Who were the best – Bangor City or Rhyl ?

Fantastic view shot from Bangor City v Rhyl taken by Mike Smith of the Citizens Choice website

Who were the best – Bangor City or Rhyl?

It’s a classic North Wales football debate which fans of both clubs can talk about for hours.

And at the end, like all great arguments, there can never be a totally convincing winner.

Relations between the clubs were not always great, but certainly in more recent years, perhaps since the mid-2010’s, the ice thawed and respect grew, thanks largely to officials from both camps working closer.

Sadly, and it still feels rather surreal typing this, the rivalry is now over with Rhyl FC having folded in 2020 after 141 years of existence. A new club, CPD Y Rhyl 1879, has since formed in the town who, like its predecessor, also play at Belle Vue.

Up until just four years ago, the coastal foes were both still in the Welsh Premier, although neither by then were the force they once had been.

However, with Rhyl relegated from the top flight in 2016-17 and City the same in 2017-18, North Wales football’s big guns are now the likes of Connah’s Quay Nomads, Bala Town and Caernarfon Town.

Nonetheless, the past glories of Rhyl and Bangor are still fresh in the minds for the majority of us to remember what Lilies and Citizens would refer to as the ‘good old days’.

The classic Bangor-Rhyl derby has never been replaced, and probably never will be.

Regular crowds of up to 1,000, sometimes many more, and fortunes fluctuating plenty enough for each side to have their spells of domination.

So who is the best of all-time?

Not wishing at all to sit on the fence, but there is no definitive answer.

Each club has been better than the other in different phases of their respective proud histories.

Closest to Football League?

One other point (raised by an ardent reader of GNW)….at the end of 1977-78 when Southport were relegated from the English Football League Fourth Division, Bangor City, Boston United and Wigan Athletic were considered for promotion instead.

Due to Wigan Athletic having installed crush barriers, Bangor missed out on promotion.

In 1979-80 Bangor City was invited to compete in the Alliance Premier League, which would become the English game’s de facto fifth division.

So perhaps Bangor got a lot closer to the Football League than Rhyl did?

However, it has also emerged from a Lilywhites fan that In 1932 Rhyl came second in the vote for acceptance to Third Division North when Wigan Borough resigned.

The Football League decided to move Mansfield to Third Division South, so effectively the vacancy went south with two new teams selected and Rochdale being re-elected ahead of Rhyl.

“Perhaps an honourable draw on getting close to the FL?” says the Rhyl fan.

Who am I to argue? 😁


By Grassroots North Wales’ calculations (and we are more than happy to be corrected) we reckon Bangor have won 46 ‘major’ trophies and Rhyl 39.

But what counts as ‘major’?

For instance, between 1894-95 and 1919-20, Bangor won 6 North Wales Coast League championships and Rhyl one.

But how strong was that league? In its early days especially, it comprised very few teams.

Take this league out of the equation and the teams are almost level on honours instantly; but the list of winners is included in the Welsh Football Data Archive and must be respected.

On the same lines, Bangor have lifted the North Wales Coast Amateur Cup nine times and the Lilywhites only twice.

Again this is a cup which began back in the 19th century, so how sturdy was the competition?

Are the North Wales Coast League and Amateur Cup stats making Bangor’s record look slightly more flattering than it is?

For instance, Sunderland have won three times as many Football League Division One (now Premier League) titles than Tottenham Hotspur, but the clubs are miles apart now. Three of the Black Cats’ championships came in the 19th century and the last in 1935-36.

Bangor and Rhyl met countless times through the decades with standards most probably rising when they competed together in the Cheshire County and Northern Premier leagues before both joined the Welsh pyramid system.

Cheshire County League (Best: Rhyl)

Rhyl were in the Cheshire County League between 1936-37 and 1981-82, while Bangor competed from 1950-51 to 1967-68.

The Lilywhites were crowned champions three times, in 1947–48, 1950–51 and 1971–72, while City never won the title.

Rhyl won three Cheshire League Challenge Cups, in 1948–49, 1951–52 and 1970–71, while again the Citizens failed to land it once.

While the Lilies were in this good standard league longer than Bangor, the Belle Vue boys proved much the more successful silver wise. However, City moved onto a higher standard quicker.

Northern Premier League (Best: Bangor)

Bangor are the bosses here.

They showed commendable ambition by rising to the higher level Northern Premier League in 1968-69 and becoming founder members of the Alliance Premier League in 1979-80, before rejoining the NPL in 1981-82 and finishing up champions.

It was then two more seasons in the APL before relegation back to the NPL, where they remained until joining the League of Wales in 1992-93.

Bangor also won the NPL Challenge Cup, President’s Cup and Shield between 1969-89.

