Date of Visit: 5th May 2018
Competition: Welsh National League (Wrexham Area) Premier Division
Ground Number: 35 (re-visit)
- Founded: 1929
- Ground: Alyn Park, Denbigh Road, Mold, Flintshire CH7 1FT
- Colours: Blue shirts, shorts and socks
- Website: http://www.pitchero.com/clubs/moldalex
- Twitter: @Mold_AlexFC
- Highest Ever League Placing: League of Wales – 13th [1992-93]
MOLD ALEXANDRA’S 2016-17 SEASON
- Cymru Alliance: 14th [RELEGATED]
- Welsh Cup: Round 2
- Cymru Alliance League Cup: Round 1
- North East Wales FA Challenge Cup: Round 1
The first weekend of May signified the near conclusion of the 2017-18 Welsh football season. The Welsh Premier League had finished its league phase the weekend prior, with only the European playoffs yet to be played, whilst the Cymru Alliance had practically finished also. Only a few rescheduled Alliance fixtures (that were postponed during the awful weather spell earlier in the year) were remaining and would be played during the first few weekends in May.
As a result, the available options for potential groundhop fixtures were becoming increasingly scarce when choosing which game to watch for this weekend. My beloved Holywell Town would be playing their second-to-last league game away at Penrhyncoch. Now although Penrhyncoch are the remaining ground I have yet to visit in this season’s Cymru Alliance, my mental state (which I talked about in my previous blog) was not really prepared for a two and half hour journey down to Ceredigion. Also none of the usual groundhopping accomplices would be available for the journey either, so I would have to choose somewhere nearer to 94th Minute HQ.
Despite a number of top tier leagues practically being over, the third tiers of Welsh football continue to play fixtures into late May, which is a complete godsend for groundhoppers like myself. Therefore I browsed the fixtures in the Welsh National League (Wrexham Area), Welsh Alliance League and Mid-Wales League on Non League Matters to see what potential games would tempt me.
Looking at the fixtures, I noticed that Mold Alexandra were playing at home against Lex Glyndwr in the WNL Premier Division. Mold would be an ideal groundhop because it was local to me and I wouldn’t have to travel far, I had been to Alyn Park before on numerous occasions and so wouldn’t be stressed about finding the ground etc, and I wanted to write another groundhopping blog on the Alex for some time. This was because the previous groundhopping blog on Mold Alex (which can be found here) was only the second blog I ever wrote, and the ground had been updated since I had written about Alyn Park way back in November 2014.
Therefore it was settled, I would be returning to Alyn Park for this delightfully sunny and warm May afternoon to see Mold Alexandra take on Wrexham-based side Lex Glyndwr in a WNL Premier Division fixture!
- Welsh Name: Yr Wyddgrug
- Population: 10,100
- County: Flintshire
- Historic County: Flintshire
- Nearest Train Stations: Buckley [4,2 miles east] or Flint [6,5 miles north]
Mold / Yr Wyddgrug is a traditional market town of about 10,100 inhabitants located in the southern part of Flintshire, in North East Wales. Positioned on the southern bank of the River Alyn (Welsh: Afon Alun), a tributary river of the River Dee (Welsh: Afon Dyfrdwy), it is the administrative centre and county town of the north Welsh county of Flintshire, and was the county town of Clwyd when the county existed between 1974 and 1996.
The town has good infrastructural links with the A494 trunk road running through the town, linking it with Deeside and Chester, as well as Ruthin and central Wales. In addition the A451 road runs through the town connecting the settlement with Wrexham in the south-east, and Denbigh to the west. It has also got regular bus services to these locations, as well as local towns like Flint, Holywell and Buckley. Mold does not currently possess a train station, with its original station closed in 1962 as part of the Beeching Cuts, and a supermarket now standing on its original location. The town’s nearest train stations are situated in either Buckley (situated on the Borderlands Line and to the east of Mold), or in Flint (situated on the North Wales Coast Line to the north of Mold).
People have been living in the area since prehistoric times, with examples of ancient Iron Age Celtic hill forts dotted around the locality, such as Moel-y-Gaer in the nearby village of Rhosesmor. Evidence of such antiquated settlement in the area was found in 1833 when quarrymen found the magnificent artifact named the “Mold Cape“. Estimated to be crafted between 1900 to 1600 BC (during the ‘Bronze Age’), it is a ceremonial cape made of a single piece of solid sheet gold and displays some of the finest prehistoric craftsmanship yet discovered. Considered one of the finest artifacts ever discovered within the British Isles, the gold cape is now on display in the British Museum in London (I personally believe it should be displayed in Wales permanently but that’s another argument…). In addition, it also provided the name to the town’s Wetherspoon’s pub, “The Gold Cape“.
Mold was the site of an early Dark Ages battle where a local militia force, baptized and led by the early Christian missionary bishop Germanus of Auxerre defeated an invading force of Scots/Irish and Picts in the ‘Alleluia Victory’ in 430 AD. The encounter was given that specific name as apparently the local army shouted “Alleluia! Alleluia!” before attacking the invaders in the middle of the night, causing the invading force to run away in terror. The battlefield is known as Maes Garmon (English: ‘the field of Germanus’), and provides its name to Flintshire’s only Welsh-medium high school, Ysgol Maes Garmon, which is based within Mold.
The unique name of the settlement originates either from the Norman-French ‘mont-hault’ (English: ‘high hill’) or from the Norman lord Robert de Montalt, who built the original motte and bailey castle in the town around 1140. Either way the name of the settlement probably developed to Mohault, before mutating again to Moald (in 1284) and finally to Moald (in 1341). The Welsh name for the settlement comes from a different origin than the English name, as Yr Wyddgrug means ‘the tomb mound’ in English.
