The history of football in Holywell can be traced back to a club that was simply known as Holywell, and it is credited that it was founded by a Colonel J. Llewellyn Williams. During those early days, Holywell played their football on a ground known as Ffordd Fer (‘Short Way’), which was located where the local high school is now situated, and also wore red and white as their strip, just as the current team wears today in its home kit.
Back in March 1893, Holywell (as Holywell F.C.) became one of the seven founder members of the North Wales Coast League, and had 58 players registered with the club within six months of the league commencing. Holywell would finish 4th in the inaugural season of the North Wales Coast League. This was to be followed by 3 seasons where the club would continually finish 5th in the league, ending in the 1897-98 when the club finished in 6th place. This would be the worst position the club would end up during their time in the Coast League.
The club reached their first cup final in 1898, when they faced Bangor City for the North Wales Senior Cup (this would later become the North Wales Amateur Cup), but would lose the final 3-0 to Bangor City. The following season, the club would reach its highest position during their tenure within the league, earning 3rd position in the league, although this was followed up the next season by returning to their familiar 5th place in the league. However, after being engulfed by the Baron Corvo episode of 1899, the team left the North Wales Coast League at the end of the 1900-01 season, and the club was defunct by 1902.
After three years’ absence, football returned to Holywell in 1905, with the formation of a new club, Holywell United F.C. to fill the space left by the defunct club in the town. They would later rejoin the North Wales Coast League for the 1912-13 season. Holywell United was to enjoy a successful run during the next few years, winning many trophies. In the 1913-14 season they achieved the North Wales Coast League and Amateur Cup double, winning 15 of their 17 league games and beating Colwyn Bay 1-0 in the final at Rhyl. It was during this period when Holywell United hosted their biggest game at that time, playing an Everton XI at their Ffordd Fer ground. The Merseysiders included at least five players with English First Division experience within the team, and ran out 4-1 winners in front of a large Holywell crowd.
After World War I, Holywell United continued its good pre-war form and finished league runners-up to Holyhead Railway Institute in the 1920-21 season, scoring 92 goals that season which was almost two dozen more than any other team in the league for that season. They also reached the final of the North Wales Coast Amateur Cup for the fifth time, but would lose to Holyhead 3-1. However in the 1921-22 final, which was to be a replay of the previous season’s final, Holywell would gain revenge for their previous cup loss, defeating Holyhead 1-0 in the final played at Llandudno, with Hewitt scoring the game’s only goal.
From the 1921-22 season until the 1928-29 season, Holywell United competed in the newly-formed Welsh National League (North), but did not achieve the performances of previous years and had limited success during this period of time.
In 1929-30, the club first appeared under the new name of Holywell Arcadians, and competed in Division 2 (East) of the Welsh National League. For the following three seasons, Holywell Arcadians competed in the Welsh Football League, which ran alongside the North Wales Football Combination, and was the forerunner of the Welsh League (North). The Arcadians had a brilliant spell during this time, becoming two-time Welsh Football League champions by getting the title in the 1930-31 and 1932-33 seasons, as well as being runners-up in between.
Holywell’s social and football history came together and combined to establish the club as it is known today. In 1946 former soldiers that were returning home from World War II established the club at Halkyn Road, where it has played its home games ever since. It was also around this period that the moniker of The Wellmen was adopted by the club, a nickname which the club still uses to this day.
Success came immediately for Holywell Town, when in 1947 they managed to win both The Alves Cup and The Waterfall Cup, and this success was repeated two years later in 1949, when they won the North Wales Coast FA Amateur Cup. The Wellmen beat Barmouth 2-0 in the final at Llandudno.
More success came to Holywell when they joined the Welsh League (North) in the 1949-50 season. They finished a highly creditable fifth place, but went on to become the Welsh League (North) champions in the 1952-53 season. The success all the more sweeter as they held off a strong challenge from bitter rivals Flint Town United. Two years later, the roles were reversed although Holywell Town were awarded the Alves Cup by virtue of their final league position.
Holywell Town would triumph in the North Wales Amateur Cup once more in the 1957-58 campaign, heavily defeating Gwalchmai 6-0 at Bangor City’s Farrar Road ground. Twelve months later, they would return to the final, for the ninth time, to defend their trophy against a strong Porthmadoc side at Bangor. The match finished 1-1 with Holywell, who had missed an 11th minute penalty, equalising in the 83rd minute through George Davies. This led to a cup final replay being played a week later, and it was to become a dramatic affair. Twice Holywell led only for Portmadoc to come back strongly and take a 3-2 advantage. Despite having centre-forward Owen Davies injured, Holywell snatched an equaliser with the last kick of normal time. Despite coming back into the match and forcing extra-time, it proved too much for Holywell’s ten men, however, and Port ran in five more goals to eventually lift the cup. The two sides would met again in the 1963 final, although Holywell fielded an under-strength team in the final, with goalkeeper Reg Banton playing with a broken finger. Portmadoc would win the cup final again 3-0.
