Result: Mold Alexandra 2-2 Caernarfon Town (Cymru Alliance)
Venue: Alyn Park (Saturday 25th March 2017, 2.30pm)
A historic day. No, not for me, nor Mold. Neither the Cymru Alliance or even Wales itself. Nope this day was historic for one person and one person only. It was to be regular blog appearance maker Dan’s first ever foray into Welsh football (if you don’t count Colwyn Bay that is) and I figured what better place for him to experience the grandeur of it all than at Alyn Park, home of Mold Alexandra FC.
So, having met up with Dan at Manchester Piccadilly, we were soon en route to Chester, though our train apparently didn’t want us to ever get there, with each stop being announced as the one prior, with “rural-ish” Newton-le-Willows being transformed into Manchester Oxford Road, which could have caused some confusion where there tourists about! As for us, this mix up mattered little as we disembarked at the end of the line and headed out into the border-straddling city and the glorious late morning sunshine.
With us having around a half-hour’s wait for the express bus service to Mold, I figured it’d be rude not to sample the delights of the Town Crier pub, what with it being directly behind the bus stop and its beer garden being filled with sun-bathed punters taking advantage of this most rare of occasions. A further plus was that the Crier was selling bottles of the lovely Icelandic Pale Ale Einstök, whereas Dan was less adventurous, plumping for Carling. No, I don’t know why either.
With the half-hour soon up, we headed for our carriage up to the North East of Wales where we were given the £5.50 day ticket from the very personable driver, who’s friendliness and overall service was outstanding and certainly far removed from the vast majority of those around Manchester, so full marks to her for that. Anyway, with Dan nodding off after a hard night’s shift the previous night, we headed onwards, passing the grounds of Airbus UK Broughton, of course famed for its picture opportunites of the Airbus “Beluga” (more on that later), and Hawarden Rangers before arriving into Mold’s own town centre after around 50 minutes of travel.
After Dan got excited seeing his name on a sign (yes, really!) we were heading onto the high street. With the town’s market day in full flow, we soon found ourselves heading in the wrong direction, though this did give us the chance to visit our first (the one in Chester doesn’t count, ok?!) pub of the day. This was the Pelican and was something of a “hip” café/bar, with a couple of old arcade machines located inside. As for us, we were only truly interested in the bar and I again embraced my adventurous side, going for a pint of Meantime Pale Ale (about £3.80) with Dan going all out for…another Carling. Ah. The pub had a bit of history to it, though and it involved the same Daniel that caused Dan’s excitement earlier on (see pic)!
Soon enough it was time to head a little closer to the ground and so off we went, back through the market and past the quietest busker I’ve ever encountered. Basically, you couldn’t hear the guy until you were right next to him, which probably contributed somewhat to the lack of change in his case. Anyway, next up was The Griffin, the more traditional boozer of those sampled during the day. It was also the cheapest too, with a pin of Heineken costing about £2.60.
After finishing off our drink in here, it was off uphill and past the church before crossing the busy main road to reach the access road of Alyn Park. Upon our arrival, a nearby factory alarm began to ring out with us both hoping that this wasn’t going to soundtrack our afternoon!
After successfully navigating the traffic, we handed over our £5 entrance fee and a further £1 for the programme (not much to it really) before heading to the clubhouse to take advantage of the cheap offers in here with Dan getting two Bud’s for £4 and myself two Corona for a fiver. Not too shabby and the barman even kept one in the fridge for us to have at half-time, as we watched the end of Lincoln City-Forest Green before heading outside for kick-off.
Alyn Park is a fairly standard ground with only one true stand to speak of. There is a secondary, covered standing area, though this is only for busy, wet days it seemed, as no-one was making use of it today, once again taking advantage of the rare appearance of the yellow orb in the sky. The Main Stand, however, is a brilliant structure; a raised seating stand, it gives great views over the pitch and is just quite unique in its style. The rest of the ground is open standing, with just the stand side and the car park giving any sort of hard standing, the far side and end both being grassy. As for Mold Alexandra themselves…
Mold Alexandra Football Club was formed in 1929, though the playing of organised football in the town can be traced back to 1878-’79. After a number of Mold clubs competed up to the outbreak of WWI, Mold Town took on the mantle of the town’s top club post-war and managed to reach the first round of the FA Cup in 1925, but disbanded five years later, probably not helped by a fund-raiser offering the first prize of a pig.
Despite still having a few sides competing in the town, in late 1929 Mold Alexandra was formed and would play at thir current venue of Alyn Park. Their first season was in 1930-’31 when they took a place in the Mold, Deeside and Buckley League and it was a successful first campaign which yielded the North Wales Junior Cup. A move into the Flintshire Amateur League was undertaken for the Alex’s second season, which proved a shrewd decision as both the League and League Cup were won.
1937 saw Mold move into the English system and compete in the West Cheshire League, along with local rivals Buckley and Flint Town, though their stay here was, obviously, massively interrupted by the outbreak of WWII. Come the end of hostilities, 1946 saw the club build their first stand at Alyn Park and they remained in the WCL for a further season after this prior to moving into the Welsh National League (Wrexham Area) for 1947, whereupon they remained for the next forty-three years.