Throughout the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, Mold Castle was continuously fought over by the Anglo-Norman rulers and the Princes of Gwynedd, who hoped to maintain their influence over the Perfeddwlad. So much so, Mold was considered a “royal stronghold” whilst in the possession of Gwynedd. Alas the castle was finally captured by the invading English forces of Edward I, during his invasion of Gwynedd in 1276-77, and its importance declined with the death of the last lord of de Montalt in 1329. Today the castle no longer remains, however the mounds of the motte and bailey are still in existence and have become a pleasant wooded area for people to walk around in.
After the Statute of Rhuddlan was imposed in 1284, trade started to increase within the town with merchants from Chester and Whitchurch coming into Mold to trade with the local producers. In addition, drovers brought their livestock down into the town for them to be sold to the English merchants (there is a pub named The Drovers Arms by Mold Alex’s ground). Subsequently, Mold started to hold two annual fairs and a weekly market, which brought in substantial revenue for the town. The weekly market is still exists today, with the high street being shut to traffic to allow market stalls to be erected in the road every Wednesday and Saturday.
Mold would see action during the Wars of the Roses, when Reinalt ab Grufydd ab Bleddyn, a successful Welsh Lancastrian captain was constantly engaged in feuds with Yorkist Chester. Things came to head in 1465 when a large number of armed men from Chester arrived at the Mold fair looking for trouble. Unsurprisingly a fight broke out which led to a pitched battle, with Reinalt eventually triumphing by capturing Robert Bryne (a former Mayor of Chester) and hanging him. In retaliation up to 200 men-at-arms were sent from Chester to seize the Welsh captain. However Reinalt used his extensive military experience to trap some of his would be assailants inside his house, and subsequently burning it down. He then attacked the remainder of the party, eventually forcing them back to Chester.
By the late fifteenth century, and the lordships around Mold had passed to the powerful Stanley family, who were the Earls of Derby and Lords of Mann. It was also around this time when Mold’s most recognisable landmark was started to be constructed. St. Mary’s Church is a large Anglican parish church situated at the top of the town’s high street, next to the old motte and bailey castle (now known as Bailey Hill) on top of a hill. Originally built as a catholic church, the sandstone built, Grade I listed church is part of the Church of Wales Diocese of Saint Asaph and overlooks the whole town.
Construction started on the Grade I listed building in 1490, with several additions to the church being added throughout the centuries, with a major renovation being completed in the mid nineteenth century, and further restorations in the twentieth century. Naturally St. Mary’s Church has had historical connections with the Stanley family, with it being the local church for the lord. Appropriately, it displays the heraldic symbols for the family such as the ‘Eagle and Child’ which was adopted by the family in the fifteenth century (and curiously the name of the pub in Gwaenysgor), and the Three Legs of Mann, relating to the time when the Stanley family were also the Lords of (Isle of) Mann.
The seventeenth century saw Mold’s population and importance rise as the coal industry started to develop near the town, as well as Mold becoming the centre of administration for the historic county of Flintshire. This position would be emphasized and increased during the nineteenth century when the county hall and gaol were built within the town. It was during the Victorian period when Mold encountered its most famous event – the Mold Riot.
In the summer of 1869, the English manager of the local colliery angered the workers by first banning the use of Welsh at the colliery, and then imposing a pay cut on the workers. Naturally some irate miners attacked the manager before frogmarching him to the town’s police station. Seven miners were arrested and stood trial for the assault, with all of them found guilty for their actions. The ringleaders, Ismael Jones and John Jones, were sentenced to a month’s hard labour by the court.
A large crowd had assembled within the town to hear the verdict, and accordingly the Chief Constable of Flintshire arranged for police from all around the country, as well as soldiers from The 4th King’s Own Regiment (Lancashire), based temporarily in Chester, to coming into Mold to maintain order. As the tried men were being escorted to the train station, the crowd of about 1500 to 2000 people started getting agitated and began throwing missiles at the officers. At the orders of their commanding officer, the soldiers from the Regiment open fire into the crowd and killed four of them. A disgraceful act in today’s standards!
In the resulting trails following the riot, firstly the coroner declared that the death of the four victims was “justifiable homicide”, and effectively cleared the soldiers of any wrong-doing. To rub salt into the wounds of the local populace, several local men were then convicted and trialed for their involvement in the riot. The court declared that the men were guilty of “felonious wounding” by throwing the missiles, and were subsequently sentenced to ten years’ worth of penal servitude.
It was during this period of time that Mold’s most famous resident was living in the town. Daniel Owen was a writer who lived in the town between 1836 to 1895, and is considered to be the greatest Welsh language novelist of the nineteenth century. Inspired by events occurring in his home town, it encouraged him to write such respected novels like Rhys Lewis and Enoc Huws, which are widely regarded as some of the finest works in the Welsh language. Daniel Owen is still well-regarded, with Mold’s naming a shopping precinct, town square and cultural centre after him, as well as erecting a statue of the writer in the town. In addition, there is an award named after him in the National Eisteddfod, which is awarded to the best unpublished novel less than 50,000 words long.
Mold continues to be an important town in North East Wales, and is the county town of the modern county of Flintshire. Flintshire county hall is situated on the outskirts of the town, as well as an important Crown court, which covers important cases from North East Wales. At roughly the same location as the county hall and court, the town also has its own theatre, Theatr Clwyd, which is an important hub for the arts in North Wales. The theatre continuously shows either touring plays (both classic and modern) or plays acted out by the local theatre company.
