Nostalgia – Welsh Cup classic programmes No 7 Rhyl FC v Holyhead Town (1963-64)

The great Holyhead Town side of 1963/64 which won the Welsh League North title. The late Joe (Bach) Williams from Llangefni is pictured back row, second player from the right (next to goalkeeper), while the legendary Tommy Welsh is front row, second left. Joe played in the 1963-64 Welsh Cup defeat at Rhyl but Tommy was absent.

Football historian, author and renowned memorabilia collector Mark Jones of Prestatyn is Grassroots North Wales’ very own Santa this Christmas.

Nostalgia enthusiast Mark is providing a series of articles on programmes for some of North Wales’ more interesting Welsh Cup ties over the years, all ones that will never ever happen again.

Earlier in this series we featured a Welsh Cup upset when Rhyl were beaten by BSC Shotton – here’s a programme from a game that had a happier ending for the Lilywhites.

Back in 1963/4 Rhyl were looking to end a disastrous run of Welsh Cup results as in the preceding five seasons they had bowed out to lower ranked opposition from the Welsh League (North) each time.

In 62/3 Borough United beat them 4-1, in 61/2 it was a 1-0 defeat at Porthmadog, 1960/1 saw Pwllheli take the spoils 1-0 and in both 1958/9 and 1959/60 Colwyn Bay put Rhyl to the sword by a single goal on both occasions.

But 63/4 proved a little better, entering at the fourth round stage Rhyl were drawn away at Denbigh Town but brushed aside the men from the Vale 9-3 to set up a fifth round home tie with Holyhead Town.

The Harbourmen were flying high at the top of the Welsh League that season thanks to a team packed with experienced players from the professional ranks and started the match as favourites.

Managed by Harold Bell, a former Tranmere Rovers player who made an astonishing unbroken run of 401 games over nine seasons for the Wirral outfit, Holyhead featured the likes of Jack Tansey (ex Everton and Tranmere), Tommy Williams (ex Liverpool and Tranmere), Welsh amateur international striker Joe Williams (Joe Bach), John Markie (ex Dundee) and Ken Barton (Tranmere Rovers).

Rhyl had been beaten 3-0 at Sankeys in the Cheshire League the previous week and rang the changes for the Holyhead game with seven new faces in the starting line up.

One well-known name was missing for the Harbourmen, legendary goal machine Tommy Welsh who at the time had amassed an amazing 561 goals since joining them from Blaenau Ffestiniog ten years earlier.

In a tight match Rhyl edged the tie 2-1 to book a place in the last eight but that proved the end of the road as old rivals Bangor City triumphed 8-1 at Farrar Road.

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