PREVIOUSLY PUBLISHED NOVEMBER 20, 2020
Today marks the latest birthday of a man who made a considerable impact at four of North Wales’ biggest football clubs, yet his biggest successes were achieved in the English pyramid.
Back in 1992/93, Dave Fuller was a defensive colossus in the Southport side which lifted the Northern Premier League Premier Division title to clinch promotion to the Football Conference.
A left-back who loved to surge forward and join the attacks, Dave made 51 appearances in all competitions that season which saw the Sandgrounders finish champions by six points under the management of former Liverpool defender and future Rhyl boss Brian Kettle.
Dave was the target of good-humoured dressing room banter over the fact he was the only regular outfield player not to score a goal in that campaign.
He featured in 41 league games and was outstandingly consistent, only missing the home victory against Colwyn Bay.
The always-reliable defender kept on impressing when Southport went up to the Conference, playing a key role in their first season when they finished fourth, then third in 1994-95.
Dave spent five seasons at Haig Avenue and it is more than fair to say he is a club legend.
He made 191 competitive appearances in total and managed four goals – three of them against Morecambe and the other versus North Shields in the FA Trophy. He is a member of the renowned Southport FC Former Players Association.
Among the faces he featured alongside at Southport were future Bangor City manager Peter Davenport and ex-Watford and England striker Luther Blissett.
Dave was born on November 20, 1964, in the village and civil parish of Burton-upon-Stather in North Lincolnshire. The village is situated 5 miles (8 km) north from Scunthorpe.
Former Prime Minister David Cameron’s wife Samantha is from there, as well as Jack Brownsword, Scunthorpe FC’s all-time record appearance-maker.
Jack, who passed away in 2009, played 597 league games, and 791 first-team matches overall for the club. He was a defender, like Dave playing in the left-back position. He netted 50 league goals, all but one from penalties.
Dave became familiar to North Wales football fans in the mid-1980s when he played for Bangor City.
He was a substitute in the 1984-85 Welsh Cup final, coming on for Viv Williams in the second leg against Shrewsbury Town in front of a 1,800 crowd at Farrar Road.
City lost that game 2-0, as well as the first leg 3-1 to go down 5-1 on aggregate, but as the England-based Shrews could not represent Wales in Europe, Bangor progressed to the Cup Winners’ Cup.
They beat Fredrikstad of Norway on away goals before exiting to mighty Atletico Madrid in the next round. Dave was not involved in the club’s European adventure.
For the rest of the 1980s, Dave was a highly-efficient defender for the Citizens in the Northern Premier League. The club lifted the NPL Presidents Cup in 1988-89.
Dave went on to make his mark with Southport in the 1990s, as well as playing for Colwyn Bay, before he joined Rhyl FC in the 1999/2000 season.
He made 41 League of Wales appearances in that campaign, scoring against Bangor City and Conwy United, but now 35, future seasons saw him feature less in the firsts and his experience became vital to the Reserves.
In 2003-04, player-manager Fuller led Rhyl’s second team to the Welsh Alliance League title.
He stepped down to concentrate on playing the following season, then in 2005/06 was appointed player-manager of Prestatyn Town.
It was a match made in heaven as the Seasiders won the Welsh Alliance championship without losing a single game out of 30.
He stayed in charge of promoted Town in their first-ever season in the Cymru Alliance, the team finishing a highly respectable fourth.
Dave resigned at the end of 2006-07, due partly to increasing responsibilities in his teaching career.
Neil Gibson took over, guided Town to the Cymru Alliance title at the first attempt, and so began a whole new period of unprecedented success.
Dave’s contribution to Bangor City’s history was not forgotten as in 2011-12 he was invited to the last-ever match at Farrar Road as a guest of honour.
Ironically, the opposition were Prestatyn Town.
And Dave’s good work at Prestatyn was also not over.
In 2017-18 he managed the second team to the Welsh Alliance Reserves Division title.
He was later appointed Prestatyn’s director of football.
Football success has occurred elsewhere in the Fuller family as Dave’s defender daughter Olivia has played for Wales up to under-19 level, captained Liverpool to FA Youth Cup glory and currently plays for AFC Fylde in the tier 3 FA Women’s National League North.
The name Dave Fuller will always be remembered in North Wales football circles and beyond.
Happy birthday to a true great.