The town has been the host of three official National Eistedfoddau, having most recently hosted the cultural event in 2007. Also it has prided itself on being the region’s capital for food, with a large number of restaurants and gastropubs dotted in and around the town. Mold is the venue to the annual Mold Food & Drink Festival (usually held in September), which brings in local producers of food, drink, and craft wares from North Wales, North-West England and beyond, and allows the local populace the chance to enconter and purchase produce from more specialised and smaller producers.
Also it has become the centre for the Flintshire Real Ale Trail, which has normally been organised twice a year, and enables drinkers the opportunity to taste real ales from a number of smaller, local breweries. The ticketed event usually has a number of village pubs (located within Flintshire) on the route, each serving different real ales and ciders. For this particular event, buses are organised to travel around the route and pick up or drop off punters at every pub stop. It has become a very popular event over the years it has been organised, with Mold’s Gold Cape, being one of the more popular stops on the route.
MOLD ALEXANDRA’S HISTORY
- 4 x Welsh National League (Wrexham Area) Winners
- 4 x North East Wales FA Challenge Cup Winners
- 1 x North Wales Coast Cup Winners
- 2 x Welsh National League Cup Winners
- 1 x Welsh National League President Cup Winners
- Founding Members of the League of Wales
- Founding Members of the Cymru Alliance
League History of Mold Alexandra:
- 1930 to 1937: Local Flintshire Leagues
- 1937 to 1947: West Cheshire League
- 1947 to 1990: Welsh National League (Wrexham Area)
- 1990 to 1992: Cymru Alliance
- 1992 to 1995: League of Wales
- 1995 to 1998: Cymru Alliance
- 1998 to 2002: Welsh National League (Wrexham Area)
- 2002 to 2005: Cymru Alliance
- 2005 to 2008: Welsh National League (Wrexham Area)
- 2008 to 2010: Cymru Alliance
- 2010 to 2014: Welsh National League (Wrexham Area)
- 2014 to 2017: Cymru Alliance
- 2017 onwards: Welsh National League (Wrexham Area)
Early Days of Football in Mold – Mold F.C.
There is a strong and extensive history of football being played in Mold as Mold was one of the first places in Wales to play organised football. A Mold-based team is recorded to have competed in just the second ever edition of the Welsh Cup in the 1878-79 season, where they ended up being heavily beaten 1-8 in the first round by a Llangollen side.
Mold would sporadically enter the competition throughout the early years of the national cup competition before achieving some early success in the 1887-88 Welsh Cup by reaching the semi-finals. Close victories over Ruthin and Bangor in the opening two rounds, followed by a withdrawal of opponents Portmadoc in the third round, resulted in Mold becoming one of the final four teams in the competition. At the neutral venue of Oswestry, they squared up against one of the strongest Welsh teams of that period, Newtown. Unfortunately Mold’s dreams of making a debut final appearance would be shattered by Newtown, with the Reds inflicting a 2-0 defeat on the Flintshire club.
Mold’s 1887-88 Welsh Cup campaign:
- 1R: Ruthin (h) 1-0
- 2R: Bangor (a) 2-1
- 3R: Portmadoc (h) w/o
- SF: Newtown (at Oswestry) 0-2
Mold would repeat the feat a few years later when they reached the semi-finals of the 1890-91 competition. Initially they had been defeated in the second round by Bangor, but their opponents were disqualified due to the width of their pitch, ensuring Mold earned a reprieve and advanced to the third round at the expense of their Caernarfonshire opponents. They would take full advantage of their second chance, by defeating Rhyl after a replay before coming up against Shrewsbury Town in the last four. Alas the final would be a step too far as they were easily beaten 0-5 by the Salopians, at the neutral venue of Wrexham’s Racecourse Ground, with Shrewsbury eventually winning the Welsh Cup that season, beating Wrexham 5-2 at Oswestry.
Mold’s 1890-91 Welsh Cup campaign:
- 1R: Holywell (h) 3-2
- 2R: Bangor (a) 1-4
- 3R: Rhyl (a) 2-2 [3-2 after replay]
- SF: Shrewsbury Town (at Racecourse Ground) 0-5
The Rise and Fall of Mold Town
The success of the initial Mold club would inspire various other Mold teams play in the Welsh Cup, although with very little success. Mold Alyn Stars appeared in the 1894-95 Welsh Cup but lost in the first round to old conquerors Shrewsbury Town, who inflicted an embarrassing defeat of 0-21. The following season, Mold Red Stars played in the Welsh Cup but got no further, losing a respectable 1-3 to Carnarvon Ironopolis in the first round again. Finally Mold Town took part in the 1898-99 competition, and advanced to the second round after receiving a bye in the first round, but would be vanquished by Chirk 0-5.
There wouldn’t be much further success in the Welsh Cup for Mold teams until the 1910-11 competition when Mold Town reached the last eight of the national tournament. They would overcome the locally-based rival sides of Denbigh, Greenfield and Flint on route before knocking out the previous season’s cup finalists, Chester, after a replay. Eventually their journey was stopped by Wrexham, who beat Mold Town 2-0, and would advance to eventually win that season’s Welsh Cup by beating Connah’s Quay & Shotton 6-0 in the final.
