Defender David Cooke shares his memories of Caerwys FC’s finest season ever

David Cooke (left) and his son of the same christian name, who plays for Llandyrnog United

To coincide with the 20th anniversary of the greatest season in Caerwys FC’s history, Grassroots North Wales speaks to defender David Cooke on his memories of that 2002-03 campaign where the Flintshire club reached three semi-finals and achieved their highest league position.

How long had you been at Caerwys in 2002-03? How did you come to sign for the club?

I had started the 2002-03 season at Denbigh Town. Roy Cook-Hannah was back at Central Park and I had found myself in the reserves set-up after a few friendly appearances for the first team.

The reserves were relatively young, I wasn’t really enjoying it and was approached by manager Russ Pierce about signing for Caerwys.

I knew Darren and Neil Edwards from playing with them at Trefnant and Denbigh, and we were quite friendly, so I thought why not?

And it was also a chance to have a crack at the Welsh Alliance standard.

Did the team’s style of play suit you?

We were very decent at home and thrived on home cup fixtures where we toppled quite a few fancied sides.

The pitch was small and Russ Pierce seemed to be keen on having 4 big defensive-minded lads at the back, led by Jimmy Griffith who was a tremendous player with League of Wales experience.

We had the guile and strength also in the midfield with Nicky Voyle and Johnny Haseldin, and the rapid counter attacking of Wayne Shill and Richie Roberts with two great goalscorers up front in Si Rose and Gez Roberts.

We could be very inconsistent and beat the top sides one week, then lose to the bottom side the week after!!

What game stands out the most from that season?

We produced some tremendous performances that season.

We battered Bethesda at home 8-1 in the cup, then the week after with virtually the same teams toughed out a 3-3 draw!.

We beat Rhyl Reserves 4-0 at home in a great result and beat Denbigh Town 2-0 in a sunny midweek fixture. Denbigh were still in the title race before that game.

For me, the finest victory at home was beating Cwmaman at home in the FAW Trophy quarter-final. They brought two coach loads of fans up and were expected to beat us.

Darren Edwards saved an early penalty and we went on to get a 3-2 victory.

Away, it has to be winning 3-0 at Penrhyncoch, also in that FAW Trophy run.

Do you feel you deserved at least one trophy?

We were very unlucky not to make a final that year, to lose in the three semi-finals that campaign was gutting.

We were racking up 30+ games in league and cup as we approached the back end of the season and a few players were missing through injuries and niggles etc.

The FAW Trophy semi-final at Aberystwyth was a great occasion for the club and a great day but a disappointing performance as we went down to Tillery.

The Cookson Cup semi v Denbigh Town at Central Park was also tough to take as we went down 2-0 with Denbigh going down to 10 men late in the first half and I remember Neil Edwards hitting the bar and the post in a what might have been.

The biggest heartache was the North Wales Challenge Cup semi final at Colwyn Bay. We led Cymru Alliance leaders Llandudno 3-0 but lost Johnny Haseldin harshly to a red card in the second half, then Dudno showed their class and we couldn’t hang on and lost 5-3.

What was the spirit like in the squad?

The team spirit was great, especially when you had lads who had come from different clubs and we all mixed and got on great and enjoyed a few beers after games.

Simon Rose – 31 starts, 30 goals, outstanding. What were Simon’s best assets as a player?

Rosey was a great centre forward. I had played against him in the Clwyd League days so knew how good he was.

He could hold the ball up very well and could finish. His main asset which Caerwys used well was his heading ability, anything in the air in the box and he was almost guaranteed to score or get an effort on target.

Are you still in touch with any of the squad?

David Cooke (left) and Neil Edwards representing Denbigh Wanderers veterans team

Contact with the old squad has been limited as people get on with their lives etc. I’ve always been mates with Neil Edwards and we are due a few drinks soon. I see Darren Edwards around on the local Denbigh darts scene and we always have a chat.

The rest not so much although I exchange a few messages now and then with Richie Roberts, Joey Griff, Johnny H and Jimmy Griff.

We are due a reunion!!…so Steve Griffith if you need a hand organising it give me a shout Hahaha.

Who did you go on to play for after Caerwys?

At the end of that season I had notched 27 appearances and was regular at left-back, but I tweaked my knee near the end of the season and it never felt right so although in the squads for the Denbigh and Llandudno semis, I wasn’t fit enough to start which was gutting.

In fact I was out until 10 games into the next season where I stayed with Caerwys but we were a much-changed side and struggled even though we still managed to lose another semi-final at home to Bethesda in the Cookson Cup.

The season after I signed with Trefnant Village where I had been years previously but did my knee halfway through the campaign and had an op on my ACL.

Unfortunately I could never recover fully and never played again and finished at 28.

Which was the best team you faced that season?

We faced some cracking sides that season. Just looking at old league table shows the quality that was around at that time.

Denbigh and Bethesda were good but we managed to grab a win against each of them. Glantraeth and Bodedern were both very good and if I remember rightly we were never able to lay a glove on either side.

Does it seem like 20 years ago it all happened?

It seems crazy that it is 20 years since that season.

Your (first) article has brought back many great memories and it’s great Steve Griffith still has all the info and stats etc.

I would probably say it was my most enjoyable season playing as it was the highest level I played at and we had so many highs, beating so many good sides, but reaching three semi-finals and losing them all was very hard to take.

Thanks Dave for the trip down memory lane.

