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Much-missed Mike Hargraves was one in a million

The much-loved and greatly missed Mike Hargraves

Mike Hargraves will always be remembered as an important figure during a very successful period for Denbigh Town Football Club.

Town’s first team began the 1990’s as Clwyd League ‘also rans’ but by the middle of the decade they had been crowned Welsh Alliance champions.

They went on to compete in the second-tier Cymru Alliance under the management of Bill Dawson and Roy Cook-Hannah.

Alongside the success of the first XI came the revitalisation of Denbigh Town Reserves, led by manager John Clayton and assistant Mike Hargraves.

Not only did they bring trophies and promotion to the reserves, the pair also ensured the progression of some outstanding young players through to the first team,

The season prior to John and Mike taking over, the reserves had finished bottom of Clwyd League Division One.

However, the arrival of Clayton and Hargraves at the helm in 1993-94 transformed the team’s fortunes.

In their first season, they won promotion to the Clwyd Premier after finishing runners-up in Division One.

This was a team and a half! Denbigh Town Reserves line up. Back: John Clayton, Nigel Roxburgh, Ian Edwards, Emyr Jones, Richard Bartley, Paul Jones, Tony Glennon, Kevin Roberts, Mike Hargraves
Second row: Dave Webster, Garry Knuppel, Paul Clayton, Godfrey Hayes, Gareth Davies, Neil King.
Front row (all probably in or close to their 30’s now): Geraint Hargraves, Lee Davies, Jamie Clayton, John Richard Clayton, Gareth Hargraves, Jordan Clayton, Keegan Clayton.

Not only that, they also won the Clwyd Cup, beating Meliden 2-0 in the final at Colwyn Bay thanks to goals from Jez Williams and Richard Bartley.

While 1994-95 did not deliver a trophy, it was certainly a season of progress.

Denbigh ended up in sixth spot on their Premier Division debut and also achieved some tremendous cup results.

The best was a 1-0 victory over league champions Halkyn United in the Premier Division Cup semi-finals.

In the final, Denbigh were beaten 3-2 by a very strong Rhuddlan New Pines side, which included Town first-teamers John Paul Jones and Lee Hogg, who were on second forms and grabbed a goal apiece.

Denbigh also reached the Arrows Cup semi-finals where they missed out narrowly to Saltney 2-1 after extra time.

Perhaps the biggest highlight of the season was the emergence of some superb young players from the reserves.

Danny Jellicoe, an 18-year-old central defender, stood out and went on to win the Welsh Alliance title with the first team before eventually ending up playing in the Welsh Premier.

Razor-sharp Jez Williams was top-scorer, while Jamie Clayton, Lee Mason and Leon Gierke were others to shine under John and Mike’s guidance.

The 1995-96 campaign brought more glory.

Denbigh Reserves won the North West Arrows Auxiliary Cup, defeating Halkyn United Reserves 1-0 in the final at Bastion Gardens, Prestatyn, Phil Graham with the winning goal.

What a turnaround it had been under Messrs Clayton and Hargraves.

John was generally known as the football man, while Mike was very much the organiser, collecting subs, liaising with the players, organising fund-raisers and being involved in charity events, as well as celebrity games organised by John. The duo complimented one another perfectly.

John said: “Mike was admin and the man who the players went to if they had an issue, because he was so approachable, considerate and calm.”

John, who had previously managed Denbigh Town’s first team, said working alongside Mike was always a pleasure.

Mike went on to become well-known, along with wife Roberta, for their tremendous service to Clwb Rygbi Dinbych.

Both the town’s football and rugby clubs were in mourning this week after Mike passed away at the age of 63.

John added: “Mike leaves wife Bobbie, sons Gareth and Geraint and five grandchildren.

“He was a very proud Welshman and a staunch Evertonian. What he did for Denbigh and especially sport in the town will never be forgotten.”

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