A fond look back on some of those wonderful people who left us in 2020 but will always be remembered for their contribution to North Wales sport….
Huw “Chick” Jones
“Mr Corwen” was loved and respected throughout North Wales.
Affectionately known as “Chick”, Huw sadly passed away in February far too early at the age of 62.
The feeling of loss across all age groups in the Corwen area and far, far beyond was immeasurable.
Huw held just about every position within Corwen FC and did amazing work with both junior and girls/women’s football in the town.
He was also an inspiration in the early careers of future Wales internationals Gareth Roberts and Harry Wilson, both of whom went on to play for Huw’s beloved Liverpool FC.
Huw was a Plaid Cymru councillor and a go-to man in his community. He loved Corwen and Corwen loved him.
In his honour, the Huw Chick Jones Stand has been built at the War Memorial Park, home ground of Corwen FC.
A sports journalist most renowned for his coverage of Wrexham AFC died in August aged 68.
Mark Currie followed the fortunes of the Red Dragons in the media for 30 years.
He was a great man to work with, his dry humour and outstanding knowledge two of his biggest assets. I worked with him for around five years and we never exchanged a cross word.
Mark also covered Wales internationals, home and away.
In his later years, he continued reporting on Wrexham for the Non-League Paper.
He was admitted to Wrexham Maelor Hospital on 9 August with respiratory problems, but failed to recover and passed away five days later.
Mark is survived by wife Jan and children Owen, Gareth and Bethan.
An all-time sports reporting legend.
August brought the sad loss of Steve Bowden, a wonderful dad and husband-to-be, a brilliant photographer and a great friend to so many.
Steve, who lived in Prestatyn, passed away from the effects of Covid-19.
He had been unwell in hospital for a few weeks, but had been showing some improvement before taking a turn for the worse.
Steve was well-known to Grassroots North Wales as the photographer for 2019-20 Vale of Clwyd and Conwy League Premier Division champions Rhuddlan Town.
He also used to take pictures of games at Prestatyn Town.
Steve was fiancee to Sandra and dad to Adam and Luke. This great friend of North Wales sport will never be forgotten.
Dr Emrys Price Jones
Chairman of Caernarfon Town Football Club in the 1990’s, Dr Emrys Price Jones, sadly passed away in October.
Also a highly respected head teacher, he took charge at Ysgol Dyffryn Nantlle in late 1979 and completely transformed the school into one of the most respected and well-disciplined in Gwynedd.
Emrys took over as Caernarfon chairman from the great Jack Thomas in 1991.
As it transpired, he was the right man at the right time. The turbulent undercurrent of the formation of a new national league had been concerning the eight non-league clubs playing in the English pyramid system for a while. But in the early nineties it became a realistic prospect.
The eight clubs initially stood firm, but in the end only three withstood the might of the FAW and refused to toe the line.
Emrys was instrumental in developing the argument and moral and business case for independence and was the three clubs’ most articulate spokesman.
Despite his opposition to the club joining the league he was a passionate and committed patriot, who played a significant role in the promotion the Welsh language in education.
“The Doc” reluctantly led Caernarfon to two years in exile in Curzon Ashton, but with his energy and conviction, ensured the club made a small operating profit in the first season.
He then played a pivotal role in getting a high court injunction allowing Town to finally come home and eventually, with his fellow chairmen from Newport and Colwyn Bay, securing a restraint of trade victory at the High Court in London.
He will be forever remembered for this period in CTFC’s history, for his commitment to the club well beyond the call of duty, and his unshakeable belief in Caernarfon Town’s right to determine its own affairs.
(tribute words from former Caernarfon Town chairman and ex-pupil of Dr Emrys Price Jones, Marc Roberts – sincere thanks).
Former Holywell Town secretary Caz Hughes sadly left us recently.
Holywell published the following tribute on their website: “A hugely popular figure, Caz dived head first into the role having been an active supporter during an exciting inaugural few seasons of the then League of Wales.
“Her drive and enthusiasm epitomised everything good about the club, forming friendships throughout Welsh football.
“She will be fondly remembered by all who knew her, and everyone at the club would like to pass on our very best wishes to husband Bob & son James at this incredibly sad time.”