CAERWYS FC – RESULTS 2002-03 SEASON

Caerwys FC pictured before their 2002-03 FAW Trophy semi-final against Tillery. Back row (left to right): Russ Pierce (manager), Adam Phillips, Jimmy Griffith, Rob Griffith, Haydn Williams, John Haseldin, Simon Rose, David Cooke, Colin Murray, Ben Temple and Wayne Shill. Front row: John Earnshaw, Matty Williams, Nick Voyle, Darren Edwards, Neil Edwards, Geraint Roberts and Mark Speakman (Assistant Manager)

WELSH ALLIANCE LEAGUE
Sealand (a) 2-2 (Simon Rose, Geraint Roberts)
Rhydymwyn (a) 3-5 (Nicky Voyle, Neil Edwards, Simon Rose)
Bethesda (a) 2-3 (Simon Rose, Geraint Roberts)
Conwy United (a) 1-4 (Simon Rose)
Glan Conwy (h) 3-1 (Joe Griffith, Geraint Roberts 2)
Glantraeth (h) 1-3 (Geraint Roberts)
Llandudno Junction (a) 3-3 (Simon Rose, Geraint Roberts, Richard Roberts)
Locomotive Llanberis (a) 0-2
Bethesda (h) 3-3 (Haydn Williams, Richard Roberts, Johnny Haseldin)
Penmaenmawr Phoenix (a) 3-0 (Johnny Haseldin, Wayne Shill, 1 OG)
Rhyl Reserves (h) 4-0 (Tom Lee, Simon Rose 2, Geraint Roberts)
Denbigh Town (a) 2-4 (Jimmy Griffith, Simon Rose)
Sealand (h) 0-5
Penmaenmawr (h) 5-2 (Matty Williams, Simon Rose 2, Geraint Roberts, Tom Lee)
Prestatyn Town (h) 3-4 (David Cooke, Jimmy Griffith, Geraint Roberts)
Bodedern (h) 0-2
Felinheli (a) 5-1 (Nicky Voyle, Neil Edwards, Colin Murray, Simon Rose, Wayne Shill)
Rhyl Reserves (a) 1-1 (Wayne Shill)
Denbigh Town (h) 2-0 (Joe Griffith, Simon Rose)
Rhydymwyn (h) 5-6 (Joe Griffith, Simon Rose 3, Geraint Roberts)
Prestatyn Town (a) 0-2
Bodedern (a) 0-6
Glan Conwy (a) 2-1 (Wayne Shill, Simon Rose)
Felinheli (h) 2-0 (Simon Rose 2)
Loco Llanberis (h) 0-1
Glantraeth (a) 1-8 (Johnny Haseldin)
Conwy United (h) 3-2 (Simon Rose, Tom Lee 2)
Llandudno Junction (a) 1-7 (Johnny Haseldin)

WELSH CUP
Rhos Aelwyd (h) 2-0 (Geraint Roberts 2)
Brickfield Rangers (h) 3-3 – lost 8-9 pens (Neil Edwards 2, 1 OG)

WELSH TROPHY
R2 Felinheli (h) 4-2 (Simon Rose 3, 1 OG)
R3 Prestatyn Nova (a) 4-2 (Neil Edwards 2, Simon Bower, Geraint Roberts)
R4 Penrhyncoch (a) 3-0 (Neil Edwards, Tom Lee, Geraint Roberts)
R5 Cwmaman Institute (h) 3-2 (Tom Lee, Geraint Roberts 2)
SF Tillery (at Aberystwyth) 1-3 (Simon Rose)

COOKSON CUP
Felinheli (h) 1-4 (Simon Rose)

BARRITT CUP
Glantraeth (h) 1-3 (Richard Roberts)

NORTH WALES COAST CHALLENGE CUP
R2 Bethesda Athletic (h) 8-1 (Tom Lee 3, Simon Rose 2, Neil Edwards, Richard Roberts, 1 OG)
R3 Llanrug United (h) 3-3 – won 5-4 on pens (Haydn Williams, Johnny Haseldin, 1 OG)
R4 Holyhead Hotspur (h) 3-2 aet (Neil Edwards, Johnny Haseldin, Wayne Shill)
R5 Cemaes Bay (h) 3-0 (Simon Rose 2, Geraint Roberts)
SF Llandudno (at Colwyn Bay) 3-5 (Simon Rose 2, Neil Edwards)

ALVES CUP
R1 Rhydymwyn (h) 2-1 (Matty Williams, Colin Murray)
R2 Prestatyn Town (h) 3-1 (Colin Murray, Wayne Shill 2)
SF Denbigh Town (a) 0-2

LEAGUE
Played 28 Won 9 Drawn 4 Lost 15 Goals For 57 Goals Against 78 Position 11th
CUPS
Played 17 Won 11 Lost 6 Goals For 47 Goals Against 35

ALL MATCHES
Played 45 Won 20 Drawn 4 Lost 21 Goals For 104 Goals Against 113

GOALSCORERS (104 GOALS – LEAGUE AND CUP) 2002-03
30 – Simon Rose
17 – Geraint Roberts
10 – Neil Edwards
9 – Tom Lee
7 – Wayne Shill
6 – Johnny Haseldin
4 – Richard Roberts, 4 OG’s
3 – Colin Murray, Joe Griffith
2 – Jimmy Griffith, Nicky Voyle, Matty Williams, Haydn Williams
1 – David Cooke, Simon Bower, Adam Phillips

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