Rhyl left the Cheshire League in 1981-82 before a season in the North West Counties League led to promotion to the NPL, where they stayed until 1991-92, lifting the one domestic cup.

Welsh Premier League (Best: Bangor)

Bangor edge the league title honours, winning the championship in 1993-94, 1994-95 and 2010-11, with Rhyl topping the table in 2003-04 and 2008-09.

Despite reaching six League Cup finals, City have lost them all, while the Lilywhites lifted this trophy in 2002-03 and 2003-04.

Rhyl celebrate lifting the Welsh Premier title in 2008-09. Picture: Tony Mottram

The teams also met in the 2013-14 Europa League play-off final, goals from Les Davies and Chris Jones securing Bangor a 2-0 triumph against the Lilywhites.

So overall Welsh Premier honours reads: Bangor 4 Rhyl 4. However, the League Cup has never been highly regarded, it does not offer a route into Europe.

City have spent 26 seasons in the national league and Rhyl 20.

Cymru Alliance League (Best: Rhyl)

Rhyl have won this league twice, while Bangor are yet to be champions, but any comparison is possibly unfair as City have only spent two seasons in the CAL and the Lilywhites seven (they failed to complete an eighth in 2019-20).

Welsh Cup (Best: Bangor)

Bangor City celebrate making it 3 successive Welsh Cups in 2010. Picture: FAW

Bangor are the kings here – winning eight Welsh Cups to Rhyl’s four.

City have won it more times than anyone outside the ‘big three’ Wrexham (23), Cardiff City (22) and Swansea City (10) apart from Cefn Druids (level on 8).

Bangor’s record in the competition was boosted massively during Neville Powell’s reign where they completed a hat-trick of successes in 2008, 2009 and 2010.

FAW Premier Cup (Best: Rhyl)

This competition ran between 1997-2008 and enabled Welsh Premier clubs to ‘mix it’ with the Welsh teams from the Football League, who had been banned from the Welsh Cup since 1996.

In 2003-04, during their unprecedented quadruple season, Rhyl knocked out Swansea City in the semis and lost 4-1 in the final at Belle Vue to a full-strength Wrexham.

North Wales Coast Challenge Cup (Best: Rhyl)

Rhyl skipper Timmy Edwards lifts the Challenge Cup in 2005/06. Picture: Rhyl FC

As perhaps expected, Rhyl and Bangor rule the roost in this competition.

Suspended since 2014, but with a comeback in the air, the Lilywhites have landed the Coast cup a record 16 times with the Citizens three behind on 13.

FA Cup (Best: Rhyl)

What great days they were when so many North Wales clubs competed in the FA Cup.

Rhyl have enjoyed more success in the 149-year-old competition than Bangor.

In 1956-57, the Lilywhites made it all the way to the fourth round proper, knocking out Notts County 3-1 along the way before going out to Bristol City.

Then in 1969-70, Dic Jones’ side were back page headlines when they reached the third round proper, eliminating Hartlepool United before seeing off Football League Division Three Barnsley 2-0 in a third replay at Old Trafford.

Unfortunately, they exited 6-1 at Swansea City in round three.

Bangor reached round two on a couple of occasions, their most memorable tie probably a 2-1 loss to Blackpool after a replay in 1983-84.

FA Trophy (Best: Bangor)

City line up before the 1983-84 FA Trophy final

Bangor made the biggest impression of the two in this national competition before both became ineligible after 1991-92 with the formation of the League of Wales.

City particularly shone in the 1980’s making it all the way to the 1984 final before losing 2-1 after a replay to Northwich Victoria at Stoke. The first game at Wembley ended 1-1.

Rhyl never got beyond round two.

Europe (Best: Bangor)

Got to be Bangor on top here.

Beating AC Napoli 2-0 in the first leg of their 1962-63 European Cup Winners Cup tie against the mighty Italians has to be the finest result by a club side from Wales in Europe.

Under modern rules, City would have progressed to the next round on aggregate after losing the return 3-1 in Italy, but away goals were not a factor then.

A play-off took place at Highbury and Napoli edged a 2-1 success.

Bangor also knocked Fredrikstad of Norway out of the 1985-86 Cup Winners’ Cup before losing just 3-0 on aggregate to Spanish giants Atletico Madrid.

And the Citizens pipped Honka Espoo of Finland 3-2 over two legs in the 2010-11 Europa League.

Rhyl became just the second Welsh Premier side to win a tie in Europe when they defeated FK Atlantas of Lithuania on away goals in the 2005-06 Uefa Cup.

The Lilywhites also beat FC Haka of Finland 3-1 in the first leg of their 2007-08 Uefa Cup tie at Belle Vue, but lost the return 2-0 to exit on away goals.