Mold Town’s 1910-11 Welsh Cup campaign:
- PR: Denbigh (a) 11-1
- 1R: Greenfield (h) 8-0
- 2R: Flint (h) 5-1
- 3R: Chester (a) 1-1 [2-0 after replay]
- 4R: Wrexham (h) 0-2
The 1920’s was a prosperous time for Mold Town where they achieved a lot of success on and off the pitch. Mold Town were essentially operating as a professional club playing in the Welsh National League (North) in the venue of Broncoed Park, which was a well-equipped ground with a grandstand and dressing rooms. The prosperity off the pitch resulted in some superb cup campaigns for Mold Town, by winning the North Wales Coast FA Challenge Cup in its first two years of creation, defeating Bangor and Holywell respectively. They would achieve success in the Welsh Cup by reaching the fourth round of the 1923-24 Welsh Cup before once again reaching the semi-finals of the Welsh Cup in the following season.
During the 1924-25 Welsh Cup campaign, they overcame Llandudno Junction, Oswestry Town and Llandudno before coming up against Pontypridd in the quarter finals. In front of over 4,000 spectators, they overcame their illustrious opponents by three goals to nil to reach the final four of the Welsh Cup. Mold would play against fellow Flintshire side Flint at Wrexham, and it would prove to be a tight contest between the rival sides with the first game being a 1-1 draw and the first replay being played out as a goalless draw. In the second replay, it would be the Silkmen who would reach the final, getting the only goal in the game at Wrexham to finally reach the final. It would be the closest Mold would ever get to claim a Welsh Cup final place. They could at least contend themselves with winning the Welsh National League (North) championship that very season.
Mold Town’s 1924-25 Welsh Cup campaign:
- 3R: Llandudno Junction (h) 6-0
- 4R: Oswestry Town (a) 2-0
- 5R: Llandudno (h) 1-0
- 6R: Pontypridd (h) 3-0
- SF: Flint (at Wrexham) 1-1 [0-0 first replay, 0-1 second replay]
Arguably the greatest achievement of any Mold based football side was accomplished in the 1925-26 season when Mold Town became the first Welsh National League side to reach the first round proper of the English FA Cup. During the earlier qualifying rounds, Mold Town defeated Rhyl, Harrowby, Winsford, Chester and Eccles before they were drawn against Southport Central in an away fixture. Despite putting on a gutsy performance against the Lancashire club at Southport, Mold Town would be defeated by just a single goal to cruelly end their historic FA Cup campaign.
Despite having a superb period of success, the club could not sustain an almost professional status and were operating at a loss towards the end of the decade. Financially situations became that dire that Mold Town subsequently disbanded in 1930, at roughly the same time the Welsh National League became broken up. Even though Mold’s top club disappeared, there were still three junior teams operating in the town in the forms of the more established teams of Mold Rangers and Mold Church Institute, and a newly formed junior club (established in December 1929 and operating at Alyn Park) called Mold Alexandra. The club allegedly adopting their unique suffix after having it randomly drawn from a hat with a number of suggestions inside of it.
Mold Alexandra – 1930 to 1990
In their first season of creation, Mold Alex had played 20 games, winning 17 of them, drawing once and losing just twice. This encouraged them to join the Mold, Deeside & Buckley League for the 1930-31 season, and they played their first competitive game on the 30th August 1930 against Oakenholt St. David’s, winning 5-3 at Flint. Mold Alex would also win their first piece of silverware that season, by claiming the North Wales Junior Cup in a 5-0 victory over Glasinfryn at Colwyn Bay. The following season was another trophy winning one for the Alex as they claimed the Flintshire Amateur League and Cup double.
Mold Alex would continue to play in the local leagues before they joined fellow Flintshire clubs, Flint Town and Buckley, in becoming members of the West Cheshire League in 1937. After the Second World War, the Alex would return back to the West Cheshire League, and erected a stand for 300-400 spectators in preparation for a return to competitive football in the town. However Mold finished bottom of the WCL that season, winning only one game and drawing one game all season. Their stay in the WCL would last only a season before they returned to the Welsh league system and became members of the Welsh National League (Wrexham Area) in 1947. The Alex would remain members of the WNL until 1990 and the creation of the Cymru Alliance.
Mold Alex would compete in Division 1 for the majority of their time in the WNL structure, gaining their highest position of second place in the 1951-52 season (five points behind champions Chirk AAA). They would not equal their highest position until the 1980-81 season when they finished runners-up to Cefn Albion, 29 years after they had last finished at such a lofty league position. This would be the start of a successful decade for Mold Alex as they would win numerous trophies throughout the 1980’s, with their highlight season being their 1985-86 campaign.
After spending so long in the WNL pyramid, they finally claimed their inaugural league championship in 1986, winning the title by 12 points from nearest rival, the Wrexham-based side, Lex XI. That season would be a quadruple winning season for the Alex, as they would claim the WNL League Cup, the North East Wales Challenge Cup and North Wales Coast Cup to add to their long-awaited league title.
After waiting so long for their first title, a second would quickly follow as Mold Alex successfully retained their WNL league title in the 1986-87 season, this time achieving a 10 point winning margin from Wrexham Reserves. Along with regaining the league championship, Mold would also reclaim the North East Wales Cup that season, as well as winning their third NEWFA Cup in row the following season. In 1989, the club would battle their way through to the semi-finals of the Welsh Intermediate Cup (now FAW Trophy) before being denied a finalist place by Aberystwyth Town in the last four of the competition.
