They lost their first game 12-1, but ended up invincibles – an assessment of Bangor 1876’s debut season

1876 players at training

How could a team which lost its first-ever game 12-1 end up league champions with a 100% record and still be in contention for five trophies before their debut season was cruelly curtailed ?

Well before answering the question, levels have to be taken into account.

Bangor 1876’s opponents in that inaugural friendly match on July 20, 2019, were none other than FC United of Manchester from the Northern Premier League Premier Division.

That’s Tier 7 of the English pyramid (three notches below the Football League) against Tier 5 in Wales.

A bit of a mismatch, but it was always going to be about the occasion rather than the result, with the prestigious FC United a fan-owned club just like 1876.

A large contingent backing 1876 travelled down to Broadhurst Park in Moston and despite the regular flow of goals from the hosts, the Welsh element never stopped singing.

They saved their loudest cheers till last, when Benn Lundstram scored 1876’s first-ever goal and was mobbed by the masses behind.

The result was irrelevant, the bar had been set. Bangor 1876 had an army they could rely on to support them through thick and thin.

Five days later, 1876 picked up a much improved result, losing just 2-1 at Chester with Les Davies on the mark.

The next four friendlies all ended in wins – two against Cymru North teams and the other pair versus Welsh Alliance. Holywell Town, Gresford Athletic, Bodedern Athletic and Greenfield were all beaten.

On the back of these results, 1876 fans went into the 2019-20 season confident their heroes would achieve success.

That belief was not misplaced.

August 10, 2019, was another key date in the club’s history as their first league match produced a 4-1 triumph at Ogwen Tigers.

Bangor 1876’s FAW Trophy debut delivered a 5-1 win against Sychdyn, then two days later came their first double-figure haul in a 10-0 league caning of Caergybi.

A hard-fought 3-1 victory over Nefyn United proved not everyone in the Gwynedd League would roll over before 1876’s first Welsh Cup tie ended in a 4-1 whipping of Llandudno Athletic.

September brought giant-killings in the Trophy and Welsh Cup at the expense of Welsh Alliance teams Pwllheli and Penrhyndeudraeth, then October saw a biggest win of the campaign – a 14-0 pasting of Bethesda Athletic.

Michael Johnston had an impeccable season for 1876

The Treborth side also edged out Welsh National League Premier Division (tier 3) club Penycae in the Welsh Cup following a 3-3 draw.

November was 1876’s toughest month by far.

After 13 straight wins, they lost 4-1 to Llanrwst of tier 3 in the Trophy and went down 2-0 versus Ruthin Town of the Cymru North in the Welsh Cup.

The end of the month brought a really testing NWCFA Junior Cup clash against neighbours Llanfairfechan Town.

Long throw specialist Shaun Lock was a true unsung hero for 1876

1876 needed extra time before seeing off the Vale of Clwyd and Conwy Premier visitors 4-1.

Two goals from the prolific Dylan Summers-Jones were required to defeat fellow high-flyers in the Gwynedd League, Trearddur Bay Bulls, 2-1 on December 7.

After that 1876 were never troubled, winning 12 matches in a row and amassing 89 goals in the process.

They went to undefeated Llysfaen for a Junior Cup quarter-final on March 7 and despite a determined effort from the hosts, the visitors took the spoils 5-0.

It was to be their final game of the season before Covid-19 took a hold and was rounded off by a magnificent strike from unsung hero and long-throw specialist Shaun Lock.

Gwynedd League championship in the bag, but as for the cups, none of the competitions were completed, so to quote the famous words of gameshow host Jim Bowen, it was a case of “Look what you could have won”.

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