With changes in the factory name the football team has followed suit, being known at various times as Vickers-Armstrong, de Havilands, Hawker Siddeley, British Aerospace, BAe Systems and Airbus UK. The club is now firmly established as Airbus UK Broughton and, until the end of the 2003/04 season, played its football in the Cymru Alliance, the second tier of the Welsh soccer pyramid.
The club was formed in 1946 and has played in both Chester & District League and the Welsh National League (Wrexham Area). Their last move, into the Welsh pyramid system, saw them canter to the Welsh National League (Wrexham Area) Division Two title during the 1991/92 season winning it by a clear 19 points from Gresford Athletic Reserves. In that season they won 28 of their 34 matches and scored a remarkable 130 goals, an average of almost four goals per game. They also reached the NEWFA Challenge Cup final losing narrowly to Gresford Athletic.
They then spent four seasons in Division One, the first two seasons finishing sixth then, in the third season, two places better in fourth. Season 1995/96 saw a further promotion, finishing runners-up behind Wrexham Colts at the end of the campaign: enough to see them move into the Premier Division of the Welsh National League along with the divisional champions.
Once again they spent four seasons at that level, the first two witnessing steady consolidation, finishing seventh and sixth respectively. In 1998/99, the side pushed hard for the championship but could only finish runners-up once again, a mere two points behind eventual champions Corwen Amateurs.
At last, in 1999/2000, British Aerospace went one better and won the title with 21 victories from 30 matches, finishing their programme four points ahead of Ruthin Town and Penycae. This success meant promotion once again, into the Cymru Alliance league and to coincide with the promotion the club changed its name from British Aerospace to Airbus UK.
Their first season in the Cymru Alliance was something of a struggle, eventually finishing in a creditable 11th-place with 10 wins and 14 defeats. Unfortunately, the campaign was badly affected by the outbreak of foot and mouth disease which disrupted much of life in Wales.
Continuing the pattern seen after previous promotions, the second term saw a steady improvement and in the 2001/02 Airbus UK finished in eighth spot with 16 wins. The club was clearly ambitious and again showed signs of progress in the 2002/03 season, achieving their highest ever finish of fifth spot in the Cymru Alliance and reaching the NEWFA Challenge Cup final, losing narrowly on penalties.
2003/04 was tremendously successful when Airbus UK took the Cymru Alliance title with considerable ease, winning it by 19 points from closest rivals Buckley Town, and thus gained promotion to the national league competition, the Welsh Premier.
‘The Wingmakers’ as they are known carried out steady improvements to their ground sited just inside the massive Airbus Works in Broughton, near Chester. A new stand was built with a pavilion incorporating changing rooms being completed early in 2004 and two more stands were later added on the opposite touchline and at the Runway End, bringing seating capacity to more than 500. Floodlights were installed in time for the beginning of the 2004/05 season in the Welsh Premier League.
The first two seasons in the Welsh top flight were something of a struggle as Airbus UK came to terms with the higher standards. The club battled hard to avoid relegation and appointed the former Wrexham midfielder Gareth Owen as player-manager following two seasons at nearby Connah’s Quay Nomads.
Performances gradually improved and the Wingmakers finished 12th in 2006/07 earning a spot in the FAW Premier Cup for the first time. The following season brought 11 victories and 42 points to finish in 11th place.
Gareth Owen moved to Rhyl during the 2008 close season and the former Middlesbrough player Craig Harrison assumed the managerial reins having previously been assistant to Owen at The Airfield.
However, after three and a half years, Harrison moved on to TNS and was replaced by Andy Preece as director of football with ex-Manchester City defender Andy Morrison as his assistant.
There followed the most successful period in the club’s history. Finishing a creditable seventh in the league and reaching the semi-finals of the Welsh Cup, the club embarked on its most successful Welsh Premier League campaign in 2012/13.
After an exciting climax to the season, the Wingmakers clinched runners-up spot with a 2-0 home win over Bangor City to clinch a first-ever place in Europe.
Three players – Lee Owens, Ian Kearney and Wayne Riley – were included in the WPL team of the season chosen by the 12 league managers. And Owens, along with Steve Tomassen and Preece, were nominated for the player of the season, young player of the season and manager of the season awards.
The following campaign, 2013/14, was even better as the club again finished runners-up to TNS in the WPL, closing the gap by eight points on the previous season and remaining undefeated against the champions in four league meetings. Airbus finished 11 points clear of the third-placed club Carmarthen Town, securing another Europa League appearance with three league games remaining.
Ian Kearney and Lewis Short were included in the league’s dream team with Tom Field shortlisted for the player of the season award and director of football Andy Preece again nominated for manager of the season.
In May 2014, it was announced that the pitch at the Hollingsworth Group Stadium would be converted to synthetic 3G in the close season with the assistance of grants from the FAW and the Broughton Wings Sports & Social Club.
A third European appearance came 12 months later when the Wingmakers finished third in the League and faced NK Lokomotive of Croatia, losing 5-3 on aggregate but doing well to draw the away leg 2-2 in Zagreb.
The club was unable to repeat its league performance in 2015/16, finishing in sixth place, but again came close to European qualification, losing 1-0 to neighbours Connah’s Quay in the play-off final. Airbus also reached the Welsh Cup final for the first time in the club’s history, losing 2-0 to TNS at Wrexham’s Racecourse Ground.
Youngster James Murphy was voted the Welsh Premier young player of the season at the end of the campaign, with striker Tony Gray nominated for the player of the season award.
In August 2016, the club parted company with Andy Preece by mutual consent and his assistant, former player Andrew Thomas, was handed the managerial reins.
After an opening day victory over newly-promoted Cardiff Met, the remainder of the season was eminently forgettable. Beaten at the first stage of both the League Cup and the Welsh Cup, the Wingmakers ended the first phase well adrift of the pack and, despite several signings in the January transfer window, results failed to improve significantly and the club finished bottom, relegated back to the Huws Gray Alliance after 13 seasons in the Welsh domestic top flight.
JD Cymru North
Huws Gray Alliance
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