There will be no shortage of good wishes for Holywell Town manager Johnny Haseldin on his 39th birthday today.
One of the most popular figures in North Wales football is renowned and respected for his friendly manner but also a fierce will to win.
Born on December 15, 1981, in Failsworth, Manchester, football-mad Johnny had a season ticket at Oldham Athletic before moving to North Wales in 1991.
He started playing junior football for Greenfield and Holywell, then moved on to Caerwys, where he would break through into the first team by 16. Steve Griffith and Jack Phillips were influential figures during his time with the Flintshire club.
Johnny’s first chance to play tier 2 Cymru Alliance football came when he was 18 and signed for Gareth (Perry) Thomas at Halkyn United.
He recalled: “The club was at its peak at the time with some brilliant characters in the dressing room and some really good players which helped me a lot. I enjoyed it there until the opportunity to move to Holywell in 2001 came up.
“I’d watched them in the League of Wales growing up and I was desperate to play for the club.”
Johnny went on to captain the Wellmen under a few different managers, probably playing his best football for Andy Nicholls.
After a brief spell at Flint Town United, the central-defender returned to Holywell halfway through the 2005/06 season under Simon Sedgwick, but could not help the club escape relegation into the Welsh Alliance.
“This was definitely the lowest and worst experience I’ve had in football to date,” he said in an interview with Grassroots North Wales in 2015.
He stayed at Halkyn Road for another season but picked up a few injuries and the team gradually disbanded.
The following season, Johnny signed for then recently-formed Greenfield.
He said: “I had four great seasons there, helping Barry Ainsworth put together a brilliant team for the level we were at and stormed through the leagues, winning cups and titles along the way.”
A chance to play higher again came up and in 2009 Johnny moved to Rhydymwyn, where he captained the team to the Welsh Alliance title.
The following season he returned to Holywell to play for Mike Thomas who had been a great player in the past for the club.
That 2010-11 season against all the odds the Wellmen managed to win the FAW Trophy, trailing 2-0 to Conwy United entering the 90th minute of the final, but fighting back to claim a stunning 3-2 victory.
Holywell fell just short on promotion the year after and when Thomas decided to step down, Johnny was promoted from captain to player-manager and the rest, as they say, is history.
Between 2012-13 and the end of 2017/18, Haseldin’s highlights included in 2014/15 guiding Town to a Welsh Alliance title, FAW Trophy and Mawddach Cup treble, having the previous season been in charge of the first-ever third-tier side to reach the Welsh Cup semi-finals.
After the three-trophy haul of 2014/15, Holywell were promoted and finished fifth three seasons running in the Huws Gray Alliance, also making it to two NEWFA Challenge Cup Finals – all under the popular Haseldin.
The end of 2017-18 saw Johnny decide to step down and Gareth Sudlow took over the management seat at Holywell.
Unfortunately for the new man, the 2018/19 campaign began badly. Haseldin was soon back as part of the management team following the departure of Sudlow’s original assistant Darren Moss.
By the end of September, Sudlow had left the club and Haseldin was manager again.
Unlike in his previous seasons at the helm, results were not always good for the returning boss and the Wellmen ended up relegated to tier 3.
However, last season saw Holywell bounce back, winning the 2019/20 Welsh National (Wrexham Area) League Premier Division title at the first attempt to seal an instant return to Cymru North.
Johnny’s stats as Holywell manager are outstanding – a 58.85 win % in league games, 70.59% in cups and 62.24 % in all competitive matches.
Over the years Johnny has been a great person to work with. He could not have been more helpful and cooperative to me in my role as a sports reporter and I consider him a personal friend.
Happy birthday Johnny – what a manager! 🎂🎂🎂
JOHNNY HASELDIN – LEAGUE RECORD AS HOLYWELL TOWN MANAGER 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 PREM 1ST (champions on unweighted points per game method in shortened season due to coronavirus pandemic)
Overall league record: Played 209 Won 123 Drawn 44 Lost 42 Goals For 593 Goals Against 248 – WIN PERCENTAGE 58.85
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
Overall cup record: Played 85 Won 60 Lost 25 Goals For 265 Goals Against 120 – WIN PERCENTAGE 70.59
JOHNNY HASELDIN COMPLETE RECORD AS HOLYWELL MANAGER IN COMPETITIVE MATCHES (up to and including March 7, 2020)
Won 183 – WIN PERCENTAGE 62.24
Goals For 858
Goals Against 368
HONOURS AS HOLYWELL MANAGER
Welsh National League Premier Division champions 2019-20
Welsh Alliance Division One champions 2014-15
FAW Trophy winners 2014-15
Mawddach Cup winners 2014-15
Cookson Cup winners 2013-14
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