However Mold Alex would achieve a third league title in the following season, this time winning the 1989-90 title by eight points from Wrexham Reserves again. Their league success that season, as well as their achievements throughout the late 1980’s, ensured they were invited to become a founding member of the newly formed Cymru Alliance in 1990, which Mold duly accepted.
Founding Members of The Cymru Alliance and League of Wales
The success of the 1980’s for Mold Alex would not continue into the 1990’s as the Alex struggled in the new north and central Welsh league. In the opening season of the Cymru Alliance, Mold finished in a disappointing 12th position and earning just 23 points, with only Gresford Athletic and Penrhyncoch below them in the table. They improved their position the following season, finishing in tenth place (this time out of sixteen teams) with 36 points and finishing above local rivals Holywell Town, even though they did get three points deducted.
Mold’s stay in the Cymru Alliance would only be for two seasons, as the introduction of the League of Wales would change the landscape of Welsh league football. Mold Alex became one of the founding members of the League of Wales (later to become the Welsh Premier League), and would be joining fellow Flintshire sides Connah’s Quay, Flint Town United and Holywell Town in the country’s first truly national league. However their tenure in the LoW was threatened after just one game when the league dramatically suspended the Alex from the league for failing to meet with the ground criteria established for the fledgling league. Thankfully with the help of landlords Synthite and Delyn Borough Council, a stand and floodlights were installed at Alyn Park, ensuring that the LoW reinstated Mold back into the league. Mold would finish their hectic first season in the top flight in a credible 13th position, and only two points away from Porthmadog in ninth place.
Unfortunately their stay in the LoW would be fraught with off-field problems and continuous uncertainty. The club committee relinquished control after the first LoW season plunging the club into potential ruin and closure once again. However after a large crisis meeting, club stalwart Dennis Parry came to the rescue and agreed to be the club’s chairman for the following season, and formed a new committee to help carry the club into the next season. Improvements to Alyn Park were also made during this tempestuous period, with turnstiles installed, standing shelters extended and a roof added to the newly erected stand.
Despite a new club committee being formed, it was obvious that playing in the top flight was causing Mold serious financial implications. The running and travel costs at the national level were exceptionally high for a small club like Mold, and competition for spectators was high considering there were so many Flintshire clubs also competing in the league, meaning money through the gates was restricted. However throughout the adversity, Mold continued to compete in the League of Wales, and finished 14th out of twenty teams in the 1993-94 season – a good achievement considering the problems the club was facing. Unfortunately the financial issues at the club were crippling Mold Alex, and they would subsequently suffer the inevitable fate of relegation in their third and (so far) final season in the LoW. They would end the 1994-95 season in 19th position, although agonisingly just two points from potential safety.
Dropping Down The Leagues
On their return back to the Cymru Alliance, and still struggling from the financial restraints caused by playing top flight football, Mold Alexandra struggled to adapt to life in the northern league. The Alex finished in 15th and 12th positions in their first two seasons back in the league, although finishing above rivals, Buckley Town, on both occasions.
Sadly Mold’s stay in the Cymru Alliance was as long as their stay in the League of Wales, as in their third season of Cymru Alliance football, they suffered relegation to the third tier of the Welsh football pyramid. The 1997-98 season saw Alex finish rock bottom of the table, with just two wins and 12 points to their name from the entire season. Alex also conceded over 100 goals in the entire league campaign. Their season did have some positives as they managed to reach the third round of the Welsh Cup, beating Llandyrnog United after a replay and Anglesey-based side Llangefni Town. They would ultimately exit the competition in the Rhondda Valley by suffering a 5-0 defeat away at Ton Pentre.
With their relegation from the Cymru Alliance confirmed, Mold explored the idea of merging with fellow Flintshire side Mostyn who had finished in 14th in the Cymru Alliance, but were struggling financially. After some discussion, they rejected the merger idea and opted instead for expected relegation back into the Welsh National League (Wrexham Area). However with Chirk AAA also getting relegated that season and filling the only available WNL spot, the FAW told Mold they would have to drop into the Welsh Alliance League, which would have seen the Alex play teams as far away at Anglesey and the Llyn peninsula and increased travelling costs. They appealed against the FAW’s relegation placement but naturally the appeal vote at the FAW went against them.
Refusing to take their place in the Welsh Alliance, Mold Alex decided resign their first team and use their reserve side as their new first team. This was beneficial as their reserve side was playing in the Welsh National League Division 1, meaning Mold would be able to play in their desired league but would be dropping an additional level in the pyramid. In response to this decision, the FAW ejected Alex from the 1998-99 Welsh Cup because their tier 4 level position had made them ineligible to play. Although it was a brave decision to drop two tiers in the football system, it resulted in it being a positive decision for the club, as they would clinch promotion to the WNL Premier that season by finishing second to champions Bradley Villa.
Mold Alex in the 21st Century
For the whole of the twenty-first century, Mold Alexandra have fluctuated between the second and third tiers of the Welsh football pyramid, spending an average of three years at each level before getting promoted or relegated.
During this period, they would win the Welsh National League Premier Division in both 2002 (as well as winning the WNL Premier League Cup that season) and 2014, which saw them gain promotion to the Cymru Alliance on both separate occasions. They would also gain promotion when they finished as runners-up to Brymbo in 2008, but accepted Brymbo’s promotion place when the Steelmen failed a ground inspection.
They have suffered three relegations from the Cymru Alliance in this century, with their relegation in the 2009-10 season being the harshest. With a restructuring in the Welsh Premier League planned for the start of the 2010-11 season, it determined that the top division should be reduced from the original 18 teams to the current format of 12 teams. To keep the league balanced, it meant that ten teams had to be relegated from the Cymru Alliance due to a large number of northern teams coming down from the Premier Division. Resultantly Mold were caught up in this mass exodus of Alliance teams and were relegated despite finishing in the normally safe position of thirteenth place.
