Before John Hulse became a North Wales football legend he was a star on Sundays

Many of us know how successful John Hulse was as a manager in Welsh football, especially in his time at Rhyl FC (2002-08).

Hulse also took Conwy United into Europe, as well as being assistant to Chris Sharp when Bangor City lifted the Welsh Cup in 1997-98.

But how many people are aware of Hulsie’s successes as boss of mighty Birkenhead Sunday League side Avenue in the 1980’s?

Four times winners of the BSL, in 1981-82, 1983-84, 1984-85 and 1986-87, Avenue’s glories extended much further than their area league.

In the same decade, Avenue reached three consecutive national FA Sunday Cup finals (Sunday football’s equivalent of the FA Cup).

The 1985 final needed three matches to settle it.

Avenue met Hobbies United of the Norwich and District Sunday League, firstly on April 28 at Carrow Road, where the game ended 2-2.

The replay at Prenton Park, Tranmere Rovers, seven days later saw the teams inseparable again at 1-1.

So a third meeting was needed on May 12 at Manor Park, Nuneaton, and Hobbies edged it 2-1.

It was Avenue’s year in 1986, as the Birkenhead boys pipped Glenn Sports of the South West Herts Sunday League 1-0 at Prenton Park.

The following year, Hulse’s heroes were in the final yet again, Lodge Cottrell the opposition at Birmingham City on April 26, 1987. It was another tight one, but on this occasion Avenue lost 1-0 to the Birmingham-based factory outfit.

Apart from Hulse, a few of Avenue’s players might be familiar to North Wales football fans.

Commanding centre-back Harry Wiggins won back-to-back League of Wales titles with Bangor City in 1993-94 and 1994-95 as well as representing Conwy under Hulse.

Big striker Chris Camden played briefly in the Football League for Tranmere Rovers and Chester City and turned out for Conwy United and Holywell Town in North Wales.

Larger than life defender Paul Rowlands had his best playing days at Altrincham, but his managerial career included spells at Bangor City, Rhyl, Conwy United and Caernarfon Town.

In 2009, an Avenue Vets side was founded, comprising former players, which is still going strong in the Chester and Wirral Sunday League.

Massive thanks has to go to John Pickles, whose programme collection has enabled us to revive these special memories of Avenue FC.

John attended all the finals except the Hobbies game at Norwich and was a photographer at countless Avenue matches in the 1980s.

He is now known on the North Wales coast for his excellent pictorial skills at Prestatyn Town games.

Copyright Dave Jones © All rights reserved. CoverNews by AF themes.
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