Former Holywell manager and now respected broadcaster Glyn Griffiths posted on Twitter: “Cassie did so much for us – I appreciated her enthusiasm and support and I know she was so well respected across the clubs in the @welshprem
“Diolch Cassie for all you did – sleep well and rest in peace . You will be missed by all at @HolywellTownFC.”
Talented all-round sportsman Peter Garner left us in early 2020.
Well-known not just for his football skills, but rugby and cricket ability too, Peter passed away on February 4, aged 67.
He played for both Ruthin Town and Denbigh Town in the 1970’s and 80’s and in the 1990’s had a stint as manager of Denbigh Albion.
After his passing, Peter’s children and some of his friends decided to purchase a cup in his memory to be awarded annually to Ruthin Town’s Young Player of the Season.
Daniel Goldston received the inaugural trophy from one of Peter’s sons, Matt, and club chairman Andy Edwards.
I remember him as a great character and a true winner. In one of my rare football appearances, I played in the same team as Peter in a charity game.
Denbigh football legend Cliff Roberts passed away in July 2020, aged 70.
A prolific striker, he netted well over 450 goals in his senior career.
He played well into his 40’s, his ability to hang in the air and score headed goals his greatest asset.
Cliff represented with distinction teams such as the North Wales Hospital and managed some cracking local sides in the 1980’s and 1990’s, including Denbigh Youth Centre and Golden Lions. He also became involved in the management side of football with Denbigh Town.
A true gentleman and softly-spoken, Cliff was beloved husband to Angela, much loved dad of Jon, Stuart and the late David, cherished Taid to his seven grandchildren and four great-grandchildren, a dear brother of Ingrid and the late Muriel, Brian, Cynthia and Timmy.
He had also given several young local footballers the chance to play their first matches via the Denbigh Youth Centre and had been a keen golfer and, as previously mentioned, a fine footballer in his own sporting days.
Although he had retired, he had previously been a catering manager/chef at Denbigh Golf Club for several years and at the likes of the Masonic Lodge too.
Cliff was a true gent who will never be forgotten in the town of Denbigh.
What a sad year for the town of Denbigh. Mike Hargraves was another much loved townsman to pass away.
Mike will always be remembered as an important figure during a very successful period for Denbigh Town Football Club.
Alongside the success of the first XI in the mid-1990’s came the revitalisation of Denbigh Town Reserves, led by manager John Clayton and assistant Mike.
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.
Not only that, they also won the Clwyd Cup, beating Meliden 2-0 in the final at Colwyn Bay.
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.
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 after Mike passed away at the age of 63 in October.
He left wife Bobbie, sons Gareth and Geraint and five grandchildren and a huge group of friends who will always love him and never forget him.
Dafydd Wyn Jones and Eifion Parry
Although they left us late last year, I also feel it important to remember club legends Dafydd Wyn Jones (CPD Porthmadog) and Eifion Parry (Nefyn United) at this time.
Well-known Porthmadog FC director Dafydd Wyn Jones died aged 71 last December.
He had been a key voice on the club’s top table since 1996 and had CPD Port running through his veins.
Dafydd, whose wife Linda Ann Jones is a Plaid Cymru councillor in Gwynedd, is also survived by children Ywain and Tracey.
Known as Stan to many because of likeness to English footballer Stanley Matthews, he was a dedicated supporter of Porthmadog since the age of six.
Dafydd was instrumental in laying the foundations the club are built on today and a new stand is being developed at Y Traeth bearing his name.
Eifion Parry was one of North Wales football’s greatest characters.
He passed away in December 2019 after a long battle with illness.
Former postman Eifion will always be best remembered for his dedication to Nefyn United, where his involvement stretched back 27 years.
Earlier in 2019, he was presented with a prestigious long service medal by North Wales Coast FA president Dennis Bryant.
Eifion was a past winner of Welsh Alliance Secretary of the Season and secured the same award twice in the Caernarfon and District League.
During Eifion’s involvement at Cae’r Delyn, the club won the NWCFA Junior Cup twice – in 1999-2000 and 2017-18.
Married to his beloved Beryl for 44 years, he was very passionate, often outspoken, about football matters, but his opinion was always honest and to be respected. His sense of humour was legendary and he fully merited being known as Mr Nefyn United.