During the latter part of their stay in the WNL, Mold won the WNL title in 1986, along with that years WNL League Cup, North East Wales Cup and the North Wales Coast Cup in what was a memorable year. 1987 saw Alex retain both their league title and the North Wales Coast Cup. These successes were enough to see Mold invited to join the newly-formed Cymru Alliance, an invitation that was accepted.
1992 saw Mold become founder members of the new League of Wales, though their stay looked to have lasted just one home match, when the club were thrown out for not matching the league’s ground grading regulations. However with a new stand and floodlights erected, the Alex were reinstated. However, their stay was a short one as financial issues struck and the club were relegated at the end of the ’94-’95 season.
1998 saw worse fortune befall the Alex as they were relegated from the Cymru Alliance to the third tier of the Welsh system, the contributing to the club going as far as considering a merger with Mostyn FC. The club were expecting to be placed back in the Welsh National League (Wrexham Area), but were instead placed in the Welsh Alliance, which covered a larger area of the country. This irked the club to such a point that, after a failed appeal, they decided to pull their first team for a season and field just the one side in the WNL First Division, the reserves effectively taking over as the first team.
After being expelled from the Welsh Cup due to being at too low a level, 1999 saw the club achieve promotion to the Premier Division. 2001 & 2002 saw two WNL Premier Division Cups arrive at Alyn Park, the latter season also seeing the club promoted back to the Cymru Alliance as champions. 2005 saw another relegation back to the WNL, though their stay lasted just three years, as Mold took advantage of Brymbo being unable to take promotion to instead move back into the second tier. They even added more salt to the wounds of Brymbo by beating them in the final of the WNL President’s Cup that same season.
2010 saw Mold relegated again due to restructuring and this time remained in the Welsh National League (Wrexham Area) through to 2014, when they were again promoted as champions back to the Cymru Alliance, along with lifting their second President’s Cup. 2015 saw the Alex ass a third North East Wales Cup to their cabinet and last season sae them stave off relegation in finishing 13th out of 16 sides in the Cymru Alliance. This season, they currently sit in 14th, within the extended relegation zone for this season.
The game got underway and, wow, was the first half poor. I really can’t recall anything happening bar one fine save by the debutant Caernarfon ‘keeper Alex Crofts to deny Mold’s Aaron Davies when one-on-one. Other than that, the first period was a real stagnant, huff-and-puff half with little to choose between the two outfits, which was somewhat surprising when you look at where the two are in the Alliance table. (Caernarfon 2nd to runaway champs Prestatyn, Mold down in 14th (third bottom), though have games in hand to save themselves from the drop). The only positive from the first half was that the chips were pretty good.
Mercifully, half-time arrived and that Corona seemed much more needed than the first! It certainly hadn’t been a riveting contest for Dan’s first look at the Welsh pyramid, but that was all about to change in the second half, as both teams set about having a go and the aforementioned Beluga made an appearance as it climbed out of Hawarden airfield, just a few miles away!
The half got underway and it took just a few minutes for the visitors to break the deadlock and breathe life into the contest. Some good work down the side of the Mold area led to a low ball into the six-yard box being pounced upon by Jamie Breese. 0-1 to Town and, on paper, you’d have thought that that was more than likely going to signal one way traffic for the rest of the game and when Breese had an effort hacked off the line soon after, it certainly looked as though that was to be the case.
But the hosts were having none of that and began to come out of their shell and have a real go at Town and around the hour mark they turned the match on its head. First, Jorden Stafford brought his side level with an arrowed drive from all of 25-yards that flew beyond Crofts and into the net before, just two minutes later, Mold were ahead when Danny Warren forced a loose ball over the line from close range to leave the small band of travelling supporters down the other end stunned.
Mold looked on for an all important three points to go towards their bid for survival, but Town were playing still to secure that runners-up spot and certainly weren’t going down without a fight and with the ninety almost up, they found the leveller and what a strike it was.
Caernarfon skipper and former Wales u21 international Nathan Craig was the man to rescue his side as he received the ball around 25-yards from goal and hit a stinging effort that flew beyond the helpless home custodian Leigh Williams, and into the net via the inside of the post. The second fine goal of the day, but neither team could force a winner and the spoils were shared, with the hosts understandably more than happy to come away with a point, despite being oh so close to all three. As for Caernarfon, that goal was enough to secure them second. Full-Time, 2-2 and back to Mold for the bus back, via a very, very swift half of Poretti in the wonderful looking Fat Boar pub!
So, a fine day out came to an end and, all-in-all, it had gone swimmingly. A nice town, good beers, a decent game (in the end) and fairly cheap & easy travel and of course that fantastic stand was there just to make everything that little bit better again. I’d definitely recommend a visit. But it’s back into the league for next week and a revisit. I “Wander” were to go (please laugh at my puns)…