Happy (belated) 40th birthday to one of North Wales’ finest managers – Mr Johnny Haseldin

A delighted Johnny Haseldin greets his Holywell players after a big win this season. Picture: LEE PAUL DOUGLAS

This feature is dedicated to Johnny’s late father JOHN HASELDIN SNR, former landlord of the Packet House in Greenfield, who sadly passed away in 2017.

In the week Holywell Town manager Johnny Haseldin celebrated a landmark birthday, we reflect on his successful times in North Wales football.

1981 was a good year for me. Ian Botham inspired England to their greatest Ashes success over Australia, I left the most horrible of schools, escaped from home, found some independence and gained some long overdue confidence.

But as Chris Tarrant would (nearly) say….”you don’t want to know about that”….

In that same year, on December 15, 1981, John Christopher Haseldin was born, a man who was later to make history as a North Wales football manager.

As a player, Johnny was an uncompromising midfielder or central defender who served a number of clubs, including Greenfield, Flint Town United, Rhydymwyn, Caerwys and Holywell Town.

Great in the air, he scored numerous goals with his head. Mainly a central-midfielder, he could also do a fine job at centre back.

Perhaps his greatest moment wearing the boots was winning the 2010-11 FAW Trophy with Holywell.

It was not just the fact the Wellmen won the national competition, but the way they did it.

Trailing Conwy United 2-0 in the closing minutes at Bellevue, Rhyl, Holywell produced the mother of all comebacks to win 3-2 – a bit like Manchester United v Bayern Munich at the Nou Camp in 1999 but better!

Johnny (back row – furthest left) celebrates winning the 2010-11 FAW Trophy with Holywell Town. Picture: TONY MOTTRAM

Everyone who represented Town in that 2011 final (10th anniversary this year) was guaranteed instant legendary status at the club.

So it was a very popular appointment when Johnny Haseldin took over as boss at Halkyn Road in 2012, replacing the much-respected Mike Thomas.

Johnny celebrates winning another trophy in the 2014/15 season with Sam Jones

Johnny’s most rewarding season was 2014/15, when Holywell landed the treble of Welsh Alliance title, FAW Trophy and Mawddach Cup, only just missing out on a quadruple after losing in the Cookson Cup final.

However, perhaps Johnny’s greatest achievement came the season before when he led the Wellmen to the Welsh Cup semi-finals, Town becoming the first-ever third-tier club to reach the last four of the 143-year-old national competition.

Holywell players and management line-up before their heroic 3-1 Welsh Cup semi-final defeat against Welsh Premier Aberystwyth Town in 2013/14. Photo: SEAN ELLIOTT

This was an AMAZING achievement, not appreciated enough. Holywell knocked out three Cymru Alliance clubs and one from the Welsh Premier to make the semis.

It is possible this will never happen again – a tier 3 club qualifying for the last four of our premier national knockout.

The 2015/16 season saw the Wellmen back in the tier 2 Cymru Alliance for the first time since 2005/06.

Town finished fifth three times on the bounce in 2015/16, 2016/17 and 2017/18 and before Johnny stepped down at the end of the latter season.

He returned to Holywell as manager in September 2018, but was unable to save the club from relegation to tier 3.

Holywell line up during their 2019-20 title-winning season

However, more glory was around the corner as the Wellmen were crowned Welsh National League Premier Division champions in the shortened 2019-20 campaign.

With the entire 2020-21 season cancelled below tier 1 due to Covid, Johnny resumed his second stint as Holywell boss in the Cymru North this term.

After a slow start, where a number of good performances were not reflected in disappointing results, Town have bounced back to form lately, taking 13 points out of a possible 15 in their last five games.

And fittingly, Johnny won the JD Cymru League North Manager of the Month Award for November.

Celebrating a goal with the mighty Steve Lewis

The Wellmen remained unbeaten during the month following excellent wins against Conwy Borough and Penrhyncoch, 4-1 and 5-0,

The manager said: “It’s always nice to win awards but as a manager, it’s the good run of form and the positive results that really matters to me.

“Everyone at the club, including the supporters, have pulled together over the last couple of months and this award is an indication that things are coming together.

“Now the momentum is with us, we need to keep doing what we’ve been doing and carry on trying to climb the league table from now till the end of the season.”

So on the occasion of his 40th birthday, Johnny could happily reflect on the fact things are on the up for Holywell Town, a club he has served with distinction as player and manager for so many years.

Hope you had a great day Johnny and felt the love and respect of many, both here on earth and those special ones looking proudly from above.

JOHN HASELDIN
RECORD WITH HOLYWELL TOWN SEASON-BY-SEASON
(key: season – won – drawn – lost – goals for – goals against)

LEAGUE

2012-13: 18-7-3 98-38 – WELSH ALLIANCE DIVISION ONE 3RD
2013/14: 20-5-3 103-23 – WAL DIV 1 2ND
2014/15: 23-2-1 119-19 – WAL DIV 1 1ST
2015/16: 15-7-8 55-34 – CYMRU ALLIANCE LEAGUE 5TH
2016/17: 14-8-8 52-45 – CAL 5TH
2017/18: 14-8-6 75-37 – CAL 5TH
(resigned as manager)
2018/19: 6-4-12 29-44 – CAL 14TH (relegated – returned as manager Sep 28, 2018)
2019/20: 13-3-1 62-8 – WNL Premier 1ST
2020/21: Season cancelled
2021/22: 5-5-5 34-26 Cymru North 8TH (as at December 15, 2021)
Overall league record: Played 224 Won 128 Drawn 49 Lost 47 Goals For 627 Goals Against 274

Johnny is a people person. He loves meeting the fans. Picture: LEE PAUL DOUGLAS

CUPS

2012/13: 12-0-4 38-19
2013/14: 12-0-3 56-23
2014/15: 18-0-2 64-17
2015/16: 7-0-4 27-21
2016/17: 2-0-4 19-10
2017/18: 5-0-4 18-15
2018/19: 0-0-1 2-3
2019/20: 4-0-3 41-12
2020/21: Season cancelled
2021/22: 4-0-2 14-11
Overall cup record: Played 91 Won 64 Lost 27 Goals For 279 Goals Against 131

JOHN HASELDIN COMPLETE RECORD AS HOLYWELL MANAGER IN COMPETITIVE MATCHES (up to and including December 15, 2021)

Played 315
Won 192
Drawn 49
Lost 74
Goals For 906
Goals Against 405

Saluting the crowd after another home win. Picture: LEE PAUL DOUGLAS

OVERALL WIN PERCENTAGE AS MANAGER: 60.95%

HONOURS AS HOLYWELL MANAGER

Cookson Cup winners 2013-14
Welsh Alliance Division One champions 2014-15
FAW Trophy winners 2014-15
Mawddach Cup winners 2014-15
Welsh National League (Wrexham Area) Premier Division champions 2019-20
Cookson Cup runners-up 2012-13; 2014-15
Welsh Alliance Division One runners-up 2013-14
NEWFA Challenge Cup runners-up 2015-16; 2017-18
Welsh Cup semi-finalists 2013-14

OVERALL
His overall win percentage as Holywell manager is 60.95% – outstanding.
A 60% win rate is always considered a benchmark for true excellence.

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