Overall records in Europe
Bangor: Played 35 Won 3 Drawn 4 Lost 28
Rhyl: Played 14 Won 2 Drawn 1 Lost 11

Statistically, not a massive difference, but City have featured in Europe many more times than their North Wales rivals and the quality of their victories have been higher.



League (10 titles won)

Welsh Premier League (1992–)
Champions (3): 1993–94, 1994–95, 2010–11
Runners-up (1): 2011–12
Northern Premier League
Champions (1): 1981–82
Runners-up (1): 1986–87
North Wales Coast League
Champions (6): 1895–96, 1899–00, 1900–01, 1903–04, 1905-06, 1919–20
(winners 1904-05 and 1907-08 listed as Bangor FC Res)
Runners-up (1): 1896–97
The Combination (1898–1911)
Runners-up (1): 1910–11
North Wales Football Combination (1930–32)
Runners-up (1): 1930–31
Lancashire Combination (1938–50)
Runners-up (1): 1938–39
Cheshire County League (1950–68)
Runners-up (2): 1953–54, 1958–59

Cups (36 cups won)

Bangor City – Welsh Cup winners 1998

Welsh Senior Cup (1877–present)
Winners (8): 1889, 1896, 1962, 1998, 2000, 2008, 2009, 2010
Finalists (10): 1928, 1961, 1964, 1973, 1978, 1985, 2002, 2006, 2011, 2013
Welsh League Cup (1992–present)
Finalists (6): 1994, 1997, 1998, 2000, 2003, 2009

Europa League Play-Off Final 2013-14 winners: Bangor City 2 Rhyl 0
North Wales Coast Challenge Cup
Winners (13): 1927, 1936, 1937, 1938, 1947, 1951, 1958, 1965, 1968, 1993, 1999, 2005, 2012
FA Trophy – Finalists (1): 1983–84
Northern Premier League Challenge Cup: Winners (1): 1969
Northern Premier League President’s Cup: Winners (1): 1989
Northern Premier League Shield: Winners (1): 1987
Lancashire Combination Cup: Winners (1) 1949
North Wales Coast Amateur Cup
Winners (9): 1895, 1896, 1898, 1899, 1901, 1903, 1905, 1906, 1912
North West Wales Challenge Cup: Winners (1): 1886



League (8 titles)

Welsh Premier League
Winners (2): 2003–04, 2008–09
Runners-up (2): 2004–05, 2006–07
Cymru Alliance
Winners (2): 1993–94, 2012–13
Runners-up (2): 2010–11, 2011–12
North Wales Coast League
Champions (1): 1894-95
Cheshire County League
Winners (3): 1947–48, 1950–51, 1971–72
Runners-up (4): 1948–49, 1949–50, 1951–52, 1955–56
Cheshire County League Division Two
Runners-up (1): 1981–82
North West Counties League
Runners-up (1): 1982–83
Border Counties Floodlit League
Runners-up (1): 1972–73

Cups (31 cups)

Rhyl lift the Welsh Cup after beating Bangor City in the 2005-06 final

Welsh Cup
Winners (4): 1951–52, 1952–53, 2003–04, 2005–06
Runners-up (4): 1926–27, 1929–30, 1936–37, 1992–93, 2005-06
Welsh League Cup
Winners (2): 2002–03, 2003–04
Runners-up (4): 2004–05, 2006–07, 2007–08, 2009–10

Europa League Play-Off Final 2013-14 runners-up: Bangor City 2 Rhyl 0
FAW Premier Cup
Runners-up (1): 2003–04
Cymru Alliance Cup
Winners (2): 1992–93, 2011–12
Runners-up (1): 1993–94
North Wales Coast Challenge Cup
Winners (16): 1927–28, 1929–30, 1932-33, 1933–34, 1934–35, 1938–39, 1947–48, 1948-49, 1949–50, 1950–51, 1952-53, 1953–54, 1954–55, 1969–70, 2003–04, 2005–06
Welsh Amateur Cup
Winners (1): 1972–73
North Wales Coast Amateur Cup
Winners (2): 1901-02, 1912-13
Cheshire League Challenge Cup
Winners (3): 1948–49, 1951–52, 1970–71
Runners-up (2): 1955–56, 1957–58
Northern Premier League President’s Cup
Winners (1): 1984–85



Welsh Premier League
Bangor City 3 Rhyl 2
Cymru Alliance League
Bangor City 0 Rhyl 2
Northern Premier League
Bangor City 1 Rhyl 0
Cheshire County League
Bangor City 0 Rhyl 3
North Wales Coast League
Bangor City 6 Rhyl 1
Bangor City 10 Rhyl 8