They have encountered some success since the millennium having achieved their highest league placement since 1995 when they finished in ninth position at the conclusion of the 2014-15 Cymru Alliance season. Mold Alex also managed to win two Welsh National League Premier Cups in both 2001 and 2002, as well as a WNL President’s Cup in 2008 by beating league champions Brymbo 5-1 at the Steelmen’s own ground. The Alex also won the North East Wales FA Challenge Cup in 2015, by beating fellow WNL side, Chirk AAA, to win their fourth NEWFA Cup in their history, and 27 years after they last won the regional competition.
Last season saw Mold Alex come to the end of another three year cycle when they were relegated from the second-tier once again. Despite finishing 14th in the table, a combination of two northern clubs being relegated from the Welsh Premier League, and three clubs being eligible for promotion from the feeder leagues, meant that the bottom four clubs in the league would drop down to the third tier. Resultantly, Mold were relegated alongside Llanfair United (returning to the Mid Wales League), Conwy Borough (dropping into the Welsh Alliance) and local rivals Buckley Town, who would be joining Mold in the Welsh National League Premier Division for the 2017-18 season.
In the Welsh Cup, the second round would again become a major hurdle for the Alex as they were eliminated from the competition by fellow Cymru Alliance side Guilsfield, losing 2-4 after extra time.
MOLD ALEXANDRA’S PREVIOUS FORM
Mold Alexandra’s last five competitive games:
- Mon 23rd April: Buckley Town (a) 0 – 2
- Wed 25th April: FC Nomads of Connah’s Quay (a) 2 – 1
- Sat 28th April: Coedpoeth United (h) 4 – 0
- Mon 30th April: Ruthin Town (n) 1 – 3 a.e.t. [NEWFA Cup Semi-Final]
- Wed 2nd May: Hawarden Rangers (a) 1 – 2
Mold’s recent schedule has been unbelievably hectic over the past two weeks with the Alex having to play six games within the previous fortnight, and their upcoming game being their seventh game in the run. Unsurprisingly their form throughout this busy period has been inconsistent as they continue to catch up the games which were postponed during the rough winter months.
They would suffer a loss in their derby against the current WNL Premier Division leaders, Buckley Town, by getting defeated by two goals to nil at Globe Way. Jake Roberts and Luke Blizard getting the goals for the Claymen. Just two days later and Mold had to play another league game away from home when they traveled to Wepre Park to face FC Nomads. Despite having played a game just 48 hours previously, the Alex managed to get the victory through goals from Aaron North and Matty Roberts to win the fixture 2-1.
Next up for Mold was the game on the previous Saturday which was played against the league’s bottom-placed side, Coedpoeth United at Alyn Park. A brace from Danny Warren and further goals from Arron Davies and Aled Reece secured the 4-0 home win.
Two days later and Mold were in cup action, playing in the semi-finals of the North East Wales FA Challenge Cup. Their opponents for the last-four game was the Cymru Alliance side Ruthin Town, which was being played at the neutral venue of Brymbo. After a goalless first half, Mold would take the lead through Aaron North and would then save a penalty from Ruthin’s Llyr Morris to maintain the lead. Just when it looked like that Mold would achieve a cup shock and reach the final of the competition, Ruthin equalised deep into the injury time to force the game into extra time. The additional thirty minutes obviously benefited their opponents as fatigue was obviously an issue for Mold, considering the number of games played in such a short time. Ruthin would score an additional two goals in extra time to ensure they would face Holywell Town in the final of the NEWFA Cup.
In their previous game, which was played on the Wednesday and just two days after the extended NEWFA Cup match, they had to play against fellow Flintshire side, Hawarden Rangers. Two second half goals from Hawarden ensured they would claim a home win at Gladstone Playing Fields, with Danny Warren getting the consolation goal for Mold in a 1-2 defeat.
Despite their recent inconsistency, Mold were still situated in sixth position in the league, and only four points behind Corwen and Llanuwchllyn in fourth and fifth positions respectively. For their upcoming game against Lex Glyndwr, it would be interesting to see Mold’s fitness levels after the grueling fortnight of games, and whether their performance would dip in the second half?
LEX GLYNDWR’S PREVIOUS FORM
Lex Glyndwr’s last five competitive games:
- Wed 11th April: Buckley Town (a) 0 – 1
- Sat 14th April: Corwen (a) 0 – 0
- Sat 21st April: Llay Welfare (a) 1 – 0
- Tue 24th April: Penycae (a) 6 – 0
- Tue 1st May: Cefn Albion (a) 0 – 4
Lex Glyndwr would be Mold Alex’s opponents for the upcoming game, and they were positioned in eighth position in the WNL Premier Division table, albeit only four points behind their opponent. They were going into the game potentially less fatigued as did not have as hectic a schedule as their opponents had had over the prior weeks beforehand, although they probably were not in the best of form or had momentum behind them.
In mid-April, Ricky Evans’ side would suffer a close one goal defeat to league leaders Buckley Town, before drawing a blank against Corwen a few days later in a no-score draw. The following Saturday saw the club achieve a one-nil victory over Llay Welfare, with Keiran Taylor getting the only goal of the game and ensuring Lex earned an important three points.