Between the two North Wales Amateur Cup finals with Porthmadoc, the record attendance for a Holywell game was set in 1962 when 3000 spectators packed into Halkyn Road for a Welsh Cup 6th round tie with Swansea Town. Despite the record attendance, the home failed to win the tie, with the Swans winning 2-1.
Success at senior level continued to elude the club, despite reaching both the Welsh Amateur Cup Final in 1961-62, losing 3-2 to Cardiff Corinthians and the North Wales Coast Challenge Cup Final two seasons later, losing there to Borough United.
Holywell Town maintained their membership of the Welsh League (North) for 17 seasons from the 1949-50 season until the 1965-66 season, when they finished bottom of the league just one point behind Blaenau Ffestiniog. Thereafter, Holywell Town left the Welsh League (North) and played in the local football leagues.
Holywell played in the local football league system, most notably in the Clwyd League system, when in 1975-76, the club won the Welsh League (North) Division 5, and the Clwyd League Division 3 title the following season. They would continue to play in the top division of the Clwyd League system for the next nine seasons, achieving a runners-up spot in the 1980-81 season. However in 1986-87, the club finally earned some silverware when they finally won the Clwyd League Premier Division title as well as triumphing in the premier North Wales Coast Challenge Cup competition to earn a league and cup double. Throwing off the disappointment of cup final defeat in 1964, The Wellmen played local rivals Mold Alexandra (at Flint) and won the cup 1-0, thanks to a goal after 78 minutes scored by Merfyn Edwards. The club would continue lifting trophies when they successfully defended their Clwyd League Premier Division title, winning it for the second time the following season. After this success in the local football system, Holywell Town finally returned to the Welsh Alliance League in the 1988-89 season, when they achieved a creditable top five placing.
Most recently, Holywell Town became founder members of the Cymru Alliance in 1990-91, and would compete in the league for two seasons, earning mid-table finishes both seasons.However when a new national league for Wales was created, Holywell left the Cymru Alliance and they became one of the founder members of the new League of Wales in 1992-93.
The first season in the League of Wales would prove to be a particularly good season for Holywell, as they won the Clwyd League Youth Cup and the Auxiliary Youth Cup, whilst also being runners up in the Alves Cup. One of the highlights of the season was doing the league double over Bangor City achieving a 3-0 win at home on Boxing Day, and a season record 6-0 win away at Farrar Road.
The club won respect in North Wales and further afield under the shrewd management of Glyn Griffiths, who almost managed to get the club to qualify for Europe during his tenure. League placings of 6th in the 1992-93 season and 5th in 1993-94 prove the point. However once his reign had ended, inconsistency crept in and results started to suffer and the club slid down the league table. The club finished 8th in 1994-95 and 16th in 1995-96. The slide was complete when they finished bottom of the league during the 1996-97 season and were relegated back to the Cymru Alliance. Although they were promoted as runners-up the following season, sadly their stay in the League of Wales was a short one, and they were relegated again, finishing 17th (bottom) in the 1998-99 season. Holywell Town have never played in the top flight of Welsh football since.
From the 1998-99 season, Holywell Town have played their football in the Cymru Alliance, the second tier of the Welsh football league system. Their first season back in the Alliance was a real struggle although the club managed to avoid a potential relegation a second season in a row, finishing several points above bottom club Corwen Amateurs. Matters improved in 2000-01 when The Wellmen rose to 10th position, mid-way in the league, in a season when they were one of six former League of Wales clubs to play in the Cymru Alliance. The following season, the club returned to struggling ways in the league, and in 2001-02 the Wellmen finished a disappointing 16th, narrowly avoiding relegation from the league yet again. It was then that the club decided to part company with their Manchester-based manager and squad in favour of a more local set-up in order to improve performances on the pitch. Unfortunately, their revised set-up fared no better when in 2002-03, they finished bottom – with a nine point deduction adding to a dismal playing record.
Although they saw an improvement to fortunes under the guidance of Andy Nicholls during the 2004-05 season, finishing 9th, they were eventually relegated to the Welsh Alliance the following season when they finished 17th, with only their local rival Halkyn United below them.