Welsh Cup
Bangor City 8 Rhyl 4
Welsh Premier League Cup
Bangor City 0 Rhyl 2

Europa League Play-Off Final

Bangor City 1 Rhyl 0
Cymru Alliance Cup
Bangor City 0 Rhyl 2
NWCFA Challenge Cup
Bangor City 13 Rhyl 16
Northern Premier League Challenge Cup
Bangor City 1 Rhyl 0
Northern Premier League President’s Cup
Bangor City 1 Rhyl 1
Northern Premier League Shield
Bangor City 1 Rhyl 0
Lancashire Combination Cup
Bangor City 1 Rhyl 0
North Wales Coast Amateur Cup
Bangor City 9 Rhyl 2
North West Wales Challenge Cup
Bangor City 1 Rhyl 0
Welsh Amateur Cup
Bangor City 0 Rhyl 1
Cheshire League Challenge Cup
Bangor City 0 Rhyl 3
Bangor City 36 Rhyl 31




AC Napoli (h-Cup Winners’ Cup) 2-0 (Roy Matthews, Ken Birch)

AC Napoli (a – CWC) 1-3 (Jimmy McAllister)

AC Napoli (n – CWC play-off) 1-2 (McAllister)


Fredrikstad (a – CWC) 1-1 (Everton Williams)

Fredrikstad (h – CWC) 0-0

Atletico Madrid (h – CWC) 0-2

Atletico Madrid (a – CWC) 0-1


IA Akranes (h – UC) 1-2 (Frank Mottram)

IA Akranes (a – UC) 0-2


Widzew Lodz (h – UC) 0-4

Widzew Lodz (a – UC) 0-1


Haka Valkeakoski (h – CWC) 0-2

Haka Valkeakoski (a – CWC) 0-1


Halmstads (a – UC) 0-7

Halmstads (h – UC) 0-4


Sartid Smederevo (h – UC) 1-0 (Paul Roberts)

Sartid Smederevo (a – UC) 0-2


Gloria Bistrita (h – IT) 0-1

Gloria Bistrita (a- IT) 2-5 (Ricky Evans 2, 1 pen)


FC Dinaburg (a – IT) 1-2 (Maris Eltermanis og)

FC Dinaburg (h – IT) 0-2


FC Midtjylland (h – UC) 1-6 (Les Davies)

FC Midtjylland (a – UC) 0-4


FC Honka (a – EL) 0-2

FC Honka (h – EL) 0-1


FC Honka (a – EL) 1-1 (Chris Jones)

FC Honka (h – EL) 2-1 (Dave Morley, Chris Jones)

CS Maritimo (a – EL) 2-8 (Nicky Ward, Eddie Jebb)

CS Maritimo (h – EL) 1-2 (Alan Bull)


HJK Helsinki (h – CL) 0-3

HJK Helsinki (a – CL) 0-10


Zimbru Chisinau (h – EL) 0-0

Zimbru Chisinau (a – EL) 1-2 (Mark Smyth)


Stjarnan (a – EL) 0-4

Stjarnan (h – EL) 0-4



2 – Jimmy McAllister, Ricky Evans, Chris Jones
1 – Roy Matthews, Ken Birch, Everton Williams, Frank Mottram, Paul Roberts, Les Davies, Dave Morley, Nicky Ward, Eddie Jebb, Alan Bull, Mark Smyth, 1 own goal.



Skonto Riga (a – CL) 0-4

Skonto Riga (h – CL) 1-3 (Gary Powell)


FK Atlantas (h – UC) 2-1 (Lee Hunt 2)

FK Atlantas (a – UC) 2-3 (Greg Stones, Gary Powell)

Viking FK (h – UC) 0-1

Viking FK (a – UC) 1-2 (Chris Adamson)


FK Suduva (h – UC) 0-0

FK Suduva (a – UC) 1-2 (Andy Moran)


FK Haka (h – UC) 3-1 (Andy Moran, Lee Hunt, Craig Garside)

FK Haka (a – UC) 0-2


FC Bohemian (a – IT) 1-5 (Ken Oman og)

FC Bohemian (h – IT) 2-4 (Mark Connolly 2)


Partizan Belgrade (h – CL) 0-4

Partizan Belgrade (a – CL) 0-8



3 – Lee Hunt
2 – Andy Moran, Gary Powell, Mark Connolly
1 – Greg Stones, Chris Adamson, Craig Garside, 1 own goal.


Massive thanks to Mark Jones of Prestatyn for providing countless match programme images for this feature. Mark is the go-to man for your vintage and modern-day programme requirements.

Drop him an email at contact@coastalprogrammes.co.uk – he is extremely resourceful, helpful and has many years of experience in the football nostalgia market.

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