Football historian, author and renowned memorabilia collector Mark Jones of Prestatyn is Grassroots North Wales’ very own Santa this festive season.
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.
So far, this popular feature has highlighted….
1 Llanfairpwll v Kidderminster Harriers 1988-89
2 Nantlle Vale v Shrewsbury Town 1979-80
3 Chester v Llandudno Borough 1969-70
4 Rhyl v BSC Shotton 1985-86
5 Borough United v Newport County 1962-63
6 Newport County v Lex XI 1983-84
7 Rhyl v Holyhead Town 1963-64
Today it’s No 8 – Cardiff City v Bethesda Athletic from 1968-69
No discussion on North Wales football in the late 1960s and early 1970s is complete without a reference to Bethesda Athletic who, partly thanks to the trend at the time of Welsh League clubs ‘importing’ quality players from Manchester and Liverpool, had established themselves as one of the leading sides in the region outside of the ‘Holy Trinity’ of Bangor City, Rhyl and Wrexham.
Pesda were a force to be reckoned with on the domestic league and cup front but had never set the Welsh Cup alight until 1968/9 when they made their way into the quarter finals.
Entering at the third round due to their league pedigree, their first hurdle was easily overcome with a 3-1 win over fellow Welsh Leaguers Nantlle Vale at Parc Meurig.
Next up were more familiar opponents in Penmaenmawr who were dispatched 2-0 after a 1-1 draw and the fifth round draw was kind to the Quarrymen, handing them a home tie against yet another Welsh League side in Pwllheli, who were seen off 3-0.
The quarter finals could have yielded a kinder outcome for Pesda with Porthmadog, Southern League Hereford United and Newport works outfit Lovell’s Athletic still in the hat, but as it was Athletic were headed for Ninian Park, Cardiff, to face the high-flying Football League Second Division outfit.
Managed by Jimmy Scoular, City were packed with experience and household names such as Mel Sutton, Don Murray, Brian Clark, Les Lea and John Toshack, later to become a Liverpool and Swansea City legend capped 40 times by Wales.
Tosh also had successful spells in Spain, managing Real Madrid and Real Sociedad among others, and was twice boss of the Welsh national team, in 1994 and between 2004-10.
Pesda also had plenty of players with league experience including future Prestatyn Town manager Eddie Garrett (Queen of the South and Carlisle United), Dave Stazicker – a legend in North Wales circles – who had been on Millwall and Wrexham’s books, John Curry (Leicester City), Les Hurley (Blackpool, Rochdale and Chester) and Howie Jones (Chester) while keeper Brian Dobing was the younger brother of Stoke City skipper Peter Dobing, who made 307 appearances for the Potters in all competitions.
Hard-man defender and capable centre-forward Stazicker had two spells at Rhyl, including with the Lilywhites’ mighty Cheshire League side of the early 1970’s.
He also represented Oswestry Town, Skelmersdale United, Prestatyn Town, Porthmadog, Llandudno and Nantlle Vale, as well as Bethesda, whom he later managed with Selwyn Morris, and was also player-coach of Abergele United.
Also in Pesda’s colours was Stan Boardman, the famous Liverpudlian comic who had spent two seasons as an apprentice at Liverpool before joining Tranmere Rovers.
The match programme had him named as Frank Boardman aged 23 when he was in fact Stan Boardman aged 31.
It wasn’t the City programme editor’s night really as he twice made an unfortunate hash of spelling Stazicker correctly.
Nonetheless, Bethesda put up a superb first half show in front of 6,749 spectators and only trailed to Clark’s goal at the interval but in the second period fitness and quality showed as City rattled in five without reply – Clark adding his second aided by Lea, Toshack, Gary Bell and Barrie Jones to make it 6-0 at the finish.
Cardiff went on to lift the cup, beating Swansea 5-1 on aggregate in the two-legged final so it was no disgrace for the Quarrymen to bow out to the eventual winners.