by a brain haemorrhage.

Parry had become an accomplished businessman in the care industry, and decided to invest in his hometown club.

He went on to be the architect of one of the most successful eras in the club’s long and distinguished history.

The highlight of his tenure undoubtedly came in 2003/04 when the Lilies won an unprecedented four trophies – the Welsh Premier title, Welsh Cup, League Cup and North Wales Coast Challenge Cup.

But there were many other successes, such as winning the 2002/03 League Cup – the club’s biggest prize in Welsh football for 50 years to that point – lifting the Welsh Premier crown again in 2008/09, as well as the Welsh Cup in 2005/06, and qualifying for Europe six years in succession.

Parry also brought a number of top Premiership clubs to Belle Vue for glamour friendlies, as well as organising an international tournament involving Juventus, Aston Villa and Manchester City.

Rhyl lift the Welsh Cup in 2006

Thanks to the upgrading of Belle Vue in the 2000s, the stadium hosted many international matches and prestigious cup finals, something which has continued through to recent times.

Midway through the 2009/10 season, Parry stepped down and with that the club’s coffers suffered a severe financial blow.

Some top players left, and although the Lilywhites finished a respectable sixth at the end of the campaign, they were demoted from the Welsh Premier for the first time for failing to secure the mandatory domestic licence on finance grounds.

Although Rhyl returned to the WPL in 2013-14, spending another four seasons in the top-flight, they dropped back into the Cymru Alliance in 2017-18 and have never repeated the type of successes they enjoyed in the Parry era.

So is there another Peter Parry out there to save the day?

It seems not, with Rhyl having just three days to secure the six-figure investment needed to keep it alive, but where there’s life, there’s hope.

If you can help the club, e-mail chairman Paul Higginson via sponsorship@rhylfc.co.uk

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