Three days later and Lex would hit six against struggling Penycae at Afoneitha Road. A couple of braces from Keiran Taylor and Harry Halliwell along with strikes from Craig Hughes and Jason Edwards ensured they would achieve their second victory in a row. Alas their winning run came to an abrupt end in their last match, played the Tuesday prior to this game. Coming up against an impressive Cefn Albion side, they conceded four goals to the Cefn Mawr based side to experience their fifth away loss of the season. They were hoping not to make it six away defeats this season at Alyn Park.
ALYN PARK GROUNDHOP
- Distance Travelled: 9,0 miles
- Journey Time: 20 minutes
- Entrance: £3.00
- Programme: N/A
- Chips: £1.50
- Can of Cola: £0.80
With conditions being rather unseasonably delightful for North East Wales for this time of the year, it was pure enjoyment driving along the country roads of Flintshire to the ground. The temperature was surprisingly warm, the car windows were down and I was loved seeing the local countryside all illuminated in its welcoming greenest finery. Always a sign that a match is going to be a good one!
Normally I would travel along the A55 Expressway to get to Mold, but with it being a Bank Holiday weekend, the A55 can be considered a “no-go” area for locals. This because the dual carriage is notorious for having traffic jams and long delays due to the massive increase of traffic caused by the exodus of bank holiday weekenders venturing into Wales for a short and blissful staycation. Whilst it’s excellent to see so many people enthusiastically wanting the Gogledd Cymru experience, the surge of traffic makes the poor infrastructure in the area become even more apparent. Certainly infrastructural investment is needed in this part of the world!
So I left the A55 to all the holidaymakers, with their caravans, motor homes, tents, hopes and dreams, and went along the secluded and picturesque country B-roads before joining onto the Mold-Denbigh road. It was then a short continuation of the journey before reaching Mold Alex’s ground, situated on the edge of the market town. The ground is down a narrow side road that is connect to the Mold-Denbigh road. You can always spot the junction from the road as the club’s badge is displayed on a sign just above the junction entrance.
I arrived the ground about half an hour before the scheduled 2:30pm kick off, paid the £3 entrance fee at the gate and parked my car next to other cars behind the town end goal. Both teams were already preparing for the match by going through their pre-match warm-up routines on the pitch. The Lex team were training nearest to the car park and I noticed their manager was hobbling around on crutches and wearing a protective boot. Here’s hoping he has speedy recovery from his injury!
I won’t go into great detail about the ground as I described a lot about the layout of Alyn Park during my previous groundhopping blog. However one massive change since my previous blog was that Mold Alex had now installed an impressive clubhouse complex (which was opened in August 2016) that was located in between the entrance and the shelters in the ground.
The clubhouse is divided into two parts, with the main clubhouse situated on the right side of the building, and the kitchen / snack bar situated on the left side of the building. Considering the warm air temperature, I quickly headed to the snack bar to get something to drink and cool myself down. The snack bar sells all the usual hot and cold food, drinks and snacks that you would expect from usual snack bars. Although on this occasion I bought myself a cool can of cola from the very welcoming and lovely woman behind the snack hatch, for a decent price of eighty pence.
With refreshment in hand and plenty of time before kick-off, I decided to check out the inside of the clubhouse, and its cool function room (which is available for hire). The function room is very impressive with lots of space to accommodate all kinds of functions and parties there, complete with a licensed bar, two pool tables and a projector with large screen which can show live football games. During my visit, they were projecting Tranmere Rovers’ live game against Ebbsfleet United, in the semi-finals of the English National League’s end of season playoffs. The game was evenly poised at 2-2 and looking likely to go into extra time.
After a few minutes of watching the football and slurping down the cola in the cooled clubhouse, I decided to head back outside into the warmth and intense sunshine in preparation for the upcoming game. I positioned myself in one of the shelters between the clubhouse and main stand, which was not being used and was locked to supporters for this game, as it would be an ideal place to watch this interesting Welsh National League game. Plus it was also a welcome cover from the relentless heat and sunshine radiating from the delightful May sun – I didn’t fancy getting sunburned in the first blast of summer weather haha.
There was a decent crowd for this game, with supporters standing on three sides of the pitch and a large number of parked cars lined up along the edge of the ground. No doubt some of the supporters were encouraged to visit the ground by the superb if unusual heatwave Mold was experiencing for the May Day bank holiday weekend. Normally it’s the usual gloomy downpour which is so typical of Welsh bank holidays. Considering this season has had more than its fair share of downpours, perhaps it’s only fair we had a fantastic bank holiday weekend this time around.
For the upcoming game, Mold Alex would be playing in their all-blue with white trim home strip, whilst Lex would also be playing in their home strip of an amber shirt with black trim, black shorts and black socks. The home side’s management team and substitutes would take their place in the dugout underneath the locked and empty main blue stand, whilst the visiting team’s management and replacements occupied the brick dugout on the opposite side of the pitch.
It would be the home side who would start the more spiritedly of the two sides and looked the most likely to open the scoring. A couple of chances were created by Mold within the first quarter of an hour but produced nothing that would trouble the Lex goalkeeper too much. Despite their early dominance in chances, Alex were guilty of sloppy passing and conceding the possession far too cheaply – they would soon be punished for their sloppiness with possession.
On the seventeenth minute, another loose ball in midfield by Mold allowed Lex’s #6 to intercept the attempted pass and gain control. #6 would go on a slalom run through the Mold defensive line by dribbling past three challenging players as he advanced into the penalty area. The midfielder deftly squared the ball to his team mate #9, who was unmarked in space on the left side of the area. The striker had enough time to pick his spot and slotted it past the diving keeper into the bottom of the net, and give Lex the lead with their first real opportunity on goal.
