TT No.68: Mike Latham - Sat 8 December 2012; Meliden 6-3 Nantlle Vale; Lock Stock Welsh Alliance Division Two; Attendance: 50 (h/c); Admission by donation; Programme: £1; FGIF Match Rating: 5*.



Matchday images (16)


The Welsh Alliance suffered a blow in preseason with the loss of two of its members clubs, Bethesda Athletic and Caernarfon Wanderers who both went defunct. But it remains a well organised and competitive league providing good standard football across North West Wales. From early morning the postponements were posted on the informative league website and I decided to take in the second division clash between Meliden, in their second season in the league and Nantlle Vale.


Meliden is a village inland from Prestatyn in Denbighshire, Wales with a rich industrial past based around lead mines and limestone quarries. The mine, so legend has it, was first operated in Roman times and in the 1800s was once considered the richest lead mine in Wales. At that time ten shafts were sunk around Meliden, each of them connected underground by horizontal ‘levels’ which followed the ore veins. The biggest problem was keeping the mines dry due to the close proximity to the sea. An engine house was built in the 1860s to pump water from the mine workings but the costs proved inhibitive. Unable to compete against cheaper imported ores, the mine closed in 1884.


Meliden FC celebrate the village’s past by naming their ground The Mine. It’s effectively a community playing field, neatly railed-off with smart advertising hoardings, located next to the village primary school and surrounded by houses. There’s an excellent tea bar and plenty of activity on match-day with the locals turning out to support their side. Only re-formed in 2008 Meliden progressed through the Clywd League before joining the Alliance last season. They have an informative website and take the trouble to produce a smart programme.


The ground occupies an elevated location with views beyond the houses to Prestatyn and the sea. Inland the view is dominated by the limestone hill of Graig Fawr, also known locally as ‘Meliden Mountain.’ This site is now owned by the National Trust. From here the 177-mile Offa’s Dyke Path starts, eventually terminating in Chepstow On a clear afternoon such as this, the views from the summit must be spectacular. Unfortunately, though, there was no time to explore as the 2pm kick-off was fast approaching.


Nantlle Vale were tardy in arriving and the game started eight minutes late, scuppering one hopper’s plans of seeing the whole game before departing by bus to catch his train from Prestatyn back to London. But the spectacular action more than atoned for the disappointment. Both sides attempted to play neat, constructive football on the soft surface with the pitch having a deceptive slope from the side nearest Graig Fawr.


The game proved to be a personal milestone for the home no9 Darren Hughes who eventually netted five times, displaying fine footwork and a clinical touch. But for most of the game the visitors more than held their own. The game exploded into life midway through the first-half when Vale took the lead only for Meliden to equalise with a move straight from the re-start. As if that wasn’t enough Vale then scored directly from the subsequent kick-off, Gavin Davies profiting from an audacious and superbly judged shot from the centre circle that eluded the home ‘keeper’s even though he was perfectly positioned on his own line. It was the first time I’d ever seen someone score direct from a kick-off and I timed three golas in 70 seconds, amazing stuff. The action continued as Meliden fought back to lead 3-2 at half-time but Vale were level within four minutes of the re-start. But Hughes then took command as Meliden finished well on top.


A sea fret briefly came inland during the early part of the second half, but soon cleared and a really enjoyable game finished in the gathering gloom just before four o’clock. I really enjoyed my visit to this friendly village club, but then visits to watch games Wales rarely disappoint.


contributed on 08/12/12