Holywell Town continued to struggle in the Welsh Alliance League, and in the first 3 seasons of being in the league, they continually finished in the bottom half of the table. However the slide was stopped, the club stabilised and results slowly picked up in the 2009-10 season with The Wellmen consolidating their position in 10th place. Finally results improved dramatically in the 2010-11 season when, under the management of Mike Thomas, they finished an impressive 3rd place in Division 1, and got to the semi-finals of the Barritt Cup. However this season would prove to be an historic double winning season with the club winning its first piece of silverware in 13 years when the club won the prestigious FAW Trophy for the very first time in a historic 3-2 victory over Conwy United after being 2-0 down with 5 minutes plus injury time to go. The club’s reserve team added to the trophy cabinet that season winning the Clwyd Reserve Division title and ensuring The Wellmen achieved a cup double.
The decent form of the 2010-11 season continued into the 2011-12 season, as the Wellmen made a strong challenge for the Welsh Alliance League title. The club was full of confidence, and were looking to return to past glories with an aim to getting promoted back to the Cymru Alliance. The Wellmen started the season well, with the club leading the table early on in the season, with the Wellmen’s manager Mike Thomas winning the Welsh Alliance Manager of the Month accolade for November. Despite losing only 4 times during the season, and encountering their best season in over 20 years in terms of league wins and goals conceded (see League History of Holywell Town F.C.) it still wasn’t enough to get promotion back to the Cymru Alliance as Holywell were pipped to the top spot by main rivals Holyhead Hotspur, who managed to beat them by 1 point to become league champions. It would be even more heartbreaking for the club as Holyhead Hotspur beat The Wellmen 3-1 in the penultimate game of the season to put them crucially ahead of Holywell.
The 2011-12 season saw the Wellmen start well in their defence of the FAW Trophy beating Kinmel Bay Sports and Trearddur Bay United in the 2nd and 3rd rounds respectively. However, they were unable to get any further in the competition and got dumped out of the FAW Trophy at the 4th round stage by local rivals Denbigh Town in January. Despite the disappointment in the FAW Trophy Holywell managed to reach their second cup final in back-to-back seasons in getting to the Mawddach Barritt Cup final by defeating Glan Conwy 5-4 penalties after a nail-biting 3-3 draw at Halkyn Road. In the final (held at The Oval in Caernarfon), they faced main league rivals Holyhead Hotspur and hoped for payback for their league disappointment. Despite a fighting comeback, there was not to be a repeat of the 2010-11 FAW Trophy final, and the Wellmen would suffer an agonising 2-1 defeat in the final. This would ensure the 2011-12 season ended up being a highly encouraging yet painfully trophyless season, and would see the end of Mike Thomas’ reign as Holywell Town manager, resigning from the post due to work commitments.
For the start of the 2012-13 season, Holywell Town appointed their captain Johnny Haseldin as player-manager, with the aim of emulating the success of former manager Mike Thomas. To help him in his first management role, Haseldin brought in both John James and Andy Lewis (who were at Denbigh Town in the 2011-12 season) into his coaching staff, with Craig Knight remaining in his role from the previous season.
Holywell Town currently play at Halkyn Road, which is located just a short walk from Holywell town centre, behind the town’s newly built cottage hospital. The ground can accommodate 2,000 spectators with 200 seated with an additional 250 covered, with plenty of space for car parking behind the main stand. In recent times, the Halkyn Road ground has been greatly improved, such as increasing parking facilities, and the stadium has been the venue for many Youth International fixtures in the past. As with many stadiums around the area, the stadiums has its own permanent floodlights which allows evening games to be played at the stadium.
Light refreshments are available for supporters from the club tea room located by the main stand.
Record attendance = 3000 – Welsh Cup 6th round vs. Swansea Town in 1962.
1893 Founder Members of the North Wales Coast League
1898 Finalist, North Wales Senior Cup
1914 League and Amateur Cup Winners
1921 League Runners Up (92 Goals Scored)
Amateur Cup Final
1922 Amateur Cup Winners
1931 Welsh League Champions
1933 Welsh League Champions
1953 Welsh League (North) Champions
Alves Cup Finalists
1958 North Wales Amateur Cup Winners
1976 Youth Cup Winners
1977 Junior Cup Winners
1987 Challenge Cup Winners
Presidents Cup Winners
Clwyd League Champions
1988 Clwyd League Cup Winners
1993 Clwyd League Youth Cup Winners
Youth Auxillary Cup Winners
2010/11 FAW Trophy Winners
2010/11 Clwyd Reserve Division Champions
Founder Members of the Cymru Alliance League
Founder Members of the Football League of Wales (Welsh Premier League)