Eight minutes after taking the lead through an error in midfield and Lex would concede an equaliser in a similar fashion. The architect of their opener was at fault for their goal being conceded as he turned from “hero to villain”. He left the pass that was aimed towards him so it would reach one of the defenders behind him. Alas for the midfielder, Mold’s #9 Aled Reece had gambled on the pass being not being gathered by the midfielder and intercepted the rolling ball. Having space in front of him to advance and no defenders to challenge him in time, Reece managed to rapidly breeze into the penalty area and fire his shot past the helpless keeper to level the scores up. A horrendous goal to concede!
Having found themselves unfortunate to be a goal behind, and then fortunate to equalise, Mold started to dominate the play in the first half and were maintaining ball possession much more frequently and thus causing Lex problems. Some fine play from midfield allowed Mold’s #11 to momentarily break free of his marker and fire an attempt on goal, but his effort could only zip over the crossbar. Mold continued to be the more attacking team and produced some slick passing movements at times to craft goal-scoring opportunities but were unable to convert any of them before the end of the half. As a result, both teams went into the half time interval level with a goal a piece.
HALF TIME: MOLD ALEXANDRA 1 – 1 LEX GLYNDWR
At half time, I headed back to the snack hatch to get some food and quell the increasing hunger prangs in the stomach. A tray of chips was bought for the very reasonable price of £1.50, even more so considering they did not skimp on the sglodion, and they were soon rapidly wolfed down with great delight. With the stomach now reasonably full, I headed back into the clubhouse to see how Tranmere were getting on in the playoff game. As expected the game had gone into extra time but Rovers had taken a 4-2 lead and were looking as if they would be heading to the National League playoff final.
Finally before returning back to pitch-side, I had a good look at Mold Alex’s trophy cabinet, as well as the championship pennants which were attached on the wall. All of them displaying some moments of the illustrious history and success of the old club, and of which I found very interesting.
For the start of the second half, Mold continued where they had left off in the first half by again starting the more brighter of the two teams, and had more of an attacking threat in comparison to Lex. Nine minutes after the restart and Mold would indeed have the ball in the net for the second time of the day, this time coming from a corner which was headed into the goal. Alas on this occasion, the referee chalked off the goal due to an infringement being committed by Mold prior to the goal being scored.
Despite having the lion’s share of ball possession, Mold were still vulnerable to the counter attack, and almost paid the price a couple of minutes after almost taking the lead. Lex almost regained their advantage when one of their midfielders attempted a long range effort from the edge of the penalty area. It looked as if that the shot could trouble the home goalie, but all the home supporters could breath a sigh of relief as the fierce attempt just glanced over the crossbar.
As the second half continued, Lex were working hard to get back into the game and had forced a corner around the seventy-fifth minute of the game. Their corner broke down as it was successfully cleared by Mold and allowed the home side to rapidly exploit the space in front of them as they sprang a counter attack of their own. A ball from Kieran Gaul found Mold’s right-back #2 Adam Renshaw with acres of space down the right flank of the pitch. Renshaw quickly advanced down the wing, and absolutely bamboozled the covering defender through some skillful footwork and tricky weaving, to leave the defender completely wrong-footed. With the Lex defender momentary out of the game, Renshaw managed to cut inside to create some space for himself to strike a goalward bound attempt with his left foot. The ball took a single glancing bounce off the turf as it curled past the diving keeper and into the left corner of the goal.
With Mold having taken the lead, they attempted the press their advantage. On the eighty-third minute, Mold effectively ended the contest when they managed to score a third goal in the afternoon. A delightful ball from Mold’s midfield found the substitute #12 Aaron North who quickly ran at the tiring defender. North’s rapidness and fleet of foot send the covering defender falling onto the floor as the Mold substitute quickly surged past him and then jinking past another defender before finding himself clear on goal. The substitute took full advantage of his opportunity as he conducted a cool finish to score the home side’s third goal, and confirmed all three points for the Alex for this afternoon.
FULL TIME: MOLD ALEXANDRA 3 – 1 LEX GLYNDWR
POST MATCH AND CONCLUSION
Despite Mold achieving a victory this afternoon, they would not be able to ascend up the WNL Premier Division table as they maintained sixth position in the table, although they had closed the gap to fifth placed team, Llanuwchllyn, to just a single point. Likewise, Lex Glyndwr would not suffer too harshly from the defeat by continuing to hold onto their eighth spot. This is because Chirk AAA (level on 34 points with Lex in ninth position) had also suffered defeat by a scoreline of 0-4 to Cefn Albion the evening before. However the margin between themselves and seventh-placed side, Saltney Town, had now increased to six points after the Bordermen beat Llanuwchllyn 2-1 at their Sandy Lane ground.
I really enjoyed my groundhop to sunny Alyn Park and saw a decent game between Mold Alex and Lex Glyndwr. As per usual, everyone was really friendly and welcoming and it’s really good to see Mold’s ground developing, with the construction of the new clubhouse a crucial and excellent addition. By having such continuous source of revenue for the club from the clubhouse, it can only be a benefit for the Alex in the years to come! I would really encourage other fans and groundhoppers to visit the ground and the town, as they are certainly worth visiting!
With the season rapidly approaching its conclusion, I would like to wish both Mold Alex and Lex Glyndwr all the very best of fortune for the remainder of the season, and for the next season also! No doubt I will be returning to Alyn Park in the near future!